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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.
Vol. 3 of a 4 volume edition of the Quran based upon Sale’s translation of 1734 with later commentary and notes by Wherry.
The text is in the public domain.
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According to the commentators, the title of this chapter is due to the mention of the Patriarch Abraham in ver. 38. Like most of the Makkan chapters, this one relates entirely to the controversy between Muhammad and the unbelieving Quraish. In it the infidels are warned by the example of those who rejected the former prophets, and they are threatened with the direst punishment of hell, where they shall be ever dying without being permitted to die.
The purpose of Muhammad in relating the stories of the former prophets and of the destruction of their enemies is to impress the Quraish with the dreadful consequences of their rejection of him.
All authorities agree that this chapter belongs to Makkah. The commentators, however, would make vers. 33 and 34 refer to the Quraish, who were disgraced at Badr, and thus relegate this passage to Madína. There is, however, no good reason for such an interpretation of this passage. See notes there.
Aside from the general spirit of the revelations in this chapter, we have as data for fixing their date the statements of vers. 16 and 47, which allude to the purpose of the Quraish to expel Muhammad and his followers from Makkah.
This would fix the date of the chapter very near the Hijra; with which the spirit of the Prophet’s teaching here very well agrees.
|The Qurán given to guide men out of darkness into light||1|
|A grievous punishment awaits the infidels||2, 3|
|Apostles always use the language of their people||4|
|Moses sent to Pharaoh and his people||5|
|His message to the children of Israel||6-8|
|Former prophets were rejected in spite of their miracles||9-13|
|Miracles only possible by the will of God||13, 14|
|The prophets suffer persecution with resignation||15|
|The unbelievers determine to expel their prophets out of the land||16|
|God reveals to them the overthrow of the wicked||17|
|Infidels fail of success through the prayers of the apostles||18|
|The doom of the unbelievers||19-21|
|God able to destroy the infidels and to create others in their stead||22, 23|
|Idolatrous leaders will confess themselves unable to assist their deluded followers in the day of judgment||24, 25|
|Even Satan will desert idolaters in hell||26, 27|
|The reward of the righteous in Paradise||28|
|Parables of the good and evil tree||29-32|
|The idolaters threatened with hell-fire||33-35|
|True believers exhorted to steadfastness and prayer||35, 36|
|Manifold favours of God to mankind||37|
|Abraham prays for himself and children that they may be kept from idolatry||38-41|
|He asks pardon for himself and his parents||42|
|God is not regardless of what infidels do, and will certainly punish them||43-46|
|The subtle plotting of the unbelievers will be brought to confusion||47, 48|
|The earth and heavens to be changed at the resurrection||49|
|The dreadful doom of the wicked||50, 51|
|Warning intended to lead men to the true God||52|
∥ A. L. R. This book have we sent down unto thee, that thou mayest lead men forth from darkness into light, by the permission of their Lord, into the glorious and laudable way. (2) Godis he unto whom belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth: and woe be to the infidels, because a grievous punishment waiteth them; (3) who love the present life above that which is to come, and turn men aside from the way of God, and seek to render it crooked: these are in an error far distant from the truth. We have sent no apostle but with the language of his people, that he might declare their duty plainly unto them; for God causeth to err whom he pleaseth, and directeth whom he pleaseth; and he is the mighty, the wise. We formerly sent Moses with our signs, and commanded him, saying, Lead forth thy people from darkness into light, and remind them of the favours of God: verily therein are signs unto every patient and grateful person. And call to mind when Moses said unto his people, Remember the favour of God towards you. when he delivered you from the people of Pharaoh: they grievously oppressed you; and they slew your male children, but let your females live: therein was a great trial from your Lord.
∥ And when your Lord declared by the mouth of Moses, saying, If ye be thankful, I will surely increase my favours towards you; but if ye be ungrateful, verily my punishment shall be severe. (8) And Moses said, If ye be ungrateful, and all who are in the earth likewise; verily God needeth not your thanks, though he deserveth the highest praise. Hath not the history of the nations your predecessors reached you, namely, of the people of Noah, and of Ád, and of Thamúd, and of those who succeeded them; whose number none knoweth except God? Their apostles came unto them with evident miracles; but they clapped their hands to their mouths out of indignation, and said, We do not believe the message with which ye pretend to be sent; and we are in a doubt concerning the religion to which ye invite us, as justly to be suspected. Their apostles answered, Is there any doubt concerning God, the creator of heaven and earth? He inviteth you to the true faith, that he may forgive you part of your sins, and may respite your punishment by grantingyou space to repent, until an appointed time. (12) They answered, Ye are but men, like unto us: ye seek to turn us aside from the gods which our fathers worshipped: wherefore bring us an evident demonstration by some miracle that ye speak truth. Their apostles replied unto them, We are no other than men like unto you; but God is bountiful unto such of his servants as he pleaseth: and it is not in our power to give you a miraculous demonstration of our mission, (14) unless by the permission of God; in God therefore let the faithful trust. (15) And what excuse have we to allege, that we should not put our trust in God, since he hath directed us our paths? Wherefore we will certainly suffer with patience the persecutions wherewith ye shall afflict us: in God therefore let those put their confidence who seek in whom to put their trust.
∥ And those who believed not said unto their apostles, We will surely expel you out of our land; or ye shall return unto our religion. And their Lord spake unto them by revelation, saying, We will surely destroy the wicked doers; (17) and we will cause you to dwell in the earth after them. This shall be granted unto him who shall dread the appearance at my tribunal, and shall fear my threatening. And they asked assistance ofGod, and every rebellious perverse person failed of success. Hell lieth unseen before him, and he shall have filthy water given him to drink: he shall sup it up by little and little, and he shall not easily let it pass his throat because of its nauseousness; death also shall come upon him from every quarter, yet he shall not die; and before him shall there stand prepared a grievous torment. (21) This is the likeness of those who believe not in their Lord. Their works are as ashes, which the wind violently scattereth in a stormy day: they shall not be able to obtain any solid advantage from that which they have wrought. This is an error most distant from truth. (22) Dost thou not see that God hath created the heavens and the earth in wisdom? If he please he can destroy you, and produce a new creature in your stead: (23) neither will this be difficult with God. And they shall all come forth into the presence ofGodat the last day: and the weak among them shall say unto those who behaved themselves arrogantly, Verily we were your followers on earth; will ye not therefore avert from us some part of the divine vengeance? They shall answer, If God had directed us aright, we had certainly directed you. It is equal unto us whether we bear our torments impatiently, or whether we endure them with patience: for we have no way to escape.
∥ And Satan shall say after judgment shall have been given, Verily God promised you a promise of truth: and I also made you a promise; but I deceived you. Yet I had not any power over you to compel you; but I called you only, and ye answered me: wherefore accuse not me, but accuse yourselves. I cannot assist you; neither can ye assist me. Verily I do now renounce your having associated me with God heretofore. A grievous punishment is prepared for the unjust. But they who shall have believed and wrought righteousness shall be introduced into gardens, wherein rivers flow; they shall remain therein for ever by the permission of their Lord; and their salutation therein shall be, Peace! Dost thou not see how God putteth forth a parable; representing a good word as a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed in the earth, and whose branches reach unto heaven; (30) which bringeth forth its fruit in all seasons, by the will of its Lord ? God propoundeth parables unto men that they may be instructed. And the likeness of an evil word is as an evil tree, which is torn up from the face of the earth, and hath no stability. God shall confirm them who believe, by the steadfast word of faith, both in this life and in that which is to come: but God shall lead the wicked into error; for God doth that which he pleaseth.
Hast thou not considered those who have changed the grace of God to infidelity, and cause their people to descend into the house of perdition, namely, into hell? (34) They shall be thrown to burn therein; and an unhappy dwelling shall it be. (35) They also set up idols as copartners with God, that they might cause men to stray from his path. Say unto them, Enjoy the pleasures of this life for a time; but your departure hence shall be into hell-fire. Speak unto my servants who have believed, that they may be assiduous at prayer, and give alms out of that which we have bestowed on them, both privately and in public; (36) before the day cometh, wherein there shall be no buying nor selling, neither any friendship. It is God who hath created the heavens and the earth; and causeth water to descend from heaven, and by means thereof produceth fruits for your sustenance: and by his command he obligeth the ships to sail in the sea for your service; and he also forceth the rivers to supply your uses: he likewise compelleth the sun and the moon, which diligently perform their courses, to serve you; and hath subjected the day and the night to your service. He giveth you of everything which ye ask him; and if ye attempt to reckon up the favours of God, ye shall not be able to compute the same. Surely man is unjust and ungrateful.
∥ Remember when Abraham said, O Lord, make this land a place of security; and grant that I and my children may avoid the worship of idols; for they, O Lord, have seduced a great number of men. Whoever therefore shall follow me, he shall be of me; and whosoever shall disobey me, verily thou wilt be gracious and merciful. O Lord, I have caused some of my offspring to settle in an unfruitful valley, near thy holy house, O Lord, that they may be constant at prayer. Grant, therefore, that the hearts of some men may be affected with kindness toward them; and do thou bestow on them all sorts of fruits, that they may give thanks. O Lord, thou knowest whatsoever we conceal, and whatsoever we publish; for nothing is hidden from God, either on earth or in heaven. Praise be unto God, who hath given me in my old age Ismaíl and Isaac; for my Lord is the hearer of supplication. O Lord, grant that I may be an observer of prayer, and a part of my posterity also, O Lord, and receive my supplication. O Lord, forgive me, and my parents, and the faithful, on the day whereon an account shall be taken.
∥ (43) Think not, O Prophet, that Godis regardless of what the ungodly do. He only deferreth their punishment unto the day whereon men’s eyes shall be fixed: (44) they shall hasten forward, at the voice of the angel calling to judgment, and shall lift up their heads; they shall not be able to turn their sight from the object whereon it shall be fixed, and their hearts shall be void of sense through excessive terror. Wherefore do thou threaten men with the day whereon their punishment shall be inflicted on them, (45) and whereon those who have acted unjustly shall say, O Lord, give us respite unto a term near at hand, and we will obey thy call, and we will follow thy apostles? But it shall be answered unto them, Did you not swear heretofore that no reverse should befall you? yet ye dwelt in the dwellings of those who had treated their own souls unjustly; and it appeared plainly unto you how we had dealt with them; and we propounded their destruction as examples unto you. They employ their utmost subtlety to oppose the truth; but their subtlety is apparent unto God,who is able to frustrate their designs; although their subtlety were so great that the mountains might be moved thereby. (48) Think not, therefore, O prophet, that God will be contrary to his promise of assistance made unto his apostles; for Godis mighty, able to avenge. The day will come when the earth shall be changed into another earth, and the heavens into other heavens; and men shall come forth from their graves to appear before the only, the mighty God. (50) And thou shalt see the wicked on that day bound together in fetters: (51) their inner garments shall be of pitch, and fire shall cover their faces; that God may reward every soul according to what it shall have deserved; for God is swift in taking an account. (52) This is a sufficient admonition unto men, that they may be warned thereby, and that they may know that there is but one God; and that those who are endued with understanding may consider.
This chapter differs little from the two preceding it. The only passage of peculiar importance is that contained in vers. 94-96, which Sprenger (Life of Moh., p. 177) thinks should be referred to Muhammad’s first public preaching at Makkah. This view, however, is quite untenable, as will be seen a little farther on.
As usual, the Quraish are warned against idolatry. The signs of God’s power, wisdom, and goodness as seen in Nature are held up before them; and, finally, they are threatened with the judgments of God which fell upon those who rejected the former prophets. On the other hand, the Prophet is exhorted to proclaim his message boldly and to put his trust in God.
On the ground of Ibn Hishám’s statements, some would assign this chapter to the fourth year of Muhammad’s ministry. But this opinion, though adopted by Sprenger, and apparently by Rodwell, is held by Noeldeke to be untenable. His reasons may be briefly stated thus: (1) Ibn Hishám, who in one place attributes vers. 94-96 to Muhammad’s early preaching, gives in another place (272) a better explanation of those verses. (2) These verses are closely connected with others treating of the adversaries and persecutions of Muhammad, which circumstance points to a later date; and (3) The style of this passage differs from that of the earlier chapters, besides certain phrases and expressions, e.g., [Editor: Arabic word - please see p. 13 of the facsimile PDF] and [Editor: Arabic word - please see p. 13 of the facsimile PDF] [Editor: Arabic word - please see p. 13 of the facsimile PDF], which never occur in the chapters of the earlier period. It is, therefore, more rational to assign this chapter to the later years of Muhammad’s ministry at Makkah.
|Unbelievers will one day wish themselves Muslims||1-3|
|Every nation has its day of grace||4, 5|
|Muhammad charged with demoniacal possession||6|
|The unbelievers say a true prophet would have come with a company of angels||7|
|Angels are not sent to gratify curiosity, but to minister judgment||8|
|God the author and preserver of the Qurán||9|
|The former prophets were laughed to scorn||10, 11|
|The scoffing Quraish judicially blinded||12-15|
|God declares his glory in the heaven and the earth||16-20|
|He is active in every part of Nature||21, 22|
|He is the God of life, death, and judgment||23-25|
|Men created of clay—the genii of fire||26-29|
|Iblís among the angels refuses to worship Adam||29-33|
|He is cursed and respited until the judgment||34-38|
|Satan declares to God his purpose to seduce men||39, 40|
|The elect are safe from Satan’s power||41, 42|
|The seven gates of hell will receive Satan’s followers||43, 44|
|Paradise joys in store for true believers||45-50|
|The story of Abraham and Lot||51-77|
|The unbelieving Midianites are destroyed||78, 79|
|The scoffing inhabitants of Al Hajr reject their prophets though accompanied with miracles||80, 81|
|Rock-hewn houses fail to save them||82-84|
|The heaven and earth created in righteousness||85, 86|
|Command to repeat the seven verses||87|
|Muhammad not to envy the prosperity of infidels||88-90|
|The enemies of God will surely be punished||91-93|
|Muhammad commanded to preach boldly||94-96|
|He is exhorted to praise and serve God until death||97-99|
∥ A. L. R. These are the signs of the book, and of the perspicuous Qurán.
∥ The time may come when the unbelievers shall wish that they had been Muslims. (3) Suffer them to eat, and to enjoy themselves in this world; and let hope entertain them, but they shall hereafter know their folly. We have not destroyed any city, but a fixed term of repentance was appointed them. (5) No nation shall be punished before their time shall be come; neither shall they be respited after.The Makkans say, O thou to whom the admonition hath been sent down, thou art certainly possessed with a devil: (7) wouldest thou not have come unto us with an attendance of angels if thou hadst spoken truth? Answer, We send not down the angels unless on a just occasion; nor should they be then respited any longer. We have surely sent down the Qurán, and we will certainly preserve the same from corruption. (10) We have heretofore sent apostles before thee among the ancient sects: (11) and there came no apostle unto them, but they laughed him to scorn. In the same manner will we put it into the hearts of the wicked Makkans to scoff at their prophet: they shall not believe on him; and the sentence of the nations of old hath been executed heretofore. If we should open a gate in the heaven above them, and they should ascend thereto all the day long, (15) they should rather say, Our eyes are only dazzled; or rather, we are a people deluded by enchantments.
∥ (16) We have placed the twelve signs in the heaven, and have set them out in various figures, for the observation of spectators: and we guard them from every devil driven away with stones, except him who listeneth by stealth, at whom a visible flame is darted. We have also spread forth the earth, and thrown thereon stable mountains, and we have caused every kind of vegetable to spring forth in the same, according to a determinate weight: and we have provided therein necessaries of life for you, and for him whom ye do not sustain. (21) There is no one thing but the storehouses thereof are in our hands; and we distribute not the same otherwise than in a determinate measure. (22) We also send the winds driving the pregnant clouds, and we send down from heaven water, whereof we give you to drink, and which ye keep not in store. Verily we give life, and we put to death: and we are the heirs of all things. We know those among you who go before; and we know those who stay behind. (25) And thy Lord shall gather them together at the last day: for he is knowing and wise.
∥ We created man of dried clay, of black mud, formed into shape: (27) and we had before created the devil of subtle fire. And remember when thy Lord said unto the angels, Verily I am about to create man of dried clay, of black mud, wrought into shape; when, therefore, I shall have completely formed him, and shall have breathed of my spirit into him, do ye fall down and worship him. And all the angels worshipped Adam together, except Iblís, who refused to be with those who worshipped him.And God said unto him, O Iblís, what hindered thee from being with those who worshipped Adam? He answered, It is not fit that I should worship man, whom thou hast created of dried clay, of black mud, wrought into shape. God said, Get thee therefore hence: for thou shalt be driven away with stones: and a curse shall be on thee, until the day of judgment. The devil said, O Lord, Give me respite until the day of resurrection. God answered, Verily thou shalt be one of those who are respited until the day of the appointed time. The devil replied, O Lord, because thou hast seduced me, I will surely tempt them to disobedience in the earth; and I will seduce such of them as shall be thy chosen servants. God said, This is the right way with me. (42) Verily as to my servants, thou shalt have no power over them; but over those only who shall be seduced, and who shall follow thee. (43) And hell is surely denounced unto them all: it hath seven gates; unto every gate a distinct company of them shall be assigned.
∥ (45) But those who fear God shall dwell in gardens, amidst fountains. (46) The angels shall say unto them, Enter ye therein in peace and security, and we will remove all grudges from their breasts; they shall be as brethren, sitting over against one another on couches; (48) weariness shall not affect them therein, neither shall they be cast out thence for ever. (49) Declare unto my servants that I am the gracious, the merciful God; (50) and that my punishment is a grievous punishment. And relate unto them the history of Abraham’s guests. When they went in unto him, and said, Peace be unto thee, he answered, Verily we are afraid of you: and they replied, Fear not; we bring thee the promise of a wise son. He said, Do you bring me the promise of a son now old age hath overtaken me? what is it therefore that ye tell me? They said, We have told thee the truth; be not therefore one of those who despair. He answered, And who despaireth of the mercy of God, except those who err? And he said, What is your errand, therefore, O messengers of God? They answered, Verily we are sent to destroy a wicked people; but as for the family of Lot, we will save them all, except his wife; we have decreed that she shall be one of those who remain behind to be destroyed with the infidels. And when the messengers came to the family of Lot, he said unto them, Verily ye are a people who are unknown to me.
∥ They answered, But we are come unto thee to execute that sentence, concerning which your fellow-citizens doubted: we tell thee a certain truth; and we are messengers of veracity. Therefore lead forth thy family, in some time of the night; and do thou follow behind them, and let none of you turn back; but go whither ye are commanded. And we gave him this command; because the utmost remnant of those people was to be cut off in the morning. And the inhabitants of the city came unto Lot, rejoicing at the news of the arrival of some strangers.And he said unto them, Verily these are my guests: wherefore do not disgrace me by abusing them; but fear God, and put me not to shame. They answered, Have we not forbidden thee from entertaining or protecting any man? Lot replied, These are my daughters: therefore rather make use of them, if ye be resolved to do what ye purpose. As thou livest, they wander in their folly. Wherefore a terrible storm from heaven assailed them at sunrise, and we turned the city upside down: and we rained on them stones of baked clay. Verily herein are signs unto men of sagacity: and those cities were punished, to point out a right way for men to walk in. Verily herein is a sign unto the true believers. The inhabitants of the wood near Madian were also ungodly. Wherefore we took vengeance on them. And both of them were destroyed, to serve as a manifest rule for men to direct their actions by.
∥ And the inhabitants of Al Hajr likewise heretofore accused the messengers of God of imposture; (81) and we produced our signs unto them, but they retired afar off from the same. (82) And they hewed houses out of the mountains to secure themselves. (83) But a terrible noise from heaven assailed them in the morning; (84) neither was what they had wrought of any advantage unto them. We have not created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is contained between them, otherwise than in justice: and the hour of judgment shall surely come. Wherefore, O Muhammad, forgive thy people with a gracious forgiveness. (86) Verily thy Lord is the creator of thee and of them, and knoweth what is most expedient.
∥ We have already brought unto thee seven verses which are frequently to be repeated, and the glorious Qurán. Cast not thine eyes on the good things which we have bestowed on several of the unbelievers, so as to covet the same: neither be thou grieved on their account. Behave thyself with meekness towards the true believers; (89) and say I am a public preacher. If they believe not, we will inflict a like punishment on them as we have inflicted on the dividers, (91) who distinguished the Qurán into different parts, (92) for by thy Lord we will demand an account from them all (93) of that which they have wrought. Wherefore publish that which thou hast been commanded, and withdraw from the idolaters. We will surely take thy part against the scoffers, (96) who associate with God another god; they shall surely know their folly. (97) And now we well know that thou art deeply concerned on account of that which they say; (98) but do thou celebrate the praise of thy Lord; and be one of those who worship; and serve thy Lord until death shall overtake thee.
This chapter owes its name to the mention of the bee as having received a divine revelation in ver. 70. The contents differ little from those of other Makkan chapters of the later Makkan period which admonish the unbelieving Quraish, by instruction as to the character of the true God, by reproach for ingratitude and folly, by warning and threatening. God’s claim to worship and obedience is constantly supported by reference to his works in creation and providence. At the same time the ingratitude and wicked apostasy of the idolaters is exposed by reference to their acknowledgment of God in distress and trouble, and their turning away from him to the service of idols in prosperity. He points to their own disappointment and shame when daughters were born to them as a proof of their wickedness in attributing daughters to God.
This chapter throws some light upon the source from which Muhammad received his so-called inspiration. In ver. 105 he is charged with receiving assistance in writing the Qurán from some one. In his very lame reply he admits having intercourse with a foreigner, but avers that he could not have written the Qurán, which is in “the perspicuous Arabic.” The commentators, on the authority of tradition, give us the names of a number of Jewish and Christian converts as being here alluded to. We may therefore agree with Muhammad that this foreigner did not write the Qurán, while at the same time believing that the Quraish were correct in charging him with receiving help from such a person. See notes on ver. 105.
Though some have thought the latter portion of this chapter, beginning with ver. 43, or even the whole chapter, belongs to Madína, yet all the evidence, internal as well as external, obliges us to place it among the later Makkan Suras. Vers. 43, 111, 119, 120, and 125, however, must, according to Noëldeke, be assigned to Madína. Though Sale, guided by the commentators, assigns the last three verses of the chapter to Madína, I think Noëldeke and Weil have shown clearly that they belong to Makkah. The application of the passage to the case of Muhammad’s oath to avenge Hamza’s death is all that is required to account for the tradition that the passage was revealed after Hamza’s death.
The allusion to the famine in vers. 113 and 114 shows that the revelations here belong to the latter part of Muhammad’s mission at Makkah, while the exhortation of ver. 126 points to a time when Muhammad was not despairing of the conversion of the Quraish. The accusation of ver. 105 also points to a period some time preceding the Hijra.
|God’s judgment sure to be visited on the infidels||1|
|Revelation is from God by the ministry of angels||2|
|God the Creator, as his works testify||3-8|
|God the true instructor of man||9|
|His works in heaven, earth, and sea described||10-14|
|The earth made firm by the mountains||15|
|The stars appointed to guide man||16|
|God not to be compared to idols||17|
|God merciful and omniscient||18, 19|
|The character of the idols declared||20-22|
|Infidels reject the one true God||23|
|The Omniscient hates the proud||24, 25|
|Muhammad charged with forgery||26|
|The unbelievers shall be destroyed||27, 28|
|Idolaters will be disappointed in the resurrection||29-31|
|The reward of the righteous||32-34|
|Infidels can only look for judgment||35, 36|
|They lay their crimes to God’s charge||37|
|Every nation has its own prophet||38|
|The dreadful end of infidelity||38, 39|
|The infidels deny the resurrection||40|
|They shall be taught their error||41|
|God creates by a word||42|
|Promises to the Muhájirín||43|
|The patient believer will be rewarded||44|
|The custodians of the Scriptures to be inquired of||45|
|The Qurán sent to be proclaimed to the people||46|
|The Prophet’s enemies will be punished||47-49|
|All God’s creatures worship him||50-52|
|The true God to be worshipped and obeyed||53-55|
|Idolaters are ungrateful||56-58|
|Hating daughters, the Quraish attribute daughters to God||59-61|
|The human race dependent on God’s mercy||62, 63|
|Satan the patron of the ungodly||65|
|Why the Qurán was sent||66|
|God’s witness to himself in nature||67-69|
|The bee taught of God||70, 71|
|All man is and all he has is of God||72-74|
|Yet man worships idols||75|
|God not to be likened to anything||76|
|The parable of a slave and his master||77|
|The parable of the blind man and one having sight||78|
|The affairs of the judgment-day shall be accomplished in a moment||79|
|God to be obeyed because he is Creator and Preserver||80-83|
|Muhammad only a public preacher||84|
|Idolaters recognise God’s mercy and yet deny him||85|
|Every nation has a witness against it||86, 87|
|Idolaters shall be deserted by their idols||88, 89|
|Infidel leaders to be severely punished||90|
|Muhammad is God’s witness against the Arabians||91|
|Exhortation to loyalty to God||92-99|
|Muhammad to have recourse to God in reading the Qurán||100|
|Satan has no power over believers||101, 102|
|The doctrine of abrogation announced||103|
|The Qurán sent down by the “holy spirit”||104|
|Muhammad charged with writing the Qurán with foreign help||105|
|The unbelievers shall be punished||106, 107|
|Forced apostasy no offence against God||108|
|Wilful apostates condemned||108-110|
|The Muhájirín blessed||111|
|The rewards of the judgment-day will be just||112|
|Makkah punished by famine for unbelief||113, 114|
|Lawful and unlawful food||115-119|
|Sins of ignorance may be pardoned||120|
|Muhammad exhorted to adopt the religion of Abraham||121-124|
|Friday to be observed instead of the Sabbath||125|
|Infidels not to be treated harshly||126|
|Patient forbearance better than vengeance||127|
|God is with the righteous||128|
∥ The sentence of God will surely come to be executed, wherefore do not hasten it. Praise be unto him! and far be that from him which they associate with him! He shall cause the angels to descend with a revelation by his command, unto such of his servants as he pleaseth, saying, Preach that there is no God, except myself; therefore fear me. (3) He hath created the heavens and the earth, to manifest his justice: far be that from him which they associate with him! He hath created man of seed, and yet behold he is a professed disputer against the resurrection. He hath likewise created the cattle for you; from them ye have wherewith to keep yourselves warm, and other advantages; and of them do ye also eat. And they are likewise a credit unto you, when ye drive them home in the evening, and when ye lead them forth to feed in the morning; (7) and they carry your burdens to a distant country, at which ye could not otherwise arrive, unless with great difficulty to yourselves; for your Lordis compassionate and merciful. (8) And he hath also created horses, and mules, and asses, that ye may ride thereon, and for an ornament unto you; and he likewise created other things which ye know not. It appertaineth unto God to instruct men in the right way, and there is who turneth aside from the same; but if he had pleased he would certainly have directed you all.
∥ (10) It is he who sendeth down from heaven rain water, whereof ye have to drink, and from which plants, whereon ye feed your cattle, receive their nourishment. (11) And by means thereof he causeth corn, and olives, and palm-trees, and grapes, and all kinds of fruits to spring forth for you. Surely herein is a sign of the divine power and wisdom unto people who consider. And he hath subjected the night and the day to your service, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, which are compelled to serve by his command. Verily herein are signs unto people of understanding. And he hath also given you dominion over whatever he hath created for you in the earth, distinguished by its different colour. Surely herein is a sign unto people who reflect. It is he who hath subjected the sea unto you, that ye might eat fish thereout, and take from thence ornaments for you to wear; and thou seest the ships ploughing the waves thereof, that ye may seek to enrich yourselves of his abundance by commerce; and that ye might give thanks. And he hath thrown upon the earth mountains firmly rooted, lest it should move with you, and also rivers, and paths, that ye might be directed: and he hath likewise ordained marks whereby men may know their way; and they are directed by the stars. (17) Shall God therefore, who createth, be as he who createth not? Do ye not therefore consider? If ye attempt to reckon up the favours of God, ye shall not be able to compute their number; Godis surely gracious and merciful; (19) and God knoweth that which ye conceal, and that which ye publish. (20) But the idols which ye invoke, besides God, create nothing, but are themselves created. (21) They are dead, and not living; neither do they understand when they shall be raised.
∥ (23) Your Godis one God. As to those who believe not in the life to come, their hearts deny the plainest evidence, and they proudly reject the truth. (24) There is no doubt but God knoweth that which they conceal and that which they discover. (25) Verily he loveth not the proud. And when it is said unto them, What hath your Lord sent down unto Muhammad? they answer, Fables of ancient times. (27) Thus are they given up to error, that they may bear their own burdens without diminution on the day of resurrection, and also a part of the burdens of those whom they caused to err, without knowledge. Will it not be an evil burden which they shall bear?
∥ Their predecessors devised plots heretofore: but God came into their building, to overthrow it from the foundations; and the roof fell on them from above, and a punishment came upon them, from whence they did not expect. Also on the day of resurrection he will cover them with shame; and will say, Where are my companions, concerning whom ye disputed? Those unto whom knowledge shall have been given shall answer, This day shall shame and misery fall upon the unbelievers. They whom the angels shall cause to die, having dealt unjustly with their own souls, shall offer to make their peace in the article of death, saying, We have done no evil. But the angels shall reply, Yea; verily God well knoweth that which ye have wrought: (31) wherefore enter the gates of hell, therein to remain for ever; and miserable shall be the abode of the proud. (32) And it shall be said unto those who shall fear God, What hath your Lord sent down? They shall answer, Good; unto those who do right shall be given an excellent reward in this world; but the dwelling of the next life shall be better; and happy shall be the dwelling of the pious! namely, gardens of eternal abode, into which they shall enter; rivers shall flow beneath the same; therein shall they enjoy whatever they wish. Thus will God recompense the pious. Unto the righteous, whom the angels shall cause to die, they shall say, Peace be upon you; enter ye into paradise, as a reward for that which ye have wrought. (35) Do the unbelievers expect any other than that the angels come unto them to part their souls from their bodies, or that the sentence of thy Lord come to be executed on them? So did they act who were before them; and God was not unjust towards them in that he destroyed them; but they dealt unjustly with their own souls; (36) the evils of that which they committed reached them; and the divine judgment which they scoffed at fell upon them.
∥ The idolaters say, If God had pleased, we had not worshipped anything besides him, neither had our fathers: neither had we forbidden anything, without him. So did they who were before them. But is the duty of the apostles any other than public preaching? We have heretofore raised up in every nation an apostle to admonish them, saying, Worship God, and avoid Taghút. And of them there were some whom God directed, and there were others of them who were decreed to go astray. Wherefore go through the earth, O tribe of Quraish, and see what hath been the end of those who accused their apostles of imposture. If thou, O Prophet, doest earnestly wish for their direction, verily God will not direct him whom he hath resolved to lead into error; neither shall they have any helpers. And they swear most solemnly by God,saying,God will not raise the dead. Yea; the promise thereof is true: but the greater part of men know it not. (41) He will raise them that he may clearly show them the truth concerning which they now disagree, and that the unbelievers may know that they are liars.
∥ Verily our speech unto anything, when we will the same, is, that we only say unto it, Be; and it is. As for those who have fled their country for the sake of God, after they had been unjustly persecuted; we will surely provide them an excellent habitation in this world, but the reward of the next life shall be greater; if they knew it. (44) They who persevere patiently, and put their trust in the Lord,shall not jail of happiness in this life and in that which is to come. We have not sent any before thee, as our apostles, other than men, unto whom we spake by revelation. Inquire therefore of those who have the custody of the Scriptures, if ye know not this to be truth.We sent them with evident miracles and written revelations; and we have sent down unto thee this Qurán, that thou mayest declare unto mankind that which hath been sent down unto them, and that they may consider. Are they who have plotted evil against their Prophet secure that God will not cause the earth to cleave under them, or that a punishment will not come upon them, from whence they do not expect; (48) or that he will not chastise them while they are busied in travelling from one place to another, and in traffic? (for they shall not be able to elude the power of God,) (49) or that he will not chastise them by a gradual destruction? But your Lord is truly gracious and merciful in granting you respite. Do they do not consider the things which God hath created; whose shadows are cast on the right hand and on the left, worshipping God, and become contracted? (51) Whatever moveth both in heaven and on earth worshippeth God, and the angels also; and they are not elated with pride, so as to disdain his service: (52) they fear their Lord,who is exalted above them, and perform that which they are commanded.
∥ God said, Take not unto yourselves two gods; for there is but one God: and revere me. (54) Unto him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth; and unto him is obedience eternally due. Will ye therefore fear any besides God? (55) Whatever favours ye have received are certainly from God; and when evil afflicteth you, unto him do ye make your supplication; (56) yet when he taketh the evil from off you, behold, a part of you give a companion unto their Lord, (57) to show their ingratitude for the favours we have bestowed on them. Delight yourselves in the enjoyments of this life: but hereafter shall ye know that ye cannot escape the divine vengeance. And they set apart unto idols which have no knowledge a part of the food which we have provided for them. By God, ye shall surely be called to account for that which ye have falsely devised. They attribute daughters unto God (far be it from him!), but unto themselves children of the sex which they desire. And when any of them is told the news of the birth of a female, his face becometh black, and he is deeply afflicted: he hideth himself from the people, because of the ill tidings which have been told him; considering within himself whether he shall keep it with disgrace, or whether he shall bury it in the dust. Do they not make an ill judgment? Unto those who believe not in the next life, the similitude of evil ought to be applied, and unto God the most sublime similitude: for he is mighty and wise.
∥ If God should punish men for their iniquity, he would not leave on the earth any moving thing: but he giveth them respite unto an appointed time; and when their time shall come, they shall not be respited an hour, neither shall their punishment be anticipated. They attribute unto God that which they dislike themselves, and their tongues utter a lie, namely, that the reward of paradise is for them. There is no doubt but that the fire of hell is prepared for them, and that they shall be sent thither before the rest of the wicked. By God, we have heretofore sent messengers unto the nations before thee: but Satan prepared their works for them; he was their patron in this world, and in that which is to come they shall suffer a grievous torment. We have not sent down the book of the Qurán unto thee for any other purpose than that thou shouldest declare unto them that truth concerning which they disagree, and for a direction and mercy unto people who believe. (67) God sendeth down water from heaven, and causeth the earth to revive after it hath been dead. Verily herein is a sign of the resurrection unto people who hearken. Ye have also in cattle an example of instruction: we give you to drink of that which is in their bellies; a liquor between digested dregs and blood, namely, pure milk, which is swallowed with pleasure by those who drink it. And of the fruits of palm-trees, and of grapes, ye obtain an inebriating liquor, and also good nourishment. Verily herein is a sign unto people who understand.
∥ Thy Lord spake by inspiration unto the bee, saying, Provide thee houses in the mountains and in the trees, and of those materials wherewith men build hives for thee: then eat of every kind of fruit, and walk in the beaten paths of thy Lord. There proceedeth from their bellies a liquor of various colour, wherein is a medicine for men. Verily herein is a sign unto people who consider. (72) God hath created you, and he will hereafter cause you to die: and some of you shall have his life prolonged to a decrepit age, so that he shall forget whatever he knew; for Godis wise and powerful. God causeth some of you to excel others in worldly possessions: yet they who are caused to excel do not give their wealth unto the slaves whom their right hands possess, that they may become equal sharers therein. Do they therefore deny the beneficence of God?
∥ God hath ordained you wives from among yourselves, and of your wives hath granted you children and grandchildren; and hath bestowed on you good things for food. Will they therefore believe in that which is vain, and ungratefully deny the goodness of God? (75) They worship, besides God,idols which possess nothing wherewith to sustain them, either in heaven or on earth; and have no power. Wherefore liken not anything unto God: for God knoweth, but ye know not. God propoundeth as a parable a possessed slave, who hath power over nothing, and him on whom we have bestowed a good provision from us, and who giveth alms thereout both secretly and openly: shall these two be esteemed equal? God forbid! But the greater part of men know it not. God also propoundeth as a parable two men, one of them born dumb, who is unable to do or understand anything, but is a burden unto his master; whithersoever he shall send him, he shall not return with any good success: shall this man, and he who hath his speech and understanding, and who commandeth that which is just, and followeth the right way, be esteemed equal?
∥ Unto Godalone is the secret of heaven and earth known. And the business of the last hour shall be only as the twinkling of an eye, or even more quick: for God is almighty. (80) God hath brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers; ye knew nothing, and he gave you the senses of hearing and seeing, and understandings, that ye might give thanks. (81) Do they not behold the fowls which are enabled to fly in the open firmament of heaven? none supporteth them except God. Verily herein are signs unto people who believe. God hath also provided you houses for habitations for you; and hath also provided you tents of the skins of cattle, which ye find light to be removed on the day of your departure to new quarters, and easy to be pitched on the day of your sitting down therein: and of their wool, and their fur, and their hair, hath he supplied you with furniture and household stuff for a season. And God hath provided for you, of that which he hath created, conveniences to shade you from the sun, and he hath also provided you places of retreat in the mountains, and he hath given you garments to defend you from the heat, and coats of mail to defend you in your wars. Thus doth he accomplish his favour towards you, that ye may resign yourselves unto him. (84) But if they turn back, verily thy duty is public preaching only. They acknowledge the goodness of God, and afterwards they deny the same, but the greater part of them are unbelievers.
∥ On a certain day we will raise a witness out of every nation: then they who shall have been unbelievers shall not be suffered to excuse themselves, neither shall they be received into favour. (87) And when they who shall have acted unjustly shall see the torment prepared for them; (it shall not be mitigated unto them, neither shall they be respited:) and when those who shall have been guilty of idolatry shall see their false gods, they shall say, O Lord, these are our idols which we invoked, besides thee. But they shall return an answer unto them, saying, Verily ye are liars. (89) And on that day shall the wicked offer submission unto God; and the false deities which they imagined shall abandon them. (90) As for those who shall have been infidels, and shall have turned aside others from the way of God, we will add unto them punishment upon punishment because they have corrupted others. On a certain day we will raise up in every nation a witness against them, from among themselves; and we will bring thee, O Muhammad, as a witness against these Arabians. We have sent down unto thee the book of the Qurán, for an explication of everything necessary both as to faith and practice, and a direction, and mercy, and good tidings unto the Muslims.
∥ Verily God commanded justice, and the doing of good, and the giving unto kindred what shall be necessary; and he forbiddeth wickedness, and iniquity, and oppression: he admonisheth you that ye may remember. Perform your covenant with God, when ye enter into covenant with him; and violate not your oaths, after the ratification thereof; since ye have made God a witness over you. Verily God knoweth that which ye do. And be not like unto her who undoeth that which she hath spun, untwisting it after she hath twisted it strongly; taking your oaths between you deceitfully, because one party is more numerous than another party. Verily God only tempteth you therein; and he will make that manifest unto you, on the day of resurrection, concerning which ye now disagree. If God had pleased, he would surely have made you one people: but he will lead into error whom he pleaseth, and he will direct whom he pleaseth; and ye shall surely give an account of that which ye have done. (96) Therefore take not your oaths between you deceitfully lest your foot slip, after it hath been steadfastly fixed, and ye taste evil in this life, for that ye have turned aside from the way of God: and ye suffer a grievous punishment in the life to come. And sell not the covenant of God for a small price; for with God is a better recompense prepared for you, if ye be men of understanding. (98) That which is with you will fail; but that which is with God is permanent: and we will surely reward those who persevere, according to the utmost merit of their actions. Whoso worketh righteousness, whether he be male or female, and is a true believer, we will surely raise him to a happy life; and we will give them their reward, according to the utmost merit of their actions. When thou readest the Qurán, have recourse unto God,that he may preserve thee from Satan driven away with stones; (101) he hath no power over those who believe, and who put confidence in their Lord; (102) but his power is over those only who take him for their patron, and who give companions unto God.
∥ When we substitute in the Qurán an abrogating verse in lieu of a verse abrogated (and God best knoweth the fitness of that which he revealeth), the infidels say, Thou art only a forger of these verses: but the greater part of them know not truth from falsehood. Say, The holy spirit hath brought the same down from thy Lord with truth; that he may confirm those who believe, and for a direction and good tidings unto the Muslims. We also know that they say, Verily, a certain man teacheth him to compose the Qurán. The tongue of the person unto whom they incline is a foreign tongue; but this, wherein the Qurán is written, is the perspicuous Arabic tongue. (106) Moreover as for those who believe not the signs of God, God will not direct them, and they shall suffer a painful torment: (107) verily they imagine a falsehood who believe not in the signs of God, and they are really the liars. Whoever denieth God, after he hath believed, except him who shall be compelled against his will, and whose heart continueth steadfast in the faith, shall be severely chastised: but whoever shall voluntarily profess infidelity, on those shall the indignation of God fall, and they shall suffer a grievous punishment. This shall be their sentence, because they have loved the present life above that which is to come, and for that God directeth not the unbelieving people. (110) These are they whose hearts, and hearing, and sight, God hath sealed up; and these are the negligent: there is no doubt but that in the next life they shall perish. Moreover thy Lordwill be favourable unto those who have fled their country, after having suffered persecution, and had been compelled to deny the faith by violence, and who have since fought in defence of the true religion, and have persevered with patience; verily unto these will thy Lordbe gracious and merciful, after they shall have shown their sincerity.
∥ On a certain day shall every soul come to plead for itself, and every soul shall be repaid that which it shall have wrought; and they shall not be treated unjustly. God propoundeth as a parable a city which was secure and quiet, unto which her provisions came in abundance from every side; but she ungratefully denied the favour of God: wherefore God caused her to taste the extreme famine, and fear, because of that which they had done. (114) And now is an apostle come unto the inhabitants of Makkah from among themselves; and they accuse him of imposture: wherefore a punishment shall be inflicted on them, while they are acting unjustly. (115) Eat of what God hath given you for food, that which is lawful and good; and be thankful for the favours of God, if ye serve him. He hath only forbidden you that which dieth of itself, and blood, and swine’s flesh, and that which hath been slain in the name of any besides God. But unto him who shall be compelled by necessity to eat of these things, not lasting nor wilfully transgressing, Godwill surely be gracious and merciful. And say not that wherein your tongues utter a lie; This is lawful, and this is unlawful; that ye may devise a lie concerning God: for they who devise concerning God shall not prosper. (118) They shall have small enjoyment in this world, and in that which is to come they shall suffer a grievous torment. Unto the Jews did we forbid that which we have told thee formerly: and we did them no injury in that respect; but they injured their own souls. (120) Moreover thy Lordwill be favourable unto those who do evil through ignorance, and afterwards repent and amend: verily unto these will thy Lordbe gracious and merciful, after their repentance.
∥ Abraham was a model of true religion, obedient unto God, orthodox, and was not an idolater: he was also grateful for his benefits: (122) wherefore God chose him, and directed him into the right way. (123) And we bestowed on him good in this world; and in the next he shall surely be one of the righteous. We have also spoken unto thee, O Muhammad, by revelation, saying, Follow the religion of Abraham, who was orthodox, and was no idolater. The sabbath was only appointed unto those who differed with their prophet concerning it; and thy Lord will surely judge between them, on the day of resurrection, as to that concerning which they differed. Invite men unto the way of thy Lord, by wisdom, and mild exhortation; and dispute with them in the most condescending manner: for thy Lord well knoweth him who strayeth from his path, and he well knoweth those who are rightly directed. If ye take vengeance on any, take a vengeance proportionable to the wrong which hath been done you; but if ye suffer wrong patiently, verily this will be better for the patient. (128) Wherefore do thou bear opposition with patience; but thy patience shall not be practicable, unless with God’sassistance. And be thou not grieved on account of the unbelievers; neither be thou troubled for that which they subtilely devise; for God is with those who fear him, and are upright.
By some writers this chapter is entitled The Night-Journey on account of the reference to that event in vers. 1 and 62. But the contents of the chapter justify the ordinary title of The Children of Israel.
The burden of this chapter is the sin of the Quraish in rejecting their Prophet. The dreadful character of this sin is illustrated by the history of those who had rejected the messengers of God in past ages, and especially by reference to the destruction of the holy city of Jerusalem, in consequence of the unbelief of the children of Israel. The people of Makkah are therefore warned by the example of these rebellious unbelievers. They are told that no city ever was destroyed until its people had rejected the prophet sent to them. The inference to be drawn is, that the destruction of Makkah is near at hand, unless its people repent and believe on their Prophet.
The character of the unbelief of the Quraish is evident from their demanding of Muhammad that he would perform certain miracles, which he confesses himself unable to perform; from their hideous custom of killing their own daughters, while ascribing daughters to God; from their foolish idolatry; and from their rejection of the doctrine of the resurrection.
The tone of the whole chapter is moderate, yet showing earnest purpose on the part of the preacher of Makkah.
The verses referring to the night-journey (vers. 1 and 62) must, of course, be placed subsequent to B.H. 1, though they cannot date later than the Hijra. As for the bulk of the chapter, the following data will enable us to fix an approximate date of composition: (1) The exhortation in ver. 55 points to a period when Muhammad still hoped for the conversion of some of his townsmen; (2) the faith of certain Jews and Christians at Makkah, alluded to in vers. 108 and 109, points to a period somewhat removed from the Hijra; and (3) with this agrees the spirit attributed to the unbelieving Quraish, whose opposition is decided, but not as yet of a violent character. From this we conclude that most of the chapter belongs to a period preceding the Ban of the Hashimites, or the final break between Muhammad and the Quraish, say about B.H. 6, or the sixth year of Muhammad’s mission. The passage from ver. 24 to ver. 41, however, must be referred to Madína, as the precepts concerning the duties of children to parents, of all to the poor and the orphan, &c., seem to point to a Muslim community with definite laws of its own, and not to a mixed company, as at Makkah previous to the Hijra. I would place this passage at about A.H. 3.
The conjectures of the commentators, which would place vers. 75-82 and 87 at Madína, seem to be mistaken. See notes on these verses below.
|God praised for the night-journey||1|
|The law of Moses a direction to the Israelites||2|
|Noah’s gratitude commended to his posterity||3|
|The double sin of Israel and its punishment||4-8|
|The Qurán a direction to both the faithful and the unbelievers||9-11|
|Men inconsiderate in their prayers||12|
|The night and day are signs to men||13|
|Every man’s fate bound about his neck||14|
|God will give every man the record of his life at the judgment day||14, 15|
|No nation left without an apostle||16|
|The cities destroyed which rejected their apostles||17, 18|
|Rewards and punishments of the faithful and unbelieving||19-21|
|Degrees of honour belong to the life to come||22|
|Men should worship only one God||23, 24|
|Kindness to be shown to parents, the poor, and the stranger||24-27|
|Extravagance forbidden||28, 29|
|Those unable to contribute for the support of the poor may help them by speaking kindly to them||30, 31|
|Stinginess and foolish extravagance forbidden||32|
|Infanticide, fornication, and murder forbidden||33-35|
|The murdered man to be avenged||35|
|The substance of the orphan to be sacredly preserved||36|
|Men should lead lives of honesty and humility||37-40|
|God not to be dishonoured by idol-worship||41|
|Angels not daughters of God||42|
|Various warnings for the Quraish||43|
|A plurality of gods would lead to rebellion in heaven||44, 45|
|All things praise God||46|
|The Quraish are judicially blinded to the Qurán||47-49|
|Muhammad called a madman||50|
|The Quraish reject the doctrine of the resurrection||51-53|
|The dead when raised will fancy they have been dead but a little while||54|
|Idolaters and unbelievers to be mildly treated||55, 56|
|Some prophets peculiarly favoured||57|
|The false gods need divine protection||58, 59|
|Every city to be destroyed before the judgment-day||60|
|Muhammad not allowed to work miracles because of the unbelief of former tribes||61|
|The night-journey and the Zakkum tree causes of contention||62|
|Iblís disobeys God, and is cursed in consequence||63, 64|
|He receives permission to delude men||65, 66|
|He shall have no power over God’s servants||67|
|God protects the merchant while on the sea||68|
|Idolaters forget their idols in times of danger||69|
|They are ungrateful||69-71|
|The special privileges of mankind||72|
|In the judgment all shall be fairly judged||73, 74|
|Muhammad almost seduced from Islám||75-77|
|The unbelievers almost persuade Muhammad to leave them||78, 79|
|Exhortation to prayer||80-82|
|The truth of the Qurán to be proclaimed||83, 84|
|Man’s perversity seen both in prosperity and adversity||85|
|The spirit created of God||86|
|Revelation (inspiration) a peculiar favour from God to Muhammad||87-89|
|Men and genii could not produce a book like the Qurán||90|
|Muhammad excuses his inability to work miracles||91-95|
|Men appointed messengers for men and angels for angels||96-98|
|The dreadful fate of the idolaters at the resurrection||99, 100|
|God is able to raise the dead||101|
|Man covetous even in respect to God’s mercy||102|
|The nine signs of Moses fail to convince Pharaoh||103, 104|
|The children of Israel succeed Pharaoh in his possession of the land of Egypt||106|
|Why the Qurán was revealed in parcels||107|
|Some Jews and Christians believe on the Qurán||108, 109|
|God and the Merciful the same||110|
|God hath neither son nor partner||111|
∥ Praise be unto him who transported his servant by night from the sacred temple of Makkah to the farther temple of Jerusalem, the circuit of which we have blessed, that we might show some of our signs; for God is he who heareth and seeth. And we gave unto Moses the book of the law, and appointed the same to be a direction unto the children of Israel, commanding them, saying, Beware that ye take not any other patron besides me. O posterity of those whom we carried in the ark with Noah: verily he was a grateful servant. And we expressly declared unto the children of Israel in the book of the law, saying, Ye will surely commit evil in the earth twice, and ye will be elated with great insolence. And when the punishment threatened for the first of those transgressions came to be executed, we sent against you our servants, endued with exceeding strength in war, and they searched the inner apartments of your houses; and the prediction became accomplished. Afterwards we gave you the victory over them, in your turn, and we granted you increase of wealth and children, and we made you a more numerous people, saying, If ye do well, ye will do well to your own souls; and if ye do evil, ye will do it unto the same. And when the punishment threatened for your latter transgression came to be executed, we sent enemiesagainst you to afflict you, and to enter the temple, as they entered it the first time, and utterly to destroy that which they had conquered. Peradventure your Lord will have mercy on you hereafter: but if ye return to transgress a third time, we also will return to chastise you; and we have appointed hell to be the prison of the unbelievers. (9) Verily this Qurán directeth unto the way which is most right, (10) and declareth unto the faithful, who do good works, that they shall receive a great reward; (11) and that for those who believe not in the life to come, we have prepared a grievous punishment.
∥ Man prayeth for evil, as he prayeth for good; for man is hasty. (13) We have ordained the night and the day for two signs of our power; afterwards we blot out the sign of the night, and we cause the sign of the day to shine forth, that ye may endeavour to obtain plenty from your Lordby doing your business therein, and that ye may know the number of years, and the computation of time; and everything necessary have we explained by a perspicuous explication. The fate of every man have we bound about his neck; and we will produce unto him, on the day of resurrection, a book wherein his actions shall be recorded: it shall be offered him open, and the angels shall say unto him, Read thy book; thine own soul will be a sufficient accountant against thee, this day. He who shall be rightly directed shall be directed to the advantage only of his own soul; and he who shall err shall err only against the same: neither shall any laden soul be charged with the burden of another. We did not punish any people, until we had first sent an apostle to warn them. And when we resolved to destroy a city, we commanded the inhabitants thereof, who live in affluence, to obey our apostle; but they acted corruptly therein: wherefore the sentence was justly pronounced against that city; and we destroyed it with an utter destruction. And how many generations have we consumed since Noah? for thy Lord sufficiently knoweth and seeth the sins of his servants. (19) Whosoever chooseth this transitory life, we will bestow on him therein beforehand that which we please; on him, namely, whom we please: afterwards will we appoint him hell for his abode; he shall be thrown into the same to be scorched, covered with ignominy, and utterly rejected from mercy. (20) But whosoever chooseth the life to come, and directeth his endeavour towards the same, being also a true believer; the endeavour of these shall be acceptable unto God. (21) On all will we bestow the blessings of this life, both on these and on those, of the gift of thy Lord; for the gift of thy Lord shall not be denied unto any. (22) Behold, how we have caused some of them to surpass others in wealth and dignity: but the next life shall be more considerable in degrees of honour, and greater in excellence. (23) Set not up another god with the trueGod, lest thou sit down in disgrace, and destitute.
∥ Thy Lord hath commanded that ye worship none besides him; and that ye show kindness unto your parents, whether the one of them, or both of them attain to old age with thee. Wherefore, say not unto them, Fie on you! neither reproach them, but speak respectfully unto them, and submit to behave humbly towards them, out of tender affection, and say, O Lord, have mercy on them both, as they nursed me when I was little. (26) Your Lord well knoweth that which is in your souls; whether ye be men of integrity: and he will be gracious unto those who sincerely return unto him. And give unto him who is of kin to you his due, and also unto the poor, and the traveller. And waste not thy substance profusely: for the profuse are brethren of the devils: and the devil was ungrateful unto his Lord. But if thou turn from them, in expectation of the mercy which thou hopest from thy Lord;at least, speak kindly unto them. And let not thy hand be tied up to thy neck; neither open it with an unbounded expansion, lest thou become worthy of reprehension, and be reduced to poverty. (32) Verily thy Lord will enlarge the store of whom he pleaseth, and will be sparing unto whom he pleaseth; for he knoweth and regardeth his servants. Kill not your children for fear of being brought to want; we will provide for them and for you; verily the killing them is a great sin.
∥ (34) Draw not near unto fornication; for it is wickedness and an evil way. Neither slay the soul which God hath forbidden you to slay, unless for a just cause; and whosoever shall be slain unjustly, we have given his heir power to demand satisfaction; but let him not exceed the bounds of moderation in putting to death the murderer in too cruel a manner, or by revenging his friend’s blood on any other than the person who killed him; since he is assisted by this law. And meddle not with the substance of the orphan, unless it be to improve it, until he attain his age of strength: and perform your covenant; for the performance of your covenant shall be inquired into hereafter. (37) And give full measure, when you measure aught; and weigh with a just balance. This will be better, and more easy for determining every man’s due. And follow not that whereof thou hast no knowledge; for the hearing, and the sight, and the heart, every of these shall be examined at the last day. (39) Walk not proudly in the land, for thou canst not cleave the earth, neither shalt thou equal the mountains in stature. (40) All this is evil, and abominable in the sight of thy Lord. (41) These precepts are a part of the wisdom which thy Lord hath revealed unto thee. Set not up any other god as equal unto God, lest thou be cast into hell, reproved and rejected. Hath your Lord preferably granted unto you sons, and taken for himself daughters from among the angels? Verily in asserting this ye utter a grievous saying.
∥ (43) And now have we used various arguments and repetitions in this Qurán, that they may be warned: yet it only rendereth them more disposed to fly from the truth. Say unto the idolaters, If there were other gods with him, as ye say, they would surely seek an occasion of making some attempt against the possessor of the throne: (45) God forbid! and far, very far, be that from him which they utter! The seven heavens praise him, and the earth, and all who are therein: neither is there anything which doth not celebrate his praise; but ye understand not their celebration thereof: he is gracious and merciful. When thou readest the Qurán, we place between thee and those who believe not in the life to come a dark veil; and we put coverings over their hearts, lest they should understand it, and in their ears thickness of hearing. And when thou makest mention, in repeating the Qurán, of thy Lord only, they turn their backs, flying the doctrine of his unity. We well know with what design they hearken, when they hearken unto thee, and when they privately discourse together: when the ungodly say, Ye follow no other than a madman. (51) Behold! what epithets they bestow on thee. But they are deceived; neither can they find any just occasion to reproach thee. (52) They also say, After we shall have become bones and dust, shall we surely be raised a new creature? (53) Answer, Be ye stones, or iron, or some creature more improbable in your opinions to be raised to life. But they will say, Who shall restore us to life? Answer, He who created you the first time: and they will wag their heads at thee, saying, When shall this be? Answer, Peradventure it is nigh. On that day shall God call you forth from your sepulchres, and ye shall obey, with celebration of his praise, and ye shall think that ye tarried but a little while.
∥ Speak unto my servants, that they speak mildly unto the unbelievers, lest ye exasperate them; for Satan soweth discord among them, and Satan is a declared enemy unto man. Your Lord well knoweth you; if he pleaseth, he will have mercy on you, or, if he pleaseth, he will punish you: and we have not sent thee to be a steward over them. Thy Lord well knoweth all persons in heaven and on earth. We have bestowed peculiar favours on some of the prophets, preferably to others; and we gave unto David the psalms. (58) Say, Call upon those whom ye imagine to be gods besides him; yet they will not be able to free you from harm, or to turn it on others. Those whom ye invoke do themselves desire to be admitted to a near conjunction with their Lord,striving which of them shall approach nearest unto him: they also hope for his mercy, and dread his punishment; for the punishment of thy Lord is terrible. (60) There is no city but we will destroy the same before the day of resurrection, or we will punish it with a grievous punishment. This is written in the book of our eternal decrees. Nothing hindered us from sending thee with miracles, except that the former nations have charged them with imposture. We gave unto the tribe of Thamúd, at their demand, the she-camel visible to their sight: yet they dealt unjustly with her: and we send not a prophet with miracles, but to strike terror. Remember when we said unto thee, Verily thy Lord encompasseth men by his knowledge and power. We have appointed the vision which we showed thee, and also the tree cursed in the Qurán, only for an occasion of dispute unto men, and to strike them with terror; but it shall cause them to transgress only the more enormously.
∥ And remember when we said unto the angels, Worship Adam; and they all worshipped him except Iblís, who said, Shall I worship him whom thou hast created of clay? And he said, What thinkest thou as to this man whom thou hast honoured above me? verily, if thou grant me respite until the day of resurrection, I will extirpate his offspring, except a few. God answered, Begone, I grant thee respite: but whosoever of them shall follow thee, hell shall surely be your reward; an ample reward for your demerits! And entice to vanity such of them as thou canst, by thy voice; and assault them on all sides with thy horsemen and thy footmen; and partake with them in their riches, and their children; and make them promises; (but the devil shall make them no other than deceitful promises:) (67) as to my servants, thou shalt have no power over them; for thy Lord is a sufficient protector of those who trust in him. (68) It is your Lord who driveth forward the ships for you in the sea, that ye may seek to enrich yourselves of his abundance by commerce; for he is merciful towards you. When a misfortune befalleth you at sea, the false deities whom ye invoke are forgotten by you, except him alone: yet when he bringeth you safe to dry land, ye retire afar off from him, and return to your idols; for man is ungrateful. (70) Are ye therefore secure that he will not cause the dry land to swallow you up, or that he will not send against you a whirlwind driving the sands to overwhelm you? Then shall ye find none to protect you. (71) Or are ye secure that he will not cause you again to commit yourselves to the sea another time, and send against you a tempestuous wind, and drown you; for that ye have been ungrateful? then shall ye find none to defend you against us in that distress. (72) And now have we honoured the children of Adam by sundry peculiar privileges and endowments; and we have given them conveniences of carriage by land and by sea, and have provided food for them of good things; and we have preferred them before many of our creatures which we have created, by granting them great prerogatives.
∥ On a certain day we will call all men to judgment with their respective leader: and whosoever shall have his book given him into his right hand, they shall read their book with joy and satisfaction; and they shall not be wronged a hair. And whoever hath been blind in this life shall be also blind in the next, and shall wander more widely from the path of salvation. It wanted little but the unbelievers had tempted thee to swerve from the instructions which we had revealed unto thee, that thou shouldest devise concerning us a different thing; and then would they have taken thee for their friend: (76) and unless we had confirmed thee, thou hadst certainly been very near inclining unto them a little. Then would we surely have caused thee to taste the punishment of life and the punishment of death; and thou shouldest not have found any to protect thee against us. The unbelievers had likewise almost caused thee to depart the land, that they might have expelled thee thence: but then should they not have tarried therein after thee, except a little while. (79) This is the method of dealing which we have prescribed ourselves in respect to our apostles, whom we have already sent before thee: and thou shalt not find any change in our prescribed method.
∥ Regularly perform thy prayer at the declension of the sun, at the first darkness of the night, and the prayer of daybreak; for the prayer of daybreak is borne witness unto by the angels. And watch some part of the night in the same exercise, as a work of supererogation for thee: peradventure thy Lord will raise thee to an honourable station. And say, O Lord, cause me to enter with a favourable entry, and cause me to come forth with a favourable coming forth; and grant me from thee an assisting power. And say, Truth is come, and falsehood is vanished: for falsehood is of short continuance. (84) We send down of the Qurán that which is a medicine and mercy unto the true believers; but it shall only increase the perdition of the unjust. (85) When we bestow favours on man, he retireth and withdraweth himself ungratefully from us: but when evil toucheth him, he despaireth of our mercy. Say, Every one acteth after his own manner: but your Lord best knoweth who is most truly directed in his way.
∥ They will ask thee concerning the spirit: answer, The spirit was created at the command of my Lord: but ye have no knowledge given unto you, except a little. If we pleased, we should certainly take away that which we have revealed unto thee: in such case thou couldst not find any to assist thee therein against us, (89) unless through mercy from thy Lord; for his favour towards thee hath been great. Say, Verily if men and genii were purposely assembled, that they might produce a book like this Qurán, they could not produce one like unto it, although the one of them assisted the other. (91) And we have variously propounded unto men in this Qurán every kind of figurative argument; but the greater part of men refuse to receive it, merely out of infidelity. And they say, We will by no means believe on thee until thou cause a spring of water to gush forth for us out of the earth; or thou have a garden of palm-trees and vines, and thou cause rivers to spring forth from the midst thereof in abundance; or thou cause the heaven to fall down upon us, as thou hast given out, in pieces; or thou bring down God and the angels to vouch for thee; or thou have a house of gold; or thou ascend by a ladder to heaven: neither will we believe thy ascending thither alone, until thou cause a book to descend unto us, bearing witness of thee, which we may read. Answer, My Lord be praised! Am I other than a man, sent as an apostle?
∥ (96) And nothing hindereth men from believing, when a direction is come unto them, except that they say, Hath God sent a man for his apostle? (97) Answer, If the angels had walked on earth as familiar inhabitants thereof, we had surely sent down unto them from heaven an angel for our apostle. (98) Say, God is a sufficient witness between me and you: for he knoweth and regardeth his servants. Whom God shall direct, he shall be the rightly directed; and whom he shall cause to err, thou shalt find none to assist, besides him. And we will gather them together on the day of resurrection, creeping on their faces, blind, and dumb, and deaf: their abode shall be hell; so often as the fire thereof shall be extinguished, we will rekindle a burning flame to torment them. (100) This shall be their reward, because they disbelieve in our signs, and say, When we shall have been reduced to bones and dust, shall we surely be raised new creatures?
∥ Do they not perceive that God, who created the heavens and the earth, is able to create other bodies, like their present? And he hath appointed them a limited term; there is no doubt thereof: but the ungodly reject the truth, merely out of unbelief. Say, If ye possessed the treasures of the mercy of my Lord, ye would surely refrain from using them, for fear of spending them; for man is covetous.
∥ We heretofore gave unto Moses the power of working nine evident signs. And do thou ask the children of Israel as to the story of Moses; when he came unto them, and Pharaoh said unto him, Verily, I esteemed thee, O Moses, to be deluded by sorcery. (104) Moses answered, Thou well knowest that none hath sent down these evident signs except the Lord of heaven and earth; and I surely esteem thee, O Pharaoh, a lost man. (105) Wherefore Pharaoh sought to drive them out of the land; but we drowned him and all those who were with him. And we said unto the children of Israel, after his destruction, Dwell ye in the land: and when the promise of the next life shall come to be fulfilled, we will bring you both promiscuously to judgment. We have sent down the Qurán with truth, and it hath descended with truth: and we have not sent thee otherwise than to be a bearer of good tidings and a denouncer of threats. And we have divided the Qurán, revealing it by parcels, that thou mightest read it unto men with deliberation: and we have sent it down, causing it to descend as occasion required. Say, Whether ye believe therein, or do not believe, verily those who have been favoured with the knowledge of the scriptures which were revealed before it, when the same is rehearsed unto them, fall down on their faces, worshipping, and say, Our Lord be praised, for that the promise of our Lord is surely fulfilled! (109) and they fall down on their faces, weeping; and the hearing thereof increaseth their humility. Say, call upon God, or call on the Merciful: by which-soever of the two names ye invoke him, it is equal; for he hath most excellent names. Pronounce not thy prayer aloud, neither pronounce it with too low a voice, but follow a middle way between these: and say, Praise be unto God, who hath not begotten any child; who hath no partner in the kingdom, nor hath any to protect him from contempt: and magnify him by proclaiming his greatness.
This chapter might be called the chapter of wonderful stories. It owes its name to one of these—the story of the sleepers in the cave, which is the story of the Seven Sleepers of Christian tradition embellished by Muhammad with an Islamic colouring. (See notes on vers. 8-12)
This story is remarkable, in that it throws some light on the habit the Prophet of Makkah had of delaying to answer difficult questions till the following day, on the pretence of not yet having received the answer by revelation. In this instance, if we are to believe the commentators, he had to wait ten days for the required answer, at which time he proclaims himself rebuked by God for rashly presuming to command the spirit of revelation on a morrow (ver. 23, note). But, judging from the character of the story itself, we are safe in adopting the opinion that during this interval Muhammad did not despise the scanty information he was able to derive from the Christian slaves of his town, some of whom were in his own household.
A remarkable feature of the stories of this chapter is that three of them are derived from apocryphal sources, viz., the story of the sleepers, the story of hidhar (Jethro), and the story of Alexander’s journeyings, and of his building a barrier to prevent the incursions of the northern kings of Gog and Magog. All these stories partake of the character of the marvellous, and carry with them such an air of vagueness as to leave the impression that Muhammad’s informants were themselves but ill-informed. We have already indicated our belief as to the source of this information.
The remaining portions of the chapter are of the usual Makkan type. The idolaters are warned by the example of rebellious nations in past ages, and especially by that of the Israelites, who, on account of having rejected their prophets, suffered the loss of their sacred city. On the other hand, the faithful are encouraged by the hopes of Paradise.
The whole of this chapter belongs to Makkah. It is true some authorities would refer the exhortation of ver. 27 to Madína, but other authorities place it among the Makkan revelations, while there is nothing in the sentiment of that verse which might not have been uttered at any time and in any place. Occurring as it does in the midst of Makkan revelations, it is more natural to count it among them than forcibly to transfer it to Madína.
Beyond the style of the chapter and the spirit of the addresses to the Quraish there is little upon which to fix a date for the composition. These are, however, quite decisive for a period anterior to the Ban of the Hashimites. The intercourse with Jews and Christians, through whom most of the matter of this chapter was derived, would also point to a period when Muhammad had gained converts and adherents from among these. We conclude, therefore, that the main portion of this chapter should be assigned to about the sixth year of Muhammad’s ministry at Makkah. The stories of hidhar and of Alexander may, however, belong to some other period, their presence here being accounted for by the purpose of the compilers to bring together these marvellous stories in the same chapter. I confess, however, that this is simply conjecture.
|God praised for the gift of the Qurán||1|
|The Qurán a warner to unbelievers and good tidings to the faithful||2|
|Those who say God has sons or daughters are liars||3, 4|
|Muhammad grieves for the unbelief of his people||5|
|Earth’s adornment to be reduced to dust||6, 7|
|The story of the companions of the cave||8-22|
|Muhammad rebuked for promising a revelation on a fixed date||23|
|The sleepers of the cave sleep 309 years||24|
|Times and seasons are in God’s hands||25|
|None can change the Qurán||26|
|The pious are the Prophet’s guardians||27|
|Truth is from the Lord||28|
|Sufferings of the wicked contrasted with the rewards of the righteous||28-30|
|The parable of the two men||31-42|
|Life on earth likened to water from heaven||43|
|Good works better than wealth and children||44|
|Mankind assembled on the judgment-day||45|
|The manner of the judgment—the book of personal action delivered||46, 47|
|Iblís refuses to worship Adam||48|
|Genii, the offspring of Satan, not present at the creation||49|
|Idol-worshippers deserted by their idols in the judgment||50|
|The wicked doomed to hell-fire||51|
|The Qurán rejected by men through unbelief||52, 53|
|Prophets are sent with threats and good news||54|
|The sin of apostasy||55-57|
|Unbelief destroyed the former cities||58|
|Moses and Joshua visit hidhar||59-64|
|Moses desires to be taught by hidhar||65|
|hidhar, knowing Moses’s inability to receive his wisdom, yields to his importunity||66-69|
|He scuttles a boat, kills a man, and builds a tottering wall||70-76|
|hidhar refuses to communicate further with Moses on account of his protests against his conduct, but condescends to explain his conduct||77-81|
|Dhu al Qarnain journeys to the setting sun||82-84|
|He finds a people, whom he is permitted to treat as he will||85-87|
|He travels east and north, where he finds an ignorant race, who plead his protection against Gog and Magog||88-93|
|He builds a rampart against them||94-96|
|Gog and Magog to be let loose before the judgment-day||97-99|
|Rewards and punishments in the judgment||100-108|
|Were the ocean ink, it would not suffice to write all the words of God||109|
|Muhammad only a mortal man||110|
∥ (1) Praise be unto God, who hath sent down unto his servant the book of the Qurán, and hath not inserted therein any crookedness, (2) but hath made it a straight rule: that he should threaten a grievous punishment untothe unbelievers, from his presence; and should bear good tidings unto the faithful, who work righteousness, that they should receive an excellent reward, namely, paradise, wherein they shall remain for ever: and that he should warn those who say, God hath begotten issue; (4) of which matter they have no knowledge, neither had their fathers. A grievous saying it is, which proceedeth from their mouths: they speak no other than a lie. Peradventure thou wilt kill thyself with grief after them, out of thy earnest zeal for their conversion, if they believe not in this new revelation of the Qurán. (6) Verily we have ordained whatsoever is on the earth for the ornament thereof, that we might make trial of men, and see which of them excelleth in works: (7) and we will surely reduce whatever is thereon to dry dust. Dost thou consider that the companions of the cave, and Al Raqím, were one of our signs, and a great miracle? (9) When the young men took refuge in the cave, they said, O Lord, grant us mercy from before thee, and dispose our business for us to a right issue. (10) Wherefore we struck their ears with deafness, so that they slept without disturbance in the cave for a great number of years: then we awaked them, that we might know which of the two parties was more exact in computing the space which they had remained there.
∥ We will relate unto thee their history with truth. Verily they were young men who had believed in their Lord; and we had abundantly directed them; and we fortified their hearts with constancy when they stood before the tyrant; and they said, Our Lord is the Lord of heaven and earth; we will by no means call on any god besides him, for then should we surely utter an extravagance. These our fellow-people have taken other gods besides him, although they bring no demonstrative argument for them; and who is more unjust than he who deviseth a lie concerning God? And they said the oneto the other, when ye shall separate yourselves from them, and from the deities which they worship, except God, fly into the cave: your Lord will pour his mercy on you abundantly, and will dispose your business for you to advantage. And thou mightest have seen the sun when it had risen to decline from their cave towards the right hand, and when it went down to leave them on the left hand: and they were in the spacious part of the cave. This was one of the signs of God. Whomsoever God shall direct he shall be rightly directed, and whomsoever he shall cause to err thou shalt not find any to defend or to direct.
∥ And thou wouldest have judged them to have been awake while they were sleeping; and we caused them to turn themselves to the right hand and to the left. And their dog stretched forth his forelegs in the mouth of the cave: if thou hadst come suddenly upon them, verily thou wouldest have turned thy back and fled from them, and thou wouldest have been filled with fear at the sight of them. And so we awaked them from their sleep, that they might ask questions of one another. One of them spake and said, How long have ye tarried here? They answered, We have tarried a day, or part of a day. The others said, Your Lord best knoweth the time ye have tarried: and now send one of you with this your money into the city, and let him see which of its inhabitants hath the best and cheapest food, and let him bring you provision from him, and let him behave circumspectly, and not discover you to any one.
Middle of the Qurán.
∥ Verily if they come up against you they will stone you, or force you to return to their religion, and then shall ye not prosper for ever. And so we made their people acquainted with what had happened to them, that they might know that the promise of God is true, and that there is no doubt of the last hour, when they disputed among themselves concerning their matter. And they said, Erect a building over them; their Lord best knoweth their condition. Those who prevailed in their affair answered, We will surely build a chapel over them. Some say the sleepers were three, and their dog was the fourth, and others say they were five, and their dog was the sixth, guessing at a secret matter; and others say they were seven, and their dog was the eighth. Say, My Lord best knoweth their number: none shall know them except a few. Wherefore dispute not concerning them, except with a clear disputation, according to what hath been revealed unto thee, and ask not any of the Christians concerning them. Say not of any matter, I will surely do this to-morrow, unless thou add if God please. And remember thy Lord when thou forgettest, and say, My Lord is able to direct me with ease, that I may draw near unto the truth of this matter rightly. And they remained in their cave three hundred years, and nine years over. Say, God best knoweth how long they continued there: unto him are the secrets of heaven and earth known; do thou make him to see and to hear. The inhabitants thereof have no protector besides him, neither doth he suffer any one to have a share in the establishment or knowledge of his decree.
∥ Read that which hath been revealed unto thee of the book of thy Lordwithout presuming to make any change therein. There is none who hath power to change his words; and thou shalt not find any to fly to besides him if thou attempt it. Behave thyself with constancy towards those who call upon their Lord morning and evening, and who seek his favour; and let not thine eyes be turned away from them seeking the pomp of this life, neither obey him whose heart we have caused to neglect the remembrance of us, and who followeth his lusts, and leaveth the truth behind him.
∥ (28) And say, The truth is from your Lord, wherefore let him who will believe, and let him who will be incredulous. We have surely prepared for the unjust hell-fire, the flame and smoke whereof shall surround him like a pavilion; and if they beg relief they shall be relieved with water like molten brass, which shall scald their faces. Oh, how miserable a potion, and how unhappy a couch! (29) As to those who believe and do good works, we will not suffer the reward of him who shall work righteousness to perish; for them are prepared gardens of eternal abode, which shall be watered by rivers; they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they shall be clothed in green garments of fine silk and brocades, reposing themselves therein on thrones. Oh, how happy a reward, and how easy a couch!
∥ And propound unto them as a parable two men, on the one of whom we had bestowed two vineyards, and had surrounded them with palm-trees, and had caused corn to grow between them. Each of the gardens brought forth its fruit every season, and failed not at all; (32) and we caused a river to flow in the midst thereof: and he had great abundance. And he said unto his companion by way of debate, I am superior to thee in wealth, and have a more powerful family. And he went into his garden, being guilty of injustice against his own soul, and said, I do not think that this garden will decay for ever; neither do I think that the last hour will come: and although I should return unto my Lord, verily I shall find a better garden than this in exchange. And his companion said unto him, by way of debate, Dost thou not believe in him who created thee of the dust, and afterwards of seed; and then fashioned thee into a perfect man? But as for me,God is my Lord; and I will not associate any other deity with my Lord. And when thou enterest thy garden, wilt thou not say, What God pleaseth shall come to pass; there is no power but in Godalone? Although thou seest me to be inferior to thee in wealth and number of children, my Lord is well able to bestow on me a better gift than thy garden, and to shoot his arrows against the same from heaven, so that it shall become barren dust; or its waters may sink deep into the earth, that thou canst not draw thereof. And his possessions were encompassed with destruction, as his companion had forewarned him; wherefore he began to turn down the palms of his hands out of sorrow and regret for that which he had expended thereon; for the vines thereof were fallen down on their trails: and he said, Would to God that I had not associated any other deity with my Lord! And he had no party to assist him besides God, neither was he able to defend himself against his vengeance. In such case protection belongeth of right unto Godalone; he is the best rewarder, and the best giver of success.
∥ And propound to them a similitude of the present life. It is like water which we send down from heaven; and the herb of the earth is mixed therewith, and after it hath been green and flourishing, in the morning it becometh dry stubble, which the winds scatter abroad; and God is able to do all things. (44) Wealth and children are the ornament of this present life; but good works, which are permanent, are better in the sight of thy Lord, with respect to the reward, and better with respect to hope. On a certain day we will cause the mountains to pass away, and thou shalt see the earth appearing plain and even; and we will gather mankind together, and we will not leave any one of them behind. (46) And they shall be set before thy Lord in distinct order, and he shall say unto them, Now are ye come unto us naked, as we created you the first time, but ye thought that we should not perform our promise unto you. And the book wherein every one’s actions are recorded shall be put into his hand; and thou shalt see the wicked in great terror because of that which is written therein, and they shall say, Alas for us! what meaneth this book? it omitteth neither a small action nor a great one, but it compriseth the same; and they shall find that which they have wrought, present before their eyes: and thy Lord will not deal unjustly with any one.
∥ Remember when we said unto the angels, Worship ye Adam: and they all worshipped him, except Iblís, who was one of the genii, and departed from the command of his Lord. Will ye therefore take him and his offspring for your patrons besides me, notwithstanding they are your enemies? Miserable shall such a change be to the ungodly! I called not them to be present at the creation of the heavens and of the earth, nor at the creation of themselves, neither did I take those seducers for my assistants. On a certain day God shall say unto the idolaters, Call those whom ye imagined to be my companions to protect you: and they shall call them, but they shall not answer them; and we will place a valley of destruction between them.
∥ (51) And the wicked shall see hell-fire: and they shall know that they shall be thrown into the same, and they shall find no way to avoid it. (52) And now have we variously propounded unto men, in this Qurán, a parable of every kind; but man cavilleth at most things therein. (53) Yet nothing hindereth men from believing now a direction is come unto them, and from asking pardon of their Lord, excepting that they wait until the punishment of their predecessors come to be inflicted on them, or that the chastisement of the next life come upon them publicly. We send not our messengers, but to bear good tidings, and to denounce threats. Those who believe not dispute with vain arguments, that they may thereby render the truth of no effect; and they hold my signs, and the admonitions which have been made them, in derision. And who is more unjust than he who hath been acquainted with the signs of his Lord, and retireth afar off from the same, and forgetteth that which his hands have formerly committed. Verily we have cast veils over their hearts, lest they should understand the Qurán, and into their ears thickness of hearing; (56) if thou invite them to the true direction, yet will they not therefore be directed for ever. Thy Lordis gracious, endued with mercy; if he would have punished them for that which they have committed, he would doubtless have hastened their punishment: but a threat hath been denounced against them, and they shall find no refuge, besides him. And those former cities did we destroy when they acted unjustly; and we gave them previous warning of their destruction.
∥ And remember when Moses said unto his servant Joshua the son of Nun, I will not cease to go forward, until I come to the place where the two seas meet; or I will travel for a long space of time. But when they were arrived at the meeting of the two seas, they forgot their fish, which they had taken with them; and the fish took its way freely in the sea. (61) And when they had passed beyond that place, Moses said unto his servant, Bring us our dinner; for now are we fatigued with this our journey. (62) His servant answered, Dost thou know what hasbefallen me? When we took up our lodging at the rock, verily I forgot the fish: and none made me to forget it, except Satan, that I should not remind thee of it. And the fish took its way into the sea, in a wonderful manner. Moses said, This is what we sought after. And they both went back, returning by the way they came. And coming to the rock, they found one of our servants, unto whom we had granted mercy from us, and whom we had taught wisdom from before us. (65) And Moses said unto him, Shall I follow thee, that thou mayest teach me part of that which thou hast been taught, for a direction unto me? (66) He answered, Verily thou canst not bear with me: (67) for how canst thou patiently suffer those things, the knowledge whereof thou dost not comprehend? (68) Moses replied, Thou shalt find me patient, if God please; neither will I be disobedient unto thee in anything. (69) He said, If thou follow me, therefore, ask me not concerning anything, until I shall declare the meaning thereof unto thee.
∥ So they went on by the sea-shore, until they went up into a ship; and he made a hole therein. And Moses said unto him, Hast thou made a hole therein, that thou mightest drown those who are on board? now hast thou done a strange thing. (71) He answered, Did I not tell thee that thou couldest not bear with me? (72) Moses said, Rebuke me not, because I did forget; and impose not on me a difficulty in what I am commanded. Wherefore they left the ship and proceeded, until they met with a youth, and he slew him. Moses said, Hast thou slain an innocent person, without his having killed another? now hast thou committed an unjust action.
∥ (74) He answered, Did I not tell thee that thou couldest not bear with me? (75) Moses said, If I ask thee concerning anything hereafter, suffer me not to accompany thee: now hast thou received an excuse from me. They went forwards, therefore, until they came to the inhabitants of a certain city: and they asked food of the inhabitants thereof; but they refused to receive them. And they found therein a wall, which was ready to fall down; and he set it upright. Whereupon Moses said unto him, If thou wouldest thou mightest doubtless have received a reward for it. (77) He answered, This shall be a separation between me and thee; but I will first declare unto thee the signification of that which thou couldest not bear with patience. The vessel belonged to certain poor men, who did their business in the sea: and I was minded to render it unserviceable, because there was a king behind them, who took every sound ship by force. (79) As to the youth, his parents were true believers; and we feared, lest he, being an unbeliever, should oblige them to suffer his perverseness and ingratitude: wherefore we desired that their Lord might give them a more righteous child in exchange for him, and one more affectionate towards them. And the wall belonged to two orphan youths in the city, and under it was a treasure hidden which belonged to them; and their father was a righteous man: and thy Lord was pleased that they should attain their full age, and take forth their treasure, through the mercy of the Lord, and I did not what thou hast seen of mine own will, but by God’s direction. This is the interpretation of that which thou couldest not bear with patience.
∥ The Jews will ask thee concerning Dhu-’l-Qarnain. Answer, I will rehearse unto you an account of him. (83) We made him powerful in the earth, and we gave him means to accomplish everything he pleased. And he followed his way, until he came to the place where the sun setteth; and he found it to set in a spring of black mud; and he found near the same a certain people. And we said, O Dhu-’l-Qarnain, either punish this people or use gentleness towards them. (86) He answered, Whosoever of them shall commit injustice, we will surely punish him in this world; afterwards shall he return unto his Lord, and he shall punish him with a severe punishment. (87) But whosoever believeth, and doth that which is right, shall receive the most excellent reward, and we will give him in command that which is easy. Then he continued his way, (89) until he came to the place where the sun riseth; and he found it to rise on certain people, unto whom we had not given anything wherewith to shelter themselves therefrom. (90) Thus it was; and we comprehended with our knowledge the forces which were with him. (91) And he prosecuted his journey from south to north, until he came between the two mountains; beneath which he found certain people, who could scarcely understand what was said. And they said, O Dhu-’l-Qarnain, verily Gog and Magog waste the land: shall we therefore pay thee tribute, on condition that thou build a rampart between us and them? (94) He answered, The power wherewith my Lord has strengthened me is better than your tribute; but assist me strenuously, and I will set a strong wall between you and them. (95) Bring me iron in large pieces, until it fill up the space between the two sides of these mountains. And he said to the workmen, Blow with your bellows, until it make the iron red hot as fire. And he said further, Bring me molten brass, that I may pour upon it. Wherefore, when this wall was finished, Gog and Magog could not scale it, neither could they dig through it. (97) And Dhu-’l-Qarnain said, This is a mercy from my Lord: but when the prediction of my Lord shall come to be fulfilled, he shall reduce the wall to dust; and the prediction of my Lord is true. On that day we will suffer some of them to press tumultuously like waves on others: and the trumpet shall be sounded, and we will gather them in a body together. (100) And we will set hell on that day before the unbelievers; (101) whose eyes have been veiled from my remembrance, and who could not hear my words.
∥ Do the unbelievers think that I will not punish them, for that they take my servants for their protectors besides me? Verily we have prepared hell for the abode of the infidels. (103) Say, Shall we declare unto you those whose works are vain, (104) whose endeavour in the present life hath been wrongly directed, and who think they do the work which is right? (105) These are they who believe not in the signs of their Lord, or that they shall be assembled before him; wherefore their works are vain, and we will not allow them any weight on the day of resurrection. (106) This shall be their reward, namely, hell: for that they have disbelieved, and have held my signs and apostles in derision. (107) But as for those who believe and do good works, they shall have the gardens of Paradise for their abode: (108) they shall remain therein for ever; they shall wish for no change therein. Say, If the sea were ink to write the words of my Lord, verily the sea would fail, before the words of my Lord would fail; although we added another sea like unto it as a further supply. Say, Verily I am only a man as ye are. It is revealed unto me that your God is one only God: let him therefore who hopeth to meet his Lord work a righteous work; and let him not make any other to partake in the worship of his Lord.
“Several circumstances,” says Sale, “relating to the Virgin Mary being mentioned in this chapter, her name was pitched upon for the title.” It contains the fullest and earliest accounts of gospel history found in the Qurán. According to Muslim authorities, it was recited by Jáfir, Muhammad’s uncle, before the Najáshi or king of Ethiopia, in the presence of the Quraishite envoys, sent from Makkah to secure the expulsion of Muslim refugees; whereupon “the king wept until his beard became moist, and the bishops also wept, so that their tears ran down upon their books, saying, ‘Verily this revelation and that of Moses proceed from one and the same source’ ” (Muir’s Life of Mohamet, vol. ii. pp. 172, 173, note).
Rodwell calls attention to the change of style of this chapter, vers. 1-37, and that of chap. iii. vers. 35-57, and suggests that it was due to a desire to avoid the imputation “of being merely a poet, a sorcerer, or person possessed.” This does not seem very likely; as these charges were peculiarly Makkan, he would hardly have waited until his arrival in Madína before making the change in his style, if indeed desirous of avoiding these particular charges against his prophetic character. It seems to me the cause of this change of style is to be sought in the change of his surroundings, his habits, and aspirations. The prophet had given place in some measure to the general of armies and the ruler of a people.
The numerous historical errors contained in this chapter prove that Muhammad had no personal acquaintance with Jewish or Christian records. He seems to have been indebted to Jewish or Christian informants, who were themselves very ignorant of their own traditions.
Excepting vers. 35-41, the revelations of this chapter belong to an early period of Muhammad’s prophetic career at Makkah. Muir (Life of Moh., vol. ii. p. 278) assigns it to a period shortly succeeding Muhammad’s return from Tayif, but this period seems to me to be too late to accord with the general spirit of the chapter. The exhortations to the Quraish are earnest and the threatenings against unbelievers are solemn, but there is not a sign of that violent imprecation and bitter enmity against the people of Makkah which characterise the later Makkan chapters. I would therefore fix the date as early as the beginning of the second period of Muhammad’s ministry at Makkah.
Vers. 35-41 are more polemic in style than the rest of the chapter, and for this reason should be assigned to a later date, say the end of the second or the beginning of the third Makkan period.
Ver. 74 seq. have been thought to be Madínic, but on insufficient grounds. The change in rhyme belongs to vers. 35-41, though these are confessedly Makkan, while the words “two parties” may refer to infidels and unbelievers in general, and therefore may apply to Makkah as aptly as to Madína.
|Zacharias prays for offspring||1-6|
|Gabriel is sent with an answer promising a son||7, 8|
|Zacharias asks a sign which is given||9-12|
|John’s mission and character described||13-15|
|Story of Mary’s miraculous conception||16-22|
|The birth of Jesus||22, 23|
|Mary in distress is comforted by Jesus||23-27|
|Mary brings her child to her people, who reproach her||28, 29|
|Jesus (speaking in infancy) vindicates his mother and describes his own prophetic character||30-34|
|Jesus the Word of Truth||35|
|God has no son||36|
|God alone to be worshipped||37|
|The miserable fate of Jewish and Christian sectaries||38-41|
|The story of Abraham:—|
|He reproaches his father for idolatry||42-46|
|His father threatens to stone him||47|
|Abraham prays for his father, but separates himself from him||48-50|
|God gives him Isaac and Jacob, who were notable prophets||50, 51|
|Moses—an apostle and prophet||52|
|Discourses with God privately||53|
|Aaron given him for an assistant||54|
|Ismaíl was a prophet acceptable to his Lord||55, 56|
|Idrís was taken up to heaven||57, 58|
|God is bounteous to all true prophets||59|
|The followers of former prophets compared with those of Muhammad||59, 60|
|The reward of the faithful in Paradise||61-64|
|Gabriel comes down from heaven only when commanded||65|
|God is the only Lord—no name like his||66|
|The dead shall surely rise||67, 68|
|The dead shall be judged on their knees||69-73|
|Believers and unbelievers compared||74, 75|
|The prosperity of infidels a sign of God’s reprobation||76, 77|
|Good works better than riches||78, 79|
|The doom of the wicked certain||80-83|
|Even the false gods will desert idolaters in the judgment||84, 85|
|God sends devils to incite infidels to sin||86, 87|
|The pious to be honoured before God||88|
|The wicked to be driven into hell||89, 90|
|Attributing children to God a great sin||91-93|
|God the only Lord—all creatures his servants||94, 95|
|Believers to be rewarded with love||96|
|The Qurán made easy for Muhammad||97|
|Miserable doom of all God’s enemies||98|
∥ K. H. Y. A. S. A commemoration of the mercy of thy Lordtowards his servant Zacharias. When he called upon his Lord, invoking him in secret, (3) and said, O Lord, verily my bones are weakened, and my head is become white with hoariness, (4) and I have never been unsuccessful in my prayers to thee, O Lord. But now I fear my nephews, who are to succeed after me, for my wife is barren: wherefore give me a successor of my own body from before thee; who may be my heir, and may be an heir of the family of Jacob; and grant, O Lord, that he may be acceptable unto thee. (7) And the angel answered him, O Zacharias, verily we bring thee tidings of a son, whose name shall be John; we have not caused any to bear the same name before him. Zacharias said, Lord, how shall I have a son, seeing my wife is barren, and I am now arrived at a great age, and am decrepit? (10) The angel said, So shall it be: thy Lord saith, This is easy with me; since I created thee heretofore, when thou wast nothing. Zacharias answered, O Lord, give me a sign. The angel replied, Thy sign shall be that thou shalt not speak to men for three nights, although thou be in perfect health. And he went forth unto his people from the chamber, and he made signs unto them, as if he should say, Praise ye God in the morning and in the evening. And we said unto his son, O John, receive the book of the law, with a resolution to study and observe it. And we bestowed on him wisdom, when he was yet a child, (14) and mercy from us, and purity of life; and he was a devout person, and dutiful towards his parents, and was not proud or rebellious. Peace be on him the day whereon he was born, and the day whereon he shall die, and the day whereon he shall be raised to life.
∥ And remember in the book of the Qurán the story of Mary, when she retired from her family to a place towards the east, and took a veil to conceal herself from them; and we sent our spirit Gabriel unto her, and he appeared unto her in the shape of a perfect man. She said, I fly for refuge unto the merciful God, that he may defend me from thee: if thou fearest him, thou wilt not approach me. He answered, Verily I am the messenger of thy Lord,and am sent to give thee a holy son. (20) She said, How shall I have a son, seeing a man hath not touched me, and I am no harlot? (21) Gabriel replied, So shall it be: thy Lord saith, This is easy with me; and we will perform it, that we may ordain him for a sign unto men, and a mercy from us: for it is a thing which is decreed. Wherefore she conceived him; and she retired aside with him in her womb to a distant place; and the pains of child-birth came upon her near the trunk of a palm-tree. She said, Would to God I had died before this, and had become a thing forgotten and lost in oblivion. And he who was beneath her called to her, saying, Be not grieved; now hath God provided a rivulet under thee; and do thou shake the body of the palm-tree, and it shall let fall ripe dates upon thee ready gathered. And eat, and drink, and calm thy mind. Moreover, if thou see any man, and he question thee, say, Verily I have vowed a fast unto the Merciful: wherefor I will by no means speak to a man this day. (28) So she brought the child to her people, carrying him in her arms.And they said unto her, O Mary, now hast thou done a strange thing. O sister of Aaron, thy father was not a bad man, neither was thy mother a harlot. (30) But she made signs unto the child to answer them; and they said, How shall we speak to him, who is an infant in the cradle? Whereupon the child said, Verily I am the servant of God; he hath given me the book of the gospel, and hath appointed me a prophet. (32) And he hath made me blessed, wheresoever I shall be; and hath commanded me to observe prayer, and to give alms, so long as I shall live; (33) and he hath made me dutiful towards my mother, and hath not made me proud or unhappy. And peace be on me the day whereon I was born, and the day whereon I shall die, and the day whereon I shall be raised to life. This was Jesus, the son of Mary; the Word of truth, concerning whom they doubt. It is not meet for God, that he should have any son; God forbid! When he decreeth a thing, he only saith unto it, Be; and it is. (37) And verily God is my Lord and your Lord; wherefore, serve him: this is the right way. Yet the sectaries differ among themselves concerning Jesus: but woe be unto those who are unbelievers, because of their appearance at the great day. Do thou cause them to hear, and do thou cause them to see, on the day whereon they shall come unto us to be judged: but the ungodly are this day in a manifest error. (40) And do thou forewarn them of the day of sighing, when the matter shall be determined, while they are now sunk in negligence, and do not believe. Verily we will inherit the earth, and whatever creatures are therein; and unto us shall they all return.
∥ And remember Abraham in the book of theQurán; for he was one of great veracity, and a prophet. When he said unto his father, O my father, why dost thou worship that which heareth not, neither seeth, nor profiteth thee at all? O my father, verily a degree of knowledge hath been bestowed on me, which hath not been bestowed on thee: wherefore follow me; I will lead thee into an even way. O my father, serve not Satan; for Satan was rebellious unto the Merciful. O my father, verily I fear lest a punishment be inflicted on thee from the Merciful, and thou become a companion of Satan. His father answered, Dost thou reject my gods, O Abraham? If thou forbear not, I will surely stone thee: wherefore leave me for a long time. Abraham replied, Peace be on thee: I will ask pardon for thee of my Lord; for he is gracious unto me. And I will separate myself from you, and from the idols which ye invoke besides God; and I will call upon my Lord: it may be that I shall not be unsuccessful in calling on my Lord,as ye are in calling upon them. And when he had separated himself from them, and from the idols which they worshipped besides God, we gave him Isaac and Jacob; and we made each of them a prophet, and we bestowed on them, through our mercy, the gift of prophecy, and children and wealth; and we caused them to deserve the highest commendations. And remember Moses in the book of the Qurán: for he was sincerely upright, and was an apostle and a prophet. And we called unto him from the right side of Mount Sinai, and caused him to draw near, and to discourse privately with us. (54) And we gave him, through our mercy, his brother Aaron a prophet, for his assistant. Remember also Ismáíl in the same book; for he was true to his promise, and was an apostle and a prophet. (56) And he commanded his family to observe prayer and to give alms; and he was acceptable unto his Lord. And remember Idrís in the same book; for he was a just person and a prophet: and we exalted him to a high place. These are they unto whom God hath been bounteous, of the prophets of the posterity of Adam, and of those whom we carried in the ark with Noah; and of the posterity of Abraham, and of Israel, and of those whom we have directed and chosen. When the signs of the Merciful were read unto them, they fell down, worshipping, and wept.
∥ (60) But a succeeding generation have come after them, who neglect prayer and follow their lusts; and they shall surely fall into evil: except him who repenteth and believeth, and doth that which is right; these shall enter Paradise, and they shall not in the least be wronged: gardens of perpetual abode shall be their reward, which the Merciful hath promised unto his servants, as an object of faith; for his promise will surely come to be fulfilled. Therein shall they hear no vain discourse, but peace; and their provision shall be prepared for them therein morning and evening. (64) This is Paradise, which we will give for an inheritance unto such of our servants as shall be pious. We descend not from heaven, unless by command of thy Lord: unto him belongeth whatsoever is before us, and whatsoever is behind us, and whatsoever is in the intermediate space; neither is thy Lord forgetful of thee.He is the Lord of heaven and earth, and of whatsoever is between them: wherefore worship him, and be constant in his worship. Dost thou know any named like him?
∥ Man saith, After I shall have been dead, shall I really be brought forth alive from the grave? (68) Doth not man remember that we created him heretofore, when he was nothing? But by thy Lord we will surely assemble them and the devils to judgment; then will we set them round about hell on their knees: afterwards we will draw forth from every sect such of them as shall have been a more obstinate rebel against the Merciful; and we best know which of them are more worthy to be burned therein. There shall be none of you but shall approach near the same: this is an established decree with thy Lord. Afterwards we will deliver those who shall have been pious, but we will leave the ungodly therein on their knees. When our manifest signs are read unto them, the infidels say unto the true believers, Which of the two parties is in the more eligible condition, and formeth the more excellent assembly? (75) But how many generations have we destroyed before them, which excelled them in wealth, and in outward appearance? Say, Whosoever is in error, the Merciful will grant him a long and prosperous life, (77) until they see that with which they are threatened, whether it be the punishment of this life, or that of the last hour; and hereafter they shall know who is in the worse condition, and the weaker in forces. (78) God shall more fully direct those who receive direction; (79) and the good works which remain for ever are better in the sight of thy Lordthan worldly possessions, in respect to the reward, and more eligible in respect to the future recompense. Hast thou seen him who believeth not in our signs, and saith, I shall surely have riches and children bestowed on me? (81) Is he acquainted with the secrets of futurity; or hath he received a covenant from the Merciful that it shall be so? (82) By no means. We will surely write down that which he saith; and increasing we will increase his punishment; and we will be his heir as to that which he speaketh of; and on the last day he shall appear before us alone and naked. (84) They have taken other gods, besides God, that they may be a glory unto them. By no means. Hereafter shall they deny their worship; and they shall become adversaries unto them.
∥ Dost thou not see that we send the devils against the infidels, to incite them to sin by their instigations? (87) Wherefore be not in haste to call down destruction upon them; for we number unto them a determined number of days of respite. (88) On a certain day we will assemble the pious before the Merciful in an honourable manner, as ambassadors come into the presence of a prince: (89) but we will drive the wicked into hell, as cattle are driven to water: they shall obtain no intercession, except he only who hath received a covenant from the Merciful. They say, The Merciful hath begotten issue. Now have ye uttered an impious thing: it wanteth little but that on occasion thereof the heavens be rent, and the earth cleave in sunder, and the mountains be overthrown and fall, for that they attribute children unto the Merciful; whereas it becometh not God to beget children. Verily there is none in heaven or on earth but shall approach the Merciful as his servant. He encompasseth them by his knowledge and power, and numbereth them with an exact computation: and they shall all come unto him on the day of resurrection, destitute both of helpers and followers. But as for those who believe and do good works, the Merciful will bestow on them love. Verily we have rendered the Qurán easy for thy tongue, that thou mayest thereby declare our promises unto the pious, and mayest thereby denounce threats unto contentious people. (98) And how many generations have we destroyed before them? Dost thou find one of them remaining? Or dost thou hear so much as a whisper concerning them?
There is little to indicate the occasion of the revelations contained in this chapter. Judging from the nature of the contents, it may, however, be conjectured that they were pronounced for the encouragement, and perhaps instruction, of the Muslims during the third stage of Muhammad’s prophetic career at Makkah (vers. 1 and 131). With this view accords the spirit of the chapter towards the opponents of Islám, as well as the character of the opposition described therein. The Jews demand a sign (ver. 133), and the Quraish are determined in their adherence to idolatry (vers. 128 and 135).
The opposition of the Jews seems to have led to the somewhat detailed account of Moses and of the children of Israel. This is also the earliest attempt at relating the story of Moses, and probably, for that reason, the most complete account of it in the Qurán. Indeed, a suspicion is raised in vers. 99 and 133 that the revelations were enunciated only after careful research, in order to prove the oneness of the Qurán with the “former volumes.”
The first fourteen or sixteen verses of this chapter are said to have induced Omar Ibn al Khattáb to become a Muslim in the sixth year before the Hijra (Hishám, 226 sq., cf. note; Ibn Sád, i. and v.; comp. Weil, p. 60; Causs, i. 396 sq.; and Springer, 187 sq.) Against this view, Noeldeke points out what seems to be a fatal objection, that the commentators, without exception, are silent as to this story. Besides this, he notes the fact that other chapters have been credited with this same honour (e.g., lxi., lvii., or lxiv.; all Madínic!), not to mention the fact that two contradictory accounts of this conversion are given by the principal authority for that story (Hishám); see Muir’s Life of Mohamet, vol. ii. pp. 168-171, with notes.
Aside from the external evidence, already alluded to above, the general tone of the revelations and the circumstances of Islám, apparent throughout the chapter, point to the early portion of the third stage of Muhammad’s prophetic career at Makkah—say B.H. 6 or 7—as the probable date of this chapter. Vers. 130 and 131 have been regarded as Madínic by some (see as Syuti’s Itqán 34 sq.), but Noeldeke thinks this supposition to be without good reason.
|The Qurán an admonition from God to the faithful||1-3|
|God one, a Sovereign King, omniscient, and possessed of most excellent names||4-7|
|The History of Moses:—|
|He sees the burning bush||8-10|
|God speaks to him out of the fire||11, 12|
|He is chosen and instructed by God||13, 14|
|A day of judgment will surely come||15-17|
|God bestows on him signs and miracles||18-24|
|He is commanded to go to Pharaoh||25|
|Moses prays for the assistance of Aaron||26-35|
|God reminds Moses of former favours||36-42|
|He is sent with Aaron to Pharaoh||43-50|
|Conversation between Pharaoh and Moses||51-57|
|Pharaoh rejects Moses and accuses him of imposture||58, 59|
|Pharaoh proposes to meet Moses and Aaron with countermiracles||60-62|
|Moses warns the magicians against deception||63, 64|
|The magicians dispute among themselves||65|
|They counsel Pharaoh against Moses||66|
|Pharaoh encourages the magicians to do their best||67|
|The contest between Moses and the magicians||68-72|
|The magicians are converted||73|
|Pharaoh threatens the magicians with dire punishment||74, 75|
|The magicians defy the wrath of Pharaoh, and express hope in God||75-78|
|God commands Moses to lead the Israelites through the Red Sea||79, 80|
|Pharaoh pursues them, and is overwhelmed by the sea||81|
|God feeds the Israelites on manna and quails in the desert||82, 83|
|God’s treatment of the unbelieving and penitent||83, 84|
|The Israelites worship a golden calf||85-87|
|Moses reproaches them with idolatry||88-89|
|They lay the blame on al Sámirí||90, 91|
|The people disobey Aaron||92, 93|
|Moses rebukes Aaron—his apology||94, 95|
|Sámirí’s explanation of his conduct||96|
|Sámirí’s doom to social ostracism||97, 98|
|The penalty of rejecting God’s revelations||97-101|
|The resurrection and the conduct of those judged on the judgment-day||102-107|
|No intercession on that day, except by permission||108|
|The fate of the wicked and reward of the righteous||109-111|
|The Qurán made easy for Muhammad, but he is not to be hasty in repeating it||112, 113|
|The Story of Adam:—|
|Adam disobeys God||114|
|All the angels worship Adam except Iblís||115|
|Adam warned against Satan||116, 117|
|Satan beguiles Adam and Eve||118, 119|
|God pardons, but expels them from Paradise||120, 121|
|An admonition promised, with penalty of rejection of it||122-124|
|Infidels will appear in the judgment blind, and reasons for blindness||125-127|
|The Makkans warned||128, 129|
|Muhammad comforted and encouraged||130-132|
|The Jews demand a sign, and the Quraish disbelieve||133, 134|
|God directs Muhammad to proclaim his readiness to wait the final issue of the controversy between them||135|
∥ T. H. We have not sent down the Qurán unto thee that thou shouldest be unhappy; (2) but for an admonition unto him who feareth God: (3) being sent down from him who created the earth and the lofty heavens. (4) The Merciful sitteth on his throne: (5) unto him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth, and whatsoever is between them, and whatsoever is under the earth. If thou pronounce thy prayers with a loud voice, know that it is not necessary in respect to God; for he knoweth that which is secret, and what is yet more hidden. God! there is no God but he; he hath most excellent names. Hast thou been informed of the history of Moses? When he saw fire, and said unto his family, Tarry ye here; for I perceive fire: peradventure I may bring you a brand thereout, or may find a direction in our way by the fire. (11) And when he was come near unto it, a voice called unto him, saying, O Moses, verily I am thy Lord: wherefore put off thy shoes; for thou art in the sacred valley Tuwá. (13) And I have chosen thee; therefore hearken with attention unto that which is revealed unto thee. (14) Verily I am God; there is no god besides me; wherefore worship me, and perform thy prayer in remembrance of me. (15) Verily the hour cometh: I will surely manifest the same, that every soul may receive its reward for that which it hath deliberately done. (17) Let not him who believeth not therein, and who followeth his lust, prevent thee from believing in the same, lest thou perish. (18) Now what is that in thy right hand, O Moses? He answered, It is my rod whereon I lean, and with which I beat down leaves for my flock; and I have other uses for it. (20) God said unto him, Cast it down, O Moses. And he cast it down, and behold, it became a serpent, which ran about. God said, Take hold on it, and fear not: we will reduce it to its former condition. And put thy right hand under thy left arm: it shall come forth white, without any hurt. (24) This shall be another sign: that we may show thee some of our greatest signs. (25) Go unto Pharaoh: for he is exceedingly impious. Moses answered, Lord, enlarge my breast,
∥ (27) And make what thou hast commanded me easy unto me: and loose the knot of my tongue, (29) that they may understand my speech. And give me a counsellor of my family, (31) namely, Aaron my brother. (32) Gird up my loins by him, (33) and make him my colleague in the business: (34) that we may praise thee greatly, and may remember thee often; (35) for thou regardest us. (36) God replied, Now hast thou obtained thy request, O Moses: (37) and we have heretofore been gracious unto thee another time, when we revealed unto thy mother that which was revealed unto her,saying, Put him into the ark, and cast him into the river, and the river shall throw him on the shore; and my enemy and his enemy shall take him and bring him up; and I bestowed on thee love from me, (40) that thou mightest be bred up under my eye. When thy sister went and said, Shall I bring you unto one who will nurse the child? So we returned thee unto thy mother, that her mind might be set at ease, and that she might not be afflicted. And thou slewest a soul, and we delivered thee from trouble; and we proved thee by several trials: and afterwards thou didst dwell some years among the inhabitants of Madian. Then thou camest hither according to our decree, O Moses; (43) and I have chosen thee for myself; wherefore go thou and thy brother with my signs; and be not negligent in remembering me. (45) Go ye unto Pharaoh, for he is excessively impious: and speak mildly unto him; peradventure he will consider, or will fear our threats. (47) They answered, O Lord, verily we fear lest he be precipitately violent against us, or lest he transgress more exorbitantly. (48) God replied, Fear not; for I am with you: I will hear and will see. (49) Go ye therefore unto him, and say, Verily we are the messengers of thy Lord: wherefore send the children of Israel with us, and do not afflict them. Now are we come unto thee with a sign from thy Lord: and peace be upon him who shall follow the true direction. Verily it hath been revealed unto us that a punishment shall be inflicted on him who shall charge us with imposture, and shall turn back. (51) And when they had delivered their message, Pharaoh said, Who is your Lord, O Moses? (52) He answered, Our Lord is he who giveth all things: he hath created them, and directeth them by his providence.Pharaoh said, What therefore is the condition of the former generations? Moses answered, The knowledge thereof is with my Lord, in the book of his decrees; my Lord erreth not, neither doth he forget. It is he who hath spread the earth as a bed for you, and hath made you paths therein; and who sendeth down rain from heaven, whereby we cause various kinds of vegetables to spring forth: saying, Eat of part, and feed your cattle with other part thereof. Verily herein are signs unto those who are endued with understanding.
∥ Out of the ground have we created you; and to the same will we cause you to return, and we will bring you forth from thence another time. (58) And we showed Pharaoh all our signs which we had empowered Moses to perform: but he accused him of imposture, and refused to believe;and he said, Art thou come unto us that thou mayest dispossess us of our land by thy enchantments, O Moses? (60) Verily we will meet thee with the like enchantments; wherefore fix an appointment between us and thee; we will not fail it, neither shalt thou, in an equal place. Moses answered, Let your appointment be on the day of your solemn feast; and let the people be assembled in open day. (62) And Pharaoh turned away from Moses, and gathered together the most expert magicians to execute his stratagem; and then came to the appointment. Moses said unto them, Woe be unto you! do not devise a lie against God, (64) lest he utterly destroy you by some judgment: for he shall not prosper who deviseth lies. And the magicians disputed concerning their affair among themselves, and discoursed in private: and they said, These two are certainly magicians: they seek to dispossess you of your land by their sorcery; and to lead away with them your chiefest and most considerable men. Wherefore collect all your cunning, and then come in order: for he shall prosper this day who shall be superior. They said, O Moses, whether wilt thou cast down thy rod first, or shall we be the first who cast down our rods? He answered, Do ye cast down your rods first. And behold, their cords and their rods appeared unto him, by their enchantment, to run about like serpents; wherefore Moses conceived fear in his heart. But we said unto him, Fear not; for thou shalt be superior; therefore cast down the rod which is in thy right hand, and it shall swallow up the seeming serpents which they have made: for what they have made is only the deceit of an enchanter; and an enchanter shall not prosper, whithersoever he cometh. And the magicians, when they saw the miracle which Moses performed, fell down and worshipped, saying, We believe in the Lord of Aaron and of Moses. Pharaoh said unto them, Do ye believe in him before I give you permission? Verily this is your master, who hath taught you magic. But I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on the opposite sides; and I will crucify you on trunks of palm-trees: and ye shall know which of us is more severe in punishing, and can longer protract your pains. They answered, We will by no means have greater regard unto thee than unto those evident miracles which have been shown us, or than unto him who hath created us. Pronounce therefore that sentence against us which thou art about to pronounce; for thou canst only give sentence as to this present life. Verily we believe in our Lord, that he may forgive us our sins, and the sorcery which thou hast forced us to exercise: for God is better to reward, and more able to prolong punishment than thou. Verily whosoever shall appear before his Lordon the day of judgment polluted with crimes, shall have hell for his reward; he shall not die therein, neither shall he live. But whoever shall appear before him, having been a true believer, and shall have worked righteousness, for these are prepared the highest degrees of happiness,namely, gardens of perpetual abode, which shall be watered by rivers; they shall remain therein for ever: and this shall be the reward of him who shall be pure.
∥ And we spake by revelation unto Moses, saying, Go forth with my servants out of Egypt by night, and smite the waters with thy rod, and make them a dry path through the sea: be not apprehensive of Pharaoh’s overtaking thee, neither be thou afraid. And when Moses had done so Pharaoh followed them with his forces, and the waters of the sea overwhelmed them. And Pharaoh caused his people to err, neither did he direct them aright. Thus, O children of Israel, we delivered you from your enemy, and we appointed you the right side of Mount Sinai to discourse with Moses and to give him the law, and we caused manna and quails to descend upon you, saying, Eat of the good things which we have given you for food, and transgress not therein lest my indignation fall on you; and on whomsoever my indignation shall fall he shall go down headlong into perdition. But I will be gracious unto him who shall repent and believe, and shall do that which is right, and who shall be rightly directed. What hath caused thee to hasten from thy people, O Moses, to receive the law? (86) He answered, These follow close on my footsteps, but I have hastened unto thee, O Lord, that thou mightest be well pleased with me.God said, We have already made a trial of thy people since thy departure, and al Sámirí hath seduced them to idolatry. Wherefore Moses returned unto his people in great wrath, and exceedingly afflicted. And he said, O my people, had not your Lord promised you a most excellent promise? Did the time of my absence seem long unto you? Or did ye desire that indignation from your Lord should fall on you, and therefore failed to keep the promise which ye made me? They answered, We have not failed in what we promised thee of our own authority, but we were made to carry in several loads of gold and silver, of the ornaments of the people, and we cast them into the fire; and in like manner al Sámirí also cast in what he had collected, and he produced unto them a corporeal calf, which lowed. And al Sámirí and his companions said, This is your god and the god of Moses, but he hath forgotten him, and is gone to seek some other. Did they not therefore see that their idol returned them no answer, and was not able to cause them either hurt or profit?
∥ (92) And Aaron had said unto them before, O my people, verily ye are only proved by this calf, for your Lord is the Merciful, wherefore follow me and obey my command. (93) They answered, We will by no means cease to be devoted to its worship until Moses return unto us. And when Moses was returned, he said, O Aaron, what hindered thee, when thou sawest that they went astray, that thou didst not follow me? Hast thou therefore been disobedient to my command? Aaron answered, O son of my mother, drag me not by the beard, nor by the hair of my head. Verily, I feared lest thou shouldest say thou hast made a division among the children of Israel, and thou hast not observed my saying. Moses said unto al Sámirí, What was thy design, O Sámirí? He answered, I saw that which they saw not; wherefore I took a handful of dust from the footsteps of the messenger of God, and I cast it into the molten calf, for so did my mind direct me. Moses said, Get thee gone, for thy punishment in this life shall be that thou shalt say unto those who shall meet thee, Touch me not; and a threat is denounced against thee of more terrible pains in the life to come, which thou shalt by no means escape. And behold now thy god, to whose worship thou hast continued assiduously devoted; verily we will burn it, and we will reduce it to powder and scatter it in the sea. (98) Your God is the trueGod, besides whom there is no other god: he comprehendeth all things by his knowledge. (99) Thus do we recite unto thee, O Muhammad, relations of what hath passed heretofore, and we have given thee an admonition from us. (100) He who shall turn aside from it shall surely carry a load of guilt on the day of resurrection: they shall continue thereunder for ever, and a grievous burden shall it be unto them on the day of resurrection. On that day the trumpet shall be sounded, and we will gather the wicked together on that day, having grey eyes. They shall speak with a low voice to one another, saying, Ye have not tarried above ten days. (104) We well know what they will say, when the most conspicuous among them for behaviour shall say, Ye have not tarried above one day.
∥ They will ask thee concerning the mountains: Answer, My Lord will reduce them to dust, and scatter them abroad; (106) and he will leave them a plain equally extended: thou shalt see no part of them higher or lower than another. On that day mankind shall follow the angel who will call them to judgment; none shall have power to turn aside from him; and their voices shall be low before the Merciful; neither shalt thou hear any more than the hollow sound of their feet. On that day, the intercession of none shall be of advantage unto another, except the intercession of him to whom the Merciful shall grant permission, and who shall be acceptable unto him in what he saith. (109) God knoweth that which is before them, and that which is behind them; but they comprehend not the same by their knowledge: and their faces shall be humbled before the living, the self-subsisting God; and he shall be wretched who shall bear his iniquity. (111) But whosoever shall do good works, being a true believer, shall not fear any injustice, or any diminution of his reward from God. And thus have we sent down this book, being a Qurán in the Arabic tongue: and we have inserted various threats and promises therein, that men may fear God, or that it may awaken some consideration in them: wherefore, let God be highly exalted, the King, the Truth! Be not over-hasty in receiving or repeating the Qurán before the revelation thereof be completed unto thee; and say. Lord, increase my knowledge. We heretofore gave a command unto Adam; but he forgot the same, and ate of the forbidden fruit; and we found not in him a firm resolution.
∥ And remember when we said unto the angels, Worship ye Adam; and they worshipped him: but Iblís refused. And we said, O Adam, verily this is an enemy unto thee, and thy wife; wherefore, beware lest he turn you out of Paradise; for then shalt thou be miserable. Verily we have made a provision for thee, that thou shalt not hunger therein, neither shalt thou be naked: and there is also a provision made for thee, that thou shalt not thirst therein, neither shalt thou be incommoded by heat. But Satan whispered evil suggestions unto him, saying, O Adam, shall I guide thee to the tree of eternity and a kingdom which faileth not? And they both ate thereof: and their nakedness appeared unto them; and they began to sew together the leaves of Paradise, to cover themselves. And thus Adam became disobedient unto his Lord, and was seduced. Afterwards his Lord accepted him, on his repentonce, and was turned unto him, and directed him. AndGod said, Get ye down hence, all of you: the one of you shall be an enemy unto the other. But hereafter shall a direction come unto you from me: and whosoever shall follow my direction shall not err, neither shall he be unhappy; (123) but whosoever shall turn aside from my admonition, verily he shall lead a miserable life, and we will cause him to appear before us on the day of resurrection blind. (125) And he shall say, O Lord, why hast thou brought me before thee blind, whereas before I saw clearly? (126) God shall answer, Thus have we done, because our signs came unto thee, and thou didst forget them; and in the same manner shalt thou be forgotten this day. (127) And thus will we reward him who shall be negligent, and shall not believe in the signs of his Lord: and the punishment of the life to come shall be more severe, and more lasting, than the punishment of this life. Are not the Makkans, therefore, acquainted how many generations we have destroyed before them; in whose dwellings they walk? Verily herein are signs unto those who are endued with understanding.
∥ (129) And unless a decree had previously gone forth from thy Lordfor their respite, verily their destruction had necessarily followed: but there is a certain time determined by God for their punishment. Wherefore, do thou, O Muhammad, patiently bear that which they say; and celebrate the praise of thy Lord before the rising of the sun, and before the setting thereof, and praise him in the hours of the night, and in the extremities of the day, that thou mayest be well pleased with the prospect of receiving favour from God. And cast not thine eyes on that which we have granted divers of the unbelievers to enjoy, namely, the splendour of this present life, that we may prove them thereby; for the provision of thy Lordis better and more permanent. Command thy family to observe prayer; and do thou persevere therein. We require not of thee that thou labour to gain necessary provisions for thyself and family; we will provide for thee; for the prosperous issue shall attend on piety. The unbelievers say, Unless he come unto us with a sign from his Lord,we will not believe on him. Hath not a plain declaration come unto them, of that which is contained in the former volumes of scripture, by the revelation of the Qurán? (134) If we had destroyed them by a judgment before the same had been revealed, they would have said at the resurrection, O Lord,how could we believe, since thou didst not send unto us an apostle, that we might follow thy signs, before we were humbled and covered with shame? (135) Say, Each of us wait the issue; wait, therefore; for ye shall surely know hereafter who have been the followers of the even way, and who hath been rightly directed.
The circumstances of the Muslims at the time this chapter was written have, as usual, determined the style and matter of the “revelations.” The Quraish, aided by the Jews, were now active in their resistance to the reformer at Makkah. They scoffed at his revelations, stigmatising them as “a confused heap of dreams,” the offspring of sorcery; Muhammad was denounced as “a forger,” and his boasted “incomparable verses were regarded as the ordinary productions of a “poet” (ver. 5).
It is not unreasonable to infer from the character of the persecution of the prophets in former ages described in this chapter, that the Quraish had already threatened Muhammad with violent measures, and were now quite ready to carry their threats into execution (comp. ver. 37 with vers. 66-68). The principal point in the stories of the prophets given here is that the blessing of God rests on the prophets, and that he delivers them out of the hands of their enemies, or avenges their death with dire judgments on their persecutors (see note on vers. 10-15).
The case of Abraham, however, is given with considerable detail. This is one of the prophets with whom Muhammad frequently compared himself in the Qurán. If (with Muir, see note on ver. 18) we regard Muhammad and the Muslims as now exposed to that persecution of the Quraish which resulted in their flight to Madína, and keeping in mind that at this period Muhammad had determined to retire to Madína as soon as the way should be open, we may make the following comparison,—a comparison we believe to have been present in Muhammad’s mind at that time—a comparison between Abraham and Muhammad:—
|1. Received a revelation for his people (the Chaldeans. ver. 52).||1. Received a revelation for his people (the Quraish).|
|2. Reproaches his father and people for their idolatry (ver. 53).||2. Reproaches his relatives and the people of Makkah for their idolatry.|
|3. Treats the national idols with contempt, and speaks against them (vers. 54-64).||3. Treats the national idols with contempt, and preaches against them.|
|4. Abraham is tolerated for a while, and hopes for reform (ver. 65).||4. Muhammad tolerated for a while, and hopes for reform.|
|5. The Chaldeans relapse into former habits and begin to persecute Abraham (ver. 66).||5. The Quraish reject Muhammad and begin to persecute him.|
|6. The Chaldeans seek Abraham’s life (vers. 67, 68).||6. The Quraish seek Muhammad’s life.|
|7. Abraham delivered by divine interference (vers. 69, 70).||7. Muhammad will receive divine assistance (ver. 112).|
|8. Abraham and Lot delivered from the Chaldeans and brought into “a land of blessing.”||8. Muhammad and his companions will be brought safely to Madína.|
This chapter is also interesting as illustrating how much of Scripture knowledge Muhammad had already acquired, and how he now moulds it to suit his purpose, and how he presents it as a revelation from God, and as a proof of its own inspiration because agreeing, as he declared, with the former Scriptures. No stronger proof of the charge brought against him by the Quraish and the Jews that he was “a forger” could be produced,—his forgery “to be palliated only by the miserable apology of a pious end” (see Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 189).
From what has already been said, we conclude that this chapter belongs to the latter part of the third stage or ninth year of Muhammad’s mission at Makkah. Jaláluddín as Syúti (Itqán, 34) thinks ver. 7 to be of Madína origin.
|The judgment of careless and mocking Quraish near||1-4|
|The Makkan people regard Muhammad as “a forger”||5|
|Miracles not performed by Muhammad because former nations received no benefit from seeing them||6|
|The former prophets were but mortal men||7, 8|
|God favours his prophets but judges infidels||9|
|The Quraish mentioned in the Qurán||10|
|The unbelieving cities and scoffers destroyed||11-15|
|God not given to sport||16, 17|
|The truth must triumph||18|
|Angels serve God, therefore not to be worshipped||19-22|
|God is sovereign||23|
|The great sin of idolatry||24|
|All apostles testified to God’s unity||25|
|Angels are the daughters of God||26-28|
|Angelic intercession only by divine permission||29|
|The doom of angels who usurp divine honours||30|
|God’s works the proof of his divinity||31-34|
|None immortal but God||35, 36|
|Muhammad regarded by the Makkans as a scoffer||37|
|Men hasty to call down divine wrath on themselves||38, 39|
|Threatened vengeance will descend suddenly||40, 41|
|The doom of those who mocked former prophets||42, 43|
|The gods of the idolaters unable to deliver their votaries||44|
|God will triumph over the infidels||45|
|Muhammad only a warner||46|
|The deaf will not hear the warnings of God||47|
|God will judge righteously||48|
|Moses and Aaron, like Muhammad, received a revelation||49-51|
|The Story of Abraham—|
|He receives a revelation||52|
|Reproaches his father and people with idolatry||53-57|
|He devises a plot to destroy the idols||58|
|He destroys the idols of the Chaldeans||59, 60|
|He is accused before the people||61, 62|
|He lays the blame on the largest idol||63, 64|
|The Chaldeans at first disposed to repent, but they draw back||65, 66|
|Abraham reproaches them for their idolatry||67|
|They command him to be burned alive||68|
|God miraculously delivers him||69, 70|
|He receives the promise of Isaac and Jacob||71-73|
|Lot delivered from Sodom||74, 75|
|Noah delivered from the Flood||70, 77|
|The persecutors of Noah drowned||77|
|The wisdom of David and Solomon||78-80|
|Winds and demons subject to Solomon||81, 82|
|Job is delivered from his affliction||83, 84|
|Other prophets receive mercy from God||85-88|
|Zachariah’s prayer answered||89, 90|
|God’s favour to Mary and Jesus||91|
|The true religion one, but Jews and Christians have sects||92, 93|
|The faithful certain to be rewarded||94|
|Infidels to be judged at the resurrection||95-97|
|Idolaters with their gods to be cast into hell||98-100|
|The reward of the righteous||101-103|
|The heavens to be rolled away at the judgment||104|
|The righteous shall inherit the earth||105, 106|
|Muhammad proclaims himself to be a warner||107-109|
|God knoweth the secret thoughts of the infidels||110, 111|
|God will judge the infidels and show mercy to his prophet||112|
∥ (1) The time of giving up their account draweth nigh unto the people of Makkah, while they are sunk in negligence, turning aside from the consideration thereof. (2) No admonition cometh unto them from their Lord, being lately revealed in the Qurán, but when they hear it, they turn it to sport: (3) their hearts are taken up with delights. And they who act unjustly discourse privately together, saying, Is this Muhammad any more than a man like yourselves? Will ye therefore come to hear a piece of sorcery, when ye plainly perceive it to be so? (4) Say, My Lord knoweth whatever is spoken in heaven and on earth: it is he who heareth and knoweth. But they say, The Qurán is a confused heap of dreams: nay, he hath forged it; nay, he is a poet: let him come unto us therefore with some miracle, in like manner as the former prophets were sent. None of the cities which we have destroyed believed the miracles which they saw performed before them: will these therefore believe, if they see a miracle? We sent none as our apostles before them, other than men, unto whom we revealed our will. Ask those who are acquainted with the Scripture, if ye know not this. (8) We gave them not a body which could be supported without their eating food; neither were they immortal. (9) But we made good our promise unto them: wherefore we delivered them, and those whom we pleased; but we destroyed the exorbitant transgressors. Now have we sent down unto you, O Quraish, the book of the Qurán, wherein there is honourable mention of you: will ye not therefore understand?
∥ And how many cities have we overthrown, which were ungodly; and caused other nations to rise up after them? And when they felt our severe vengeance, behold, they fled swiftly from those cities.And the angels said scoffingly unto them, Do not fly; but return to that wherein ye delighted, and to your habitations; peradventure ye will be asked. They answered, Alas for us! verily we have been unjust. And this their lamentation ceased not until we had rendered them like corn which is mown down and utterly extinct. We created not the heavens and the earth, and that which is between them, by way of sport. If we had pleased to take diversion, verily we had taken it with that which beseemeth us; if we had resolved to have done this. But we will oppose truth to vanity, and it shall confound the same; and behold, it shall vanish away. Woe be unto you, for that which ye impiously utter concerning God! (19) since whoever is in heaven and on earth is subject unto him; and the angels who are in his presence do not insolently disdain his service, neither are they tired therewith. (20) They praise him night and day; they faint not. (21) Have they taken gods from the earth? Shall they raise the dead to life? If there were either in heaven or on earth gods beside God, verily both would be corrupted. But far be that which they utter from God, the Lord of the throne! (23) No account shall be demanded of him for what he shall do; but an account shall be demanded of them. Have they taken other gods besides him! Say, Produce your proof thereof. This is the admonition of those who are contemporary with me, and the admonition of those who have been before me, but the greater part of them know not the truth, and turn aside from the same. (25) We have sent no apostle before thee, but we revealed unto him that there is no God beside myself; wherefore serve me. They say, The Merciful hath begotten issue, and the angels are his daughters.God forbid! They are his honoured servants; they prevent him not in anything which they say, and they execute his command. (28) He knoweth that which is before them, and that which is behind them; they shall not intercede for any, except for whom it shall please him; and they tremble for fear of him. (30) Whoever of them shall say, I am a god beside him; that angel will we reward with hell: for so will we reward the unjust.
∥ Do not the unbelievers therefore know that the heavens and the earth were solid, and we clave the same in sunder, and made every living thing of water? Will they not therefore believe? And we placed stable mountains on the earth, lest it should move with them; and we made broad passages between them for paths, that they might be directed in their journeys: (33) and we made the heaven a roof well supported. Yet they turn aside from the signs thereof, not considering that they are the workmanship of God. (34) It is he who hath created the night, and the day, and the sun, and the moon; all the celestial bodies move swiftly, each in its respective orb. We have not granted unto any man before thee eternal permanency in this world; if thou die, therefore, will they be immortal? Every soul shall taste of death: and we will prove you with evil and with good, for a trial of you; and unto us shall ye return. When the unbelievers see thee, they receive thee only with scoffing, saying, Is this he who mentioneth your gods with contempt? Yet themselves believe not what is mentioned to them of the Merciful. Man is created of precipitation. Hereafter will I show you my signs, so that ye shall not wish them to be hastened. (39) They say, When will this threat be accomplished, if ye speak truth? (40) If they who believe not knew that the time will surely come when they shall not be able to drive back the fire of hell from their faces, nor from their backs, neither shall they be helped, they would not hasten it. (41) But the day of vengeance shall come upon them suddenly, and shall strike them with astonishment: they shall not be able to avert it, neither shall they be respited. Other apostles have been mocked before thee; but the punishment which they scoffed at fell upon such of them as mocked.
∥ (43) Say unto the scoffers, Who shall save you by night and by day from the Merciful? Yet they utterly neglect the remembrance of their Lord. (44) Have they gods who will defend them, besides us? They are not able to help themselves; neither shall they be assisted against us by their companions. But we have permitted these men and their fathers to enjoy worldly prosperity so long as life was continued unto them. Do they not perceive that we come unto the land of the unbelievers, and straiten the borders thereof? Shall they therefore be the conquerors? (46) Say, I only preach unto you the revelation of God: but the deaf will not hear thy call, whenever they are preached unto. (47) Yet if the least breath of the punishment of thy Lord touch them, they will surely say, Alas for us! verily we have been unjust. We will appoint just balances for the day of resurrection; neither shall any soul be injured at all: although the merit or guilt of an action be of the weight of a grain of mustard-seed only, we will produce it publicly; and there will be sufficient accountants with us. We formerly gave unto Moses and Aaron the law, being a distinction between good and evil, and a light and admonition unto the pious; (50) who fear their Lord in secret, and who dread the hour of judgment. (51) And this book also is a blessed admonition, which we have sent down from heaven: will ye therefore deny it?
∥ And we gave unto Abraham his direction heretofore, and we knew him to be worthy of the revelations wherewith he was favoured.Remember when he said unto his father and his people, What are these images, to which ye are so entirely devoted? (54) They answered. We found our fathers worshipping them. (55) He said, Verily both ye and your fathers have been in a manifest error. (56) They said, Dost thou seriously tell us the truth, or art thou one who jestest with us? (57) He replied, Verily your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth; it is he who hath created them: and I am one of those who bear witness thereof. (58) By God, I will surely devise a plot against your idols, after ye shall have retired from them, and shall have turned your backs. And in the people’s absence he went into the temple where the idols stood, and he brake them all in pieces, except the biggest of them, that they might lay the blame upon that. (60) And when they were returned, and saw the havoc which had been made, they said, Who hath done this to our gods? He is certainly an impious person. (61) And certain of them answered, We heard a young man speak reproachfully of them: he is named Abraham. (62) They said, Bring him therefore before the people, that they may bear witness against him. (63) And when he was brought before the assembly, they said unto him, Hast thou done this unto our gods, O Abraham? (64) He answered, Nay, that biggest of them hath done it: but ask them, if they can speak. And they returned unto themselves, and said the one to the other, Verily ye are the impious persons. Afterwards they relapsed into their former obstinacy, and said, Verily thou knowest that these speak not.
∥ (67) Abraham answered, Do ye therefore worship, besides God, that which cannot profit you at all, neither can it hurt you? Fie on you: and upon that which ye worship besides God! Do ye not understand? They said, Burn him, and avenge your gods: if ye do this it will be well. And when Abraham was cast into the burning pile, we said, O fire, be thou cold, and a preservation unto Abraham. And they sought to lay a plot against him; but we caused them to be the sufferers. And we delivered him and Lot, bybringing them into the land wherein we have blessed all creatures. (72) And we bestowed on him Isaac and Jacob, as an additional gift; and we made all of them righteous persons. We also made them models of religion, that they might direct others by our command: and we inspired into them the doing of good works, and the observance of prayer, and the giving of alms; and they served us. And unto Lot we gave wisdom and knowledge, and we delivered him out of the city which committed filthy crimes, for they were a wicked and insolent people.
∥ (75) And we led him into our mercy, for he was an upright person. And remember Noah, when he called for destruction on his people, before the prophets above mentioned: and we heard him, and delivered him and his family from a great strait; and we protected him from the people who accused our signs of falsehood; for they were a wicked people, wherefore we drowned them all. (78) And remember David and Solomon, when they pronounced judgment concerning a field, when the sheep of certain people had fed therein by night, having no shepherd; and we were witnesses of their judgment; and we gave the understanding thereof unto Solomon. And on all of them we bestowed wisdom and knowledge. And we compelled the mountains to praise us, with David; and the birds also: and we did this. And we taught him the art of making coats of mail for you, that they may defend you in your wars; will ye therefore be thankful? And unto Solomon we subjected a strong wind; it ran at his command to the land whereon we had bestowed our blessing; and we knew all things. And we also subjected unto his command divers of the devils, who might dive to get pearls for him, and perform other work besides this; and we watched over them. And remember Job, when he cried unto his Lord,saying, Verily evil hath afflicted me, but thou art the most merciful of those who show mercy. (84) Wherefore we heard him, and relieved him from the evil which was upon him; and we restored unto him his family, and as many more with them, through our mercy, and for an admonition unto those who serve God. And remember Ismaíl, and Idrís, and Dhu’lkifl. All these were patient persons; (86) wherefore we led them into our mercy, for they were righteous doers. And remember Dhu’lnún, when he departed in wrath, and thought that we could not exercise our power over him. And he cried out in the darkness, saying, There is no God besides thee: praise be unto thee! Verily I have been one of the unjust. Wherefore we heard him, and delivered him from affliction; for so do we deliver the true believers. And remember Zacharias, when he called upon his Lord,saying, O Lord, leave me not childless; yet thou art the best heir. (90) Wherefore we heard him, and we gave him John; and we rendered his wife fit for bearing a child unto him. These strove to excel in good works, and called upon us with love and with fear, and humbled themselves before us. and remember her who preserved her virginity, and into whom we breathed of our spirit, ordaining her and her son for a sign unto all creatures. Verily this your religion is one religion, and I am your Lord; wherefore serve me. (93) But the Jews and Christians have made schisms in the affair of their religion among themselves; but all of them shall appear before us.
∥ (94) Whosoever shall do good works, being a true believer, there shall be no denial of the reward due to his endeavours, and we will surely write it down unto him. (95) An inviolable prohibition is laid on every city which we shall have destroyed; for that they shall not return any more into the world, until Gog and Magog shall have a passage opened for them, and they shall hasten from every high hill, (97) and the certain promise shall draw near to be fulfilled: and behold, the eyes of the infidels shall be fixed with astonishment, and they shall say, Alas for us! we were formerly regardless of this day; yea, we were wicked doers. (98) Verily both ye, O men of Makkah, and the idols which ye worship besides God,shall be cast as fuel into hell-fire: ye shall go down into the same. (99) If these were really gods, they would not go down into the same: and all of them shall remain therein for ever. In that place shall they groan for anguish; and they shall not hear aught therein. As for those unto whom the most excellent reward of Paradise hath been predestinated by us, they shall be transported far off from the same; (102) they shall not hear the least sound thereof: and they shall continue for ever in the felicity which their souls desire. (103) The greatest terror shall not trouble them; and the angels shall meet them to congratulate them, saying, This is your day which ye were promised. On that day we will roll up the heavens, as the angel al Sijíl rolleth up the book whereinevery man’s actions are recorded. As we made the first creature out of nothing, so we will also reproduce it at the resurrection. This is a promise which it lieth on us to fulfil: we will surely perform it. And now have we written in the Psalms, after the promulgation of the law, that my servants the righteous shall inherit the earth. (106) Verily in this book are contained sufficient means of salvation unto people who serve God. (107) We have not sent thee, O Muhammad, but as a mercy unto all creatures. (108) Say, No other hath been revealed unto me than that your God is one God:will ye therefore be resigned unto him? But if they turn their backs to the confession of God’s unity, say, I proclaim war against you all equally: but I know not whether that which ye are threatened with be nigh, or whether it be far distant. (110) Verily God knoweth the discourse which is spoken in public; and he also knoweth that which ye hold in private. (111) I know not but peradventure the respite granted you is for a trial of you; and that ye may enjoy the prosperity of this world for a time. (112) Say, Lord, judge between me and my adversaries with truth. Our Lord is the Merciful; whose assistance is to be implored against the blasphemies and calumnies which ye utter.
This chapter, which takes its title from the proclamation contained in ver. 28, is made up of a number of revelations enunciated at Makkah and Madína. A few writers, says Noëldeke, regard the whole chapter as Madínic; whereas, on the other hand, Muir seems to regard the whole as belonging to Makkah. It is difficult, indeed, to speak with much confidence in regard to the time and place of some of the passages, but there are a few, about which there can be little doubt, which may serve the purpose of landmarks; e.g., vers. 25-43, compared with chap. ii. 196-200, iii. 97, and v. 95-97, none of which are Makkan, and none of which can be reckoned of earlier date than A.H. 5 or 6, must be referred to Madína. The same is true of vers. 59, 60, where reference is made to the Muhajjarín, and to “those who have been killed” in battle (Noëldeke), or “who were afterwards slain” (Rodwell). Again, the animus of the revelations in vers. 44-58 and vers. 68-79 clearly points to Makkah. This is especially true of ver. 50, where Muhammad is styled a preacher, and of ver. 73, where the violent opposition of the unbelievers is mentioned.
As to the matter of the revelations, the chief points of interest are—
(1.) The obstinate and violent conduct of the Quraish and others at Makkah, contrasted with the calm self-confidence of Muhammad, due to the treaty made with the people of Madína and his contemplated retirement from Makkah. The conversion of the Quraish now being considered hopeless, the Muslims are no longer to dispute with them. God will cause Islám to triumph, no matter how violent the efforts of the infidels (vers. 14, 15, 70-73). The faithful are encouraged by the hope of joy in Paradise. No matter how straitened their circumstances here, they will yet wear silken garments and be adorned with jewels of gold and pearls (ver. 23).
(2.) The command to perform the pilgrimage to Makkah. It is difficult to fix the occasion of this command. The effort, manifest throughout vers. 25-43, to distinguish between what was lawful and unlawful or idolatrous in the Arab rites, would point out this to be one of the earliest revelations on this subject. To this also points the directions in reference to forbidden meats. On the contrary, the fact that the idols were still in the temple at Makkah precludes reference to the last great pilgrimage of Muhammad. Now, knowing as we do, that after the Hijra Muhammad patronised the Jews, in the hope of gaining them over to his cause, it is certain that he did not then patronise a national Arab custom so idolatrous in its character as the pilgrimage. But having been disappointed in this hope, and discovering their perfidy, he cast the Jews aside altogether, about A.H. 4. After this we find him again courting Arab favour by exalting the religion of Abraham the orthodox, who built the Kaabah, and who, with Ismaíl, dwelt in the holy place. It is, therefore, most natural to regard this command as emanating some time previous to the lesser pilgrimage, which was undertaken in A.H. 6.
(3.) The lapse of Muhammad, alluded to in vers. 53-55. Noëldeke, while admitting that these verses evidently indicate a temptation which Muhammad underwent in the matter of making a concession to idolaters, yet thinks the language is too late for the incident related in the note on ver. 53 below. So far as I am aware, however, all Muslim authorities are against him. For a full account of this matter the reader is referred to Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. pp. 149-159.
The Makkan revelations of this chapter are contained in vers. 1-24, 44-58, 61-67, 69-76, and may be referred to the last Makkan period, shortly before the Hijra. Those contained in vers. 25-43, 59, 60, and 66, belong to Madína. Of these, vers. 25-43 were revealed about A.H. 6. Vers. 40-43, the first, giving permission to wage open war with enemies, must be placed before the battle of Badr. Vers. 59 and 60 belong after Badr, as they speak of persons slain in battle. Ver. 66, beginning in the same way as ver. 36, is referred to the same date.
|The dreadful character of the judgment-day||1, 2|
|Nudhár Ibn al Hárith rebuked for his infidelity||3, 4|
|Proofs of the doctrine of the resurrection||5-7|
|Abu Jahl’s obstinate infidelity and its punishment||8-10|
|Hypocrites exposed and rebuked||11-13|
|God will reward the righteous||14|
|God will cause Muhammad and the Qurán to triumph||15, 16|
|God will judge between the followers of conflicting faiths||17|
|All creatures praise God||18|
|The awful fate of unbelievers contrasted with the joy of believers||19-24|
|Profaners of the Kaabah will be punished||25, 26|
|God appointed the site of the Kaabah an abode for Abraham||27|
|The pilgrimage to Makkah instituted for Muslims||28-32|
|Rites to be observed by the pilgrims||32-35|
|Sacrifices appointed for the professors of every religion||36|
|The humble believer encouraged||37|
|The sacrifices at Madína symbolical of obedience to God||38, 39|
|War against infidels permitted when in self-defence||40-43|
|All God’s prophets have been accused of imposture||44, 45|
|Infidels blind to God’s judgments on the ungodly||46, 47|
|Though God is forbearing he will punish unbelievers||48, 49|
|Muhammad a public preacher||50|
|Reward and punishment of believers and infidels||51, 52|
|All prophets have been subject to Satanic deception||53-55|
|The unbelievers incorrigible, but God will judge between them and the righteous||56-58|
|Blessed condition of the Muhájjarín and martyrs||59, 60|
|Revenge of personal injuries permitted||61|
|God the Creator and Preserver of all things||62-67|
|Professors of other religions not to dispute with Muhammad||68|
|How Muhammad should treat those who dispute with him||69, 70|
|The Omniscient God has decreed all things||71|
|Idolaters have no proof from God for their idolatry||72|
|Unbelievers (Quraish) ready to use violence towards the Muslims||73|
|The Makkan idols unable to keep the flies off themselves||74|
|Idolaters have a low estimate of the power of God||75|
|God chooses messengers from among men and angels||76|
|God knoweth all things, and all shall return to him||77|
|True believers exhorted to worship God and to fight in defence of his religion||78, 79|
|Muslims exhorted to be steadfast in the faith of their father Abraham||79|
∥ O menof Makkah, fear your Lord. Verily the shock of the last hour will be a terrible thing. On the day whereon ye shall see it, every woman who giveth suck shall forget the infant which she suckleth, and every female that is with young shall cast her burden; and thou shalt see men seemingly drunk, yet they shall not be really drunk: but the punishment of Godwill be severe. There is a man who disputeth concerning God without knowledge, and followeth every rebellious devil: against whom it is written, that whoever shall take him for his patron, he shall surely seduce him, and shall lead him into the torment of hell. O men, if ye be in doubt concerning the resurrection, consider that we first created you of the dust of the ground; afterwards of seed; afterwards of a little coagulated blood; afterwards of a piece of flesh, perfectly formed in part, and in part imperfectly formed; that we might make our power manifest unto you: and we caused that which we please to rest in the wombs, until the appointed time of delivery. Then we bring you forth infants; and afterwards we permit you to attain your age of full strength: and one of you dieth in his youth, and another of you is postponed to a decrepit age, so that he forgetteth whatever he knew. Thou seest the earth sometimes dried up and barren; but when we send down rain thereon, it is put in motion and swelleth, and produceth every kind of luxuriant vegetables. This showeth that God is the truth, and that he raiseth the dead to life, and that he is almighty; and that the hour of judgment will surely come (there is no doubt thereof), and that God will raise again those who are in the graves. There is a man who disputeth concerning God without either knowledge, or a direction, or an enlightening book; (9) proudly turning his side, that he may seduce men from the way of God. Ignominy shall attend him in this world; and on the day of resurrection we will make him taste the torment of burning, when it shall be said unto him, This thou sufferest because of that which thy hands have formerly committed: for God is not unjust towards mankind.
∥ There are some men who serve Godin a wavering manner, standing, as it were, on the verge of the true religion. If good befall one of them, he resteth satisfied therein, but if any tribulation befall him, he turneth himself round, with the loss both of this world and of the life to come. This is manifest perdition. He will call upon that besides God which can neither hurt him nor profit him. This is an error remote from truth. (13) He will invoke him who will sooner be of hurt to his worshipper than of advantage. Such is surely a miserable patron and a miserable companion. (14) But God will introduce those who shall believe and do righteous works into gardens through which rivers flow; for God doth that which he pleaseth. Whoso thinketh that God will not assist his apostle in this world and in the world to come, let him strain a rope towards heaven, then let him put an end to his life, and see whether his devices can render that ineffectual for which he was angry. (16) Thus do we send down the Qurán, being evident signs; for God directeth whom he pleaseth. As to the true believers, and those who Judaise, and the Sabians, and the Christians, and the Magians, and the idolaters, verily God shall judge between them on the day of resurrection, for God is witness of all things. Dost thou not perceive that all creatures both in heaven and on earth adore God, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the trees, and the beasts, and many men? but many are worthy of chastisement, and whomsoever God shall render despicable there shall be none to honour; for God doth that which he pleaseth. These are two opposite parties who dispute concerning their Lord. And they who believe not shall have garments of fire fitted unto them, boiling water shall be poured on their heads, their bowels shall be dissolved thereby, and also their skins, and they shall be beaten with maces of iron. So often as they shall endeavour to get out of hell because of the anguish of their torments they shall be dragged back into the same, and their tormentors shall say unto them, Taste ye the pain of burning.
∥ God will introduce those who shall believe and act righteously into gardens through which rivers flow; they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearls, and their vestures therein shall be silk. They are directed unto a good saying, and are directed into the honourable way. But they who shall disbelieve and obstruct the way of God and hinder men from visiting the holy temple of Makkah, which we have appointed for aplace of worship unto all men, the inhabitant thereof and the stranger have an equal right to visit it: (26) and whosoever shall seek impiously to profane it we will cause him to taste a grievous torment.
∥ Call to mind when we gave the site of the house of the Kaabah for an abode unto Abraham, saying, Do not associate anything with me, and cleanse my house for those who compass it, and who stand up, and who bow down to worship. And proclaim unto the people a solemn pilgrimage; let them come unto thee on foot, and on every lean camel, arriving from every distant road, that they may be witnesses of the advantages which accrue to them from the visiting this holy place, and may commemorate the name of God on the appointed days, in gratitude for the brute cattle which he hath bestowed on them. Wherefore eat thereof, and feed the needy and the poor. Afterwards let them put an end to the neglect of their persons, and let them pay their vows and compass the ancient house. This let them do. And whoever shall regard the sacred ordinances of God this will be better for him in the sight of his Lord.All sorts of cattle are allowed you to eat, except what hath been read unto you in former passages of the Qurán to be forbidden. But depart from the abomination of idols, and avoid speaking that which is false; being orthodox in respect to God, associating no other god with him; for whoever associateth any other with God is like that which falleth from heaven, and which the birds snatch away, or the wind bloweth to a far-distant place. This is so. And whoso maketh valuable offerings unto God verily they proceed from the piety of men’s hearts. (35) Ye receive various advantages from the cattle designed for sacrifices, until a determined time for slaying them: then the place of sacrificing them is at the ancient house.
∥ Unto the professors of every religion have we appointed certain rites, that they may commemorate the name of God on slaying the brute cattle which he hath provided for them. Your God is one God, wherefore resign yourselves wholly unto him. And do thou bear good tidings unto those who humble themselves, (37) whose hearts, when mention is made of God, are struck with fear; and unto those who patiently endure that which befalleth them, and who duly perform their prayers and give alms out of what we have bestowed on them. The camels slain for sacrifice have we appointed for you as symbols of your obedience unto God; ye also receive other advantages from them. Wherefore commemorate the name of God over them when ye slay them, standing on their feet disposed in right order; and when they are fallen down dead eat of them, and give to eat thereof both unto him who is content with what is given him, without asking, and unto him who asketh. Thus have we given you dominion over them, that ye might return us thanks. Their flesh is not accepted of God, neither their blood, but your piety is accepted of him. Thus have we given you dominion over them, that ye might magnify God, for the revelations whereby he hath directed you. And bear good tidings unto the righteous, (40) that God will repel the ill designs of the infidels from the true believers, for God loveth not every perfidious unbeliever.
∥ Permission is granted unto those who take arms against the unbelievers, for that they have been unjustly persecuted by them (and God is certainly able to assist them): who have been turned out of their habitations injuriously, and for no other reason than because they say, Our Lord is God. And if God did not repel the violence of some men by others, verily monasteries, and churches, and synagogues, and the temples of the Muslims, wherein the name of God is frequently commemorated, would be utterly demolished. And God will certainly assist him who shall be on his side: for Godis strong and mighty.
(43) And he will assist those who, if we establish them in the earth, will observe prayer, and give alms, and command that which is just, and forbid that which is unjust. And unto Godshall be the end of all things. If they accuse thee, O Muhammad, of imposture; consider that, before them, the people of Noah, and the tribes of Ád and Thamúd, and the people of Abraham, and the people of Lot, and the inhabitants of Madian, accused their prophets of imposture: and Moses was also charged with falsehood. And I granted a long respite unto the unbelievers: but afterwards I chastised them; and how different was the change I made in their condition! How many cities have we destroyed, which were ungodly, and which are now fallen to ruin on their roofs? And how many wells have been abandoned, and lofty castles? (47) Do they not therefore journey through the land? And have they not hearts to understand with, or ears to hear with? Surely as to these things their eyes are not blind, but the hearts are blind which are in their breasts. They will urge thee to hasten the threatened punishment; but God will not fail to perform what he had threatened: and verily one day with thy Lordis as a thousand years of those which ye compute. (49) Unto how many cities have I granted respite, though they were wicked? Yet afterwards I chastised them! and unto me shall they come to be judged at the last day.
∥ Say, O men, verily I am only a public preacher unto you. (51) And they who believe and do good works shall obtain forgiveness and an honourable provision. (52) But those who endeavour to make our signs of none effect shall be the inhabitants of hell. We have sent no apostle or prophet before thee, but, when he read, Satan suggested some error in his reading. But God shall make void that which Satan hath suggested: then shall God confirm his signs; for Godis knowing and wise. (54) But this he permitteth, that he may make that which Satan hath suggested a temptation unto those in whose hearts there is an infirmity, and whose hearts are hardened (for the ungodly are certainly in a wide disagreement from the truth): (55) and that they on whom knowledge hath been bestowed may know that this book is the truth from thy Lord, and may believe therein; and that their hearts may acquiesce in the same: for Godis surely the director of those who believe, into the right way. But the infidels will not cease to doubt concerning it, until the hour of judgment cometh suddenly upon them; or until the punishment of a grievous day overtake them. (57) On that day the kingdom shall be God’s: he shall judge between them. And they who shall have believed, and shall have wrought righteousness, shall be in gardens of pleasure; (58) but they who shall have disbelieved, and shall have charged our signs with falsehood, those shall suffer a shameful punishment.
∥ And as to those who shall have fled their country for the sake of God’s true religion, and afterwards shall have been slain, or shall have died; on them will God bestow an excellent provision; and God is the best provider. (60) He will surely introduce them with an introduction with which they shall be well pleased; for Godis knowing and gracious. This is so. Whoever shall take a vengeance equal to the injury which hath been done him, and shall afterwards be unjustly treated, verily God will assist him: for Godis merciful and ready to forgive. (62) This shall be done, for that God causeth the night to succeed the day, and he causeth the day to succeed the night; and for that Godboth heareth and seeth. (63) This, because God is truth, and because what they invoke besides him is vanity; and for that God is the high, the mighty. (64) Dost thou not see that God sendeth down water from heaven and the earth becometh green? for Godis gracious and wise. (65) Unto him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth: and God is self-sufficient, worthy to be praised.
∥ Dost thou not see that God hath subjected whatever is in the earth to your service, and also the ships which sail in the sea, by his command? And he withholdeth the heaven that it fall not on the earth, unless by his permission: for Godis gracious unto mankind and merciful. (67) It is he who hath given you life, and will hereafter cause you to die; afterwards he will again raise you to life, at the resurrection: but man is surely ungrateful. (68) Unto the professors of every religion have we appointed certain rites, which they observe. Let them not therefore dispute with thee concerning this matter; but invite them unto thy Lord: for thou followest the right direction. (69) But if they enter into debate with thee, answer, God well knoweth that which ye do: (70) God will judge between you on the day of resurrection, concerning that wherein ye now disagree. (71) Dost thou not know that God knoweth whatever is in heaven and on earth? Verily this is written in the book of his decrees: this is easy with God. (72) They worship, besides God, that concerning which he hath sent down no convincing proof, and concerning which they have no knowledge: but the unjust doers shall have none to assist them. (73) And when our evident signs are rehearsed unto them, thou mayest perceive, in the countenances of the unbelievers, a disdain thereof: it wanteth little but that they rush with violence on those who rehearse our signs unto them. Say, Shall I declare unto you a worse thing than this? The fire of hell, which God hath threatened unto those who believe not, is worse; and an unhappy journey shall it be thither.
∥ O men, a parable is propounded unto you; wherefore hearken unto it. Verily the idols which ye invoke besides God can never create a single fly, although they were all assembled for that purpose: and if the fly snatch anything from them, they cannot recover the same from it. Weak is the petitioner and the petitioned. (75) They judge not of God according to his due estimation: for Godis powerful and mighty. God chooseth messengers from among the angels and from among men: for Godis he who heareth and seeth. (77) He knoweth that which is before them, and that which is behind them: and unto God shall all things return. (78) O true believers, bow down, and prostrate yourselves, and worship your Lord; and work righteousness, that ye may be happy: and fight in defence of God’s true religion, as it behoveth you to fight for the same. He hath chosen you, and hath not imposed on you any difficulty in the religion which he hath given you, the religion of your father Abraham: he hath named you Muslims heretofore, and in this book; that our apostle may be a witness against you at the day of judgment, and that ye may be witnesses against the rest of mankind. Wherefore be ye constant at prayer, and give alms: and adhere firmly unto God. He is your master; and he is the best master and the best protector.
There is a great deal of similarity between this chapter and chapter vii., which is no doubt due to the fact that both chapters belong to about the same period. The unbelieving Quraish are warned and threatened by reference to the fate of those who rejected their prophets in former ages. As in chapter vii., so in this, all these prophets are facsimiles of Muhammad. Their message was his message; their people were like his people. The charges of madness and imposture were ever raised against them, as they were made against him. Like Muhammad, they sought refuge in God against their enemies. God saved them and destroyed the infidels, and God would save Muhammad and the believers and destroy the infidels of Makkah.
In reading over this chapter, the general impression is left that Muhammad had now little or no hope of converting the Quraish. They are regarded as reprobate and given over to final destruction. Mercy and judgments have been visited upon them, but all in vain. They still scoff at the Prophet as a madman, and regard his messages concerning resurrection and judgment as so many fables. The Prophet is therefore content to warn them patiently. Avoiding strife and guarding against the temptation of the evil spirits, who seem to have suggested to him to use more violent measures to advance the true religion, he determines to render good for evil, and to guard against the suggestions of the genii or devils (vers. 94-99).
The chapter ends with a graphic description of the reward of the true believers, as it began with a description of their character. This is contrasted with the dreadful end of the unbelievers, who will find out, when too late for repentance, that the threatenings of their Prophet were true. Though they shall then seek God with many protestations of sorrow for their unbelief, they shall be sternly rejected and spurned from the divine presence.
Some authors (Jaláluddín as Syúti) regard this chapter as the last Makkan chapter; but for this opinion there seems to be no good reason. Those who would locate it at Madína misinterpret vers. 77, 78, as referring to the battle of Badr. The calamity alluded to in ver. 78 was the famine which afflicted Makkah shortly before the Hijra; and from ver. 76 we might infer that it was still present at the time these verses were recorded. However that may be, this date is too late for the main portion of the chapter, which affords no evidence of that violence shown by the unbelieving Quraish which characterised them during the latter period of Muhammad’s mission at Makkah. The probability is that the larger part of the revelations of this chapter belong to the earlier part of the third Makkan period, B.H. 6 or 7.
|True believers described||1-9|
|Their reward hereafter||10, 11|
|God the creator of mankind||12-14|
|The dead shall be raised by him||15, 16|
|God created the seven heavens||17|
|God the author of all our blessings||18-23|
|Noah, sent as an apostle of God, preaches against idolatry||24|
|The people reject Noah as a madman||25-27|
|Noah is commanded to make the ark, to save himself and true followers from the Flood||28-32|
|Other nations after that of Noah perish in their infidelity||33-46|
|Moses and Aaron are rejected as impostors||47-50|
|The unbelievers are destroyed, but God gives a book to Moses for the direction of believers||50, 51|
|Jesus and Mary created a sign||52|
|Apostles exhorted to be steadfast in the true faith||53, 54|
|The sectarians to be left in their confusion||55-58|
|True believers sure of their reward||59-62|
|God judges men according to their ability||63|
|The idolatrous Quraish will not believe the Qurán||64, 65|
|Idolaters will cry unto God in vain when in distress||66-68|
|The Quraish reject their Prophet as a madman||69-72|
|A gracious invitation rejected by them||73-75|
|God continues the calamity of the Makkans in mercy to them||76|
|The chastisements of the Lord rejected||77, 78|
|God, the author of life and intellect, can raise the dead||79-81|
|The Quraish persist in denying the resurrection||82-84|
|They are judged out of their own mouths||85-91|
|Angels not the offspring of God||92, 93|
|The Prophet takes refuge in God against every evil spirit||94-99|
|Repentance after death will be in vain||100, 101|
|The awful doom of unbelievers||102-109|
|They are punished for persecuting believers||110-112|
|Time will pass slowly in hell||113-115|
|Triumph of the faithful over the unbelieving idolaters||116-119|
∥ (1) Now are the true believers happy: (2) who humble themselves in their prayer, and who eschew all vain discourse, (4) and who are doers of alms-deeds; (5) and who keep themselves from carnal knowledge of any women except their wives, or the captives which their right hand possess (for as to them they shall be blameless: (7) but whosoever coveteth any woman beyond these, they are transgressors): (8) and who acquit themselves faithfully of their trust, and justly perform their covenant; (9) and who observe their appointed times of prayer: (10) these shall be the heirs, (11) who shall inherit Paradise; they shall continue therein for ever. We formerly created man in a finer sort of clay; afterwards we placed him in the form of seed in a sure receptacle: afterwards we made the seed coagulated blood; and we formed the coagulated blood into a piece of flesh: then we formed the piece of flesh into bones: and we clothed those bones with flesh: then we produced the same by another creation. Wherefore blessed be God, the most excellent Creator! (15) After this shall ye die: (16) and afterwards shall ye be restored to life, on the day of resurrection. And we have created over you seven heavens: and we are not negligent of what we have created. (18) And we send down rain from heaven, by measure; and we cause it to remain on the earth: we are also certainly able to deprive you of the same. (19) And we cause gardens of palm-trees, and vineyards, to spring forth for you by means thereof: (20) wherein ye have many fruits, and whereof ye eat. And we also raise for you a tree springing from Mount Sinai; which produceth oil, and a sauce for those who eat. (22) Ye have likewise an instruction in the cattle; we give you to drink of the milk which is in their bellies, and ye receive many advantages from them; and of them do ye eat; and on them, and on ships, are ye carried.
∥ We sent Noah heretofore unto his people, and he said, O my people, serve God: ye have no God besides him; will ye therefore not fear the consequence of your worshipping other gods? And the chiefs of his people, who believed not, said, This is no other than a man, as ye are: he seeketh to raise himself to a superiority over you. If God had pleased to have sent a messenger unto you, he would surely have sent angels: we have not heard this of our forefathers. (26) Verily he is no other than a man disturbed with frenzy: wherefore wait concerning him for a time. (27) Noah said, O Lord, do thou protect me; for that they accuse me of falsehood. And we revealed our orders unto him, saying, Make the ark in our sight, and according to our revelation. And when our decree cometh to be executed, and the oven shall boil and pour forth water, carry into it of every species of animals one pair; and also thy family, except such of them on whom a previous sentence of destruction hath passed: and speak not unto me in behalf of those who have been unjust; for they shall be drowned. (30) And when thou and they who shall be with thee shall go up into the ark, say, Praise be unto God, who hath delivered us from the ungodly people! (31) And say, O Lord, cause me to come down from this ark with a blessed descent; for thou art the best able to bring me down from the same with safety. (32) Verily herein were signs of our omnipotence; and we proved mankind thereby. Afterwards we raised up another generation after them: and we sent unto them an apostle from among them, whosaid, Worship God: ye have no God beside him; will ye therefore not fear his vengeance?
∥ And the chiefs of his people, who believed not, and who denied the meeting of the life to come, and on whom we had bestowed affluence in this present life, said, This is no other than a man, as ye are; he eateth of that whereof ye eat, and he drinketh of that whereof ye drink; and if ye obey a man like unto yourselves, ye will surely be sufferers. Doth he threaten you that after ye shall be dead, and shall become dust and bones, ye shall be brought forth alive from your graves? Away, away with that ye are threatened with! There is no other life besides our present life: we die, and we live; and we shall not be raised again. This is no other than a man, who deviseth a lie concerning God: but we will not believe him. Their apostle said, O Lord, defend me; for that they have accused me of imposture. God answered, After a little while they shall surely repent their obstinacy. Wherefore a severe punishment was justly inflicted on them, and we rendered them like the refuse which is carried down by a stream. Away therefore with the ungodly people! Afterwards we raised up other generations after them. (45) No nation shall be punished before their determined time; neither shall they be respited after. Afterwards we sent our apostles, one after another. So often as their apostle came unto any nation, they charged him with imposture: and we caused them successively to follow one another to destruction; and we made them only subjects of traditional stories. Away therefore with the unbelieving nations! Afterwards we sent Moses, and Aaron his brother, with our signs and manifest power, unto Pharaoh and his princes: but they proudly refused to believe on him; for they were a haughty people. And they said, Shall we believe on two men like unto ourselves, whose people are our servants? And they accused them of imposture: wherefore they became of the number of those who were destroyed. And we heretofore gave the book of the law unto Moses, that the children of Israel might be directed thereby. And we appointed the son of Mary and his mother for a sign: and we prepared an abode for them in an elevated part of the earth, being a place of quiet and security, and watered with running springs.
∥ O apostles, eat of those things which are good, and work righteousness; for I well know that which ye do. This your religion is one religion, and I am your Lord; wherefore fear me. (55) But men have rent the affair of their religion into various sects: every party rejoiceth in that which they follow. Wherefore leave them in their confusion, until a certain time. Do they think that we hasten unto them the wealth and children, which we have abundantly bestowed on them, for their good? But they do not understand. (59) Verily they who stand in awe, for fear of their Lord, (60) and who believe in the signs of their Lord, and who attribute not companions unto their Lord; and who give that which they give in alms, their hearts being struck with dread, for that they must return unto their Lord: (62) these hasten unto good, and are foremost to obtain the same. We will not impose any difficulty on a soul, except according to its ability; with us is a book, which speaketh the truth; and they shall not be injured. But their hearts are drowned in negligence as to this matter, and they have works different from those we have mentioned; which they will continue to do, until when we chastise such of them as enjoy an affluence of fortune, by a severe punishment, behold, they cry aloud for help; (66) but it shall be answered them, Cry not for help to-day, for ye shall not be assisted by us. (67) My signs were read unto you, but ye turned back on your heels: (68) proudly elating yourselves because of your possessing the holy temple; discoursing together by night, and talking foolishly. Do they not therefore attentively consider that which is spoken unto them; whether a revelation is come unto them which came not unto their forefathers? (70) Or do they not know their apostle; and therefore reject him? Or do they say, He is a madman? Nay, he hath come unto them with the truth, but the greater part of them detest the truth. If the truth had followed their desires, verily the heavens and the earth, and whoever therein is, had been corrupted. But we have brought them their admonition, and they turn aside from their admonition. (73) Dost thou ask of them any maintenance for thy preaching? since the maintenance of thy Lord is better, for he is the most bounteous provider. (74) Thou certainly invitest them to the right way, (75) and they who believe not in the life to come do surely deviate from that way. If we had had compassion on them, and taken off from them the calamity which had befallen them, they would surely have more obstinately persisted in their error, wandering in confusion.
∥ We formerly chastised them with a punishment, yet they did not humble themselves before their Lord, neither did they make supplications unto him; until when we have opened upon them a door, from which a severe punishment hath issued, behold they are driven to despair thereat.
∥ (79) It is God who hath created in you the senses of hearing and of sight, that ye may perceive our judgments, and hearts, that ye may seriously consider them: yet how few of you give thanks! (80) It is he who hath produced you in the earth, and before him shall ye be assembled. (81) It is he who giveth life, and putteth to death, and to him is to be attributed the vicissitude of night and day; do ye not therefore understand? (82) But the unbelieving Makkans say as their predecessors said; they say, When we shall be dead, and shall have become dust and bones, shall we really be raised to life? We have already been threatened with this, and our fathers also heretofore; this is nothing but fables of the ancients. Say, Whose is the earth, and whoever therein is, if ye know? They will answer, God’s. Say, Will ye not therefore consider? Say, Who is the Lord of the seven heavens and the Lord of the magnificent throne? They will answer, They areGod’s. Say, Will ye not therefore fear him? Say, In whose hand is the kingdom of all things, who protecteth whom he pleaseth, but is himself protected of none; if ye know? They will answer, InGod’s. Say, How therefore are ye bewitched? Yea, we have brought them the truth; and they are certainly liars in denying the same.God hath not begotten issue, neither is there any other god with him, otherwise every god had surely taken away that which he had created and some of them had exalted themselves above the others. Far be that from God which they affirm of him! (93) He knoweth that which is concealed, and that which is made public; wherefore far be it from him to have those sharers in his honour which they attribute to him!
∥ 94 Say, O Lord, if thou wilt surely cause me to see the vengeance with which they have been threatened; (95) O Lord, set me not among the ungodly people, (96) for we are surely able to make thee see that with which we have threatened them. Turn aside evil with that which is better: we well know the calumnies which they utter against thee. And say, O Lord, I fly unto thee for refuge, against the suggestions of the devils, and I have recourse unto thee, O Lord,to drive them away, that they be not present with me. (100) The gain-saying of the unbelievers ceaseth not until, when death overtaketh any of them, he saith, O Lord, suffer me to return to life, that I may do that which is right, in professing the true faith which I have neglected. By no means. Verily these are the words which ye shall speak: but behind them there shall be a bar until the day of resurrection. (102) When therefore the trumpet shall be sounded, there shall be no relation between them which shall be regarded on that day; neither shall they ask assistance of each other. They whose balances shall be heavy with good works shall be happy; (104) but they whose balances shall be light are those who shall lose their souls, and shall remain in hell for ever. The fire shall scorch their faces, and they shall writhe their mouths therein for anguish: (106) and it shall be said unto them, Were not my signs rehearsed unto you; and did ye not charge them with falsehood? (107) They shall answer, O Lord, our unhappiness prevailed over us, and we were people who went astray. (108) O Lord, take us forth from this fire: if we return to our former wickedness, we shall surely be unjust. (109) God will say unto them, Be ye driven away with ignominy thereinto: and speak not unto me to deliver you. (110) Verily there were a party of my servants, who said, O Lord, we believe; wherefore forgive us, and be merciful unto us; for thou art the best of those who show mercy. But ye received them with scoffs, so that they suffered you to forget my admonition, and ye laughed them to scorn. (112) I have this day rewarded them, for that they suffered the injuries ye offered them with patience: verily they enjoy great felicity. (113) God will say, What number of years have ye continued on earth? They will answer, We have continued there a day, or part of a day: but ask those who keep account. God will say, Ye have tarried but a while, if ye knew it. Did ye think that we had created you in sport, and that ye should not be brought again before us? (117) Wherefore let God be exalted, the King, the Truth: There is no God besides him, the Lord of the honourable throne. (118) Whoever together with the trueGod shall invoke another god, concerning whom he hath no demonstrative proof, shall surely be brought to an account for the same before his Lord. Verily the infidels shall not prosper. (119) Say, O Lord, pardon, and show mercy: for thou art the best of those who show mercy.
The principal point of interest in this chapter is the reference to the adventure of Ayesha during the return of the Muslim army from the expedition against the Bani Mustaliq (for a full account of which see Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. pp. 244-254). This event is alluded to in vers. 4, 5, 11-26, revealed to clear Ayesha of the calumnies raised against her by her enemies.
Connected with this same event is the milder law relating to adultery, which abrogates the stern requirements of chap. iv. 14. This scandal seems to have made clear the need of stricter laws to regulate the social intercourse of the Muslims, which should have for their end the preservation of good morals. These laws occupy a considerable portion of the chapter. They relate principally to proprieties in calling upon friends and neighbours at their homes, proprieties of dress and personal adornment, and proprieties to be observed by larger children, and domestic servants, and slaves. One remarkable rule is laid down in ver. 32. which requires all marriageable women to be married if possible. Closely connected with this is the requirement that women should only appear in public when closely veiled, while at home they must remain in seclusion.
Degrading as most of these regulations to Muslim women are, none can fail to see their necessity. The low state of morality among Muslims consequent upon the system of polygamy and concubinage, sanctioned by the Qurán and the example of Muhammad, and that facility of divorce which enables men to put away their wives whenever they please, renders that freedom of social intercourse among men and women prevalent in Christian countries an impossibility.
The expedition to attack the Bani Mustaliq was successfully accomplished in the month of Shabán a.h. 5, and as Ayesha’s adventure occurred on the return, near Madína, and as the revelation clearing her character was made one month afterwards, the date of this portion of the chapter (vers. 4, 5, 11-26) may be fixed with a good deal of certainty. Vers. 6-10 seem to have been added at a later date. Vers. 1-3, 27-34, and 57-61, which relate to the proprieties of social life, were very probably connected with, if they did not grow out of, Ayesha’s affair, and may therefore be relegated to the latter part of a.h. 5. As to vers. 35-45, there is nothing to indicate their date beyond their style and a possible connection in sense with ver. 46 following. As, however, this connection is very doubtful, I think the passage probably Makkan. Vers. 46-56 and 62-64 belong to a period when Muhammad was in trouble and the zeal of his followers was lukewarm. Such a period might be found almost anywhere between Ohod and the end of the battle of the Ditch; but as ver. 62 seems clearly to point to the latter event, we may fairly say these verses belong to the latter part of a.h. 5.
|This chapter revealed from heaven||1|
|Law relating to fornication||2, 3|
|Punishment for defaming virtuous women||4, 5|
|Law relating to charge of adultery when made by a husband against his wife||6-10|
|Ayesha’s slanderers reproved, and their punishment||11-20|
|Believers warned against evil deeds||21|
|The rich to forgive the poor, and bestow charity upon them||22|
|False accusers of virtuous women for ever accursed||23-25|
|Wicked men and women condemned to each other’s society||26|
|Manners to be observed in visiting each other’s homes||27-29|
|Pious men and women exhorted to modest demeanour||30, 31|
|Marriageable women to be married if possible||32|
|Men-servants and maid-servants to be married when honest||32|
|Unmarried Muslims exhorted to continence||33|
|Masters to encourage slaves to purchase their freedom||33|
|The Qurán an admonition to the pious||34|
|The similitude of God’s light||35|
|The conduct of true believers described||36-38|
|Infidelity likened to a desert mirage or the darkness of a stormy sea||39|
|God praised by all his creatures||40, 41|
|God revealed in all the phenomena of nature||42-45|
|Hypocrites rebuked and warned||46-56|
|Regulations relating to personal and family privacy||57, 58|
|Exception in case of aged women, blind, lame, and sick||59, 60|
|Muslims commanded to salute one another||61|
|True believers exhorted to implicit obedience to the Apostle of God||62, 63|
|The Omniscient God will judge all men||64|
∥ This Sura have we sent down from heaven; and have ratified the same; and we have revealed evident signs, that ye may be warned. The whore and the whoremonger shall ye scourge with a hundred stripes. And let not compassion towards them prevent you from executing the judgment of God, if ye believe in God and the last day: and let some of the true believers be witnesses of their punishment. The whoremonger shall not marry any other than a harlot or an idolatress. And a harlot shall no man take in marriage, except a whoremonger or an idolater. And this kind of marriage is forbidden the true believers. But as to those who accuse women of reputation of whoredom, and produce not four witnesses of the fact, scourge them with fourscore stripes, and receive not their testimony for ever; for such are infamous prevaricators; excepting those who shall afterwards repent, and amend; for unto such willGodbe gracious and merciful. They who shall accuse their wives of adultery, and shall have no witnesses thereof besides themselves, the testimony which shall be required of one of them shall be, that he swear four times by God that he speaketh the truth; and the fifth time that he imprecate the curse of God on him if he be a liar. And it shall avert the punishment from the wife if she swear four times by God that he is a liar; and if the fifth time she imprecate the wrath of God on her if he speaketh the truth. If it were not for the indulgence of God towards you, and his mercy, and that God is easy to be reconciled, and wise, he would immediately discover your crimes.
∥ As to the party among you who have published the falsehood concerning Ayesha, think it not to be an evil unto you: on the contrary, it is better for you. Every man of them shall be punished according to the injustice of which he hath been guilty; and he among them who hath undertaken to aggravate the same shall suffer a grievous punishment. (12) Did not the faithful men and the faithful women, when ye heard this, judge in their own minds for the best, and say, This is a manifest falsehood? Have they produced four witnesses thereof? wherefore since they have not produced the witnesses, they are surely liars in the sight of God. (14) Had it not been for the indulgence of God towards you, and his mercy, in this world and in that which is to come, verily a grievous punishment had been inflicted on you, for the calumny which ye have spread: when ye published that with your tongues, and spoke that with your mouths, of which ye had no knowledge; and esteemed it to be light, whereas it was a matter of importance in the sight of God.
∥ (15) When ye heard it, did ye say, It belongeth not unto us, that we should talk of this matter:God forbid! this is a grievous calumny. (16) God warneth you that ye return not to the like crime for ever, if ye be true believers. (17) And God declareth unto you his signs; for Godis knowing and wise. (18) Verily they who love that scandal be published of those who believe, shall receive a severe punishment both in this world and in the next. (19) God knoweth, but ye know not. (20) Hadit not been for the indulgence of God towards you and his mercy, and that Godis gracious and merciful, ye had felt his vengeance.
∥ (21) O true believers, follow not the steps of the devil; for whosoever shall follow the steps of the devil, he will command them filthy crimes, and that which is unlawful. If it were not for the indulgence of God and his mercy towards you, there had not been so much as one of you cleansed from his guilt for ever; but God cleanseth whom he pleaseth, for Godboth heareth and knoweth. Let not those among you who possess abundance of wealth and have ability swear that they will not give unto their kindred, and the poor, and those who have fled their country for the sake of God’s true religion; but let them forgive and act with benevolence towards them. Do ye not desire that God should pardon you? And Godis gracious and merciful. Moreover, they who falsely accuse modest women, who behave in a negligent manner, and are true believers, shall be cursed in this world and in the world to come; and they shall suffer a severe punishment. (24) One day their own tongues shall bear witness against them, and their hands and their feet concerning that which they have done. (25) On that day shall God render unto them their just due, and they shall know that God is the evident truth. The wicked women should be joined to the wicked men, and the wicked men to the wicked women; but the good women should be married to the good men, and the good men to the good women. These shall be cleared from the calumnies which slanderers speak of them; they shall obtain pardon, and an honourable provision.
∥ O true believers, enter not any houses, besides your own houses, until ye have asked leave, and have saluted the family thereof; this is better for you, peradventure ye will be admonished. And if ye shall find no person in the houses, yet do not enter them until leave be granted you; and if it be said unto you, Return back, do ye return back. This will be more decent for you; and God knoweth that which ye do. It shall be no crime in you that ye enter uninhabited houses, wherein ye may meet with a convenience. God knoweth that which ye discover and that which ye conceal. Speak unto the true believers, that they restrain their eyes, and keep themselves from immodest actions; this will be more pure for them, for God is well acquainted with that which they do. And speak unto the believing women, that they restrain their eyes and preserve their modesty, and discover not their ornaments, except what necessarily appeareth thereof; and let them throw their veils over their bosoms, and not show their ornaments, unless to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons, or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the captives which their right hands shall possess, or unto such men as attend them, and have no need of women, or unto children who distinguish not the nakedness of women. And let them not make a noise with their feet, that their ornaments which they hide may thereby be discovered. And be ye all turned unto God, O true believers, that ye may be happy. Marry those who are single among you, and such as are honest of your men-servants and your maid-servants: if they be poor, God will enrich them of his abundance; for Godis bounteous and wise. And let those who find not a match keep themselves from fornication, until God shall enrich them of his abundance. And unto such of your slaves as desire a written instrument allowing them to redeem themselves on payinga certain sum, write one, if ye know good in them; and give them of the riches of God, which he hath given you. And compel not your maid-servants to prostitute themselves, if they be willing to live chastely; that ye may seek the casual advantage of this present life; but whoever shall compel them thereto, verily Godwill be gracious and merciful unto such women after their compulsion. And now have we revealed unto you evident signs, and a history like unto some of the histories of those who have gone before you, and an admonition unto the pious.
∥ Godis the light of heaven and earth, the similitude of his light is as a niche in a wall wherein a lamp is placed, and the lamp enclosed in a case of glass; the glass appears as it were a shining star. It is lighted with the oil of a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west: it wanteth little but that the oil thereof would give light, although no fire touched it. This is light added unto light. God will direct unto his light whom he pleaseth God propoundeth parables unto men, for God knoweth all things. In the houses which God hath permitted to be raised, and that his name be commemorated therein! men celebrate his praise in the same morning and evening, (37) whom neither merchandising nor selling diverteth from the remembering of God, and the observance of prayer and the giving of alms, fearing the day whereon men’s hearts and eyes shall be troubled; (38) that God may recompense them according to the utmost merit of what they shall have wrought, and may add unto them of his abundance a more excellent reward, for God bestoweth on whom he pleaseth without measure. But as to the unbelievers, their works are like the vapour in a plain, which the thirsty traveller thinketh to be water, until, when he cometh thereto, he findeth it to be nothing; but he findeth God with him, and he will fully pay him his account; and God is swift in taking an account; or as the darkness in a deep sea, covered by waves riding on waves, above which are clouds, being additions of darkness one over the other; when one stretcheth forth his hand, he is far from seeing it. And unto whomsoever God shall not grant his light, he shall enjoy no light at all.
∥ Dost thou not perceive that all creatures both in heaven and earth praise God, and the birds also extending their wings? Every one knoweth his prayer and his praise, and God knoweth that which they do. (42) Unto Godbelongeth the kingdom of heaven and earth, and unto Godshall be the return at the last day. (43) Dost thou not see that God gently driveth forward the clouds, and gathereth them together, and then layeth them on heaps? Thou also seest the rain which falleth from the midst thereof, and God sendeth down from heaven as it were mountains, wherein there is hail; he striketh therewith whom he pleaseth, and turneth the same away from whom he pleaseth: the brightness of his lightning wanteth but little of taking away the sight. God shifteth the night and the day: verily herein is an instruction unto those who have sight. And God hath created every animal of water; one of them goeth on his belly, and another of them walketh upon two feet, and another of them walketh upon four feet:God createth that which he pleaseth, for God is almighty. (45) Now have we sent down evident signs, and God directeth whom he pleaseth into the right way. The hypocrites say, We believe in God and on his Apostle, and we obey them, yet a part of them turneth back after this; but these are not really believers. And when they are summoned before God and his Apostle that he may judge between them, behold a part of them retire.
∥ But if the right had been on their side, they would have come and submitted themselves unto him. Is there an infirmity in their hearts? Do they doubt? Or do they fear lest God and his Apostle act unjustly towards them? But themselves are the unjust doers.
∥ (50) The saying of the true believers, when they are summoned before God and his Apostle that he may judge between them, is no other than that they say, We have heard and do obey, and these are they who shall prosper. (51) Whoever shall obey God and his Apostle, and shall fear God, and shall be devout towards him, these shall enjoy great felicity. (52) They swear by God, with a most solemn oath, that if thou commandest them they will go forth from their houses and possessions. Say, Swear not to a falsehood, obedience is more requisite, and God is well acquainted with that which ye do. (53) Say, Obey God and obey the Apostle; but if ye turn back, verily it is expected of him that he perform his duty, and of you that ye perform your duty, and if ye obey him ye shall be directed; but the duty of our Apostle is only public preaching. God promiseth unto such of you as believe and do good works that he will cause them to succeed the unbelievers in the earth, as he caused those who were before you to succeed the infidels of their time, and that he will establish for them their religion which pleaseth them, and will change their fear into security. They shall worship me, and shall not associate any other with me. But whoever shall disbelieve after this, they will be the wicked doers. (55) Observe prayer and give alms and obey the Apostle, that ye may obtain mercy. (56) Think not that the unbelievers shall frustrate the designs of God on earth, and their abode hereafter shall be hell-fire; a miserable journey shall it be thither!
∥ O true believers, let your slaves and those among you who shall not have attained the age of puberty ask leave of you, before they come into your presence, three times in the day, namely, before the morning prayer, and when you lay aside your garments at noon, and after the evening prayer. These are the three times for you to be private: it shall be no crime in you, or in them, if they go into you without asking permission after these times, while ye are in frequent attendance, the one of you on the other. Thus God declareth his signs unto you; for Godis knowing and wise. (58) And when your children attain the age of puberty, let them ask leave to come into your presence at all times, in the same manner as those who have attained that age before them ask leave. Thus God declareth his signs unto you; and Godis knowing and wise. As to such women as are past child-bearing, who hope not to marry again because of their advanced age, it shall be no crime in them if they lay aside their outer garments, not showing their ornaments; but if they abstain from this, it will be better for them. Godboth heareth and knoweth. It shall be no crime in the blind, nor shall it be any crime in the lame, neither shall it be any crime in the sick, or in yourselves, that ye eat in your houses, or in the houses of your fathers, or the houses of your mothers, or in the houses of your brothers, or the houses of your sisters, or the houses of your uncles on the father’s side, or the houses of your aunts on the father’s side, or the houses of your uncles on the mother’s side, the houses of your aunts on the mother’s side, or in those houses the keys whereof ye have in your possession, or in the house of your friend. It shall not be any crime in you whether ye eat together or separately. And when ye enter any houses, salute one another on the part of God with a blessed and a welcome salutation. Thus God declareth his signs unto you, that ye may understand.
∥ Verily they only are true believers who believe in God and his Apostle, and when they are assembled with him on any affair, depart not until they have obtained leave of him. Verily they who ask leave of thee are those who believe in God and his Apostle. When therefore they ask leave of thee to depart, on account of any business of their own, grant leave unto such of them as thou shalt think fit, and ask pardon for them of God; for Godis gracious and merciful. Let not the calling of the Apostle be esteemed among you, as your calling the one to the other. God knoweth such of you as privately withdraw themselves from the assembly, taking shelter behind one another. But let those who withstand his command take heed lest some calamity befall them in this world, or a grievous punishment be inflicted on them in the life to come. (64) Doth not whatever ever is in heaven and on earth belong unto God? He well knoweth what ye are about: and on a certain day they shall be assembled before him; and he shall declare unto them that which they have done; for God knoweth all things.
The object of the revelations of this chapter is to rebuke the unbelief of the Quraish. They had charged Muhammad with being an impostor. His Qurán was stigmatised as a jumble of old stories, which he had learned from certain informants during the day, and wrote down in the night. The only reply given to these accusations is a denial, accompanied by a threatening of Divine judgment upon their unbelief. The fate of those who opposed the former prophets is recounted as a warning to the unbelieving people of Makkah, while the rewards of true believers are detailed as a comfort to the Prophet and his followers.
Here, as elsewhere, Muhammad is more successful in his arguments against idolatry than in defence of his prophetic claims. The passages setting forth the reasons why God alone should be worshipped are very noble and beautiful.
This chapter, while showing the stolid indifference and confident opposition of the Quraish, nowhere indicates any violence towards Muhammad or his followers. The idolaters are simply unbelievers, given over to their lusts, and utterly irreligious. The only thing noticeable beyond this in their opposition is their charging Muhammad with being an impostor. It was probably owing to this that Muhammad began to despair of their conversion (ver. 46), when he spoke of the infidels as “brute cattle,” though he at the same time expressed himself as earnestly desiring their conversion (ver. 59).
The most that can be said of the date of the revelations of this chapter is, that they belong to an early period in Muhammad’s ministry at Makkah.
This is evident from the absence of any allusion to persecution on the part of the Quraish. Their opposition, however, had assumed a somewhat decided form, as we find that the unbelievers are called by hard names, as already remarked above. However, the Prophet still pleads with them in hope of their conversion. The revelations may therefore be assigned a place near the end of the first Makkan stage.
Some have imagined that vers. 43 and 44 were revealed at Tayif, but without reason. Others have fixed ver. 70 seq. at Madína, supposing the person alluded to there to be Wahshi, who slew Hamza at the battle of Ohod; but that verse is better understood as having a general reference.
|God praised for the Qurán||1|
|The one God a sovereign Creator and Ruler||2|
|The idolaters worship gods that are helpless||3, 4|
|The Qurán said to be Muhammad’s own forgery||5, 6|
|Muhammad protests that the Qurán is from God||7|
|Unbelievers reject Muhammad because he is like other men||8, 9|
|Muhammad said to be a madman||9|
|God comforts Muhammad on account of these calumnies||10|
|Unbelievers doomed to hell-fire||11-16|
|The reward of the pious in Paradise||16, 17|
|Even the false gods will desert their worshippers in the judgment-day||18-21|
|The former prophets were all like Muhammad||22|
|The blasphemous unbelief of the Quraish||23|
|They shall be punished and their works demolished||24, 25|
|Relative condition of the faithful and the unbelievers in the resurrection||26-32|
|Former prophets had their enemies among unbelievers||33|
|The Qurán sent down by piecemeal a stumbling-stone to infidels, but a comfort to believers||34-36|
|Those who accused Moses and Aaron of imposture were destroyed||37, 38|
|Noah’s calumniators drowned||39|
|Adites, Thamúdites, and Sodomites destroyed for infidelity||40-42|
|The Quraish warned in vain by these examples||43-45|
|God’s works testify to his being||46-52|
|God could have sent a preacher to every city||53|
|Muhammad not to obey the will of infidels||54|
|God the Creator and Ruler of all things||55, 56|
|Unbelievers worship idols and assist Satan||57|
|Muhammad sent to be a preacher and a warner||58|
|Muhammad only desires the conversion of his people||59|
|He is exhorted to trust the merciful Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth||60|
|The infidels refuse to worship the God of Muhammad||61|
|God praised for his benevolent works||62, 63|
|The servants of God described||64-68|
|Wicked men saved by repentance and good works||69-71|
|True penitents described||72-74|
|Their reward in Paradise||75, 76|
|God reprobates the Quraish||77|
∥ Blessed be he who hath revealed the Furqán unto his servant, that he may be a preacher to all creatures: unto whom belongeth the kingdom of heaven and of earth: who hath begotten no issue; and hath no partner in his kingdom: who hath created all things, and disposed the same according to his determinate will. Yet have they taken other gods besides him; which have created nothing, but are themselves created: (4) and are able neither to avert evil from, nor to procure good unto themselves; and have not the power of death, or of life, or of raising the dead. And the unbelievers say, This Qurán is no other than a forgery which he hath contrived; and other people have assisted him therein: but they utter an unjust thing and a falsehood. They also say, These are fables of the ancients, which he hath caused to be written down; and they are dictated unto him morning and evening. (7) Say, He hath revealed it who knoweth the secrets in heaven and earth: verily he is gracious and merciful. And they say, What kind of apostle is this? He eateth food and walketh in the streets, as we do: unless an angel be sent down unto him, and become a fellow-preacher with him; or unless a treasure be cast down unto him; or he have a garden, of the fruit whereof he may eat, we will not believe. The ungodly also say, Ye follow no other than a man who is distracted. (10) Behold what they liken thee unto. But they are deceived; neither can they find a just occasion to reproach thee.
∥ (11) Blessed be he who, if he pleaseth, will make for thee a better provision than this which they speak of; namely, gardens through which rivers flow: and he will provide thee palaces. (12) But they reject the belief of the hour of judgment as a falsehood: and we have prepared for him who shall reject the belief of that hour burning fire; (13) when it shall see them from a distant place, they shall hear it furiously raging and roaring. And when they shall be cast, bound together, into a strait place thereof, they shall there call for death; (15) but it shall be answered them, Call not this day for one death, but call for many deaths. (16) Say, Is this better, or a garden of eternal duration, which is promised unto the pious? It shall be given unto them for a reward and a retreat: therein shall they have whatever they please, continuing in the same for ever. This is a promise to be demanded at the hands of thy Lord. On a certain day he shall assemble them, and whatever they worship, besides God; and shall say unto the worshipped, Did ye seduce these my servants; or did they wander of themselves from the right way? (19) They shall answer, God forbid! It was not fitting for us that we should take any protectors besides thee: but thou didst permit them and their fathers to enjoy abundance; so that they forgot thy admonition and became lost people. (20) And God shall say unto their worshippers, Now have these convinced you of falsehood in that which ye say; they can neither avert your punishment nor give you any assistance. (21) And whoever of you shall be guilty of injustice, him will we cause to taste a grievous torment. We have sent no messengers before thee, but they ate food, and walked through the streets: and we make some of you an occasion of trial unto others. Will ye persevere with patience? since the Lord regardeth your perseverance.
∥ (23) They who hope not to meet us at the resurrection say, Unless the angels be sent down unto us, or we see our Lordhimself, we will not believe. Verily they behave themselves arrogantly, and have transgressed with an enormous transgression. The day whereon they shall see the angels, there shall be no glad tidings on that day for the wicked; and they shall say, Be this removed far from us? and we will come unto the work which they shall have wrought, (25) and we will make it as dust scattered abroad. On that day shall they who are destined to Paradise be more happy in an abode, and have a preferable place of repose at noon. On that day the heaven shall be cloven in sunder by the clouds, and the angels shall be sent down, descending visibly therein. (28) On that day the kingdom shall of right belong wholly unto the Merciful; and that day shall be grievous for the unbelievers. On that day the unjust person shall bite his hand for anguish and despair, and shall say, Oh that I had taken the way of truth with the Apostle! Alas for me! Oh that I had not taken such a one for my friend! (31) He seduced me from the admonition of God after it had come unto me: for the devil is the betrayer of man. (32) And the Apostle shall say, O Lord, verily my people esteemed this Qurán to be a vain composition. In like manner did we ordain unto every prophet an enemy from among the wicked: but thy Lord is a sufficient director and defender. The unbelievers say, Unless the Qurán be sent down unto him entire at once, we will not believe. But in this manner have we revealed it, that we might confirm thy heart thereby, and we have dictated it gradually, by distinct parcels. They shall not come unto thee with any strange question; but we will bring thee the truth in answer, and a most excellent interpretation. (36) They who shall be dragged on their faces into hell shall be in the worst condition, and shall stray most widely from the way of salvation.
∥ (37) We heretofore delivered unto Moses the book of the law; and we appointed him Aaron his brother for a counsellor. (38) And we said unto them, Go ye to the people who charge our signs with falsehood. And we destroyed them with a signal destruction. (39) And remember the people of Noah, when they accused our apostles of imposture; we drowned them, and made them a sign unto mankind. And we have prepared for the unjust a painful torment. Remember also Ád and Thamúd, and those who dwelt at al Rass, and many other generations within this period. Unto each of them did we propound examples for their admonition; and each of them did we destroy with an utter destruction. The Quraish have passed frequently near the city which was rained on by a fatal rain; have they not seen where it once stood? Yet have they not dreaded the resurrection. (43) When they see thee they will receive thee only with scoffing, saying, Is this he whom God has sent as his apostle? (44) Verily he had almost drawn aside from the worship of our gods, if we had not firmly persevered in our devotion towards them. But they shall know hereafter, when they shall see the punishment prepared for them, who hath strayed more widely from the right path. What thinkest thou? He who taketh his lust for his god; canst thou be his guardian? (46) Dost thou imagine that the greater part of them hear or understand? They are no other than like the brute cattle; yea, they stray more widely from the true path.
∥ (47) Dost thou not consider the works of thy Lord, how he stretcheth forth the shadow before sunrise? If he had pleased he would have made it immovable for ever. Then we cause the sun to rise, and to show the same, (48) and afterwards we contract it by an easy and gradual contraction. (49) It is he who hath ordained the night to cover you as a garment, and sleep to give you rest, and hath ordained the day for waking. It is he who sendeth the winds, driving abroad the pregnant clouds, as the forerunners of his mercy: and we send down pure water from heaven, that we may thereby revive a dead country, and give to drink thereof unto what we have created, both of cattle and men, in great numbers, and we distribute the same among them at various times, that they may consider; but the greater part of men refuse to consider, only out of ingratitude. If we had pleased we had sent a preacher unto every city; wherefore, do not thou obey the unbelievers, but oppose them herewith with a strong opposition. It is he who hath let loose the two seas; this fresh and sweet, and that salt and bitter; and hath placed between them a bar, and a bound which cannot be passed. It is he who hath created man of water, and hath made him to bear the double relation of consanguinity and affinity; for thy Lord is powerful. They worship, besides God, that which can neither profit them nor hurt them; and the unbeliever is an assistant of the devil against his Lord. (58) We have sent thee to be no other than a bearer of good tidings and a denouncer of threats. Say, I ask not of you any reward for this my preaching, besides the conversion of him who shall desire to take the way unto his Lord. And do thou trust in him who liveth and dieth not, and celebrate his praise; (he is sufficiently acquainted with the faults of his servants;) who hath created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, in six days, and then ascended his throne: the Merciful. Ask now the knowing concerning him. (61) When it is said unto the unbelievers, Adore the Merciful, they reply, And who is the Merciful? Shall we adore that which thou commandest us? And this precept causeth them to fly the faster from the faith. Blessed be he who hath placed the twelve signs in the heavens, and hath placed therein a lamp by day, and the moon which shineth by night!
∥ (63) It is he who hath ordained the night and the day to succeed each other, for the observation of him who will consider, or desireth to show his gratitude. The servants of the Merciful are those who walk meekly on the earth, and when the ignorant speak unto them, answer, Peace; (65) and who pass the night adoring their Lord, and standing up to pray unto him, (66) and who say, O Lord, avert from us the torment of hell, for the torment thereof is perpetual; verily the same is a miserable abode and a wretched station, and who, when they bestow, are neither profuse nor niggardly, but observe a just medium between these; (68) and who invoke not another god together with the trueGod; neither slay the soul which God hath forbidden to be slain, unless for a just cause, and who are not guilty of fornication. But he who shall do this shall meet the reward of his wickedness; (69) his punishment shall be doubled unto him on the day of resurrection, and he shall remain therein covered with ignominy for ever: except him who shall repent and believe, and shall work a righteous work, unto them will God change their former evils into good; for God is ready to forgive and merciful. And whoever repenteth and doth that which is right, verily he turneth unto God with an acceptable conversion. And they who do not bear false witness, and when they pass by vain discourse, pass by the same with decency; and who, when they are admonished by the signs of their Lord, fall not down as if they were deaf and blind, but stand up and are attentive thereto, and who say, O Lord, grant us of our wives and our offspring such as may be the satisfaction of our eyes, and make us patterns unto those who fear thee. These shall be rewarded with the highest apartments in Paradise, because they have persevered with constancy, and they shall meet therein with greeting and salutation; they shall remain in the same for ever; it shall be an excellent abode and a delightful station. (77) Say, My Lord is not solicitous on your account, if ye do not invoke him; ye have already charged his Apostle with imposture, but hereafter shall there be a lasting punishment inflicted on you.
This chapter, like the seventh chapter, is taken up entirely with Muhammad’s defence of his prophetic claims against the objections of the Quraish. The character of these objections may be learned from the words put into the mouths of those who rejected the former prophets. Those prophets were called impostors, liars, and madmen by those rejecting them, and we may certainly conclude that these same epithets were applied by the Quraish to Muhammad. Again, the replies attributed to the former prophets reflect the answer of Muhammad to his maligners: that he was a prophet of the true God; that he had no motive to deceive them, inasmuch as he took no reward from his people for his services; that God would visit dire punishment upon them unless they should repent.
In the concluding verses we find mention made of certain poets, to which the chapter owes its title. These poets seem to have been a special source of annoyance to Muhammad at this time. It is possible that they were the ringleaders of the opposition to his prophetic pretensions. It does not speak very highly of “the incomparable verses of the Qurán” when it is said that several poets were employed by Muhammad to meet the satire of these “rovers through every valley.” See note on ver. 228.
Some writers, supposing that every reference to Jews points necessarily to Madína, have thought this chapter to be Madínic. But this notion being ill founded, there is nothing left to give countenance to such an opinion.
On the other hand, some have thought ver. 214 seq., or at least ver. 214, to be the first verse or portion of the Qurán, but they need not be interpreted to mean more than that Muhammad had received a new command to preach to his near relatives. Vers. 215-219 show that there was already a band of worshippers, who were no doubt true believers. Rodwell, following Noëldeke, fixes the chapter in the seventh year of Muhammad’s ministry at Makkah. Judging from the fulness of the stories taken from Old Testament history, the date could not be much earlier, while the absence of any reference to violent persecution precludes our making it later.
Some have thought that ver. 224 seq. belong to Madína, but without good reason: the style is decidedly Makkan.
|Muhammad is grieved at the unbelief of the Quraish||1, 2|
|God will grant them no miracle save the Qurán||3, 4|
|The Quraish regard the Qurán as a forgery||5|
|God will send a grim messenger whom they shall respect||5-8|
|The story of Moses:—|
|He is sent to Pharaoh and his people||9, 10|
|Fearing that he will be called an impostor, Moses asks that Aaron be sent with him||11, 12|
|Moses being assured that he will not be put to death for murder, is sent to demand release of the Israelites||13-16|
|Pharaoh charges Moses with ingratitude||17, 18|
|Moses apologises to Pharaoh for killing the Egyptian||19, 21|
|Moses is charged with being a madman||22, 27|
|Pharaoh threatens Moses if he do not worship him||28|
|Moses performs miracles before Pharaoh||29-32|
|Egyptian magicians called to compete with Moses||33-41|
|Moses contests with the magicians, who are converted||42-47|
|Pharaoh, enraged, threatens to crucify the magicians||48, 49|
|The magician converts put their trust in God||50, 51|
|Moses commanded to take Israelites forth from Egypt||52|
|Pharaoh and his people pursue them||53-60|
|The Red Sea is divided by Moses, and Israelites pass over||61-65|
|The Egyptians are drowned, and become a warning to all unbelievers||66-68|
|The story of Abraham:—|
|He preaches against idolatry||69-82|
|Abraham prays for himself and his father||83-92|
|He warns his people of the vain repentance of idolaters in hell||93-102|
|Most of his people rejected him||103, 104|
|The story of Noah:—|
|His people accused him of imposture||105|
|Noah exhorts them to have faith in God||106-110|
|Unbelievers desire Noah to reject his poor followers||111-115|
|Refusing, they threaten him with violence||116|
|Noah takes refuge in God, and is saved in the ark||117-119|
|The unbelievers are drowned||120-122|
|The story of Ád:—|
|They charge God’s messengers with imposture||123|
|Húd claims the prophetic office, and preaches to the Ádites||124-135|
|They reject his warnings and charge him with imposture||136-139|
|The unbelieving Ádites are destroyed||139-140|
|The story of the Thamúdites:—|
|They charge the prophets with imposture||141|
|Sálih, declaring himself a prophet, preaches to them||142-152|
|The Thamúdites reject Sálih and call him a madman||153|
|They demand a sign, and a she-camel is given for a sign||154-156|
|They slay the she-camel, and are destroyed for infidelity||157-159|
|The story of Lot:—|
|The Sodomites accuse their prophets with imposture||160|
|Lot proclaims himself a prophet, and preaches to them||161-166|
|The Sodomites threaten him with violence||167|
|God saves Lot from Sodom, but Lot’s wife is destroyed||168-171|
|The unbelievers destroyed by a shower of stones||172-174|
|The story of the Midianites:—|
|They call God’s messengers impostors||175|
|Shuaib proclaims himself a prophet, and preaches to them||176-184|
|They call him a madman and a liar, and challenge him to cause the heavens fall on them||185-187|
|They are destroyed in their unbelief||188-191|
|The Qurán given to Muhammad, through Gabriel, in the Arabic language||192-195|
|The Qurán attested as God’s Word by the former Scriptures||196, 197|
|The hearts of the Quraish are hardened by the Qurán||198-203|
|The Quraish scorn Muhammad’s threatenings||204|
|God’s mercy deepens the condemnation of impenitent infidels||205-207|
|God never destroys a people without first warning them||208-209|
|The Devil did not assist in revealing the Qurán||210-212|
|Muhammad warned against idolatry, and admonished to preach Islám to his relatives||213, 214|
|True believers to be treated meekly, and unbelievers to be treated with forbearance||215-220|
|Devils descend on the hearts of unbelievers||221-223|
|Unbelieving poets are mad; believing poets commended||224-228|
|The unjust will speedily be punished||228|
∥ T. S. M. Theseare the signs of the perspicuous book. Peradventure thou afflictest thyself unto death, lest the Makkans become not believers. If we pleased, we could send down unto them a convincing sign from heaven, unto which their necks would humbly submit. But there cometh unto them no admonition from the Merciful, being newly revealed as occasions require, but they turn aside from the same; and they have charged it with falsehood: but a message shall come unto them, which they shall not laugh to scorn. Do they not behold the earth, how many vegetables we cause to spring up therein, of every noble species? (7) Verily herein is a sign: but the greater part of them do not believe. (8) Verily thy Lord is the mighty, the merciful God.
∥ (9) Remember when thy Lord called Moses, saying, Go to the unjust people, (10) the people of Pharaoh; will they not dread me?Moses answered, O Lord, verily I fear lest they accuse me of falsehood, and lest my breast become straitened, and my tongue be not ready inspeaking: send therefore unto Aaron, to be my assistant. Also they have a crime to object against me; and I fear they will put me to death. God said, They shall by no means put thee to death: wherefore go ye with our signs; for we will be with you, and will hear what passes between you and them. Go ye therefore unto Pharaoh, and say, Verily we are the apostle of the Lord of all creatures: send away with us the children of Israel. And when they had delivered their message, Pharaoh answered, Have we not brought thee up among us when a child; and hast thou not dwelt among us for several years of thy life? Yet hast thou done thy deed which thou hast done, and thou art an ungrateful person. Moses replied, I did it indeed, and I was one of those who erred, wherefore I fled from you, because I feared you: but my Lord hath bestowed on me wisdom, and hath appointed me one of his apostles. And this is the favour which thou hast bestowed on me, that thou hast enslaved the children of Israel. Pharaoh said, And who is the Lord of all creatures? Moses answered, The Lord of heaven and earth, and whatever is between them: if ye are men of sagacity. Pharaoh said unto those who were about him, Do ye not hear? Moses said, Your Lord, and the Lord of your forefathers. Pharaoh said unto those who were present, Your apostle, who is sent unto you, is certainly distracted. Moses said, The Lord of the east and of the west, and of whatever is between them; if ye are men of understanding. Pharaoh said unto him, Verily if thou take any god besides me, I will make thee one of those who are imprisoned. Moses answered, What! although I come unto you with a convincing miracle?Pharaoh replied, Produce it therefore, if thou speakest truth. And he cast down his rod, and behold, it became a visible serpent: and he drew forth his hand out of his bosom; and behold, it appeared white unto the spectators.
∥ Pharaoh said unto the princes who were about him, Verily this man is a skilled magician: he seeketh to dispossess you of your land by his sorcery; what therefore do ye direct? They answered, Delay him and his brother by good words for a time; and send through the cities men to assemble and bring unto thee every skilful magician. So the magicians were assembled at an appointed time on a solemn day. And it was said unto the people, Are ye assembled together? Perhaps we may follow the magicians, if they do get the victory. And when the magicians were come, they said unto Pharaoh, Shall we certainly receive a reward if we do get the victory? He answered, Yea; and ye shall surely be of those who approach my person. Moses said unto them, Cast down what ye are about to cast down. Wherefore they cast down their ropes and their rods, and said, By the might of Pharaoh, verily we shall be the conquerors. And Moses cast down his rod, and behold, it swallowed up that which they had caused falsely to appear changed into serpents. Whereupon the magicians prostrated themselves, worshipping, and said, We believe in the Lord of all creatures, the Lord of Moses and of Aaron. Pharaoh said unto them, Have ye believed on him before I have given you permission? Verily he is your chief who hath taught you magic: but hereafter ye shall surely know my power. I will cut off your hands and your feet on the opposite sides, and I will crucify you all. They answered, It will be no harm unto us; for we shall return unto our Lord. We hope that our Lord will forgive us our sins, since we are the first who have believed.
∥ And we spake by revelation unto Moses, saying, March forth with my servants by night; for ye will be pursued. And Pharaoh sent officers through the cities to assemble forces,saying, Verily these are a small company; and they are enraged against us: but we are a multitude well provided. So we caused them to quit their gardens, and fountains, and treasures, and fair dwellings: thus did we do; and we made the children of Israel to inherit the same. And they pursued them at sunrise. And when the two armies were come in sight of each other, the companions of Moses said, We shall surely be overtaken. Moses answered, By no means; for my Lordis with me, who will surely direct me. And we commanded Moses by revelation, saying, Smite the sea with thy rod. And when he had smitten it, it became divided into twelve parts, between which were as many paths, and every part was like a vast mountain. And we drew thither the others; and we delivered Moses and all those who were with him; then we drowned the others. Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them did not believe. Verily thy Lord is the mighty and the merciful.
∥ And rehearse unto them the story of Abraham: (70) when he said unto his father and his people, What do ye worship? (71) They answered, We worship idols, and we constantly serve them all the day long. (72) Abraham said, Do they hear you when ye invoke them? (73) or do they either profit you or hurt you? (74) They answered, But we found our fathers do the same. (75) He said, What think ye? The gods which ye worship, (76) and your forefathers worshipped, (77) are my enemy: except only the Lord of all creatures, (78) who hath created me and directeth me; (79) and who giveth me to eat and to drink, (80) and when I am sick healeth me; (81) and who will cause me to die, and will afterwards restore me to life; and who, I hope, will forgive my sins on the day of judgment. (83) O Lord, grant me wisdom; and join me with the righteous: (84) and grant that I may be spoken of with honour among the latest posterity; and make me an heir of the garden of delight: (86) and forgive my father, for that he hath been one of those who go astray. (87) And cover me not with shame on the day of resurrection; (88) on the day in which neither riches nor children shall avail, (89) unless unto him who shall come unto God with a sincere heart: (90) when Paradise shall be brought near to the view of the pious, (91) and hell shall appear plainly to those who shall have erred: (92) and it shall be said unto them, Where are your deities which ye served (93) besides God? will they deliver you from punishment, or will they deliver themselves? And they shall be cast into the same, both they, and those who have been seduced to their worship; (95) and all the host of Eblis, (96) The seduced shall dispute therein with their false gods. (97) saying, By God, we were in a manifest error, (98) when we equalled you with the Lord of all creatures: (99) and none seduced us but the wicked. (100) We have now no intercessors, (101) nor any friend who careth for us. (102) If we were allowed to return once more into the world, we would certainly become true believers. (103) Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them believed not. (104) The Lord is the mighty, the merciful. The people of Noah accused God’s messengers of imposture.
∥ When their brother Noah said unto them, Will ye not fear God? Verily I am a faithful messenger unto you; wherefore fear God and obey me. I ask no reward of you for my preaching unto you; I expect my reward from no other than the Lord of all creatures: (110) wherefore fear God and obey me. (111) They answered, Shall we believe on thee when only the most abject persons have followed thee? Noah said, I have no knowledge of that which they did; (113) it appertaineth unto my Lord alone to bring them to account, if ye understand; wherefore I will not drive away the believers: (115) I am no more than a public preacher. (116) They replied, Assuredly, unless thou desist, O Noah, thou shalt be stoned. (117) He said, O Lord, verily my people take me for a liar;
∥ (118) Wherefore judge publicly between me and them; and deliver me and the true believers who are with me. (119) Wherefore we delivered him, and those who were with him, in the ark filled with men and animals; (120) and afterwards we drowned the rest. (121) Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them believed not. (122) Thy Lord is the mighty, the merciful.
∥ The tribe of Ád charged God’s messengers with falsehood: when their brother Húd said unto them, Will ye not fear God? Verily I am a faithful messenger unto you; wherefore fear God and obey me. I demand not of you any reward for my preaching unto you: I expect my reward from no other than the Lord of all creatures. Do ye build a landmark on every high place to divert yourselves? And do ye erect magnificent works, hoping that ye may continue in their possession for ever? And when ye exercise your power, do ye exercise it with cruelty and rigour? Fear God,by leaving these things; and obey me. And fear him who hath bestowed on you that which ye know: he hath bestowed on you cattle, and children, and gardens, and springs of water. Verily I fear for you the punishment of a grievous day. They answered, It is equal unto us whether thou admonish us or dost not admonish us: this which thou preachest is only a device of the ancients; neither shall we be punished for what we have done. And they accused him of imposture: wherefore we destroyed them. Verily herein was a sign: but the greater part of them believed not. Thy Lord is the mighty, the merciful.
∥ The tribe of Thamúd also charged the messengers of God with falsehood. When their brother Sálih said unto them, Will ye not fear God? Verily I am a faithful messenger unto you: wherefore fear God and obey me. I demand no reward of you for my preaching unto you: I expect my reward from no other than the Lord of all creatures. Shall ye be left for ever secure in the possession of the things which are here? among gardens, and fountains, and corn, and palm-trees, whose branches sheathe their flowers. And will ye continue to cut habitations for yourselves out of the mountains, behaving with insolence? Fear God and obey me; and obey not the command of the transgressors, who act corruptly in the earth, and reform not the same. They answered, Verily thou art distracted: thou art no other than a man like unto us: produce now some sign, if thou speakest truth. Sálih said, This she-camel shall be a sign unto you: she shall have her portion of water, and ye shall have your portion of water alternately, on a several day appointed for you; and do her no hurt, lest the punishment of a terrible day be inflicted on you. But they slew her; and were made to repent of their impiety: for the punishment which had been threatened overtook them. Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them did not believe. Thy Lord is the mighty, the merciful.
∥ The people of Lot likewise accused God’s messengers of imposture. When their brother Lot said unto them, Will ye not fear God? Verily I am a faithful messenger unto you: wherefore fear God and obey me. I demand no reward of you for my preaching: I expect my reward from no other than the Lord of all creatures. Do ye approach unto the males among mankind, and leave your wives which your Lord hath created for you. Surely ye are people who transgress. They answered, Unless thou desist, O Lot, thou shalt certainly be expelled our city. He said, Verily I am one of those who abhor your doings: O Lord, deliver me and my family from that which they act. Wherefore we delivered him and all his family, except an old woman, his wife, who perished among those who remained behind; then we destroyed the rest; and we rained on them a shower of stones; and terrible was the shower which fell on those who had been warned in vain. Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them did not believe. (175) Thy Lord is the mighty, the merciful.
∥ The inhabitants of the wood also accused God’s messengers of imposture. When Shuaib said unto them, Will ye not fear God? Verily I am a faithful messenger unto you: wherefore fear God and obey me. I ask no reward of you for my preaching: I expect my reward from no other than the Lord of all creatures. Give just measure, and be not defrauders; and weigh with an equal balance; and diminish not unto men aught of their matters; neither commit violence in the earth, acting corruptly. And fear him who hath created you, and also the former generations. They answered, Certainly thou art distracted; thou art no more than a man, like unto us: and we do surely esteem thee to be a liar. Cause now a part of the heaven to fall upon us, if thou speakest truth. Shuaib said, My Lord best knoweth that which ye do. And they charged him with falsehood: wherefore the punishment of the day of the shadowing cloud overtook them; and this was the punishment of a grievous day. Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them did not believe. Thy Lord is the mighty, the merciful.
∥ (192) This book is certainly a revelation from the Lord of all creatures, which the faithful spirit hath caused to descend (194) upon thy heart, that thou mightest be a preacher to thy people, (195) in the perspicuous Arabic tongue, (196) and it is borne witness to in the scriptures of former ages. Was it not a sign unto them that the wise men among the children of Israel knew it? (198) Had we revealed it unto any of the foreigners, (199) and he had read the same unto them, yet they would not have believed therein. (200) Thus have we caused obstinate infidelity to enter the hearts of the wicked; (201) they shall not believe therein until they see a painful punishment. (202) It shall come suddenly upon them, and they shall not foresee it, (203) and they shall say, Shall we be respited? Do they therefore desire our punishment to be hastened? (205) What thinkest thou? If we suffer them to enjoy the advantage of this life for several years, (206) and afterwards that with which they are threatened come upon them, (207) what will that which they have enjoyed profit them? (208) We have destroyed no city, but preachers were first sent unto it (209) to admonish the inhabitants thereof; neither did we treat them unjustly. (210) The devils did not descend with the Qurán, as the infidels give out; (211) it is not for their purpose, neither are they able to produce such a book, for they are far removed from hearing the discourse of the angels in heaven. (213) Invoke no other god with the trueGod, lest thou become one of those who are doomed to punishment. And admonish thy more near relations. And behave thyself with meekness towards the true believers who follow thee, (216) and if they be disobedient unto thee, say, Verily I am clear of that which ye do. (217) And trust in the most mighty, the merciful God, (218) who seeth thee when thou risest up, and thy behaviour among those who worship, (220) for he both heareth and knoweth. (221) Shall I declare unto you upon whom the devils descend? They descend upon every lying and wicked person; they learn what is heard, but the greater part of them are liars. And those who err follow the steps of the poets; dost thou not see that they rove as bereft of their senses through every valley, (226) and that they say that which they do not? (227) except those who believe, and do good works, and remember God frequently, and who defend themselves after they have been unjustly treated. And they who act unjustly shall know hereafter with what treatment they shall be treated.
This chapter owes its title to a peculiar story of an ant, found in vers. 18, 19. Nothing could better illustrate the arbitrary character of the names prefixed to the chapters of the Qurán.
The revelations of this chapter are distinctively Makkan in style and matter. It contains the usual round of self-assertion of prophetic claims, of invective against the unbelieving Quraish, and of threats of divine judgment, illustrated by reference to the fate of infidels in former ages. Perhaps the most noticeable feature of the chapter is the positiveness of Muhammad’s claim that he is a prophet of God, and that the Qurán is God’s word revealed to him by Gabriel. We find him ascribing to God the following words:—“Thou hast certainly received the Qurán from the presence of a wise and knowing God” (ver. 6); “Verily this Qurán . . . is certainly a direction and a mercy unto the true believers,” &c. (vers. 78-80); “And I am commanded to be a Muslim, and to rehearse the Qurán” (vers. 93, 94). Notwithstanding this positive assertion of personal inspiration, we find in this very chapter a foolish story of the Rabbins, embellished and clothed in Muslim habiliments, presented as a portion of this revelation.
The attitude of the Quraish and of their prophet respectively, as seen in this chapter, is that of persistent opposition on the part of the former and of patient defiance on the part of the latter. Whether the plotting mentioned in ver. 72, which had been alluded to in vers. 46-53, refers to that active opposition of the Quraish which culminated in the final withdrawal from Makkah is doubtful. The general tone of the chapter is against such an opinion. That violent opposition is referred to I think to be indisputable, but would refer it to some of the earlier acts of Quraishite hatred; perhaps the combination against the Háshimites. This would also account for the reference to two parties attributed to the people of Sálih, who is here the facsimile of Muhammad, while the Thamúdites or people of Sálih correspond to the Quraish. This explanation would also account for the reference to the family of Sálih (ver. 50), which corresponds to the family and relatives of Muhammad, shut up in the Sheb or quarter of Abu Tálib.
All authorities agree that the entire chapter is Makkan. The date, judging from what has already been said above, would be about the eighth year of Muhammad’s ministry at Makkah.
|The Qurán is a direction of good tidings to the faithful||1-3|
|Unbelievers are losers here and hereafter||4, 5|
|The Qurán certainly given by God to Muhammad||6|
|The story of Moses at the burning bush||7-12|
|Moses rejected by Pharaoh and the Egyptians as an impostor||13, 14|
|David and Solomon praise God for their wisdom||15|
|Solomon’s dominion over genii, men, and birds||16, 17|
|The wise ant pleases Solomon||18, 19|
|The story of the Queen of Sabá and her conversion to Islám||20-45|
|Thamúd rejects Sálih their prophet||46-48|
|Nine men plot the destruction of Sálih and his family||49-51|
|The Thamúdites and their plotters destroyed, but Sálih and his followers are saved||52-54|
|The story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom||55-59|
|God, the creator and preserver, more worthy of praise than false gods||60-68|
|The unbelievers scoff at the warnings of Muhammad||69, 70|
|They shall certainly be destroyed as were those who rejected the prophets of old||71, 72|
|Judgment on the wicked delayed through the mercy of God||73-77|
|The Qurán decides the points of controversy among the children of Israel||78-80|
|Muhammad comforted by the assurance of his integrity||81|
|Reprobate infidels blind to the error of their ways||82, 83|
|Signs of judgment and doom of unbelievers||84-90|
|The righteous secure from the terror of judgment||91|
|The wicked shall be punished||92|
|Muhammad commanded to worship God, to be a Muslim, and to proclaim the Qurán||93, 94|
|God will show his signs to true believers||95|
∥ (1) T. S. These are the signs of the Qurán and of the perspicuous book, (2) a direction and good tidings unto the true believers, (3) who regularly perform their prayer, and give alms, and firmly believe in the life to come. As to those who believe not in the life to come, we have prepared their works for them, and they shall be struck with astonishment at their disappointment when they shall be raised again; (5) these are they whom an evil punishment awaiteth in this life, and in that which is to come they shall be the greatest losers. Thou hast certainly received the Qurán from the presence of a wise, a knowing God.
∥ Remember when Moses said unto his family, Verily I perceive fire; I will bring you tidings thereof, or I will bring you a lighted brand that ye may be warmed. And when he was come near unto it a voice cried unto him, saying, Blessed be he who is in the fire, and whoever is about it, and praise be unto God, the Lord of all creatures! (9) O Moses, verily I am God, the mighty, the wise; cast down now thy rod. And when he saw it that it moved as though it had been a serpent, he retreated and fled, and returned not. And God said, O Moses, fear not, for my messengers are not disturbed with fear in my sight; except he who shall have done amiss, and shall have afterwards substituted good in lieu of evil, for I am gracious and merciful. Moreover, put thy hand into thy bosom, it shall come forth white, without hurt; this shall be one among the nine signs unto Pharaoh and his people, for they are a wicked people. (13) And when our visible signs had come unto them they said, This is a manifest sorcery. (14) And they denied them, although their souls certainly knew them to be from God, out of iniquity and pride; but behold what was the end of the corrupt doers.
∥ We heretofore bestowed knowledge on David and Solomon: and they said, Praise be unto God, who hath made us more excellent than many of his faithful servants! And Solomon was David’s heir; and he said, O men, we have been taught the speech of birds, and have had all things bestowed on us; this is manifest excellence. And his armies were gathered together unto Solomon, consisting of genii, and men, and birds; and they were led in distinct bands, until they came unto the valley of ants. And an ant, seeing the hosts approaching, said, O ants, enter ye into your habitations, lest Solomon and his army tread you under foot, and perceive it not. (19) And Solomon smiled, laughing at her words, and said, O Lord, excite me that I may be thankful for thy favour wherewith thou hast favoured me, and my parents; and that I may do that which is right and well-pleasing unto thee: and introduce me, through thy mercy, into Paradise, among thy servants the righteous. And he viewed the birds, and said, What is the reason that I see not the lapwing? Is she absent? Verily I will chastise her with a severe chastisement, or I will put her to death; unless she bring me a just excuse. (22) And she tarried not long before she presented herself unto Solomon, and said, I have viewed a country which thou hast not viewed; and I come unto thee from Sabá, with a certain piece of news. I found a woman to reign over them, who is provided with everything requisite for a prince, and hath a magnificent throne. I found her and her people to worship the sun, besides God: and Satan hath prepared their works for them, and hath turned them aside from the way of truth (wherefore they are not rightly directed, lest they should worship God, who bringeth to light that which is hidden in heaven and earth, and knoweth whatever they conceal, and whatever they discover. God! there is no God but he; the Lord of the magnificent throne. (27) Solomon said, We shall see whether thou hast spoken the truth, or whether thou art a liar. (28) Go with this my letter, and cast it down unto them; then turn aside from them, and wait to know what answer they will return. And when the Queen of Sabá had received the letter, she said, O nobles, verily an honourable letter hath been delivered unto me; (30) it is from Solomon, and this is the tenor thereof: In the name of the most merciful God, Rise not up against me: but come and surrender yourselves unto me.
∥ (32) She said, O nobles, advise me in my business: I will not resolve on anything until ye be witnesses and approve thereof. The nobles answered, We are endued with strength, and are endued with great prowess in war; but the command appertaineth unto thee: see therefore what thou wilt command. (34) She said, Verily kings, when they enter a city by force, waste the same, and abase the most powerful of the inhabitants thereof: and so will these do with us. (35) But I will send gifts unto them; and will wait for what farther information those who shall be sent shall bring back. And when the queen’s ambassador came unto Solomon, that prince said, Will ye present me with riches? Verily that which God hath given me is better than that which he hath given you: but ye do glory in your gifts. (37) Return unto the people of Sabá. We will surely come unto them with forces, which they shall not be able to withstand; and we will drive them out from their city, humbled; and they shall become contemptible. (38) And Solomon said, O nobles, which of you will bring unto me her throne, before they come and surrender themselves unto me? A terrible genius answered, I will bring it unto thee before thou arise from thy place: for I am able to perform it, and may be trusted. And one with whom was the knowledge of the Scriptures said, I will bring it unto thee in the twinkling of an eye. And when Solomon saw the throne placed before him, he said, This is a favour of my Lord, that he may make trial of me, whether I will be grateful, or whether I will be ungrateful; and he who is grateful is grateful to his own advantage, but if any shall be ungrateful, verily my Lordis self-sufficient and munificent. (41) And Solomon said unto his servants, Alter her throne, that she may not know it, to the end we may see whether she be rightly directed, or whether she be one of those who are not rightly directed. And when she was come unto Solomon, it was said unto her, Is thy throne like this? She answered, As though it were the same. And we have had knowledge bestowed on us before this, and have been resigned unto God. (43) But that which she worshipped besides God had turned her aside from the truth; for she was of an unbelieving people. It was said unto her, Enter the palace. And when she saw it, she imagined it to be a great water; and she discovered her legs by lifting up her robe to pass through it. Whereupon Solomon said unto her, Verily this is a palace evenly floored with glass. Then said the queen, O Lord, verily I have dealt unjustly with my own soul; and I resign myself, together with Solomon, unto God the Lord of all creatures.
∥ Also we heretofore sent unto the tribe of Thamúd their brother Sálih, who said unto them, Serve ye God. And behold, they were divided into two parties, who disputed among themselves. Sálih said, O my people, why do ye hasten evil rather than good? Unless ye ask pardon of God, that ye may obtain mercy, ye are lost. They answered, We presage evil from thee, and from those who are with thee. Sálih replied, The evil which ye presage is with God: but ye are a people who are proved by a vicissitude of prosperity and adversity. (49) And there were nine men in the city who acted corruptly in the earth, and behaved not with integrity. (50) And they said unto one another, Swear ye reciprocally by God, that we will fall upon Sálih and his family by night: and afterwards we will say unto him who hath right to avenge his blood, We were not so much as present at the destruction of his family; and we certainly speak the truth. (51) And they devised a plot against him: but we devised a plot against them; and they perceived it not. And see what was the issue of their plot, we utterly destroyed them and their whole people; (53) and these their habitations remain empty, because of the injustice which they committed. Verily herein is a sign unto people who understand. (54) And we delivered those who believed and feared God. And remember Lot; when he said unto his people, Do ye commit a wickedness, though ye see the heinousness thereof? (56) Do ye approach lustfully unto men, leaving the women? Ye are surely an ignorant people. (57) But the answer of his people was no other than that they said, Cast the family of Lot out of your city: for they are men who preserve themselves pure from the crimes of which ye are guilty. (58) Wherefore we delivered him and his family, except his wife, whom we decreed to be one of those who remained behind to be destroyed. And we rained on them a shower of stones: and dreadful was the shower which fell on those who had been warned in vain! (60) Say, Praise be unto God; and peace be upon his servants whom he hath chosen! Is God more worthy, or the false gods which they associate with him?
∥ (61) Is not he to be preferred who hath created the heavens and the earth, and sendeth down rain for you from heaven, whereby we cause delicious groves to spring up? It is not in your power to cause the trees thereof to shoot forth. Is there any other god partner with the trueGod? Verily these are a people who deviate from the truth.Is not he more worthy to be adored who hath established the earth, and hath caused rivers to flow through the midst thereof, and placed thereon immovable mountains, and set a bar between the two seas? Is there any other god equal with the trueGod? Yet the greater part of them know it not. (63) Is not he more worthy who heareth the afflicted when he calleth upon him, and taketh off the evil which distressed him; and who hath made you the successors of your forefathers in the earth? Is there any other god who can be equalled with the trueGod? How few consider these things!Is not he more worthy who directeth you in the dark paths of the land and of the sea; and who sendeth the winds driving abroad the clouds, as the forerunners of his mercy? Is there any other god who can be equalled with the true God? Far be God from having those partners in his power which ye associate with him. (65) Is not he more worthy who produceth a creature, and after it hath been dead restoreth it to life; and who giveth you food from heaven and earth? Is there any other god with the trueGodwho doth this? Say, Produce your proof thereof, if ye speak truth. Say, None either in heaven or earth knoweth that which is hidden, besides God: neither do they understand when they shall be raised. However, their knowledge attaineth some notion of the life to come: yet they are in an uncertainty concerning the same; yea, they are blind as to the real circumstances thereof.
∥ (69) And the unbelievers say, When we and our fathers shall have been reduced to dust, shall we be taken forth from the grave? Verily we have been threatened with this, both we and our fathers, heretofore. This is no other than fables of the ancients. (71) Say unto them, Pass through the earth, and see what hath been the end of the wicked. (72) And be not thou grieved for them; neither be thou in any concern on account of the plots which they are contriving against thee. (73) And they say, When will this threat be accomplished, if ye speak true? (74) Answer, Peradventure some part of that punishment which ye desire to be hastened may follow close behind you; (75) verily thy Lord is endued with indulgence towards mankind; but the greater part of them are not thankful. (76) Verily thy Lord knoweth what their breasts conceal, and what they discover; (77) and there is nothing hidden in heaven or on earth, but it is written in a clear book. Verily this Qurán declareth unto the children of Israel most of those points concerning which they disagree: (79) and it is certainly a direction and a mercy unto the true believers. (80) Thy Lord will decide the controversy between them by his definitive sentence: and he is the mighty, the wise. (81) Therefore put thy trust in God; for thou art in the manifest truth. (82) Verily thou shalt not make the dead to hear, neither shalt thou make the deaf to hear thy call to the true faith when they retire and turn their backs; (83) neither shalt thou direct the blind to extricate themselves out of their error. Thou shalt make none to hear thee except him who shall believe in our signs: and they are wholly resigned unto us. When the sentence shall be ready to fall upon them, we will cause a beast to come forth unto them from out of the earth, which shall speak unto them: verily men do not firmly believe in our signs.
∥ On the day of resurrection we will assemble, out of every nation, a company of those who shall have charged our signs with falsehood; and they shall be prevented from mixing together, (86) until they shall arrive at the place of judgment. And God shall say unto them, Have ye charged my signs with falsehood, although ye comprehended them not with your knowledge? Or what is it that ye were doing? (87) And the sentence of damnation shall fall on them, for that they have acted unjustly: and they shall not speak in their own excuse. (88) Do they not see that we have ordained the night, that they may rest therein, and the day giving open light? Verily herein are signs unto people who believe. On that day the trumpet shall be sounded; and whoever are in heaven and on earth shall be struck with terror, except those whom God shall please to exempt therefrom: and all shall come before him in humble guise. (90) And thou shalt see the mountains, and shalt think them firmly fixed; but they shall pass away, even as the clouds pass away. This will be the work of God, who hath rightly disposed all things: and he is well acquainted with that which ye do. (91) Whoever shall have wrought righteousness shall receive a reward beyond the desert thereof; and they shall be secure from the terror of that day: but whoever shall have wrought evil shall be thrown on their faces into hell-fire. Shall ye receive the reward of any other than of that which ye shall have wrought? Verily I am commanded to worship the Lord of this territory of Makkah, who hath sanctified the same: unto him belong all things. And I am commanded to be a Muslim, and to rehearse the Qurán: he who shall be directed thereby will be directed to his own advantage; and to him who shall go astray, say, Verily I am a warner only. And say, Praise be unto God! he will show you his signs, and ye shall know them: and thy Lord is not regardless of that which they do.
The object of this chapter, as we are informed in ver. 2, was to instruct the faithful by a rehearsal of the history of Moses and Pharaoh. This history, which occupies a considerable portion of the chapter, is related with considerable detail up to the point of Moses’s visit to Pharaoh. The account of Moses’s rejection and of Pharaoh’s destruction occupies but a very few verses, in which the story of Haman and his destruction seems to be mixed up with that of Pharaoh. From this it may fairly be inferred that Muhammad had as yet received but little information concerning the latter part of the history of Moses and Pharaoh. This is confirmed by the story of Korah and his rebellion, as related in vers. 76-82, where both the place and the cause of rebellion are misrepresented in a way that leaves the impression that the writer is retailing the substance of a story learned from some ignorant Jewish informer.
So far as the story of Moses and the Egyptians is concerned, it is fair to say that it furnished Muhammad with a model prophet he ever afterwards strove to imitate. Indeed, such imitation is plainly visible in this chapter. The Quraish are represented as rejecting both Moses and Muhammad—both the Pentateuch and the Qurán—on the ground that they, i.e., Moses and Muhammad, assisted one another. Muhammad accepts the companionship of Moses, and challenges the Quraish to produce a book as good as either that of Moses or his own Qurán, thereby very clearly attesting the credibility of the Pentateuch then extant among the Jews, which may account for the fact that certain Jews became his followers about this time (vers. 52, 53).
The latter portion of the chapter is occupied with the usual Makkan discourse of the preacher. Idolaters are warned and threatened with destruction, while the joys of Paradise are held up for the encouragement of the humble and penitent believer.
It is generally agreed that this chapter belongs to Makkah. One writer, Umar Bín Muhammad, thinks it was written on the journey from Makkah to Madína. This opinion is based upon a mistaken interpretation of ver. 85.
The opinion of those who regard vers. 52 and 53 as Madínic is unworthy of serious consideration, because Muhammad’s experience at Madína would have prevented his declaring that the Jews and Christians believed the Qurán to be the Word of God.
Vers. 76-82 are not a misplaced interpolation, as some have thought, but simply illustrate the fate of those who are mentioned in vers. 74, 75, as is evident by reference to ver. 83 seq.
The chapter being Makkan, the next point is to fix its place there. Believing, as we may, that the story of Moses and Pharaoh here reflects the condition of the Muslims at the time it was enunciated, we may gather that there were two parties (ver. 3); that efforts were made to crush the weaker party (vers. 3, 4); that Muhammad was regarded as a sorcerer and deceiver (ver. 36); that Muhammad and his Qurán were treated with great contempt, because of the opposition made to the national idolatry (vers. 38, 39); that Muhammad was charged with forging the Qurán, but received encouragement from certain Jewish, and perhaps Christian, converts (vers. 48-53), and that the opposition to the Muslims was led by some powerful person at Makkah, probably Abu Lahab, as appears from the story of Qárún (vers. 76-82). To this may be added the allusion (in vers. 85-88) to the lapse of Muhammad, and to the Quraishite hatred of Muslims in ver. 69. These circumstances of the Muslims fit in very well with the history of Islám about the beginning of the fifth year of Muhammad’s ministry, i.e.,b.h. 9.
|Muhammad receives the story of Moses for the benefit of believers||1, 2|
|Pharaoh oppresses the Israelites||3|
|God determines to befriend the weak and to destroy oppressors||4, 5|
|Moses’s mother directed to commit her child to the river||6|
|Pharaoh’s family take up the infant Moses||7, 8|
|The anxiety of Moses’s mother—his sister watches him||9, 10|
|Moses refuses the Egyptian nurse, and his mother is employed||11, 12|
|God bestows on him wisdom and strength||13|
|He slays an Egyptian and flies to Madian||14-20|
|By divine direction he reaches the wells of Madian||21, 22|
|He waters the flocks of the daughters of Shuaib (Jethro)||23, 24|
|Meeting Shuaib, he relates his history||25|
|Shuaib gives him one of his daughters in marriage||26-28|
|Fulfilling the marriage contract, Moses journeys towards Egypt||29|
|He sees the burning bush, and receives prophetic commission and power to perform miracles||29-32|
|Moses, fearing Pharaoh, asks the help of Aaron||33-35|
|Egyptians regard Moses and Aaron as sorcerers||36|
|Moses threatens them with God’s judgment||37|
|Pharaoh, claiming to be a god, asks Hámán to build a tower up to heaven||38|
|Pharaoh and his princes blaspheme God||38, 39|
|God drowns Pharaoh and his princes in the sea||40|
|They shall be rejected of God in the resurrection||41, 42|
|Moses receives the Pentateuch for a direction to his people||43|
|Muhammad inspired to preach to the Arabs||44-46|
|His preaching renders unbelievers inexcusable||47|
|The Quraish reject both Pentateuch and Qurán||48|
|They are challenged to produce a better book than these||49|
|The Makkans warned by the faith of certain Jews||50-53|
|Reward of converted Jews and Christians||54|
|Character of true converts to Islám||55|
|Men are only directed to true faith by God||56|
|The Quraish fear to follow Muhammad lest they be expelled from Makkah||57|
|Cities destroyed for unbelief in, and persecution of, God’s true prophets||58, 59|
|Present prosperity no sign of God’s favour||60, 61|
|False gods will desert their votaries in judgment-day||62, 64|
|The idolaters shall be speechless then, but penitents shall be saved||65-67|
|God, the only true God, produces the recurrence of day and night||70-73|
|God shall produce a witness against every nation at the judgment||74, 75|
|The story of Qárún||76-82|
|Pardon granted to the humble and obedient||83-85|
|Muhammad received the Qurán unexpectedly||86|
|Muhammad exhorted to steadfastness in the faith of Islám||86-88|
∥ T. S. M. Theseare the signs of the perspicuous book. We will dictate unto thee, O Muhammad, some parts of the history of Moses and Pharaoh, with truth; for the sake of people who believe. Now Pharaoh lifted himself up in the land of Egypt; and he caused his subjects to be divided into parties; he weakened one party of them by slaying their male children and preserving their females alive; for he was an oppressor. And we were minded to be gracious unto those who were weakened in the land, and to make them models of religion; and to make them the heirs of the wealth of Pharaoh and his people, and to establish a place for them in the earth; and to show Pharaoh and Hámán and their forces that destruction of their kingdom and nation by them which they sought to avoid. And we directed the mother of Moses by revelation, saying, Give him suck; and if thou fearest for him, cast him into the river; and fear not, neither be afflicted; for we will restore him unto thee, and will appoint him one of our apostles. (7) And when she had put the child in the ark, and had cast it into the river, the family of Pharaoh took him up; providence designing that he should become an enemy and a sorrow unto them. Verily Pharaoh and Hámán and their forces were sinners. And the wife of Pharaoh said, This child is a delight of the eye to me and to thee: kill him not; peradventure it may happen that he may be serviceable unto us; or we may adopt him for our son. And they perceived not the consequence of what they were doing. And the heart of the mother of Moses became oppressed with fear; and she had almost discovered him, had we not armed her heart with constancy, that she might be one of those who believe the promises of God. (10) And she said unto his sister, Follow him. And she watched him at a distance; and they perceived it not. And we suffered him not to take the breasts of the nurses who were provided before his sister came up; and she said, Shall I direct you unto some of his nation, who will nurse him for you, and will be careful of him? And, at their desire, she brought his mother to them. (12) So we restored him to his mother, that her mind might be set at ease, and that she might not be afflicted; and that she might know that the promise of Godwas true: but the greater part of mankind know not the truth.
∥ (13) And when Moses had attained his age of full strength, and was become a perfect man, we bestowed on him wisdom and knowledge: and thus do we reward the upright. And he went into the city at a time when the inhabitants thereof observed not what passed in the street: and he found therein two men fighting; the one being of his own party, and the other of his enemies. And he who was of his party begged his assistance against him who was of the contrary party; and Moses struck him with his fist, and slew him: but being sorry for what had happened, he said, This is of the work of the devil; for he is a seducing and an open enemy. And he said, O Lord, verily I have injured my own soul: wherefore forgive me. So God forgave him; for he is ready to forgive, and merciful. He said, O Lord, by the favours with which thou hast favoured me, I will not be an assistant to the wicked for the future. (17) And the next morning he was afraid in the city, and looked about him, as one apprehensive of danger: and behold he whom he had assisted the day before cried out unto him for help a second time. But Moses said unto him, Thou art plainly a quarrelsome fellow. And when he sought to lay hold on him who was an enemy unto them both, he said, O Moses, dost thou intend to kill me, as thou killedst a man yesterday? Thou seekest only to be an oppressor in the earth, and seekest not to be a reconciler of quarrels. And a certain man came from the farther part of the city, running hastily, and said, O Moses, verily the magistrates are deliberating concerning thee, to put thee to death: depart therefore; I certainly advise thee well. (20) Wherefore he departed out of the city in great fear, looking this way and that, lest he should be pursued. And he said, O Lord, deliver me from the unjust people.
∥ And when he was journeying towards Madian, he said, Peradventure my Lord will direct me in the right way. (22) And when he arrived at the water of Madian, he found about the well a company of men who were watering their flocks. And he found, besides them, two women, who kept off their sheep at a distance. And he said unto them, What is the matter with you? They answered, We shall not water our flock until the shepherds shall have driven away theirs; for our father is an old man, stricken in years. So Moses watered their sheep for them, and afterwards retired in the shade, saying, O Lord, verily I stand in need of the good which thou shalt send down unto me. And one of the damsels came unto him, walking bashfully, and said, My father calleth thee, that he may recompense thee for the trouble which thou hast taken in watering our sheep for us. And when he was come unto Shuaib, and had told him the story of his adventures, he said unto him, Fear not: thou hast escaped from unjust people. And one of the damsels said, My father, hire him for certain wages: the best servant thou canst hire is an able and trusty person. And Shuaib said unto Moses, Verily I will give thee one of these my two daughters in marriage, on condition that thou serve me for hire eight years; and if thou fulfil ten years, it is in thine own breast; for I seek not to impose a hardship on thee: and thou shalt find me, if God please, a man of probity. (28) Moses answered, Let this be the covenant between me and thee: whichsoever of the two terms I shall fulfil, let it be no crime in me if I then quit thy service; and God is witness of that which we say.
∥ And when Moses had fulfilled the term, and was journeying with his family towards Egypt, he saw fire on the side of Mount Sinai. And he said unto his family, Tarry ye here; for I see fire: peradventure I may bring you thence some tidings of the way, or at least a brand out of the fire, that ye may be warmed. (30) And when he was come thereto, a voice cried unto him from the right side of the valley, in the sacred bottom, from the tree, saying, O Moses, verily I am God, the Lord of all creatures: (31) cast down now thy rod. And when he saw it that it moved, as though it had been a serpent, he retreated and fled, and returned not. And God said unto him, O Moses, draw near, and fear not; for thou art safe. Put thy hand into thy bosom, and it shall come forth white, without any hurt: and draw back thy hand unto thee which thou stretchest forth for fear. These shall be two evident signs from thy Lord, unto Pharaoh and his princes; for they are a wicked people. Moses said, O Lord, verily I have slain one of them; and I fear they will put me to death: but my brother Aaron is of a more eloquent tongue than I am; wherefore send him with me for an assistant, that he may gain me credit; for I fear lest they accuse me of imposture. God said, We will strengthen thine arm by thy brother, and we will give each of you extraordinary power, so that they shall not come up to you, in our signs. Ye two, and whoever shall follow you, shall be the conquerors. And when Moses came unto them with our evident signs, they said, This is no other than a deceitful piece of sorcery: neither have we heard of anything like this among our forefathers. And Moses said, My Lord best knoweth who cometh with a direction from him, and who shall have success in this life as well as the next: but the unjust shall not prosper. And Pharaoh said, O princes, I did not know that ye had any other god besides me. Wherefore do thou, O Hámán, burn me clay into bricks; and build me a high tower, that I may ascend unto the God of Moses: for I verily believe him to be a liar. (39) And both he and his forces behaved themselves insolently and unjustly in the earth; and imagined that they should not be brought before us to be judged. (40) Wherefore we took him and his forces, and cast them into the sea. Behold, therefore, what was the end of the unjust. (41) And we made them deceitful guides, inviting their followers to hell-fire; and on the day of resurrection they shall not be screened from punishment. (42) We pursued them with a curse in this life; and on the day of resurrection they shall be shamefully rejected.
∥ (43) And we gave the book of the law unto Moses, after we had destroyed the former generations, to enlighten the minds of men, and for a direction and a mercy; that peradventure they might consider. Thou, O Prophet, wast not on the west side of Mount Sinai when we delivered Moses his commission: neither wast thou one of those who were present at his receiving it: but we raised up several generations after Moses; and life was prolonged unto them. Neither didst thou dwell among the inhabitants of Madian, rehearsing unto them our signs; but we have sent thee fully instructed in every particular. Nor wast thou present on the side of the mount when we called unto Moses; but thou art sent as a mercy from thy Lord; that thou mightest preach unto a people to whom no preacher hath come before thee, that peradventure they may be warned.
∥ (47) And lest, if a calamity had befallen them, for that which their hands had previously committed, they should have said, O Lord, since thou hast not sent an apostle unto us, that we might follow thy signs and become true believers, are we not excusable? Yet when the truth is come unto them from before us, they say, Unless he receive the same power to work miracles as Moses received, we will not believe. Have they not likewise rejected the revelation which was heretofore given unto Moses? They say, Two cunning impostures have mutually assisted one another: and they say, Verily we reject them both. Say, Produce therefore a book from God which is more right than these two, that I may follow it; if ye speak truth. (50) But if they return thee no answer, know that they only follow their own desires: and who erreth more widely from the truth than he who followeth his own desire, without a direction from God? Verily God directeth not the unjust people.
∥ (51) And now have we caused our word to come unto them, that they may be admonished. They unto whom we have given the Scriptures which were revealed before it believe in the same; and when it is read unto them say, We believe therein; it is certainly the truth from our Lord: verily we were Muslims before this. These shall receive their reward twice, because they have persevered, and repel evil by good, and distribute alms out of that which we have bestowed on them; and when they hear vain discourse, avoid the same, saying, We have our works, and ye have your works; peace be on you; we covet not the acquaintance of the ignorant. (56) Verily thou canst not direct whom thou wilt: but God directeth whom he pleaseth; and he best knoweth those who will submit to be directed. The Makkans say If we follow the same direction with thee, we shall be forcibly expelled our land. Have we not established for them a secure asylum, to which fruits of every sort are brought, as a provision for our bounty? but the greater part of them do not understand. How many cities have we destroyed whose inhabitants lived in ease and plenty? and these their dwellings are not inhabited after them, unless for a little while; and we were the inheritors of their wealth. (59) But thy Lord did not destroy those cities until he had sent unto their capital an apostle to rehearse our signs unto them: neither did we destroy those cities unless their inhabitants were injurious to theirapostle. (60) The things which are given you are the provisions of this present life, and the pomp thereof; but that which is with God is better and more durable: will ye not therefore understand?
∥ (61) Shall he, then, unto whom we have promised an excellent promise of future happiness, and who shall attain the same, be as he on whom we have bestowed the provision of this present life, and who, on the day of resurrection. shall be one of those who are delivered up to eternal punishment? (62) On that day God shall call unto them, and shall say; Where are my partners, which ye imagined to be so? And they upon whom the sentence of damnation shall be justly pronounced shall answer, These, O Lord,are those whom we seduced: we seduced them as we also had been seduced: but now we clearly quit them, and turn unto thee. They did not worship us, but their own lusts. And it shall be said unto the idolaters, Call now upon those whom ye associated with God: and they shall call upon them, but they shall not answer them; and they shall see the punishment prepared for them, and shall wish that they had submitted to be directed. On that day God shall call unto them, and shall say, What answer did ye return to our messengers? But they shall not be able to give an account thereof on that day; neither shall they ask one another for information. (67) Howbeit whoso shall repent and believe, and shall do that which is right, may expect to be happy. (68) Thy Lord createth what he pleaseth; and chooseth freely: but they have no free choice. Praise be unto God; and far be he removed from the idols which they associate with him! Thy Lord knoweth both the secret malice which their breasts conceal, and the openhatred which they discover. (70) He is God: there is no God but he. Unto him is the praise due, both in this life and in that which is to come: unto him doth judgment belong; and before him shall ye be assembled at the last day. (71) Say, What think ye? If God should cover you with perpetual night until the day of resurrection, what god besides God would bring you light? Will ye not therefore hearken? (72) Say, What think ye? If God should give you continual day until the day of resurrection, what god besides God would bring you night, that ye might rest therein? Will ye not therefore consider? (73) Of his mercy he hath made for you the night and the day, that ye may rest in the one, and may seek to obtain provision for yourselves of his abundance by your industry in the other; and that ye may give thanks. (74) On a certain day God shall call unto them, and shall say, Where are my partners which ye imagined to share the divine power with me? And we will produce a witness out of every nation, and will say, Bring hither your proof of what ye have asserted. And they shall know that the right isGod’salone; and the deities which they have devised shall abandon them.
∥ Qárún was of the people of Moses; but he behaved insolently towards them: for we had given him so much treasure, that his keys would have loaded several strong men. When his people said unto him, Rejoice not immoderately; for God loveth not those who rejoice in their riches immoderately: but seek to attain by means of the wealth which God hath given thee, the future mansion of paradise. And forget not thy portion in this world; but be thou bounteous unto others, as God hath been bounteous unto thee; and seek not to act corruptly in the earth, for God loveth not the corrupt doers. (78) He answered, I have received these riches, only because of the knowledge which is with me. Did he not know that God had already destroyed, before him, several generations, who were mightier than he in strength, and had amassed more abundance of riches? And the wicked shall not be asked to discover their crimes. And Qárún went forth unto his people in his pomp. And they who loved this present life said, Oh that we had the like wealth as hath been given unto Qárún? verily he is master of a great fortune. (80) But those on whom knowledge had been bestowed answered, Alas for you! the reward of Godin the next life will be better unto him who shall believe and do good works: but none shall attain the same except those who persevere with constancy. (81) And we caused the ground to cleave in sunder, and to swallow up him and his palace: and he had no forces to defend him besides God; neither was he rescued from punishment. (82) And the next morning those who had coveted his condition the day before said, Aha! verily God bestoweth abundant provision on such of his servants as he pleaseth, and he is sparing unto whom he pleaseth. Unless God had been gracious unto us, certainly the earth had swallowed us up also. Aha! the unbelievers shall not prosper.
∥ (83) As to this future mansion of Paradise, we will give it unto them who seek not to exalt themselves in the earth or to do wrong, for the happy issue shall attend the pious. (84) Whoso doth good shall receive a reward which shall exceed the merit thereof; but as to him who doth evil, they who work evil shall be rewarded according to the merit only of that which they shall have wrought. Verily he who hath given thee the Qurán for a rule of faith and practice will certainly bring thee back home unto Makkah. Say, My Lord best knoweth who cometh with a true direction and who is in a manifest error. Thou didst not expect that the book of the Qurán should be delivered unto thee, but thou hast received it through the mercy of thy Lord. Be not therefore assisting to the unbelievers, neither let them turn thee aside from the signs of God, after they have been sent down unto thee, and invite men unto thy Lord. And be not thou an idolater, (88) neither invoke any other god together with the trueGod: there is no god but he. Everything shall perish except himself: unto him belongeth judgment, and before him shall ye be assembled at the last day.
This chapter owes its title to the mention of the spider in ver. 40. The matter differs little from that of several other Makkan chapters. There is strong indication of decided antipathy for the Prophet on the part of his Arab hearers. This was probably due to certain Jews having espoused the cause of Muhammad by becoming his disciples. These had said, “We believe in the revelation which hath been sent down unto us, and also in that which hath been sent unto you. Our God and your God is one, and unto him are we resigned.” So elated was Muhammad with this confession that he could say, “Of these Arabians also there are who believe therein, and none reject our signs except the obstinate infidels.” These he likens to the followers of Noah, Lot, and Moses, who would be destroyed in their sin and unbelief.
Two points are worthy of special mention. First, Muhammad indubitably accepted the Jewish Scriptures as genuine and uncorrupted. His Jewish disciples claimed to believe in their own Scriptures as well as in the Qurán, and their acceptance of the latter seems to have been due to a belief that it was attested by the former. This fact no doubt accounts for the numerous allusions to Scripture history in those chapters of the Qurán enunciated at this period in Muhammad’s ministry.
The second point to be noted here is the fact that Muhammad, though challenged by both Jewish and Arab unbelievers to perform miracles like those wrought by the former prophets to whom he likened himself, yet ever declined to do so, alleging that the Qurán was itself a sufficient miracle, which, with his ability to read and write, though taught by no one, should be sufficient to convince any one. Beyond this he could only say, “Signs are in the power of God alone, and I am no more than a public preacher” (ver. 49).
The latter verses of the chapter teach the folly of idolatry and the certainty of the resurrection and judgment, the final reward of true believers and the awful punishment of the infidels.
According to Nöeldeke, vers. 1-10 belong to Madína, and were revealed subsequent to the battle of Badr, and perhaps also of Ohod. Their present position he ascribes to Muhammad himself. Vers. 7 and 8 are by some supposed to be Makkan, but this opinion rests upon a misinterpretation of them (see note on ver. 7 below). Nöeldeke also places ver. 45 among the Madínic revelations, but in order to do so he misinterprets the words “Dispute not against those who have the Scriptures unless in the mildest manner,” i.e., by the sword. But the passage plainly forbids the sword to be used except in self-defence.
The remainder of the chapter is generally admitted to belong to Makkah. As to the date, the only verse giving any clue to it is ver. 56, which exhorts to flight. Now as there were several flights of the Muslims, the question as to which is here alluded to must be decided by internal evidence drawn from the style and animus of the revelations themselves. The absence of any allusion to violent treatment of the Muslims would point to a comparatively early date, but the exhortation to flight implies persecution of some kind. Still from the fact that the withdrawal of the Prophet himself does not seem to be intended, we may fix the date with some probability at about the time of the first Abyssinian emigration.
|Religious faith is proved by trials||1, 2|
|Evil deeds will surely be punished||3|
|The righteous shall be rewarded for their good deeds||4-6|
|Parents not to be obeyed when they oppose God’s law||7|
|Salvation by faith and good works||8|
|Hypocrites exposed and rebuked||9, 10|
|Unbelievers shall be punished for deceiving others by false promises||11, 12|
|The enemies of Noah drowned for their unbelief||13, 14|
|Abraham preached against idolatry||15, 16|
|Abraham accused of being an impostor||17|
|He shows the idolaters how God’s power is manifested in nature||18, 19|
|He declares that none shall escape the judgment of God||20-22|
|His people attempt to burn him, but God saves him||23|
|He discourses against the idolatry of his people||24|
|Lot believes in Abraham, who determines to fly his country||25|
|God gives Abraham descendants who possess the gift of prophecy and the Scriptures||26|
|The story of Lot and his ministry in Sodom||27-34|
|Shuaib’s ministry to the unbelieving Madianites||35, 36|
|Ád and Thamúd destroyed in unbelief||37|
|Qárún, Pharaoh, and Hámán destroyed in unbelief||38|
|Various means by which God destroyed infidels||39|
|Idolatry likened to a spider’s web||40|
|God knoweth the idols worshipped by men||41|
|God’s works and signs only understood by true believers||42, 43|
|Muhammad is commanded to recite the Qurán and to give himself to prayer||44|
|Muslims not to fight against Jews and Christians except in self-defence||45|
|The Qurán and the former Scriptures one revelation||45, 46|
|The miracle of Muhammad’s reading and writing a proof of the inspiration of the Qurán||47|
|Unbelievers only reject the Qurán||48|
|Muhammad challenged to work a miracle||49|
|The Qurán itself a sufficient miracle||50|
|God will judge between Muhammad and the infidels||51, 52|
|The infidels call for judgment, and it will find them unprepared||53-55|
|Believers exhorted to fly from persecution||56|
|The reward of the righteous dead||57-59|
|God’s works in creation and providence witness his being||60-63|
|The present life a vain show||64|
|Unbelievers are ungrateful||65, 66|
|The ingratitude of the Arab idolaters||67, 68|
|God will reward the faithful||69|
∥ A. L. M. Do men imagine that it shall be sufficient for them to say, We believe; will they not be proved? We heretofore proved those who were before them, for God will surely know them who are sincere, and he will surely know the liars. (3) Do they who work evil think that they shall prevent us from taking vengeance on them? An ill judgment do they make. (4) Whoso hopeth to meet God, verily God’s appointed time will certainly come, and he both heareth and knoweth. (5) Whoever striveth to promote the true religion striveth for the advantage of his own soul, for God needeth not any of his creatures; (6) and as to those who believe and work righteousness, we will expiate their evil deeds from them, and we will give them a reward according to the utmost merit of their actions. We have commanded man to show kindness towards his parents, but if they endeavour to prevail with thee to associate with me that concerning which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not. Unto me shall ye return, and I will declare unto you what ye have done. Those who shall believe and shall work righteousness we will surely introduce into Paradise among the upright. There are some men who say, We believe in God; but when such a one is afflicted for God’s sake, he esteemeth the persecution of men to be as grievous as the punishment of God. Yet if success cometh from thy Lord, they say, Verily we are with you. Doth not God well know that which is in the breasts of his creatures? (10) Verily God well knoweth the true believers, and he well knoweth the hypocrites. (11) The unbelievers say unto those who believe, Follow our way and we will bear your sins. Howbeit they shall not bear any part of their sins, for they are liars; but they shall surely bear their own burdens, and other burdens besides their own burdens; and they shall be examined on the day of resurrection concerning that which they have falsely devised.
∥ We heretofore sent Noah unto his people, and he tarried among them one thousand years, save fifty years, and the deluge took them away while they were acting unjustly; but we delivered him and those who were in the ark, and we made the same a sign unto all creatures. (15) We also sent Abraham, when he said unto his people, Serve God and fear him; this will be better for you, if ye understand. (16) Ye only worship idols besides God, and forge a lie. Verily those which ye worship besides God are not able to make any provision for you; seek, therefore, your provision from God, and serve him, and give thanks unto him: unto him shall ye return. If ye charge me with imposture, verily sundry nations before you likewise charged their prophets with imposture, but public preaching only is incumbent on an apostle. Do they not see how God produceth creatures and afterwards restoreth them? Verily this is easy with God. (19) Say, Go through the earth, and see how he originally produceth creatures; afterwards will God reproduce another production, for Godis almighty. (20) He will punish whom he pleaseth, and he will have mercy on whom he pleaseth. Before him shall ye be brought at the day of judgment, and ye shall not escape his reach, either in earth or in heaven, neither shall ye have any patron or defender besides God.
∥ (22) As for those who believe not in the signs of God, or that they shall meet him at the resurrection, they shall despair of my mercy, and for them is a painful punishment prepared. And the answer of his people was no other than that they said, Slay him or burn him. But God saved him from the fire. Verily herein were signs unto people who believed. (24) And Abraham said, Ye have taken idols besides Godto cement affection between you in this life: but on the day of resurrection, the one of you shall deny the other, and the one of you shall curse the other; and your abode shall be hell-fire, and there shall be none to deliver you. And Lot believed on him. And Abraham said, Verily I fly from my people unto the place which my Lordhath commanded me; for he is the mighty, the wise. And we gave him Isaac and Jacob; and we placed among his descendants the gift of prophecy and the Scriptures: and we gave him his reward in this world; and in the next he shall be one of the righteous. We also sent Lot; when he said unto his people, Do ye commit filthiness which no creature hath committed before you? Do ye approach lustfully unto men, and lay wait in the highways, and commit wickedness in your assembly? And the answer of his people was no other than that they said, Bring down the vengeance of God upon us, if thou speakest truth. (29) Lot said, O Lord, defend me against the corrupt people.
∥ And when our messengers came unto Abraham with good tidings, they said, We will surely destroy the inhabitants of this city: for the inhabitants thereof are unjust doers. Abraham answered, Verily Lot dwelleth there. They replied, We well know who dwelleth therein: we will surely deliver him and his family, except his wife; she shall be one of those who remain behind. And when our messengers came unto Lot, he was troubled for them, and his arm was straitened concerning them. But they said, Fear not, neither be grieved; for we will deliver thee and thy family, except thy wife; for she shall be one of those who remain behind. (33) We will surely bring down upon the inhabitants of this city vengeance from heaven, for that they have been wicked doers; and we have left thereof a manifest sign unto people who understand. And unto the inhabitants of Madian we sent their brother Shuaib; and he said unto them, O my people, serve God and expect the last day; and transgress not, acting corruptly in the earth. But they accused him of imposture; wherefore a storm from heaven assailed them, and in the morning they were found in their dwellings dead and prostrate. And we also destroyed the tribes of Ád and Thamúd; and this is well known unto you from what yet remains of their dwellings. And Satan prepared their works for them, and turned them aside from the way of truth, although they were sagacious people. And we likewise destroyed Qárún, and Pharaoh, and Hámán. Moses came unto them with evident miracles, and they behaved themselves insolently in the earth: but they could not escape our vengeance. Every one of them did we destroy in his sin. Against some of them we sent a violent wind: some of them did a terrible noise from heaven destroy: some of them did we cause the earth to swallow up: and some of them we drowned. Neither was Goddisposed to treat them unjustly; but they dealt unjustly with their own souls. The likeness of those who take other patrons besides God is as the likeness of the spider, which maketh herself a house: but the weakest of all houses surely is the house of the spider; if they knew this. (41) Moreover God knoweth what things they invoke besides him; and he is the mighty, the wise. (42) These similitudes do we propound unto men; but none understand them except the wise. (43) God hath created the heavens and the earth in truth; verily herein is a sign unto the true believers.
∥ Rehearse that which hath been revealed unto thee of the book of the Qurán, and be constant at prayer; for prayer preserveth a man from filthy crimes, and from that which is blamable; and the remembering of God is surely a most important duty.God knoweth that which ye do. Dispute not against those who have received the Scriptures, unless in the mildest manner; except against such of them as behave injuriously towards you: and say, We believe in the revelation which hath been sent down unto us, and also in that which hath been sent down unto you; our God and your God is one, and unto him are we resigned. (46) Thus have we sent down the book of the Qurán unto thee: and they unto whom we have given the former Scriptures believe therein; and of these Arabians also there are who believe therein: and none reject our signs, except the obstinate infidels. Thou couldest not read any book before this; neither couldest thou write it with thy right hand: then had the gainsayers justly doubted of the divine original thereof. (48) But the same is evident signs in the breasts of those who have received understanding: for none reject our signs except the unjust. They say, Unless a sign be sent down unto him from his Lord,we will not believe. Answer, Signs are in the power of God alone; and I am no more than a public preacher. (50) Is it not sufficient for them that we have sent down unto thee the book of the Qurán, to be read unto them? Verily herein is a mercy, and an admonition unto people who believe.
∥ (51) Say, God is a sufficient witness between me and you: (52) he knoweth whatever is in heaven and earth; and those who believe in vain idols and deny God, they shall perish. They will urge thee to hasten the punishment which they defy thee to bring down upon them: if there had not been a determined time for their respite, the punishment had come upon them before this; but it shall surely overtake them suddenly, and they shall not foresee it. (54) They urge thee to bring down vengeance swiftly upon them: but hell shall surely encompass the unbelievers. (55) On a certain day their punishment shall suddenly assail them, both from above them and from under their feet; and God shall say, Taste ye the reward of that which ye have wrought. O my servants who have believed, verily my earth is spacious: wherefore serve me. Every soul shall taste death: afterwards shall ye return unto us; (58) and as for those who shall have believed and wrought righteousness, we will surely lodge them in the higher apartments of Paradise; rivers shall flow beneath them, and they shall continue therein for ever. How excellent will be the reward of the workers of righteousness; (59) who persevere with patience and put their trust in their Lord! (60) How many beasts are there which provide not their food? It isGodwho provideth for them and for you; and he both heareth and knoweth. Verily, if thou ask the Makkans who hath created the heavens and the earth, and hath obliged the sun and the moon to serve in their courses, they will answer, God. How therefore do they lie in acknowledging of other gods?God maketh abundant provision for such of his servants as he pleaseth; and is sparing unto him if he pleaseth: for God knoweth all things. Verily if thou ask them who sendeth rain from heaven, and thereby quickeneth the earth after it hath been dead, they will answer, God. Say, God be praised! But the greater part of them do not understand.
∥ This present life is no other than a toy and a plaything: but the future mansion of Paradise is life indeed: if they knew this they would not prefer the former to the latter. (65) When they sail in a ship, they call upon God, sincerely exhibiting unto him the true religion: but when he bringeth them safe to land, behold, they return to their idolatry; (66) to show themselves ungrateful for that which we have bestowed on them, and that they may enjoy the delights of this life; but they shall hereafter know the issue. Do they not see that we have made the territory of Makkah an inviolable and secure asylum, when men are spoiled in the countries round about them? Do they therefore believe in that which is vain, and acknowledge not the goodness of God? (68) But who is more unjust than he who deviseth a lie against God, or denieth the truth when it hath come unto him? Is there not in hell an abode for the unbelievers? (69) Whoever do their utmost endeavour to promote our true religion, we will direct them into our ways; for God is with the righteous.
This chapter owes its title to the celebrated prophecy concerning the Greeks contained in the first and following verses. “The Greeks” were the inhabitants of the Constantinopolitan empire, which was, and still is, called Rúm by the Arabs. Excepting the prophecy of the first five verses, there is no other allusion to the Greeks or their empire in this chapter. The remainder of the revelations is made up of a variety of passages, some of which treat of the folly of idolatry, with proofs of God’s being and power drawn from his works in nature and providence, while others set forth the doctrine of the resurrection, illustrated by reference to God’s revivifying power, seen in the restoration of the earth’s verdure after it has been parched and dead. The Prophet’s hearers are also called upon to consider that since God is the Creator of all things in heaven and earth, he is able to raise the dead to life again. Closely connected with this is the doctrine of a final judgment, when all men will be divided into two classes, one made up of true believers, who will enter into Paradise and enjoy its pleasures, the other made up of unbelievers, who will be consigned to everlasting torments.
The attitude of the Quraish, as seen in this chapter, is that of stolid indifference. Their hardness of heart is spoken of in the following terms:—“Thou” (i.e., Muhammad) “canst not make the dead to hear, neither canst thou make the deaf to hear thy call, when they retire and turn their backs; neither canst thou direct the blind out of error: thou shalt make none to hear, except him who shall believe in our signs” (vers. 51 and 52). And in ver. 58 God is declared to say, “Now have we propounded unto them in this Qurán parables of every kind; yet if thou bring them a verse thereof, the unbelievers will surely say, Ye are no other than publishers of vain falsehoods.”
The chapter ends with an exhortation to Muhammad to be steadfast and persevering in the faith, assured that the cause of Islám will certainly triumph.
The date of the prophecy (vers. 1-5) is placed by various writers in the fifth, fourth, and third year before the Hijra. Sale thinks the sixth year b.h. is the probable date (see note on ver. 1). Noëldeke says, “It is difficult to define which of the numerous defeats the Byzantines suffered till after the Hijra be meant here; particularly as the older Muslim writers, who report these events in a confused and unreliable manner, are not corroborated by reliable Byzantine testimony, at least as far as my researches have extended. The usual statement is, that here that defeat is meant which the Byzantines suffered at Azru’at and Basra, or in Mesopotamia, or in Palestine. The Persian translator of Al Tabarí, which has here all sorts of confused accounts about the dethronement of Maurice ([Editor: Arabic word - please see p. 282 of the facsimile PDF]), &c., says the Qurán speaks of the capture of Jerusalem. That an important event is meant, which had happened either in Palestine or its neighbourhood, cannot well be doubted. Whether, however, it was that capture of Jerusalem (about the year 7 or 6 before the Hijra), or a subsequent event, we cannot say for certain.”
Vers. 16, 17, are thought by some (Umar Bin Muhammad, Al Zamaḳhshari, Baidháwi) to be Madínic, because they refer to the five daily prayers. These had, however, been appointed shortly before the Hijra.
While, therefore, the prophecy in vers. 1-5 may belong to a period as early as b.h. 6 or 7, the remaining portion of the chapter, judged by internal evidence, belongs to a period much later, though the precise time must remain a matter of conjecture.
|A prophecy concerning the ultimate triumph of the Greeks over the Persians||1-5|
|God’s power manifest in nature||6, 7|
|The Quraish heed not the warnings of God||8, 9|
|The despair of the infidels in the resurrection||10-12|
|The righteous and wicked shall be separated on the judgment-day||13-15|
|God to be worshipped at stated periods||16, 17|
|The changes in nature a proof of the resurrection||18|
|Various signs of God’s omnipotence||19-26|
|The idolaters convinced of folly by reference to their own customs||27, 28|
|Muhammad exhorted to follow the orthodox faith and to avoid idolatry||29-31|
|The ingratitude of idolaters, who call on God in adversity but forget him in prosperity||32-35|
|Muslims exhorted to charity||36-38|
|The idols unable to create and preserve life||39|
|God’s judgments follow man’s iniquity||40, 41|
|Exhortation to repentance before the judgment||42|
|The separation of the wicked and the just in the judgmentday; rewards and punishments||42-44|
|God’s goodness in his providence a sign to men||45|
|Those who rejected the former prophets were punished||46|
|God’s mercy manifest in his works||47-49|
|A blasting wind sufficient to harden the hearts of the unbelievers||50|
|Muhammad unable to make the dead to hear or the blind to see||51, 52|
|God the Creator||53|
|Believers and unbelievers on the resurrection-day||54-57|
|The parables of the Qurán rejected||58|
|Unbelievers are given over to blindness||59|
|Muhammad encouraged to steadfastness in the true religion||60|
∥ A. L. M. The Greeks have been overcome by the Persians in the nearest part of the land; (2) but after their defeat, they shall overcome the others in their turn, within a few years. (3) Unto Godbelongeth the disposal of this matter, both for what is past, and for what is to come: and on that day shall the believers rejoice in the success granted by God; (4) for he granteth success unto whom he pleaseth; and he is the mighty, the merciful. (5) This is the promise of God: God will not act contrary to his promise; but the greater part of men know not theveracity of God. They know the outward appearance of this present life; but they are careless as to the life to come. Do they not consider within themselves that God hath not created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, otherwise than in truth, and hath set them a determined period? Verily a great number of men reject the belief of their future meeting their Lordat the resurrection. Do they not pass through the earth, and see what hath been the end of those who were before them? They excelled the Makkans in strength, and broke up the earth, and inhabited it in greater affluence and prosperity than they inhabit the same: and their apostles came unto them with evident miracles; and God was not disposed to treat them unjustly, but they injured their own souls by their obstinate infidelity; and the end of those who had done evil was evil, because they charged the signs of God with falsehood, and laughed the same to scorn.
∥ God produces creatures, and will hereafter restore them to life: then shall ye return unto him. And on the day whereon the hour shall come, the wicked shall be struck dumb for despair; and they shall have no intercessors from among the idols which they associated with God. And they shall deny the false gods which they associated with him. On the day whereon the hour shall come, on that day shall the true believers and the infidels be separated: and they who shall have believed, and wrought righteousness, shall take their pleasure in a delightful meadow; but as for those who shall have disbelieved, and rejected our signs, and the meeting of the next life, they shall be delivered up to punishment. Wherefore glorify God, when the evening overtaketh you, and when ye rise in the morning: and unto him be praise in heaven and earth; and at sunset, and when ye rest at noon. He bringeth forth the living out of the dead, and he bringeth forth the dead out of the living; and he quickeneth the earth after it hath been dead: and in like manner shall ye be brought forth from your graves. (19) Of his signs one is, that he hath created you of dust; and behold, ye are become men, spread over the face of the earth.
∥ And of his signs another is, that he hath created you, out of yourselves, wives, that ye may cohabit with them; and hath put love and compassion between you: verily herein are signs unto people who consider. And of his signs are also the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variety of your languages, and of your complexions: verily herein are signs unto men of understanding. (22) And of his signs are your sleeping by night and by day, and your seeking to provide for yourselves of his abundance: verily herein are signs unto people who hearken. Of his signs others are, that he showeth you the lightning, to strike terror and to give hope of rain, and that he sendeth down water from heaven, and quickeneth thereby the earth, after it hath been dead; verily herein are signs unto people who understand. (24) And of his signs this also is one, namely, that the heaven and the earth stand firm at command: hereafter, when he shall call you out of the earth at one summons, behold, ye shall come forth. (25) Unto him are subject whosoever are in the heavens and on earth: all are obedient unto him. It is he who originally produceth a creature, and afterwards restoreth the same to life: and this is most easy with him. He justly challengeth the most exalted comparison, in heaven and earth: and he is the mighty, the wise.
∥ He propoundeth unto a comparison taken from yourselves. Have ye, among the slaves whom your right hands possess, any partner in the substance which we have bestowed on you, so that ye become equal sharers therein with them, or that ye fear them as ye fear one another? Thus we distinctly explain our signs unto people who understand. (28) But those who act unjustly, by attributing companions unto God, follow their own lusts, without knowledge: and who shall direct him whom God shall cause to err? They shall have none to help them. Wherefore be thou orthodox, and set thy face towards the true religion, the institution of God, to which he hath created mankind disposed: there is no change in what God hath created. This is the right religion; but the greater part of men know it not. (30) And be ye turned unto him, and fear him, and be constant at prayer, and be not idolaters. (31) Of those who have made a schism in their religion, and are divided into various sects, every sect rejoice in their own opinion. When adversity befalleth men, they call upon their Lord, turning unto him: afterwards, when he hath caused them to taste of his mercy, behold, a part of them associate other deities with their Lord: to show themselves ungrateful for the favours which we have bestowed on them. Enjoy therefore the vain pleasures of this life; but hereafter shall ye know the consequence. Have we sent down unto them any authority which speaketh of the false gods which they associate with him? When we cause men to taste mercy, they rejoice therein; but if evil befalleth them for that which their hands have before committed, behold, they despair. (36) Do they not see that God bestoweth provision abundantly on whom he pleaseth, and is sparing unto whom he pleaseth? Verily herein are signs unto people who believe. Give unto him who is of kin to thee his reasonable due, and also to the poor and the stranger: this is better for those who seek the face of God; and they shall prosper. Whatever ye shall give in usury, to be an increase of men’s substance, shall not be increased by the blessing ofGod; but whatever ye shall give in alms, for God’s sake, they shall receive a twofold reward.
∥ (39) It isGod who hath created you, and hath provided food for you: hereafter will he cause you to die; and after that will he raise you again to life. Is there any of your false gods who is able to do the least of these things? Praise be unto him, and far be he removed from what they associate with him! Corruption hath appeared by land and by sea, for the crimes which men’s hands have committed; that it might make them to taste a part of the fruits of that which they have wrought, that peradventure they might turn from their evil ways. Say, Go through the earth, and see what hath been the end of those who have been before you: the greater part of them were idolaters. (42) Set thy face therefore towards the right religion, before the day cometh which none can put back from God. On that day shall they be separated into two companies: (43) whoever shall have been an unbeliever, on him shall his unbelief be charged; and whoever shall have done that which is right, shall spread themselves couches of repose in Paradise; (44) that he may reward those who shall believe, and work righteousness, of his abundant liberality; for he loveth not the unbelievers. (45) Of his signs one is that he sendeth the winds, bearing welcome tidings of rain, that he may cause you to taste of his mercy; and that ships may sail at his command, that ye may seek to enrich yourselves of his abundance by commerce; and that ye may give thanks. (46) We sent apostles before thee unto their respective people, and they came unto them with evident proofs: and we took vengeance on those who did wickedly; and it was incumbent on us to assist the true believers. (47) It isGod who sendeth the winds and raiseth the clouds, and spreadeth the same in the heaven, as he pleaseth; and afterwards disperseth the same: and thou mayest see the rain issuing from the midst thereof; and when he poureth the same down on such of his servants as he pleaseth, behold, they are filled with joy; (48) although before it was sent down unto them, before such relief, they were despairing. (49) Consider therefore the traces of God’s mercy; how he quickeneth the earth after its state of death: verily the same will raise the dead; for he is almighty. (50) Yet if we should send a blasting wind, and they should see their corn yellow and burnt up, they would surely become ungrateful, after our former favours. (51) Thou canst not make the dead to hear, neither canst thou make the deaf to hear thy call, when they retire and turn their backs; (52) neither canst thou direct the blind out of their error: thou shalt make none to hear, except him who shall believe in our signs; for they are resigned unto us.
∥ (53) It isGod who created you in weakness, and after weakness hath given you strength; and after strength he will again reduce you to weakness and grey hairs: he createth that which he pleaseth; and he is the wise, the powerful. (54) On the day whereon the last hour shall come, the wicked will swear that they have not tarried above an hour: in like manner did they utter lies in their lifetime. But those on whom knowledge hath been bestowed, and faith, will say, Ye have tarried, according to the book of God, until the day of resurrection; for this is the day of resurrection; but ye knew it not. (57) On that day their excuse shall not avail those who have acted unjustly; neither shall they be invited any more to make themselves acceptable unto God. (58) And now have we propounded unto men in this Qurán parables of every kind: yet if thou bring them a verse thereof, the unbelievers will surely say, Ye are no other than publishers of vain falsehoods. (59) Thus hath God sealed up the hearts of those who believe not: but do thou, O Muhammad, persevere with constancy, for God is true; and let not those induce thee to waver who have no certain knowledge.
Some account of Luqmán, from whom this chapter is named, is given by Sale under ver. 11. It is probable that Muhammad introduced this personage, who was regarded as a sage of special notoriety by the Arabs of his day, representing him as a true believer, in order to gain credit for his new religion. A similar case was noticed in chap. xviii. 82 seq., where Alexander the Great is introduced as a true Muslim.
In regard to Luqmán’s discourses, it is worthy of note that they correspond almost to the letter with many of Muhammad’s own discourses found in other chapters of the Qurán. This, however, is in accord with his habit of making the sayings of the prophets of olden time to appear as the facsimiles of his own. (See introduction to chap. xxvi.)
Vers. 13 and 14 are evidently misplaced, as Weil has pointed out, and should be placed immediately after ver. 18. Noëldeke thinks something is wanting before ver. 15, as innahá requires a substantive to which it must refer.
Ver. 3 is thought by some authors, as Baidháwi, Jaláluddín, and Syúti, to be Madínic, because of the supposed mention of the law of alms, but the mention of that subject is too general to warrant that conclusion.
Vers. 31, 32, have been supposed by some authors, as Baidháwi and Zamaḳhshari, to refer to the Jews, and for this reason they are referred to Madína; but this interpretation is not well founded, and even if so, the inference would by no means be just.
The whole chapter may then be regarded as belonging to Makkah. It may be fixed at about the beginning of the third stage of Muhammad’s mission.
|The Qurán a direction and mercy to the righteous||1, 2|
|The righteous described||3, 4|
|An unbeliever rebuked for his contempt for the Qurán||5, 6|
|Blessed rewards of the righteous||7, 8|
|God the Creator of heaven and earth||9, 10|
|Luqmán gifted with wisdom||11|
|Luqmán’s discourse to his son||12, 15-17|
|Parenthesis on the duty of children to their parents||13, 14|
|Modesty and humility enjoined||18|
|God’s favour to mankind||19|
|The unreasonableness of infidel contention||19, 20|
|The security of true believers||21|
|The certain punishment of unbelief||22, 23|
|Praise to God, the self-sufficient Creator||24, 25|
|God’s words infinite in number||26|
|Man’s creation an evidence of God’s sovereignty||27|
|The heavens declare the glory of God||28, 29|
|The ingratitude of idolaters to God||30, 31|
|Men warned to prepare for judgment||32-34|
∥ A. L. M. These are the signs of the wise book, (2) a direction and a mercy unto the righteous, who observe the appointed times of prayer, and give alms, and have firm assurance in the life to come: (4) these are directed by their Lord, and they shall prosper. There is a man who purchaseth a ludicrous story, that he may seduce men from the way of God, without knowledge, and may laugh the same to scorn: these shall suffer a shameful punishment. (6) And when our signs are rehearsed unto him he disdainfully turneth his back as though he heard them not, as though there were a deafness in his ears: wherefore denounce unto him a grievous punishment. (7) But they who shall believe and work righteousness shall enjoy gardens of pleasure; (8) they shall continue therein for ever: this is the certain promise of God, and he is the mighty, the wise. He hath created the heavens without visible pillars to sustain them, and thrown on the earth mountains firmly rooted, lest it should move with you; and he hath replenished the same with all kinds of beasts; and we send down rain from heaven, and cause every kind of noble vegetable to spring forth therein. (10) This is the creation of God; show me now what they have created, who are worshipped besides him? verily the ungodly are in a manifest error. We heretofore bestowed wisdom on Luqmán, and commanded him, saying, Be thou thankful unto God, for whoever is thankful shall be thankful to the advantage of his own soul; and if any shall be unthankful, verily God is self-sufficient and worthy to be praised. And remember when Luqmán said unto his son, as he admonished him, O my son, give not a partner unto God, for polytheism is a great impiety. We have commanded man concerning his parents (his mother carrieth him in her womb with weakness and faintness, and he is weaned in two years), saying, Be grateful unto me and to thy parents. Unto me shall all come to be judged.
∥ But if thy parents endeavour to prevail on thee to associate with me that concerning which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not; bear them company in this world in what shall be reasonable, but follow the way of him who sincerely turneth unto me. Hereafter unto me shall ye return, and then will I declare unto you that which ye have done. (15) O my son, verily every matter, whether good or bad, though it be of the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, and be hidden in a rock, or in the heavens, or in the earth, God will bring the same to light; for Godis clear-sighted and knowing. (16) O my son, be constant at prayer, and command that which is just, and forbid that which is evil, and be patient under the afflictions which shall befall thee, for this is a duty absolutely incumbent on all men. (17) Distort not thy face out of contempt to men, neither walk in the earth with insolence, for God loveth no arrogant, vainglorious person. And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice, for the most ungrateful of all voices surely is the voice of asses.
∥ Do ye not see that God hath subjected whatever is in heaven and on earth to your service, and hath abundantly poured on you his favours, both outwardly and inwardly? There are some who dispute concerning God without knowledge, and without a direction, and without an enlightening book. (20) And when it is said unto them, Follow that which God hath revealed, they answer, Nay, we will follow that which we found our fathers to practise. What, though the devil invite them to the torment of hell? (21) Whosoever resigneth himself unto God, being a worker of righteousness, taketh hold on a strong handle, and unto Godbelongeth the issue of all things. (22) But whoever shall be an unbeliever, let not his unbelief grieve thee; unto us shall they return, then will we declare unto them that which they have done; for God knoweth the innermost parts of the breasts of men. (23) We will suffer them to enjoy this world for a little while, afterwards we will drive them to a severe punishment. If thou ask them who hath created the heavens and the earth, they will surely answer God. Say, God be praised! but the greater part of them do not understand. (25) Unto Godbelongeth whatever is in heaven and earth, for Godis the self-sufficient, the praiseworthy. If whatever trees are in the earth were pens, and he should after that swell the sea into seven seas of ink, the words of God would not be exhausted; for Godis mighty and wise. Your creation and your resuscitation are but as the creation and resuscitation of one soul; verily Godboth heareth and seeth. (28) Dost thou not see that God causeth the night to succeed the day, and causeth the day to succeed the night, and compelleth the sun and the moon to serve you? Each of those luminaries hasteneth in its course to a determined period; and Godis well acquainted with that which ye do. This is declared concerning the divine knowledge and power, for that God is the true Being, and for that whatever ye invoke besides him is vanity, and for that God is the high, the great God.
∥ Dost thou not see that the ships run in the sea, through the favour of God, that he may show you of his signs? Verily herein are signs unto every patient, grateful person. When waves cover them like overshadowing clouds, they call upon God, exhibiting the pure religion unto him; but when he bringeth them safe to land, there is of them who halteth between the true faith and idolatry. Howbeit, none rejecteth our signs, except every perfidious, ungrateful person. O men, fear your Lord, and dread the day whereon a father shall not make satisfaction for his son, neither shall a son make satisfaction for his father at all: the promise of God is assuredly true. Let not this present life, therefore, deceive you; neither let the deceiver deceive you concerning God. Verily the knowledge of the hour of judgment is with God; and he causeth the rain to descend at his own appointed time; and he knoweth what is in the wombs of females. No soul knoweth what it shall gain on the morrow; neither doth any soul know in what land it shall die; but Godis knowing and fully acquainted with all things.
The object for which this chapter was written seems to have been to rebuke and warn the Quraish of Makkah on account of their obstinate unbelief in the Qurán. They had boldly declared it to be a forgery, and had challenged Muhammad to hurry on the judgments of God he had threatened against their unbelief.
In reply to this accusation, Muhammad reasserts the inspired character of his revelations, and denounces the impiety of his towns-people, assuring them that God who created them would bring them out of their graves and have them before him, and pass condemnation upon them. He tells them they will then repent, but all in vain. The declaration of God must be fulfilled, “Verily I will fill hell with genii and men together!” There they shall abide for ever; and so often as they shall endeavour to escape, they shall be dragged back again into torments.
The chapter ends with words indicating the mutual defiance of Muhammad and his people.
The interpretation which would make ver. 16 refer to the poor emigrants at Madína, and vers. 18-21 to an incident at the battle of Badr, being erloneous, the whole chapter must be regarded as Makkan. Guided by the style and spirit of the contents, the date may be fixed approximately at about the middle of the third stage of Muhammad’s ministry. If, however, the temporal punishment alluded to in ver. 21 be the great famine, as suggested in note there, the date would be much later.
|The Qurán is without doubt inspired revelation||1|
|Muhammad did not forge the Qurán||2|
|The heavens and earth created in six days||3|
|God will judge all men after the resurrection||4|
|The Omniscient God the Creator of mankind||5-8|
|Yet man, the creature, denies the resurrection||9, 10|
|Unbelievers shall be brought before God||11|
|They shall repent too late to avail for pardon||12|
|Hell must be filled with genii and men||13, 14|
|The reward of true believers||15-19|
|The punishment of unbelievers here and hereafter||20, 21|
|To reject God’s signs a great sin||22|
|The Pentateuch given to Moses||23|
|Teachers chosen from among the Israelites to direct them in the way of God||24|
|God will settle their disputes in the Judgment-day||25|
|The people of Makkah warned by the fate of their predecessors||26|
|The resurrection typified in nature, but infidels do not understand||27|
|The infidels urge Muhammad to hasten the judgment-day||28-30|
∥ A. L. M. The revelation of this book, there is no doubt thereof, is from the Lord of all creatures. Will they say, Muhammad hath forged it? Nay, it is the truth from thy Lord, that thou mayest preach to a people unto whom no preacher hath come before thee; peradventure they will be directed. It isGod who hath created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, in six days; and then ascended his throne. Ye have no patron or intercessor besides him. Will ye not therefore consider? He governeth all things from heaven even to the earth: hereafter shall they return unto him, on the day whose length shall be a thousand years, of those which ye compute. (5) This is he who knoweth the future and the present; the mighty, the merciful. (6) It is he who hath made everything which he hath created exceeding good: and first created man of clay, and afterwards made his posterity of an extract of despicable water; and then formed him into proper shape, and breathed of his spirit into him; and hath given you the senses of hearing and seeing, and hearts to understand. How small thanks do ye return? (9) And they say, When we shall lie hidden in the earth, shall we be raised thence a new creature? (10) Yea, they deny the meeting of their Lordat the resurrection. Say, The angel of death, who is set over you, shall cause you to die: then shall ye be brought back unto your Lord.
∥ (12) If thou couldest see when the wicked shall bow down their heads before their Lord,saying, O Lord, we have seen and have heard: suffer us therefore to return into the world, and we will work that which is right; since we are now certain of the truth of what hath been preached to us, thou wouldest see an amazing sight. If we had pleased, we had certainly given unto every soul its direction; but the word which hath proceeded from me must necessarily be fulfilled when I said, Verily I will fill hell with genii and men altogether. Taste therefore the torment prepared for you, because ye have forgotten the coming of this your day: we also have forgotten you; taste therefore the punishment of eternal duration for that which ye have wrought. (15) Verily they only believe in our signs who, when they are warned thereby, fall down adoring and celebrate the praise of their Lord, and are not elated with pride; (16) their sides are raised from their beds, calling on their Lord with fear and with hope; and they distribute alms out of what we have bestowed on them. No soul knoweth the complete satisfaction which is secretly prepared for them, as a reward for that which they have wrought. (18) Shall he, therefore, who is a true believer be as he who is an impious transgressor? They shall not be held equal. (19) As to those who believe and do that which is right, they shall have gardens of perpetual abode, an ample recompense for that which they shall have wrought; (20) but as for those who impiously transgress, their abode shall be hell-fire; so often as they shall endeavour to get thereout, they shall be dragged back into the same, and it shall be said unto them, Taste ye the torment of hell-fire, which ye rejected as a falsehood. And we will cause them to taste the nearer punishment of this world, besides the more grievous punishment of the next; peradventure they will repent.
∥ (22) Who is more unjust than he who is warned by the signs of his Lord, and then turneth aside from the same? We will surely take vengeance on the wicked. We heretofore delivered the book of the law unto Moses; wherefore be not thou in doubt as to the revelation thereof: and we ordained the same to be a direction unto the children of Israel; (24) and we appointed teachers from among them, who should direct the people at our command, when they had persevered with patience, and had firmly believed in our signs. (25) Verily thy Lord will judge between them on the day of resurrection concerning that wherein they have disagreed. Is it not known unto them how many generations we have destroyed before them, through whose dwellings they walk? Verily herein are signs: will they not therefore hearken? (27) Do they not see that we drive rain unto a land bare of grass and parched up, and thereby produce corn, of which their cattle eat, and themselves also? Will they not therefore regard? The infidels say to the true believers, When will this decision be made between us, if ye speak truth? (29) Answer, On the day of that decision, the faith of those who shall have disbelieved shall not avail them; neither shall they be respited any longer. Wherefore avoid them and expect the issue: verily they expect to obtain some advantage over thee.
This chapter takes its name from the confederated tribes, which, at the instigation of the exiled Bani Nadhír, attacked Madína, and were repulsed at the memorable battle of the Ditch.
A portion of the chapter deals with the conduct of the disaffected inhabitants of Madína at the time of the siege, and the subsequent destruction of the Bani Qainuqáa. The principal interest of the chapter surrounds those passages relating to Muhammad’s marriage with the divorced wife of his adopted son, Zaid Ibn Hárith. The question of the character of these revelations is discussed in the notes. Suffice it to say here, that in all the range of the Qurán there is no chapter affording such decisive evidence of Muhammad’s imposture as this one does, and nowhere does the sensuality and carnal jealousy of the Arabian prophet receive such a clear exposure.
According to Noëldeke, the passages relating to the battle of the Ditch, the conduct of the disaffected, and the destruction of the Qainuqáa (vers. 9-29), certainly belong to a.h. 5. Those referring to Muhammad’s marriage with Zainab (vers. 1-5 and 35-40), and those which relate to the guests who stayed too long at Zainab’s wedding (vers. 53-58), belong to about the same, though a somewhat later, date, yet to a time previous to the war with the Bani Mustaliq, as is evident from the part played by Zainab in the affair of Ayesha (see introduction to chap. xxiv.) To about the same date may be referred vers. 6-8; vers. 30-34 relating to a disagreement between Muhammad and his wives, probably due to the introduction of Zainab into the harem; and vers. 49-51, which give permission to Muhammad to marry slaves, he having taken to himself Raihána after the defeat and slaughter of the Bani Qainuqáa. The remaining verses (41-48, 52, and 69-73), excepting vers. 52 and 59, perhaps belong to the same period as does the greater part of the chapter. Ver. 52, however, must be referred to a period later than a.h. 7, when Muhammad’s harem was completed by his marriage with Maimúna (see Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. p. 89). Ver. 59 also must be placed as late as a.h. 8, if not later, inasmuch as Muhammad’s daughter, Umm Kulthúm, died at this time, leaving Fátima alone, who would be spoken of in the singular number, whereas here the plural is used. It therefore appears that, excepting these two verses, the whole chapter may be referred to the year a.h. 5.
|Muhammad to obey God rather than the unbelievers||1-3|
|Adopted sons not to be regarded as real sons by Muslims||4, 5|
|Muhammad’s wives the mothers of the faithful||6|
|The covenant of the prophets with God||7, 8|
|God’s favour to the Muslims at the Ditch||9-11|
|The disaffected people of Madína rebuked||12-15|
|None can flee from God’s anger||16, 17|
|The treachery of the hypocrites of Madína exposed||18-20|
|Muhammad an example to the faithful||21|
|Patient endurance of the believers at the Ditch||22-24|
|The triumph at the Ditch attributed to God’s favour||25|
|Reference to the slaughter of the Bani Qainuqáa||26, 27|
|Muhammad’s wives rebuked||28, 29|
|Muhammad’s wives, if incontinent, to be doubly punished, but if faithful, to be doubly rewarded||30, 31|
|They are exhorted to modest behaviour and piety||32-34|
|Blessings promised to faithful men and women||35|
|Revelations touching the Zainab scandal||36-40|
|The blessedness of true believers||41-43|
|Muhammad a witness and preacher of good tidings||44-47|
|The law of divorce modified||48|
|Special privileges of Muhammad in respect to women||49-51|
|Muhammad limited in respect to wives||52|
|Conduct to be observed by believers at the Prophet’s house||53-55|
|God and the angels bless Muhammad, who should be treated with respect by believers||56|
|The curse of those who offend Muhammad or the Muslims||57, 58|
|Command respecting the veiling of Muslim women||59|
|Threatened punishment of Madína hypocrites||60-62|
|Men know not the hour of judgment||63|
|Awful fate of infidels||64-68|
|Believers exhorted to respectful treatment of their Prophet||69-71|
|The responsibilities of the faithful||72, 73|
∥ O Prophet, fear God, and obey not the unbelievers and the hypocrites: verily God is knowing and wise. (2) But follow that which is revealed unto thee from thy Lord; for God is well acquainted with that which ye do; (3) and put thy trust in God; for God is a sufficient protector. God hath not given a man two hearts within him; neither hath he made your wives (some of whom ye divorce, regarding them thereafter as your mothers) your true mothers; nor hath he made your adopted sons your true sons. This is your saying in your mouths: but God speaketh the truth; and he directeth the right way. Call such as are adopted the sons of their natural fathers: this will be more just in the sight of God. And if ye know not their fathers, let them be as your brethren in religion, and your companions: and it shall be no crime in you that ye err in this matter; but that shall be criminal which your hearts purposely design; for God is gracious and merciful. The Prophet is nigher unto the true believers than their own souls; and his wives are their mothers. Those who are related by consanguinity are nigher of kin the one of them unto the others, according to the book of God, than the other true believers, and the Muhájjirún: unless that ye do what is fitting and reasonable to your relations in general. This is written in the book of God.Remember when we accepted their covenant from the prophets, and from thee, O Muhammad, and from Noah, and Abraham, and Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary, and received from them a firm covenant; that God may examine the speakers of truth concerning their veracity: and he hath prepared a painful torment for the unbelievers.
∥ O true believers, remember the favour of God towards you, when armies of infidels came against you, and we sent against them a wind, and hosts of angels which ye saw not: and God beheld that which ye did, when they came against you from above you, and from below you, and when your sight became troubled, and your hearts came even to your throats for fear, and ye imagined of Godvarious imaginations. (11) There were the faithful tried, and made to tremble with a violent trembling. And when the hypocrites, and those in whose heart was an infirmity, said, God and his Apostle have made you no other than a fallacious promise. And when a party of them said, O inhabitants of Yathrib, there is no place of security for you here; wherefore return home. And a part of them asked leave of the Prophet to depart, saying, Verily our houses are defenceless and exposed to the enemy: but they were not defenceless; and their intention was no other than to fly. If the city had been entered upon them by the enemy from the parts adjacent, and they had been asked to desert the true believers and to fight against them, they had surely consented thereto; but they had not, in such case, remained in the same, but a little while. They had before made a covenant with God that they would not turn their backs; and the performance of their covenant with God shall be examined into hereafter. Say, Flight shall not profit you, if ye fly from death or from slaughter; and if it would, yet shall ye not enjoy this world but a little. (17) Say, Who is he who shall defend you against God, if he is pleased to bring evil on you, or is pleased to show mercy towards you? They shall find none to patronise or protect them besides God.God already knoweth those among you who hinder others from following his Apostle, and who say unto their brethren, Come hither unto us; and who come not to battle, except a little; being covetous towards you: but when fear cometh on them, thou seest them look unto thee for assistance, their eyes rolling about like the eyes of him who fainteth by reason of the agonies of death: yet when their fear is past they inveigh against you with sharp tongues; being covetous of the best and most valuable part of the spoils. These believe not sincerely; wherefore God hath rendered their works of no avail; and this is easy with God. They imagined that the confederates would not depart and raise the siege; and if the confederates should come another time, they would wish to live in the deserts among the Arabs who dwell in tents, and there to inquire after news concerning you; and although they were with you this time, yet they fought not, except a little.
∥ Ye have in the Apostle of God an excellent example, unto him who hopeth in God and the last day, and remembereth God frequently. When the true believers saw the confederates, they said, This is what God and his Apostle have foretold us; and God and his Apostle have spoken the truth: and it only increased their faith and resignation. Of the true believers some men justly performed what they had promised unto God; and some of them have finished their course, and some of them wait the same advantage; and they changed not their promise by deviating therefrom in the least; (24) that God may reward the just performers of their covenant for their fidelity, and may punish the hypocritical, if he pleaseth, or may be turned unto them; for Godis ready to forgive, and merciful. (25) God hath driven back the infidels in their wrath: they obtained no advantage; and God was a sufficient protector unto the faithful in battle; for God is strong and mighty. And he hath caused such of those who have received the Scriptures as assisted the confederates to come down out of their fortresses, and he cast into their hearts terror and dismay: a part of them ye slew, and a part ye made captives; and God hath caused you to inherit their land, and their houses, and their wealth, and a land on which ye have not trodden; for God is almighty.
∥ O Prophet, say unto thy wives, If ye seek this present life and the pomp thereof, come, I will make a handsome provision for you, and I will dismiss you with an honourable dismission; (29) but if ye seek God and his Apostle, and the life to come, verily God hath prepared for such of you as work righteousness a great reward. O wives of the Prophet, whosoever of you shall commit a manifest wickedness, the punishment thereof shall be doubled unto her twofold, and this is easy with God:
∥ But whosoever of you shall be obedient unto God and his Apostle, and shall do that which is right, we will give her her reward twice, and we have prepared for her an honourable provision in Paradise. O wives of the Prophet, ye are not as other women: if ye fear God, be not too complaisant in speech, lest he should covet in whose heart is a disease of incontinence; but speak the speech which is convenient. And sit still in your houses; and set not out yourselves with the ostentation of the former time of ignorance; and observe the appointed times of prayer and give alms, and obey God and his Apostle; for God desireth only to remove from you the abomination of vanity, since ye are the household of the Prophet, and to purify you by a perfect purification. (34) And remember that which is read in your houses of the signs of God and of the wisdom revealed in the Qurán; for God is clear-sighted, and well acquainted with your actions.
∥ (35) Verily the Muslims of either sex, and the true believers of either sex, and the devout men and the devout women, and the men of veracity and the women of veracity, and the patient men and the patient women, and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgivers of either sex, and the men who fast and the women who fast, and the chaste men and the chaste women, and those of either sex who remember God frequently; for them hath God prepared forgiveness and a great reward. It is not fit for a true believer of either sex, when God and his Apostle have decreed a thing, that they should have the liberty of choosing a different matter of their own: and whoever is disobedient unto God and his Apostle, surely erreth with a manifest error. And remember when thou saidst to him unto whom God had been gracious, and on whom thou also hadst conferred favours, Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear God: and thou didst conceal that in thy mind which God had determined to discover, and didst fear men; whereas it was more just that thou shouldest fear God. But when Zaid had determined the matter concerning her, and had resolved to divorce her, we joined her in marriage unto thee, lest a crime should be charged on the true believers, in marrying the wives of their adopted sons, when they have determined the matter concerning them; and the command of God is to be performed. (38) No crime is to be charged on the Prophet as to what God hath allowed him, conformable to the ordinance of God with regard to those who preceded him (for the command of God is a determinate decree), (39) who brought the messages of God, and feared him, and feared none besides God: and God is a sufficient accountant. Muhammad is not the father of any man among you; but the Apostle of God and the seal of the prophets: and God knoweth all things.
∥ (41) O true believers, remember God with a frequent remembrance, and celebrate his praise morning and evening. (42) It is he who is gracious unto you, and his angels intercede for you, that he may lead you forth from darkness into light; and he is merciful towards the true believers. (43) Their salutation on the day whereon they shall meet him shall be, Peace! and he hath prepared for them an honourable recompense. (44) O Prophet, verily we have sent thee to be a witness, and a bearer of good tidings, and a denouncer of threats, (45) and an inviter unto God, through his good pleasure, and a shining light. (46) Bear good tidings therefore unto the true believers, that they shall receive great abundance from God. (47) And obey not the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and mind not their evil treatment, but trust in God; and God is a sufficient protector. (48) O true believers, when ye marry women who are believers, and afterwards put them away before ye have touched them, there is no term prescribed you to fulfil towards them after their divorce; but make them a present, and dismiss them freely with an honourable dismission. O Prophet, we have allowed thee thy wives unto whom thou hast given their dower, and also the slaves which thy right hand possesseth, of the booty which God hath granted thee; and the daughters of thy uncle, and the daughters of thy aunts, both on thy father’s side and on thy mother’s side, who have fled with thee from Makkah, and any other believing woman, if she give herself unto the Prophet, in case the Prophet desireth to take her to wife. This is a peculiar privilege granted unto thee above the rest of the true believers. (50) We know what we have ordained them concerning their wives, and the slaves which their right hands possess: lest it should be deemed a crime in thee to make use of the privilege granted thee; for God is gracious and merciful.
∥ Thou mayest postpone the turn of such of thy wives as thou shalt please, in being called to thy bed; and thou mayest take unto thee her whom thou shalt please, and her whom thou shalt desire of those whom thou shalt have before rejected: and it shall be no crime in thee. This will be more easy, that they may be entirely content, and may not be grieved, but may be well pleased with what thou shalt give every of them: God knoweth whatever is in your hearts; and God is knowing and gracious. It shall not be lawful for thee to take other women to wife hereafter, nor to exchange any of thy wives for them, although their beauty please thee, except the slaves whom thy right hand shall possess: and God observeth all things. O true believers, enter not the houses of the Prophet, unless it be permitted you to eat meat with him, without waiting his convenient time; but when ye are invited, then enter. And when ye shall have eaten, disperse yourselves, and stay not to enter into familiar discourse; for this incommodeth the Prophet. He is ashamed to bid you depart; but God is not ashamed of the truth. And when ye ask of the Prophet’s wives what ye may have occasion for, ask it of them from behind a curtain. This will be more pure for your hearts and their hearts. Neither is it fit for you to give any uneasiness to the Apostle of God, or to marry his wives after him for ever: for this would be a grievous thing in the sight of God. (54) Whether ye divulge a thing or conceal it, verily God knoweth all things. It shall be no crime in them, as to their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves which their right hands possess, if they speak to them unveiled: and fear ye God; for God is witness of all things. Verily God and his angels bless the Prophet. O true believers, do ye also bless him, and salute him with a respectful salutation. As to those who offend God and his Apostle, God shall curse them in this world and in the next; and he hath prepared for them a shameful punishment. And they who shall injure the true believers of either sex, without their deserving it, shall surely bear the guilt of calumny and a manifest injustice.
∥ O Prophet, speak unto thy wives, and thy daughters, and the wives of the true believers, that they cast their outer garments over them when they walk abroad; this will be more proper, that they may be known to be matrons of reputation, and may not be affronted by unseemly words or actions.God is gracious and merciful. Verily, if the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is an infirmity, and they who raise disturbances in Madína, do not desist, we will surely stir thee up against them, to chastise them: henceforth they shall not be sufferedto dwell near thee therein, except for a little time,and being accursed; wherever they are found they shall be taken, and killed with a general slaughter.
∥ According to the sentence of God concerning those who have been before; and thou shalt not find any change in the sentence of God. Men will ask thee concerning the approach of the last hour; answer, Verily the knowledge thereof is with God alone; and he will not inform thee: peradventure the hour is nigh at hand. Verily God hath cursed the infidels, and hath prepared for them a fierce fire, wherein they shall remain for ever: they shall find no patron or defender. On the day whereon their faces shall be rolled in hell-fire, they shall say, O that we had obeyed God, and had obeyed his Apostle! And they shall say, O Lord, verily we have obeyed our lords and our great men, and they have seduced us from the right way. O Lord, give them the double of our punishment, and curse them with a heavy curse!
∥ O true believers, be not as those who injured Moses; but God cleared him from the scandal which they had spoken concerning him; and he was of great consideration in the sight of God. (70) O true believers, fear God, and speak words well directed, (71) that God may correct your words for you, and may forgive you your sins: and whoever shall obey God and his Apostle shall enjoy great felicity. We proposed the faith unto the heavens, and the earth, and the mountains; and they refused to undertake the same, and were afraid thereof; but man undertook it: verily he was unjust to himself, and foolish; (73) that God may punish the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women, and the idolaters and the idolatresses; and that God may be turned unto the true believers, both men and women: for God is gracious and merciful.
This chapter owes its title to the mention (ver. 14) of a country of that name in Arabia Felix, the fate of whose inhabitants is presented as a warning to the unbelieving Quraish.
As to its contents, this chapter differs little from other Makkan revelations of the earlier stages of Muhammad’s ministry. The Prophet rebukes his townsmen on account of their idolatry and unbelief. He assures them that God will bring them into judgment and punish their obstinate infidelity. He tells them that their deities will be helpless to save them, that the angels, whom they worshipped as intercessors, would reject them as the followers of devils, and that the rich and influential idolaters of Makkah, while denying their evil deeds, would be reproached by their weakminded followers as the cause of their destruction. Finally, he tells them they should repent at last, saying, “We believe in him,” but all too late to be of any avail.
The attitude of the people of Makkah at the time this chapter was enunciated was that of determined opposition to the claims of Muhammad. Certain Jews had professed to believe in the Qurán (ver. 6), but this fact, while affording to Muhammad an occasion for alluding to certain Jewish traditions respecting David and Solomon illustrating God’s favour to his prophets, seems to have aroused still stronger opposition to himself among the leaders of the idolaters in Makkah. They accused him of forgery, and imposture, and madness, and defied him to hasten the judgments of God he had threatened against them. In reply to these accusations Muhammad protested his innocence and declared himself to be a warner, whose God would judge between him and his calumniators.
That this whole chapter belongs to an early period in Muhammad’s ministry is evident from the character of its contents and the attitude of the unbelievers as revealed therein. It is, however, impossible to do more than fix an approximate date, which, according to Muir, is about the third stage of the ministry at Makkah. Rodwell, following Noëldeke, seems to place it a little later.
|Praise to the All-wise and Sovereign God||1, 2|
|Unbelievers shall not escape the judgment-day||3|
|The reward of believers and the punishment of infidels sure||4, 5|
|Certain Jews accept the Qurán as the word of God||6|
|The Quraish scoff at the doctrine of the resurrection||7|
|Muhammad accused of being a forger of the Qurán and a madman||8|
|Divine judgments threatened against the unbelievers||8, 9|
|David received blessing and knowledge from God||10|
|Solomon received dominion over the winds and the genii||11|
|The palaces, statues of Solomon, &c., constructed by genii||12|
|Solomon’s death concealed from the genii||13|
|The people of Sabá rebel against God and are punished||14-16|
|They are dispersed on account of covetousness||17, 18|
|All but a few believers follow Iblís||19, 20|
|The idolaters worship imaginary deities||21|
|Only those who are permitted shall intercede on the judgment-day||22|
|The bountiful God will judge between true believers and the infidels||23-26|
|Muhammad sent to man as a warner||27|
|The infidels will feel God’s threatened punishment in the judgment-day||28, 29|
|Mutual enmity of the idolaters and their leaders on the day of judgment||30-32|
|God’s prophets have always been opposed by the affluent||33|
|The Makkans boast in their riches in vain||34, 35|
|The righteous only shall be saved||36|
|Muhammad’s adversaries shall be punished||37|
|The Lord will reward the almsgivers||38|
|The angels shall repudiate their worshippers||39, 40|
|Idolaters shall be unable to help one another in the judgment||41|
|The unbelievers call Muhammad a forger of the Qurán and blasphemer||42|
|Rejecting their Prophet as did those before them, the Makkans shall receive like punishment||43, 44|
|Muhammad protests the truth of his claims||45-49|
|Unbelievers shall repent when too late to avail||50-54|
∥ (1) Praise be unto God, unto whom belongeth whatever is in the heavens and on earth: and unto him be praise in the world to come; for he is wise and intelligent. He knoweth whatsoever entereth into the earth and whatsoever cometh out of the same, and whatsoever descendeth from heaven, and whatsoever ascendeth thereto: and he is merciful and ready to forgive. (3) The unbelievers say, The hour of judgment will not come unto us. Answer, Yea, by my Lord, it will surely come unto you; it is he who knoweth the hidden secret: the weight of an ant, either in heaven or in earth, is not absent from him, nor anything lesser than this or greater, but the same is written in the perspicuous book of his decrees; (4) that he may recompense those who shall have believed and wrought righteousness: they shall receive pardon and an honourable provision. (5) But they who endeavour to render our signs of none effect shall receive a punishment of painful torment. Those unto whom knowledge hath been given, see that the book which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord is the truth, and directeth into the glorious and laudable way. (7) The unbelievers say to one another, Shall we show you a man who shall prophesy unto you, that when ye shall have been dispersed with a total dispersion, ye shall be raised a new creature? He hath forged a lie concerning God, or rather he is distracted. But they who believe not in the life to come shall fall into punishment and a wide error. Have they not therefore considered what is before them, and what is behind them, of the heaven and the earth? If we please, we will cause the earth to open and swallow them up, or will cause a piece of the heaven to fall upon them: verily herein is a sign unto every servant who turneth unto God.
∥ We heretofore bestowed on David excellence from us, and we said, O mountains, sing alternate praises with him, and we obliged the birds also to join therein. And we softened the iron for him, saying, Make thereof complete coats of mail, and rightly dispose the small plates which compose the same, and work ye righteousness, O family of David, for I see that which ye do. And we made the wind subject unto Solomon; it blew in the morning for a month, and in the evening for a month. And we made a fountain of molten brass to flow for him. And some of the genii were obliged to work in his presence, by the will of his Lord; and whoever of them turned aside from our command we will cause him to taste the pain of hell-fire. They made for him whatever he pleased of palaces and statues, and large dishes like fish-ponds, and cauldrons standing firm on their trevets; and we said, Work righteousness, O family of David, with thanksgiving, for few of my servants are thankful. And when we had decreed that Solomon should die, nothing discovered his death unto them except the creeping thing of the earth which gnawed his staff. And when his body fell down, the genii plainly perceived that if they had known that which is secret they had not continued in a vile punishment. The descendants of Sabá had heretofore a sign in their dwelling, namely, two gardens on the right hand and on the left, and it was said unto them, Eat ye of the provision of your Lord, and give thanks unto him, ye have a good country and a gracious Lord. But they turned aside from what we had commanded them, wherefore we sent against them the inundation of al Aram, and we changed their two gardens for them into two gardens producing bitter fruit, and tamarisks, and some little fruit of the lote-tree. (16) This we gave them in reward because they were ungrateful: is any thus rewarded except the ungrateful? And we placed between them and the cities which we have blessed cities situated near each other, and we made the journey easy between them, saying, Travel through the same by night and by day in security. But they said, O Lord, put a greater distance between our journey, and they were unjust unto themselves; and we made them the subject of discourse, and dispersed them with a total dispersion. Verily herein are signs unto every patient, grateful person. And Iblís found his opinion of them to be true, and they followed him, except a party of the true believers; (20) and he had no power over them unless to tempt them, that we might know him who believed in the life to come from him who doubted thereof. Thy Lord observeth all things.
∥ (21) Say unto the idolaters, Call upon those whom ye imagine to be gods besides God; they are not masters of the weight of an ant in heaven or on earth, neither have they any share in the creation or government of the same, nor is any of them assistant to him therein. No intercession will be of service in his presence except the intercession of him to whom he shall grant permission to intercede for others, and they shall wait in suspense until, when the terror shall be taken off from their hearts, they shall say to one another, What doth your Lord say? They shall answer, That which is just, and he is the high, the great God. (23) Say, Who provideth food for you from heaven and earth? Answer, God; and either we or ye follow the true direction, or are in a manifest error. (24) Say, ye shall not be examined concerning what we shall have committed, neither shall we be examined concerning what ye shall have done. (25) Say, Our Lord will assemble us together at the last day, then he will judge between us with truth: and he is the judge, the knowing. (26) Say, Show me those whom ye have joined as partners with him? Nay, rather he is the mighty, the wise God. We have not sent thee otherwise than unto mankind in general, a bearer of good tidings and a denouncer of threats, but the greater part of men do not understand. (28) And they say, When will this threat be fulfilled, if ye speak truth? (29) Answer, A threat is denounced unto you of a day which ye shall not retard one hour, neither shall ye hasten.
∥ The unbelievers say, We will by no means believe in this Qurán, nor in that which hath been revealed before it. But if thou couldest see when the unjust doers shall be set before their Lord! They will iterate discourse with one another: those who were esteemed weak shall say unto those who behaved themselves arrogantly, Had it not been for you, verily we had been true believers.
∥ (31) They who behaved themselves arrogantly shall say unto those who were esteemed weak, Did we turn you aside from the true direction after it had come unto you? On the contrary, ye acted wickedly of your own free choice. And they who were esteemed weak shall say unto those who behaved with arrogance, Nay, but the crafty plot which ye devised by night and by day occasioned our ruin, when ye commanded us that we should not believe in God, and that we should set up other gods as equals unto him. And they shall conceal their repentance, after they shall have seen the punishment prepared for them. And we will put yokes on the necks of those who shall have disbelieved: shall they be rewarded any otherwise than according to what they shall have wrought? (33) We have sent no warner unto any city, but the inhabitants thereof who lived in affluence said, Verily we believe not that with which ye are sent. (34) And those of Makkah also say, We abound in riches and children more than ye, and we shall not be punished hereafter. (35) Answer, Verily my Lord will bestow provision in abundance unto whom he pleaseth, and will be sparing unto whom he pleaseth; but the greater part of men know not this.
∥ Neither your riches nor your children are the things which shall cause you to draw nigh unto us with a near approach: only whoever believeth and worketh righteousness, they shall receive a double reward for that which they shall have wrought; and they shall dwell in security in the upper apartments of Paradise. (37) But they who shall endeavour to render our signs of none effect shall be delivered up to punishment. (38) Say, Verily my Lord will bestow provision in abundance unto whom he pleaseth of his servants, and will be sparing unto whom he pleaseth: and whatever thing ye shall give in alms, he will return it; and he is the best provider of food. On a certain day he shall gather them altogether: then shall he say unto the angels, Did these worship you? And the angels shall answer, God forbid! thou art our friend, and not these: but they worshipped devils; the greater part of them believed in them. On this day the one of you shall not be able either to profit or to hurt the other. And we will say unto those who have acted unjustly, Taste ye the pain of hell-fire, which ye rejected as a falsehood. When our evident signs are read unto them, they say of thee, O Muhammad, this is no other than a man who seeketh to turn you aside from the gods which your fathers worshipped. And they say of the Qurán, This is no other than a lie blasphemously forged. And the unbelievers say of the truth when it is come unto them, This is no other than manifest sorcery: yet we have given them no books of Scripture wherein to exercise themselves, nor have we sent unto them any warner before thee. They who were before them in like manner accused their prophets of imposture: but these have not arrived unto the tenth part of the riches and strength which we had bestowed on the former: and they accused my apostles of imposture; and how severe was my vengeance!
∥ Say, Verily I advise you unto one thing, namely, that ye stand before God by two and two and singly; and then consider seriously, and you will find that there is no madness in your companion Muhammad: he is no other than a warner unto you, sent before a severe punishment. Say, I ask not of you any reward for my preaching; it is your own, either to give or not: my reward is to be expected from God alone; and he is witness over all things. (47) Say, Verily my Lord sendeth down the truth to his prophets: he is the knower of secrets. (48) Say, Truth is come, and falsehood is vanished, and shall not return any more. (49) Say, If I err, verily I shall err only against my own soul; but if I be rightly directed, it will be by that which my Lord revealeth unto me; for he is ready to hear, and nigh unto those who call upon him. If thou couldest see when the unbelievers shall tremble, and shall find no refuge, and shall be taken from a near place, and shall say, We believe in him! But how shall they receive the faith from a distant place, (52) since they had before denied him and reviled the mysteries of faith from a distant place? And a bar shall be placed between them and that which they shall desire: (54) as it hath been done with those who behaved like them heretofore: because they have been in a doubt which hath caused scandal.
This chapter owes its title to the mention of the Creator in the first verse. In the same verse mention is made of the angels, which title is also given in some editions of the Qurán.
As to its character and contents, this chapter is so very much like the chapter immediately preceding it as to make the description of one applicable in all essential points to the other.
As this chapter might very well have been joined on to the one preceding it, there is no need of saying more here than that it belongs to the same date.
|God praised as the Sovereign Creator||1, 2|
|The Quraish exhorted to worship the true God||3|
|Muhammad told that it is no strange thing for a prophet to be called an impostor||4|
|God’s promises true, but Satan is a deceiver||5, 6|
|Reward for believers and punishment for infidels sure||7, 8|
|Reprobate sinners shall not be as the righteous before God||9|
|The desert made green by rainfall a type of the resurrection||10|
|God exalteth the righteous but bringeth to nought the devices of sinners||11|
|God, who is man’s Creator, knoweth all things||12|
|God’s mercy to man seen in the waters||13|
|Day, night, the sun, and moon glorify God||14|
|The vanity of idol-worship||14, 15|
|Man is dependent on God, but God is self-sufficient||16-18|
|Every one shall bear his own burden in the judgment-day||19|
|Muhammad commanded to admonish secret believers||19|
|God will not regard the righteous and the unrighteous alike||20, 21|
|Every nation has its own prophet||22|
|Those who accused the former prophets of imposture were punished||23, 24|
|God’s mercy seen in nature||25|
|God rewards the prayerful and the charitable||26, 27|
|The Qurán a confirmation of former Scriptures||28|
|The varied conduct of those who receive the Qurán||29|
|The rewards of the faithful in Paradise||30-32|
|The just punishment of unbelievers in hell||33-35|
|God knoweth the secrets of the heart||36|
|Unbelievers shall reap the fruit of their infidelity||37|
|God gave the idolaters no authority for their idolatry||38|
|God alone sustains the heavens||39|
|The Quraish impiously reject their Prophet||40, 41|
|They shall receive the punishment bestowed upon those who rejected the former prophets||42, 43|
|Were God to punish sinners the world would be bereft of its human population||44|
|God will regard his servants in the judgment-day||45|
∥ Praise be unto God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who maketh the angels his messengers, furnished with two, and three, and four pair of wings; God maketh what addition he pleaseth unto his creatures, for Godis almighty. (2) The mercy which God shall freely bestow on mankind there is none who can withhold, and what he shall withhold there is none who can bestow besides him; and he is the mighty, the wise. (3) O men, remember the favour of God towards you; is there any creator besides God who provideth food for you from heaven and earth? There is no God but he, how therefore are ye turned aside from acknowledging his unity? If they accuse thee of imposture, apostles before thee have also been accused of imposture, and unto God shall all things return. (5) O men, verily the promise of God is true; let not therefore the present life deceive you, neither let the deceiver deceive you concerning God, (6) for Satan is an enemy unto you, wherefore hold him for an enemy; he only inviteth his confederates to be the inhabitants of hell. (7) For those who believe not there is prepared a severe torment, (8) but for those who shall believe and do that which is right is prepared mercy and a great reward.
∥ Shall he therefore for whom his evil work hath been prepared, and who imagineth it to be good, be as he who is rightly disposed and discerneth the truth? Verily God will cause to err whom he pleaseth, and will direct whom he pleaseth. Let not thy soul therefore be spent in sighs for their sakes, on account of their obstinacy, for God well knoweth that which they do. It is God who sendeth the winds and raiseth a cloud, and we drive the same unto a dead country, and thereby quicken the earth after it hath been dead, so shall the resurrection be. Whoever desireth excellence, unto Goddoth all excellence belong; unto him ascendeth the good speech, and the righteous work will he exalt; but as for them who devise wicked plots, they shall suffer a severe punishment, and the device of those men shall be rendered vain. God created you first of the dust, and afterwards of seed, and he hath made you man and wife. No female conceiveth or bringeth forth but with his knowledge. Nor is anything added unto the age of him whose life is prolonged, neither is anything diminished from his age, but the same is written in the book of God’s decrees. Verily this is easy with God. The two seas are not to be held in comparison; this is fresh and sweet, pleasant to drink, but that is salt and bitter; yet out of each of them ye eat fish and take ornaments for you to wear. Thou seest the ships also ploughing the waves thereof, that ye may seek to enrich yourselves by commerce of the abundance of God, peradventure ye will be thankful. He causeth the night to succeed the day, and he causeth the day to succeed the night, and he obligeth the sun and the moon to perform their services, each of them runneth an appointed course. This is God your Lord, his is the kingdom. But the idols which ye invoke besides him have not the power even over the skin of a date-stone; (15) if ye invoke them they will not hear your calling, and although they should hear, yet they would not answer you. On the day of resurrection they shall disclaim your having associated them with God, and none shall declare unto thee the truth like one who is well acquainted therewith.
∥ (16) O men, ye have need of God, but God is self-sufficient, and to be praised. (17) If he pleaseth he can take you away and produce a new creature in your stead, (18) neither will this be difficult with God. A burdened soul shall not bear the burden of another; and if a heavy-burdened soul call on another to bear part of its burden, no part thereof shall be borne by the person who shall be called on, although he be ever so nearly related. Thou shalt admonish those who fear their Lord in secret and are constant at prayer; and whosoever cleanseth himself from the guilt of disobedience cleanseth himself to the advantage of his own soul; for all shall be assembled before Godat the last day. The blind and the seeing shall not be held equal, neither darkness and light, nor the cool shade and the scorching wind, neither shall the living and the dead be held equal. God shall cause him to hear whom he pleaseth, but thou shalt not make those to hear who are in their graves. Thou art no other than a preacher; (22) verily we have sent thee with truth, a bearer of good tidings and a denouncer of threats. There hath been no nation but a preacher hath in past times been conversant among them; if they charge thee with imposture, they who were before them likewise charged their apostles with imposture. Their apostles came unto them with evident miracles, and with divine writings, and with the enlightening book; (24) afterwards I chastised those who were unbelievers, and how severe was my vengeance!
Dost not thou see that God sendeth down rain from heaven, and that we thereby produce fruits of various colours? in the mountains also there are some tracts white and red, of various colours, and others are of a deep black; and of men, and beasts, and cattle there are whose colours are in like manner various. Such only of his servants fear God as are endued with understanding: verily Godis mighty and ready to forgive. (26) Verily they who read the book of God, and are constant at prayer, and give alms out of what we have bestowed on them, both in secret and openly, hope for a merchandise which shall not perish: (27) that God may fully pay them their wages and make them a superabundant addition of his liberality: for he is ready to forgive the faults of his servants and to requite their endeavours. That which we have revealed unto thee of the book of the Qurán is the truth, confirming the Scriptures which were revealed before it; for God knoweth and regardeth his servants. And we have given the book of the Qurán in heritage unto such of our servants as we have chosen: of them there is one who injureth his own soul; and there is another of them who keepeth the middle way; and there is another of them who outstrippeth others in good works, by the permission of God. This is the great excellence. They shall be introduced into gardens of perpetual abode; they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearls, and their clothing therein shall be of silk: (31) and they shall say, Praise be unto God, who hath taken away sorrow from us! verily our Lordis ready to forgive the sinners and to reward the obedient: (32) who hath caused us to take up our rest in a dwelling of eternal stability, through his bounty, wherein no labour shall touch us, neither shall any weariness affect us. (33) But for the unbelievers isprepared the fire of hell: it shall not be decreed them to die a second time; neither shall any part of the punishment thereof be made lighter unto them. Thus shall every infidel be rewarded. And they shall cry out aloud in hell, saying,Lord, take us hence, and we will work righteousness, and not what we have formerly wrought. But it shall be answered them, Did we not grant you lives of length sufficient, that whoever would be warned might be warned therein; and did not the preacher come unto you? (35) taste therefore the pains of hell. And the unjust shall have no protector.
∥ (36) Verily God knoweth the secrets both of heaven and earth, for he knoweth the innermost parts of the breasts of men. (37) It is he who hath made you to succeed in the earth. Whoever shall disbelieve, on him be his unbelief; and their unbelief shall only gain the unbelievers greater indignation in the sight of their Lord; and their unbelief shall only increase the perdition of the unbelievers. (38) Say, What think ye of your deities which ye invoke besides God? Show me what part of the earth they have created. Or had they any share in the creation of the heavens? Have we given unto the idolaters any book of revelations, so that they may rely on any proof therefrom to authorise their practice? Nay; but the ungodly make unto one another only deceitful promises. (39) Verily God sustaineth the heavens and the earth, lest they fail: and if they should fail, none could support the same besides him; he is gracious and merciful. The Quraish swore by God, with a most solemn oath, that if a preacher had come unto them, they would surely have been more willingly directed than any nation: but now a preacher is come unto them, it hath only increased in them their aversion from the truth,their arrogance in the earth, and their contriving of evil; but the contrivance of evil shall only encompass the authors thereof. Do they expect any other than the punishment awarded against the unbelievers of former times? For thou shalt not find any change in the ordinance of God; (42) neither shalt thou find any variation in the ordinance of God. (43) Have they not gone through the earth, and seen what hath been the end of those who were before them; although they were more mighty in strength than they? God is not to be frustrated by anything either in heaven or on earth; for he is wise and powerful. (44) If God should punish men according to what they deserve, he would not leave on the back of the earth so much as a beast: but he respiteth them to a determined time; (45) and when their time shall come, verily God will regard his servants.
Sale says: “This chapter had several other titles given it by Muhammad himself, and particularly that of The Heart of the Qurán.” The present title is taken from the mystic letters in the beginning.
This chapter is held in great esteem by the Muhammadans, who read it to the dying in their last agony which is no doubt due to its teaching in regard to the resurrection. It reveals to us Muhammad as a preacher and a warner, yet withal a prophet, having as the seal of his claim the oath of God (vers. 1-3). As yet but few of the Quraish had given heed to his preaching or the warnings of his revelation. Indeed, we may fairly presume that the Prophet had preached so long in vain that he now despaired of the conversion of his hearers (vers. 6-9). We may also infer from the allusion to secret believers (ver. 10), and from the story of persecution (vers. 14-28), that the Muslims were now subjected to persecution of a severer nature than that of scoffs and blasphemous words. Notwithstanding this opposition, however, the Prophet proclaims the Divine unity in opposition to idolatry, and asserts the doctrine of a resurrection and final judgment.
On this account this chapter deserves the exalted title given it by Muhammad, as most of the distinctive doctrines of Islám are found in it in some form or other.
A point of considerable interest is noted by Rodwell: that this chapter and chapter xviii. contain the only references to Church history subsequent to the day of Pentecost to be found in the Qurán. The story of the apostles of Jesus given here, though referred by the commentators to Antioch, looks much more like a garbled rendering of the story of the martyrdom of Stephen. The shrine of Habíb at Antioch may have owed its existence to the story related by the commentators, and not to any real tomb; such shrines, erected to imaginary saints on the sites of imaginary tombs, being by no means uncommon in Muslim countries.
Noëldeke thinks there is probably an omission of a passage beween vers. 24 and 25, giving an account of the martyrdom of “the believer” by the infidels.
Though this chapter is so clearly Makkan, both in style and matter, yet there have been those who have regarded it as Madínic (see Itqán, 27). Others, on the authority of a tradition as to its origin, regard ver. 11 as Madínic. Similarly ver. 47, in which almsgiving (Zikát) is mentioned, is regarded by some as Madínic, because the law of almsgiving was given after the Hijra (Itqán, 35). However, the practice of almsgiving antedates the Hijra, and we may therefore regard the passage as Makkan.
As to the date of the chapter, the most that can be said is that it must be referred to a time when the opposition of the Quraish was very determined, and when persecution was either begun or threatened. Muir fixes the date at about the beginning of the fifth stage (i.e., about the tenth or eleventh year) of Muhammad’s mission. It certainly cannot be assigned to a later date. The probability is that it should be fixed somewhat earlier, as the Bann of the Háshimites would almost certainly have been alluded to in a chapter emanating from the Sheb of Abu Tálib.
|God swears that Muhammad is a prophet||1-3|
|The Qurán given to warn the Makkans||4, 5|
|The greater part of the people of Makkah reprobate||6-9|
|Muhammad’s preaching only profitable to secret believers||10|
|The dead shall be raised; all their deeds are registered||11|
|Two apostles of Jesus sent to Antioch||12, 13|
|They are rejected as impostors and threatened with stoning||14-17|
|The apostles warn the people of Antioch of impending divine judgments||18|
|A certain believer is put to death by the infidels||19-26|
|The persecutors are suddenly destroyed||27, 28|
|Men generally reject God’s messengers||29|
|The lessons of the past are forgotten||30|
|The doctrine of the resurrection asserted and illustrated||31-33|
|God’s power and goodness manifested by his works||34-44|
|Unbelievers unmoved by either fear or the signs of the Qurán||45, 46|
|They scoff at almsgiving and the resurrection||47, 48|
|The resurrection trumpet and the judgment-day shall surprise the unbelievers||49-53|
|God’s judgment shall be according to works||54|
|The rewards of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked||55-65|
|God deals with the wicked as he pleaseth||66-68|
|Muhammad not a poet; the Qurán is the word of God||69, 70|
|God manifest in his works of benevolence||71-73|
|Idolaters will find their trust in idols vain||74, 75|
|The Prophet not to grieve at the hard speeches of the idolaters; God knoweth all||76|
|The Creator of all things able to raise the dead to life||77-81|
|God says Be, and it is||82|
|Praise be to the Sovereign Creator and raiser of the dead||83|
∥ Y. S. I swear by the instructive Qurán, (2) that thou art one of the messengers of God, (3) sent to show the right way. (4) This is a revelation of the most mighty, the merciful God: that thou mayest warn a people whose fathers were not warned, and who live in negligence. Our sentence hath justly been pronounced against the greater part of them; wherefore they shall not believe. We have put yokes on their necks, which come up to their chins; and they are forced to hold up their heads; and we have set a bar before them, and a bar behind them; and we have covered them with darkness; wherefore they shall not see. It shall be equal unto them whether thou preach unto them or do not preach unto them; they shall not believe. (10) But thou shalt preach with effect unto him only who followeth the admonition of the Qurán, and feareth the Merciful in secret. Wherefore bear good tidings unto him of mercy and an honourable reward. Verily we will restore the dead to life, and will write down their works which they shall have sent before them, and their footsteps which they shall have left behind them: and everything do we set down in a plain register.
∥ Propound unto them as an example the inhabitants of the city of Antioch, when the apostles of Jesus came thereto: when we sent unto them two of the said apostles; but they charged them with imposture. Wherefore we strengthened them with a third. And they said, Verily we are sent unto you by God. (14) The inhabitants answered, Ye are no other than men, as we are; neither hath the Merciful revealed anything unto you: ye only publish a lie. (15) The apostles replied, Our Lord knoweth that we are really sent unto you; and our duty is only public preaching. (17) Those of Antioch said, Verily we presage evil from you: if ye desist not from preaching, we will surely stone you, and a painful punishment shall be inflicted on you by us. The apostles answered, Your evil presage is with yourselves: although ye be warned, will ye persist in your errors? Verily ye are a people who transgress exceedingly. And a certain man came hastily from the farther parts of the city and said, O my people, follow the messengers of God; follow him who demandeth not any reward of you: for these are rightly directed.
∥ What reason have I that I should not worship him who hath created me? for unto him shall ye return. Shall I take other gods besides him? If the Merciful be pleased to afflict me, their intercession will not avail me at all, neither can they deliver me: then should I be in a manifest error. Verily I believe in your Lord; wherefore hearken unto me. But they stoned him; and as he died it was said unto him, Enter thou into Paradise. And he said, Oh that my people knew how merciful God hath been unto me! for he hath highly honoured me. And we sent not down against his people after they had slain him an army from heaven, nor the other instruments of destruction which we sent down on unbelievers in former days: (28) there was only one cry of Gabriel from heaven, and behold, they became utterly extinct. (29) Oh, the misery of men! No apostle cometh unto them but they laugh him to scorn. (30) Do they not consider how many generations we have destroyed before them? (31) Verily they shall not return unto them: (32) but all of them in general shall be assembled before us.
∥ One sign of the resurrection unto them is the dead earth: we quicken the same by the rain, and produce thereout various sorts of grain, of which they eat. (34) And we make therein gardens of palm-trees and vines; and we cause springs to gush forth in the same: (35) that they may eat of the fruits thereof, and of the labour of their hands. Will they not therefore give thanks? (36) Praise be unto him who hath created all the different kinds, both of vegetables, which the earth bringeth forth, and of their own species, by forming the two sexes, and also the various sorts of things which they know not. (37) The night also is a sign unto them: we withdraw the day from the same, and behold they are covered with darkness; and the sun hasteneth to his place of rest. This is the disposition of the mighty, the wise God. And for the moon have we appointed certain mansions, until she change and return to be like the old branch of a palm-tree. (40) It is not expedient that the sun should overtake the moon in her course, neither doth the night outstrip the day, but each of these luminaries moveth in a peculiar orbit. It is a sign also unto them that they carry their offspring in the ship filled with merchandise; and that we have made for them other conveniences like unto it, whereon they ride. (43) If we please, we drown them, and there is none to help them; neither are they delivered, (44) unless through our mercy, and that they may enjoy life for a season. When it is said unto them, Fear that which is before you and that which is behind you, that ye may obtain mercy, they withdraw from thee; (46) and thou dost not bring them one sign of the signs of their Lord, but they turn aside from the same. And when it is said unto them, Give alms of that which God has bestowed on you, the unbelievers say unto those who believe, by way of mockery, Shall we feed him whom God can feed if he pleaseth? Verily ye are in no other than a manifest error. (48) And they say, When will this promise of the resurrection be fulfilled, if ye speak truth? They only wait for one sounding of the trumpet, which shall overtake them while they are disputing together; and they shall not have time to make any disposition of their effects, neither shall they return to their family.
∥ And the trumpet shall be sounded again; and behold they shall come forth from their graves, and hasten unto their Lord. They shall say, Alas for us! who hath awakened us from our bed? This is what the Merciful promised us; and his apostles spoke the truth. (53) It shall be but one sound of the trumpet, and behold they shall be all assembled before us. (54) On this day no soul shall be unjustly treated in the least; neither shall ye be rewarded but according to what ye shall have wrought. (55) On this day the inhabitants of Paradise shall be wholly taken up with joy: they and their wives shall rest in shady groves, leaning on magnificent couches. There shall they have fruit, and they shall obtain whatever they shall desire. (58) Peace shall be the word spoken unto the righteous by a merciful Lord; (59) but he shall say unto the wicked, Be ye separated this day, O ye wicked, from the righteous. Did I not command you, O sons of Adam, that ye should not worship Satan, because he was an open enemy unto you? (61) And did I not say, Worship me; this is the right way? (62) But now hath he seduced a great multitude of you: did ye not therefore understand? This is hell, with which ye were threatened: (64) be ye cast into the same this day to be burned, for that ye have been unbelievers. On this day we will seal up their mouths, that they shall not open them in their own defence; and their hands shall speak unto us, and their feet shall bear witness of that which they have committed. (66) If we pleased we could put out their eyes, and they might run with emulation in the way they use to take; and how should they see their error? And if we pleased we could transform them into other shapes, in their places when they should be found; and they should not be able to depart, neither should they repent.
∥ (68) Unto whomsoever we grant a long life, him do we cause to bow down his body through age. Will they not therefore understand? We have not taught Muhammad the art of poetry; nor is it expedient for him to be a poet. This book is no other than an admonition from God, and a perspicuous Qurán, that he may warn him who is living; and the sentence of condemnation will be justly executed on the unbelievers. Do they not consider that we have created for them, among the things which our hands have wrought, cattle of several kinds, of which they are possessors; and that we have put the same in subjection under them? Some of them are for their riding, and on some of them do they feed; and they receive other advantages therefrom and of their milk do they drink. Will they not, therefore, be thankful? They have taken other gods besides God,in hopes that they may be assisted by them; but they are not able to give them any assistance: yet are they a party of troops ready to defend them. Let not their speech, therefore, grieve thee: we know that which they privately conceal, and that which they publicly discover. Doth not man know that we have created him of seed? yet behold, he is an open disputer against the resurrection; and he propoundeth unto us a comparison, and forgetteth his creation. He saith, Who shall restore bones to life when they are rotten? (79) Answer, He shall restore them to life who produced them the first time; for he is skilled in every kind of creation, who giveth you fire out of the green tree, and behold, ye kindle your fuel from thence. (81) Is not he who hath created the heavens and the earth able to create new creatures like unto them? Yea, certainly; for he is the wise Creator. His command, when he willeth a thing, is only that he saith unto it, Be; and it is. (83) Wherefore praise be unto him in whose hand is the kingdom of all things, and unto whom ye shall return at the last day.
This chapter owes its title to the statement with which it begins. In matter and style it does not differ much from other chapters belonging to the earlier stages of Muhammad’s mission. Like the earliest chapters, it begins with a number of oaths, as though violent assertion would sufficiently attest the prophetic character of the Qurán and its author in the absence of the ordinary signs of prophecy and inspiration.
The principal object of the revelations of this chapter, as in chap. xi., is to establish the claims of Muhammad to be a prophet of God, and to convince the people of Makkah of the folly of idolatry and the need of receiving the one true God as the sole object of their worship. Muhammad likens himself to the former prophets, whose history he relates as a warning to his townsmen. The former prophets had preached against idols and endeavoured to lead their people to believe in the true God, but they had been rejected as impostors by an unbelieving people, who were destroyed by divine judgments on account of their infidelity, while the prophets were blessed and their names were made honourable to the latest posterity. These narratives seem to have been given in answer to the demand of the unbelievers at Makkah (compare ver. 69 with 165).
As observed in regard to the preceding chapter, the great subjects of dispute were the doctrines of the resurrection and the final judgment. The possibility of the resurrection is established by Muhammad on the ground that an Almighty Creator can surely re-create. He who is the Author of life and being can give life to the dead.
All authorities agree that this chapter, in its entirety, is Makkan. Noëldeke shows that it is connected in all its parts, and therefore may be regarded as a complete discourse. We have no data wherewith to determine the date of this chapter beyond what may be gathered from its style and contents. The opening words are in the style of the earliest chapters. The matter is that of simple discourse, no violent opposition on the part of the Prophet’s hearers is apparent. The spirit of the discourse points to a time when Muhammad’s preaching was met by a stolid and contemptuous opposition on the part of his hearers (see vers. 11-15 and 34, 35), which time would be about the end of the third stage, or say the fourth year of Muhammad’s mission (b.h. 9).
|The Prophet swears that God is one||1-5|
|The devils not permitted to hear the discourse of heaven||6-10|
|The audacity of the Makkan infidels||11, 12|
|They scoff at the Qurán as the product of sorcery||13-15|
|They reject the doctrine of the resurrection||16, 17|
|The despair of the infidels on the judgment-day||18-21|
|Idolaters and their idols and gods to be called to account||22-24|
|They will dispute among themselves and reproach one another||25-29|
|They shall all be punished in hell||30-33|
|Makkan idolaters call their Prophet “a distracted poet”||34, 35|
|Muhammad protests his prophetic character and threatens the infidels||36-38|
|Reward of believers in Paradise||39-47|
|Believers shall look down from heaven upon their infidel acquaintance in hell||48-53|
|The righteous attribute their salvation to the grace of God||54, 55|
|They rejoice in life eternal||56-59|
|The tree at Zaqqúm described||60-62|
|The awful portion of the damned||63-66|
|Makkan infidels follow in the footsteps of their fathers||67-72|
|The story of Noah—|
|Noah calls on God in his distress||73|
|He and his family are delivered||74|
|His name to be revered by posterity||75-79|
|The unbelievers are drowned||80|
|The story of Abraham—|
|Abraham a follower of Noah’s religion||81, 82|
|He reproaches his father and neighbours for their idolatry||83-85|
|He excuses himself from attending the idolatrous rites of his townsmen||86-88|
|He first mocks the idols and then breaks them in pieces||90-91|
|God delivers him from the fire||95, 96|
|God tries the faith of Abraham||97-107|
|His name to be revered by posterity||108-111|
|He receives Isaac by promise, who is blessed with him||112, 113|
|The story of Moses and Aaron—|
|God delivers them and their people from great distress||114, 115|
|They conquer the Egyptians||116|
|God gives them the Book of the Law (Fourth)||117, 118|
|Their names to be revered by posterity||119-122|
|The story of Elias—|
|He is sent a prophet to his people||123|
|He preaches against idolatry||124-126|
|They accuse him of imposture||127|
|The infidels to be punished||128|
|His name to be revered by posterity||129-132|
|The story of Lot—|
|God delivers him and his family, except his wife||133-135|
|The rest of his people are destroyed||136|
|The Makkan infidels warned by the example of the Sodomites||137, 138|
|The story of Jonas—|
|He is sent as a prophet and flees to a ship||139, 140|
|He is swallowed by a fish for his sin||141-144|
|He is cast on the shore and shaded by a gourd||145, 146|
|He is sent to a multitude who believe||147, 148|
|The Makkans are rebuked for attributing offspring to God||149-160|
|The reprobate only will be seduced by idolatry||161-163|
|Muslims worship God, arranging themselves in ranks||164-166|
|Infidels excuse their unbelief in vain||167-170|
|Former apostles were assisted against the infidels||171-173|
|The Prophet exhorted to await divine vengeance on unbelievers||174-179|
|Praise be to God and peace on his apostles||180-182|
∥ By the angels who rank themselves in order, and by those who drive forward and dispel the clouds, (3) and by those who read the Qurán for an admonition, (4) verily your God is one, the Lord of heaven and earth, and of whatever is between them, and the Lord of the east. We have adorned the lower heaven with the ornament of the stars, and we have placed therein a guard against every rebellious devil, that they may not listen to the discourse of the exalted princes, (for they are darted at from every side to repel them, and a lasting torment is prepared for them), except him who catcheth a word by stealth, and is pursued by a shining flame. Ask the Makkans, therefore, whether they be stronger by nature, or the angels whom we have created? We have surely created them of stiff clay. (12) Thou wonderest at God’s power and their obstinacy; but they mock at the arguments urged to convince them: (13) when they are warned, they do not take warning; (14) and when they see any sign, they scoff thereat, (15) and say, This is no other than manifest sorcery; after we shall be dead, and become dust and bones, shall we really be raised to life? and our forefathers also? Answer, Yea: and ye shall then be despicable. There shall be but one blast of the trumpet, and they shall see themselves raised: and they shall say, Alas for us! this is the day of judgment; this is the day of distinction between the righteous and the wicked, which ye rejected as a falsehood.
∥ (22) Gather together those who have acted unjustly, and their comrades, and the idols which they worshipped, (23) besides God, and direct them in the way to hell; (24) and set them before God’s tribunal; for they shall be called to account.
∥ (25) What aileth you that ye defend not one another? (26) But on this day they shall submit themselves to the judgment of God; (27) and they shall draw nigh unto one another, and shall dispute among themselves. And the seduced shall say unto those who seduced them, Verily ye came unto us with presages of prosperity; (29) and the seducers shall answer, Nay, rather ye were not true believers: for we had no power over you to compel you; but ye were people who voluntarily transgressed: (30) wherefore the sentence of our Lord hath been justly pronounced against us, and we shall surely taste his vengeance. (31) We seduced you; but we also erred ourselves. (32) They shall both therefore be made partakers of the same punishment on that day. (33) Thus will we deal with the wicked: (34) because, when it is said unto them, There is no god besides the trueGod, they swell with arrogance, and say, Shall we abandon our gods for a distracted poet? Nay; he cometh with the truth, and beareth witness to the former apostles. (37) Ye shall surely taste the painful torment of hell; (38) and ye shall not be rewarded, but according to your works. But as for the sincere servants of God, they shall have a certain provision in Paradise, namely, delicious fruits; and they shall be honoured: they shall be placed in gardens of pleasure, leaning on couches, opposite to one another: a cup shall be carried round unto them, filled from a limpid fountain, for the delight of those who drink: it shall not oppress the understanding, neither shall they be inebriated therewith. And near them shall lie the virgins of Paradise, refraining their looks from beholding any besides their spouses, having large black eyes, and resembling the eggs of an ostrich covered with feathers from the dust. And they shall turn the one unto the other, and shall ask one another questions. (49) And one of them shall say, Verily I had an intimate friend while I lived in the world, (50) who said unto me, Art thou one of those who assertest the truth of the resurrection? (51) After we shall be dead, and reduced to dust and bones, shall we surely be judged? (52) Then he shall say to his companions, Will ye look down? (53) And he shall look down, and shall see him in the midst of hell: (54) and he shall say unto him, By God, it wanted little but thou hadst drawn me into ruin: (55) and had it not been for the grace of my Lord, I had surely been one of those who have been delivered up to eternal torment. (56) Shall we die any other than our first death; (57) or do we suffer any punishment? (58) Verily this is great felicity: (59) for the obtaining a felicity like this let the labourers labour. Is this a better entertainment, or the tree of al Zaqqúm? Verily we have designed the same for an occasion of dispute unto the unjust. (62) It is a tree which issueth from the bottom of hell: the fruit thereof resembleth the heads of devils; (64) and the damned shall eat of the same, and shall fill their bellies therewith; and there shall be given them thereon a mixture of filthy and boiling water to drink; afterwards shall they return into hell. (67) They found their fathers going astray, (68) and they trod hastily in their footsteps; (69) for the greater part of the ancients erred before them. (70) And we sent warners unto them heretofore: (71) and see how miserable was the end of those who were warned, (72) except the sincere servants of God. Noah called on us in former days, and we heard him graciously;
∥ And we delivered him and his family out of the great distress, and we caused his offspring to be those who survived to people the earth; and we left the following salutation to be bestowed on him by the latest posterity, namely, Peace be on Noah among all creatures! Thus do we reward the righteous, for he was one of our servants the true believers. Afterwards we drowned the others. Abraham also was of his religion, when he came unto his Lord with a perfect heart. When he said unto his father and his people, What do ye worship? Do ye choose false gods preferably to the trueGod? What, therefore, is your opinion of the Lord of all creatures? And he looked and observed the stars and said, Verily, I shall be sick, and shall not assist at your sacrifices; and they turned their backs and departed from him. And Abraham went privately to their gods and said scoffingly unto them, Do ye not eat of the meat which is set before you? What aileth you that ye speak not? And he turned upon them, and struck them with his right hand, and demolished them. And the people came hastily unto him, and he said, Do ye worship the images which ye carve? whereas God hath created you, and also that which ye make. They said, Build a pile for him, and cast him into the glowing fire. And they devised a plot against him, but we made them the inferior and delivered him. (97) And Abraham said, Verily I am going unto my Lord, who will direct me. (98) O Lord, grant me a righteous issue. Wherefore we acquainted him that he should have a son, who should be a meek youth. And when he had attained to years of discretion, and could join in acts of religion with him, Abraham said unto him, O my son, verily I saw in a dream that I should offer thee in sacrifice, consider therefore what thou art of opinion I should do. (102) He answered, O my father, do what thou art commanded; thou shalt find me, if God please, a patient person. And when they had submitted themselves to the divine will, and Abraham had laid his son prostrate on his face, (104) we cried unto him, O Abraham, (105) now hast thou verified the vision. Thus do we reward the righteous. (106) Verily this was a manifest trial. And we ransomed him with a noble victim. (108) And we left the following salutation to be bestowed on him by the latest posterity, (109) namely, Peace be on Abraham! (110) Thus do we reward the righteous, (111) for he was one of our faithful servants. (112) And we rejoiced him with the promise of Isaac, a righteous prophet; (113) and we blessed him and Isaac; and of their offspring were some righteous doers, and others who manifestly injured their own souls.
∥ We were also gracious unto Moses and Aaron heretofore, and we delivered them and their people from a great distress. And we assisted them against the Egyptians, and they became the conquerors. And we gave them the perspicuous book of the law, and we directed them into the right way, and we left the following salutation to be bestowed on them by the latest posterity, namely, Peace be on Moses and Aaron! Thus do we reward the righteous, for they were two of our faithful servants. And Elias was also one of those who were sent by us. (124) When he said unto his people, Do ye not fear God? (125) Do ye invoke Baal and forsake the most excellent Creator? (126) Godis your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. But they accused him of imposture, (128) wherefore they shall be delivered up to eternal punishment, except the sincere servants of God. (129) And we left the following salutation to be bestowed on him by the latest posterity, namely, Peace be on Ilyásín! (131) Thus do we reward the righteous, (132) for he was one of our faithful servants. And Lot was also one of those who were sent by us. When we delivered him and his whole family, except an old woman, his wife, who perished among those that remained behind; afterwards we destroyed the others. (137) And ye, O people of Makkah, pass by the places where they once dwelt, as ye journey in the morning (138) and by night; will ye not therefore understand?
∥ Jonas was also one of those who were sent by us. When he fled into the loaded ship, and those who were on board cast lots among themselves, and he was condemned: and the fish swallowed him; for he was worthy of reprehension. And if he had not been one of those who praised God, verily he had remained in the belly thereof until the day of resurrection.
∥ And we cast him on the naked shore, and he was sick; and we caused a plant of a gourd to grow up over him; and we sent him to an hundred thousand persons, or they were a greater number, and they believed: wherefore we granted them to enjoy this life for a season. Inquire of the Makkans whether thy Lord hath daughters, and they sons. (150) Have we created the angels of the female sex? and were they witnesses thereof? (151) Do they not say of their own false invention, God hath begotten issue? and are they not really liars? (153) Hath he chosen daughters preferably to sons? (154) Ye have no reason to judge thus. (155) Will ye therefore not be admonished? (156) Or have ye a manifest proof of what ye say? (157) Produce now your book of revelations, if ye speak truth. And they make him to be of kin unto the genii; whereas the genii know that they who affirm such things shall be delivered up to eternal punishment; (159) (far be that from God which they affirm of him!), (160) except the sincere servants of God. (161) Moreover, ye and that which ye worship (162) shall not seduce any concerning God, except him who is destined to be burned in hell. There is none of us but hath an appointed place: we range ourselves in order, attending the commands of God; and we celebrate the divine praise. (167) The infidels said, (168) If we had been favoured with a book of divine revelations, of those which were delivered to the ancients, (169) we had surely been sincere servants of God! (170) yet now the Qurán is revealed, they believe not therein; but hereafter shall they know the consequence of their unbelief. (171) Our word hath formerly been given unto our servants the apostles; (172) that they shall certainly be assisted against the infidels, and that our armies should surely be the conquerors. (174) Turn aside therefore from them for a season, (175) and see the calamities which shall afflict them; for they shall see thy future success and prosperity. (176) Do they therefore seek to hasten our vengeance? (177) Verily when it shall descend into their courts, an evil morning shall it be unto those who were warned in vain. (178) Turn aside from them therefore for a season, (179) and see: hereafter shall they see thy success and their punishment. (180) Praise be unto thy Lord, the Lord who is far exalted above what they affirm of him! (181) And peace be on his apostles! (182) And praise be unto God, the Lord of all creatures!
This chapter owes its title to the letter of the Arabic alphabet with which it begins. It seems to have been written while the storm was brewing which resulted in the Muslims being shut up in the Sheb of Abu Tálib. The drift of the earlier verses, as well as that of the stories related (vers. 16-48), points to a decided conflict between the Muslims and their enemies. The title confederates, applied to the latter, leaves no doubt that the confederation of the Quraish against the Háshimites is referred to. The stories related here are puerile in the extreme. They do not encourage a belief in Muhammad’s prophetic claim. They seem to be connected with the first verses of the chapter, and were probably intended to encourage the Muslims under persecution and trial. If so, we must suppose Muhammad to have looked upon his adverse circumstances as a chastisement and a trial of his faith—a chastisement, however, from which he confidently expected to be delivered.
The allusion to the Book of Psalms in ver. 28 shows that Muhammad recognised that portion of the Old Testament Scriptures as the Word of God.
Here, as elsewhere (chaps. vi., xi., xxi., &c.), we find Muhammad likening himself to the former prophets. Confederates had arrayed themselves against them, as the Quraish had confederated against him. They had been defeated and destroyed, and in like manner these should taste the Divine vengeance (vers. 10-15).
In ver. 70 we have a remarkable claim of Muhammad to inspiration, based upon the fact that he relates the story of the fall of Iblís. This story, he says, he received by revelation from God, and is a proof of his inspiration, because it would not have been revealed to him but for the fact that he was a prophet! Now, who can doubt that he learned the story from Jewish informants, either directly or indirectly? If so, how reconcile the language of vers. 69, 70, with the sincerity and honesty claimed for him by his Christian apologists?
That this chapter is Makkan in its origin is evident from the style of its language, from the attitude the Prophet and his townsmen manifest throughout, and from the general opinion of Muslim commentators. It is true Jaláluddín as Syuti (Itqán, 27) mentions a commentator who held the opinion that it was Madínic; but for such a view no good reason can be given. Noëldeke regards the whole chapter, as far as ver. 67, as connected, but thinks vers. 67-88 to be in no way connected with what precedes them. According to tradition, vers. 1-10 were revealed at the time when the Quraish endeavoured to persuade Abú Tálib to no longer give Muhammad his protection. This would be 615, or b.h. 8. Other traditions refer these verses, or at least ver. 5, to the time when Abú Tálib was on his deathbed ( 620, or b.h. 3). But all these traditions are no more than so many inferences from the first part of ver. 5. Muir, following the latter tradition, assigns this chapter to the fifth stage of Muhammad’s mission, i.e., 620-622. I think the mildness of the opposition and persecution apparent in this chapter, coupled with the general style of composition—notably the crudity of the stories narrated (vers. 16-48; the description of heaven and hell (vers. 49 seq.), the titles “warner” and “public preacher,” applied to the Prophet (vers. 3 and 70), point to the earlier date given above.
|Unbelievers are addicted to pride and contention||1|
|They are unmoved by the fate of former infidels||2|
|They wonder at their warner, and call him a sorcerer and a liar||3|
|The Divine unity is denied by the infidels as a marvellous error||4-6|
|The confederates are challenged||7-9|
|Former bands of confederate infidels destroyed||10-13|
|Judgment impending over the scoffers of Makkah||14, 15|
|The story of David—|
|He was a true believer||16|
|Mountains and birds joined him in praising God||17, 18|
|He is endowed with a kingdom, wisdom, &c.||19|
|He is rebuked by the two adversaries||20-23|
|David repents his fault and is forgiven||23, 24|
|He is exhorted to judge righteously||25-27|
|He receives the Book of Psalms||28|
|The story of Solomon—|
|He is a devout servant of God||29|
|Reviewing his horses, he forgets his prayers||30, 31|
|He slays the horses to atone for his neglect||32|
|The trial of the counterfeit body||33, 34|
|The wind and the devils are made subject to Solomon||35-39|
|The story of Job—|
|He cries to God in his calamity against Satan||40|
|God discovers fountains of water for his comfort||41|
|His family and property restored him double||42|
|He chastises his wife in fulfilment of his oath||43|
|He is patient and prayerful||43, 44|
|Other prophets commended as examples of piety||45-48|
|Paradise, its glories described||49-55|
|Hell, its miseries delineated||55-58|
|Idolaters and their leaders shall mutually reproach each other in hell||59-61|
|They shall not find the Muslims there||62-64|
|Muhammad enjoined to preach against idolatry||65-68|
|The story of the creation of Adam and the fall of Iblís revealed to Muhammad||69-74|
|Iblís refuses to worship Adam through pride||75-77|
|God curses Iblís, but respites him till the resurrection-day||78-82|
|Iblís declares to God he will seduce mankind, except the servants of God||83, 84|
|God declares his purpose to fill hell with Satan and his followers||85|
|Muhammad asks no reward for his services||86|
|The Qurán an admonition yet to be vindicated before unbelievers||87, 88|
∥ S. By the Qurán full of admonition. Verily the unbelievers are addicted to pride and contention. (2) How many generations have we destroyed before them! and they cried for mercy, but it was not a time to escape. They wonder that a warner from among themselves hath come unto them. And the unbelievers said, This man is a sorcerer and a liar: (4) doth he affirm the gods to be but one God? Surely this is a wonderful thing. And the chief men among them departed, saying to one another, Go, and persevere in the worship of your gods: verily this is the thing which is designed. We have not heard anything like this in the last religion: this is no other than a false contrivance. (7) Hath an admonition been sent unto him preferable to any other among us? Verily they are in a doubt concerning my admonition: but they have not yet tasted my vengeance. (8) Are the treasures of the mercy of thy Lord, the mighty, the munificent God, in their hands? (9) Is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and of whatever is between them, in their possession? If it be so, let them ascend by steps unto heaven.But any army of the confederates shall even here be put to flight. The people of Noah, and the tribe of Ád, and Pharaoh, the contriver of the stakes, and the tribe of Thamúd, and the people of Lot, and the inhabitants of the wood near Madian, accused the prophets of imposture before them; these were the confederates against the messengers of God. (13) All of them did no other than accuse their apostles of falsehood: wherefore my vengeance hath been justly executed upon them.
∥ (14) And these wait only for one sounding of the trumpet, which there shall be no deferring. (15) And they scoffingly say, O Lord, hasten our sentence unto us, before the day of account. Do thou patiently bear that which they utter, and remind them of our servant David, endued with strength; for he was one who seriously turned himself unto God. We compelled the mountains to celebrate our praise with him, in the evening and at sunrise, and also the birds, which gathered themselves together unto him: all of them returned frequently unto him for this purpose. (19) And we established his kingdom, and gave him wisdom and eloquence of speech. Hath the story of the two adversaries come to thy knowledge? when they ascended over the wall into the upper apartment, when they went in unto David, and he was afraid of them. They said, Fear not: we are two adversaries who have a controversy to be deceived. The one of us hath wronged the other: wherefore judge between us with truth, and be not unjust; and direct us in the even way. (22) This my brother had ninety and nine sheep, and I had only one ewe; and he said, Give her me to keep; and he prevailed against me in the discourse which we had together.David answered, Verily he hath wronged thee in demanding thine ewe as an addition to his own sheep; and many of them who are concerned together in business wrong one another, except those who believe and do that which is right; but how few are they! And David perceived that we had tried him by this parable, and he asked pardon of his Lord, and he fell down and bowed himself, and repented. Wherefore we forgave him this fault; and he shall be admitted to approach near unto us, and shall have an excellent place of abode in Paradise. (25) O David, verily we have appointed thee a sovereign prince in the earth: judge therefore between men with truth; and follow not thy own lust, lest it cause thee to err from the way of God: for those who err from the way of God shall suffer a severe punishment, because they have forgotten the day of account.
∥ (26) We have not created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, in vain. This is the opinion of the unbelievers; but woe unto those who believe not, because of the fire of hell. (27) Shall we deal with those who believe and do good works as with those who act corruptly in the earth? Shall we deal with the pious as with the wicked? A blessed book have we sent down unto thee, O Muhammad, that they may attentively meditate on the signs thereof, and that men of understanding may be warned. (29) And we gave unto David Solomon; how excellent a servant! for he frequently turned himself unto God. When the horses standing on three feet, and touching the ground with the edge of the fourth foot, and swift in the course, were set in parade before him in the evening, he said, (31) Verily I have loved the love of earthly good above the remembrance of my Lord,and have spent the time in viewing these horses until the sun is hidden by the veil of night; (32) bring the horses back unto me. And when they were brought back, he began to cut off their legs and their necks. We also tried Solomon, and placed on his throne a counterfeit body: afterwards he turned untoGod, (34) and said, O Lord, forgive me, and give me a kingdom which may not be obtained by any after me; for thou art the giver of kingdoms. And we made the wind subject to him; it ran gently at his command, whithersoever we directed. And we also put the devils in subjection under him; and among them such as were every way skilled in building, and in diving for pearls; (37) and others we delivered to him bound in chains, saying, This is our gift: therefore be bounteous, or be sparing unto whom thou shalt think fit, without rendering an account. (39) And he shall approach near unto us, and shall have an excellent abode in Paradise. And remember our servant Job, when he cried unto his Lord,saying, Verily Satan hath afflicted me with calamity and pain.
∥ And it was said unto him, Strike the earth with thy foot; which when he had done, a fountain sprang up, and it was said to him, This is for thee to wash in, to refresh thee, and to drink. (42) And we restored unto him his family, and as many more with them, through our mercy; and for an admonition unto those who are endued with understanding. And we said unto him, Take a handful of rods in thy hand, and strike thy wife therewith; and break not thine oath. Verily we found him a patient person: (44) how excellent a servant was he! for he was one who frequently turned himself unto us. (45) Remember also our servants Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, who were men strenuous and prudent. Verily we purified them with a perfect purification, through the remembrance of the life to come; (47) and they were in our sight elect and good men. And remember Ismaíl, and Elisha, and Dhu’l Qifl; for all these were good men. This is an admonition. Verily the pious shall have an excellent place to return unto, namely, gardens of perpetual abode, the gates whereof shall stand open unto them. As they lie down therein, they shall there ask for many sorts of fruits, and for drink; and near them shall sit the virgins of Paradise, refraining their looks from beholding any besides their spouses, and of equal age with them. This is what ye are promised at the day of account.
∥ This is our provision, which shall not fail. (55) This shall be the reward of the righteous. But for the transgressors is prepared an evil receptacle, (56) namely, hell: they shall be cast into the same to be burned, and a wretched couch shall it be. (57) This let them taste, to wit, scalding water, and corruption flowing from the bodies of the damned, (58) and divers other things of the same kind. (59) And it shall be said to the seducers, This troop which was guided by you shall be thrown together with you headlong into hell: they shall not be bidden welcome; for they shall enter the fire to be burned. (60) And the seduced shall say to their seducers, Verily ye shall not be bidden welcome: ye have brought it upon us; and a wretched abode is hell. (61) They shall say, O Lord, doubly increase the torment of him who hath brought this punishment upon us in the fire of hell. (62) And the infidels shall say, Why do we not see the men whom we numbered among the wicked, (63) and whom we received with scorn? Or do our eyes miss them? (64) Verily this is a truth, to wit, the disputing of the inhabitants of hell-fire. Say, O Muhammad, unto the idolaters, Verily I am no other than a warner; and there is no god except the one only God, the Almighty,
∥ (66) The Lord of heaven and earth, and of whatsoever is between them; the mighty, the forgiver of sins. (67) Say, It is a weighty message (68) from which ye turn aside. I had no knowledge of the exalted princes when they disputed concerning the creation of man: (70) (it hath been revealed unto me only as a proof that I am a public preacher:) when thy Lord said unto the angels, Verily I am about to create man of clay: when I shall have formed him, therefore, and shall have breathed my spirit into him, do ye fall down and worship him. And all the angels worshipped him in general, except Iblís, who was puffed up with pride, and became an unbeliever. God said unto him, O Iblís, what hindereth thee from worshipping that which I have created with my hands? Art thou elated with vain pride? or art thou really one of exalted merit? He answered, I am more excellent than he: thou hast created me of fire, and thou hast created him of clay. God said unto him, Get thee hence, therefore; for thou shalt be driven away from mercy; and my curse shall be upon thee until the day of judgment. He replied, O Lord, respite me, therefore, until the day of resurrection. God said, Verily thou shalt be one of those who are respited until the day of the determined time. Iblís said, By thy might do I swear, I will surely seduce them all, except thy servants who shall be peculiarly chosen from among them. God said, It is a just sentence; and I speak the truth: I will surely fill hell with thee, and with such of them as shall follow thee, altogether. (86) Say unto the Makkans, I ask not of you any reward for this my preaching: neither am I one of those who assume a part which belongs not to them. (87) The Qurán is no other than an admonition unto all creatures: and ye shall surely know what is delivered therein to be true, after a season.
The title given to this chapter is taken from the statement of vers. 71-73, that the Muslims and the infidels should be conducted to heaven and hell “by troops.”
As to its contents, this chapter differs little from other Makkan suras. There is the usual assertion of prophetic claims on the part of the Prophet; the usual declamation against idolatry, with threats of divine wrath against the impenitent; the usual reference to former prophets, and the destruction of their unbelieving hearers; and finally, the usual emphatic testimony to the great doctrine of the resurrection, and the contrasted condition of true believers and the infidels after the judgment-day.
An important point of interest in this chapter is the reiterated claim of Muhammad to have been appointed a prophet and to have received the Qurán in order to exhibit “the pure religion” of God (see vers. 1-3, 14-16, 42, and 56). Everywhere Muhammad appears as simply a preacher of the truth of Islám (ver. 23) and a witness against the idolaters of Makkah (ver. 40).
All authorities agree that this chapter originated at Makkah before the Hijra, excepting ver. 54, or vers. 54-56, or vers. 54-61, which some Muslim authorities regard as Madínic. A few writers assign vers. 13 and 24 also to Madína.
The story of Al Wahshi and other malefactors, given by the commentators on the authority of tradition to explain ver. 54, may be true (in which case the passage must be Madinic; but I confess to a strong suspicion that the story has been fabricated to illustrate the passage in question. The words of that verse (ver. 54) very naturally follow what precedes it, and were no doubt intended to comfort penitent idolaters, who might feel themselves included in the sweeping condemnation of ver. 52. The connection is natural, and I can see no good reason for disconnecting them. I would therefore refer this passage also to Makkah.
On the ground of the words “God’s earth is spacious” (ver. 13), it is thought that this chapter was written shortly before the Hijra. But granting that these words were addressed to those who either had fled their country or were meditating flight, surely it does not follow that the flight to Madína was intended. Would it not be more natural to apply these words to the first flight to Abyssinia, which occurred at a time when the idea of flight from persecution was new to the Muslims? The quiet, pacific style of the whole chapter seems to me fatal to the theory which would fix the date of composition so late as the near approach of the Hijra—a time when the fierce hatred aroused on both sides by persecution could not fail to have found expression in the style and matter of discourse. I therefore venture to assign this chapter to a period preceding the first flight to Abyssinia, i.e., about the fourth year of Muhammad’s ministry (b.h. 9).
|The Qurán a revelation from God to Muhammad||1, 2|
|Muhammad to exhibit a pure religion to God||2, 3|
|God will not show favour to idolaters||4, 5|
|God hath not chosen to have a son||6|
|God manifest in his works of creation and providence||7, 8|
|God is Sovereign in his dealings with men||9, 10|
|The ingratitude of idolaters||11|
|The righteous and wicked not equal before God||12|
|The righteous shall be rewarded||13|
|Muhammad, the first Muslim, must exhibit the pure religion of God||14-16|
|The loss of the idolaters||17, 18|
|Idolaters who repent shall be rewarded||19|
|Muhammad cannot deliver the reprobate||20|
|The reward of the faithful||21|
|God revealed in the growth and decay of Nature||22|
|The Muslim and the infidel not equal||23|
|The Qurán first frightens, then comforts, the Muslims||24|
|The punishment of the wicked in hell||25|
|Former infidels punished for maligning their prophets||26, 27|
|Every kind of parable in the Qurán||28-30|
|Muhammad and the infidels shall debate before the Lord||31, 32|
|The reward and punishment of believers and unbelievers||33-36|
|The infidels of Makkah threaten Muhammad||37|
|True believers shall be rightly directed||37, 38|
|Idolaters acknowledge God as creator||39|
|Muhammad yet to be vindicated||40-42|
|God shall raise the dead as he raiseth from sleep||43|
|None can intercede except by God’s permission||44, 45|
|Idolaters dread God but joy in their false gods||46|
|God shall judge between the faithful and the idolaters||47|
|Idolaters will give two worlds to escape God’s wrath||48|
|They shall not escape the evils of the judgment-day||49, 50|
|The infidels of former times were punished||51, 52|
|The idolaters of Makkah shall not escape||52, 53|
|Idolaters exhorted to repent; their siu will be forgiven||54-56|
|The regrets of the impenitent at the judgment-day||57-59|
|God shall reject their apologies and blacken their faces||60, 61|
|But he will save the righteous||62|
|God the Sovereign Ruler of heaven and earth||63|
|Muhammad cannot worship idols, seeing he has received a revelation from God||64-66|
|The resurrection and the judgment-day, fearful scenes of||67-69|
|Troop of the righteous and wicked, their reward and punishment||70-73|
|God shall be praised by righteous men and angels||74, 75|
∥ The revelation of this book is from the mighty, the wise God. Verily we have revealed this book unto thee with truth: wherefore serve God, exhibiting the pure religion unto him. Ought not the pure religion to be exhibited unto God? But as to those who take other patrons besides him, saying, We worship them only that they may bring us nearer unto God; verily God will judge between them concerning that wherein they disagree. (5) Surely God will not direct him who is a liar or ungrateful. If God had been minded to have had a son, he had surely chosen what he pleased out of that which he hath created. But far be such a thing from him! He is the sole, the almighty God. He hath created the heavens and the earth with truth: he causeth the night to succeed the day, and he causeth the day to succeed the night, and he obligeth the sun and the moon to perform their services; each of them hastening to an appointed period. Is not he the mighty, the forgiver of sins? He created you of one man, and afterwards out of him formed his wife; and he hath bestowed on you four pair of cattle. He formeth you in the wombs of your mothers, by several gradual formations, within three veils of darkness. This isGod, your Lord: his is the kingdom: there is no God but he. Why therefore are ye turned aside from the worship of him to idolatry? (9) If ye be ungrateful, verily God hath no need of you: yet he liketh not ingratitude in his servants; but if ye be thankful, he will be well pleased with you. A burdened soul shall not bear the burden of another; hereafter shall ye return unto your Lord, and he shall declare unto you that which ye have wrought, and will reward you accordingly; (10) for he knoweth the innermost parts of your breasts. When harm befalleth a man, he calleth upon his Lord, and turneth unto him: yet afterwards, when God hath bestowed on him favour from himself, he forgetteth that Being which he invoked before, and setteth up equals unto God, that he may seduce men from his way. Say unto such a man, Enjoy this life in thy infidelity for a little while; but hereafter shalt thou surely be one of the inhabitants of hell-fire. (12) Shall he who giveth himself up to prayer in the hours of the night, prostrate and standing, and who taketh heed as to the life to come, and hopeth for the mercy of his Lord,be dealt with as the wicked unbeliever? Say, Shall they who know their duty and they who know it not be held equal? Verily the men of understanding only will be warned.
∥ Say, O my servants who believe, fear your Lord. They who do good in this world shall obtain good in the next; and God’s earth is spacious: verily those who persevere with patience shall receive their recompense without measure. Say, I am commanded to worship God, and to exhibit the pure religion unto him; and I am commanded to be the first Muslim. (15) Say, Verily I fear, if I be disobedient unto my Lord, the punishment of the great day. (16) Say, I worship God, exhibiting my religion pure unto him; but do ye worship that which ye will, besides him. Say, Verily they will be the losers, who shall lose their own souls, and their families, on the day of resurrection: is not this manifest loss? (18) Over them shall be roofs of fire, and under them shall be floors of fire. With this doth God terrify his servants: wherefore, O my servants, fear him. (19) But those who eschew the worship of idols and are turned unto God shall receive good tidings. Bear good tidings therefore unto my servants, who hearken unto my word, and follow that which is most excellent therein: these are they whom God directeth, and these are men of understanding. (20) Him, therefore, on whom the sentence of eternal punishment shall be justly pronounced, canst thou, O Muhammad, deliver him who is destined to dwell in the fire of hell? (21) But for those who fear their Lordwill be prepared high apartments in Paradise, over which shall be other apartments built; and rivers shall run beneath them: this is the promise of God;andGod will not be contrary to the promise. (22) Dost thou not see that God sendeth down water from heaven, and causeth the same to enter and form sources in the earth, and produceth thereby corn of various sorts? Afterwards he causeth the same to wither; and thou seest it become yellow: afterwards he maketh it crumble into dust. Verily, herein is an instruction to men of understanding.
∥ (23) Shall he, therefore, whose breast God hath enlarged to receive the religion of Islám, and who followeth the light from his Lord,be as he whose heart is hardened? But woe unto those whose hearts are hardened against the remembrance of God! they are in a manifest error. God hath revealed a most excellent discourse: a book conformable to itself, and containing repeated admonitions. The skins of those who fear their Lord shrink for fear thereat; afterwards their skins grow soft, and their hearts also, at the remembrance of their Lord. This is the direction of God: he will direct thereby whom he pleaseth; and whomsoever God shall cause to err, he shall have no director. Shall he therefore who shall be obliged to screen himself with his face from the severity of the punishment on the day of resurrection be as he who is secure therefrom? And it shall be said unto the ungodly, Taste that which ye have deserved. Those who were before them accused their apostles of imposture: wherefore a punishment came upon them from whence they expected it not: and God caused them to take shame in this present life; but the punishment of the life to come will certainly be greater. If they were men of understanding, they would know this. Now have we proposed unto mankind, in this Qurán, every kind of parable, that they may be warned; (29) an Arabic Qurán, wherein there is no crookedness; that they may fear God.God propoundeth as a parable a man who hath several companions which are at mutual variance, and a man who committeth himself wholly to one person: shall these be held in equal comparison? God forbid! But the greater part of them do not understand. Verily thou, O Muhammad, shalt die, and they also shall die: and ye shall debate the matter with one another before your Lord at the day of resurrection.
∥ (33) Who is more unjust than he who uttereth a lie concerning God, and denieth the truth when it cometh unto him? Is there not a dwelling provided in hell for the unbelievers? But he who bringeth the truth and giveth credit thereto, these are they who fear God; (35) they shall obtain whatever they shall desire in the sight of their Lord: this shall be the recompense of the righteous; that God may expiate from them the very worst of that which they have wrought, and may render them their reward according to the utmost merit of the good which they have wrought. Is not God a sufficient protector of his servant? yet they will attempt to make thee afraid of the false deities which they worship besides God. But he whom God shall cause to err shall have none to direct him; (38) and he whom God shall direct shall have none to mislead him. Is not God most mighty, able to avenge? If thou ask them who hath created the heavens and the earth, they will surely answer, God. Say, Do ye think, therefore, that the deities which ye invoke besides God, if God be pleased to afflict me, are able to relieve me from his affliction? or if he be pleased to show mercy unto me, that they are able to withhold his mercy? Say, God is my sufficient support: in him let those put their trust who seek in whom to confide. (40) Say, O my people, do ye act according to your state; verily I will act according to mine: (41) hereafter shall ye know on which of us will be inflicted a punishment that shall cover him with shame, and on whom a lasting punishment shall fall. (42) Verily we have revealed unto thee the book of the Qurán, for the instruction of mankind, with truth. Whoso shall be directed thereby shall be directed to the advantage of his own soul; and whoso shall err shall only err against the same: and thou art not a guardian over them.
∥ God taketh unto himself the souls of men at the time of their death; and those which die not he also taketh in their sleep: and he withholdeth those on which he hath passed the decree of death, but sendeth back the others till a determined period. Verily herein are signs unto the people who consider. (44) Have the Quraish taken idols for their intercessors with God? Say, What, although they have not dominion over anything, neither do they understand? Say, Intercession is altogether in the disposal of God: his is the kingdom of heaven and earth; and hereafter shall ye return unto him. (46) When the one sole God is mentioned, the hearts of those who believe not in the life to come shrink with horror; but when the false gods which are worshipped besides him are mentioned, behold they are filled with joy. (47) Say, O God, the creator of heaven and earth, who knowest that which is secret and that which is manifest; thou shalt judge between thy servants concerning that wherein they disagree. (48) If those who act unjustly were masters of whatever is in the earth, and as much more therewith, verily they would give it to ransom themselves from the evil of the punishment on the day of resurrection: and there shall appear unto them from Godterrors which they never imagined; (49) and there shall appear unto them the evils of that which they shall have gained; and that which they mocked at shall encompass them. When harm befalleth man, he calleth upon us; yet afterwards, when we have bestowed on him favour from us, he saith, I have received it merely because of God’s knowledge of my deserts. On the contrary, it is a trial; but the greater part of them know it not. Those who were before them said the same; but that which they had gained profited them not; and the evils which they had deserved fell upon them. And whoever of these Makkans shall have acted unjustly, on them likewise shall fall the evils which they shall have deserved; neither shall they frustrate the divine vengeance. (53) Do they not know that God bestoweth provision abundantly on whom he pleaseth, and is sparing unto whom he pleaseth? Verily herein are signs unto people who believe.
∥ Say, O my servants who have transgressed against your own souls, despair not of the mercy of God, seeing that God forgiveth all sins, for he is gracious and merciful. (55) And be turned unto your Lord, and resign yourselves unto him before the threatened punishment overtake you; for then ye shall not be helped. (56) And follow the most excellent instructions which have been sent down unto you from your Lord before the punishment come suddenly upon you, and ye perceive not the approach thereof; (57) and a soul say, Alas! for that I have been negligent in my duty to God, verily I have been one of the scorners: (58) or say, If God had directed me, verily I had been one of the pious: (59) or say, when it seeth the prepared punishment, If I could return once more into the world, I would become one of the righteous. (60) But God shall answer, My signs came unto thee heretofore, and thou didst charge them with falsehood, and wast puffed up with pride; and thou becamest one of the unbelievers. On the day of resurrection thou shalt see the faces of those who have uttered lies concerning God become black: is there not an abode prepared in hell for the arrogant? (62) But God shall deliver those who shall fear him, and shall set them in their place of safety: evil shall not touch them, neither shall they be grieved. (63) Godis the creator of all things, and he is the governor of all things. His are the keys of heaven and earth; and they who believe not in the signs of God they shall perish. (64) Say, Do ye therefore bid me to worship other than God, O ye fools?
(65) Since it hath been spoken by revelation unto thee, and also unto the prophets who have been before thee, saying, Verily if thou join any partners with God thy work will be altogether unprofitable, and thou shalt certainly be one of those who perish; (66) wherefore rather fear God, and be one of those who give thanks. But they make not a due estimation of God, since the whole earth shallbe but his handful on the day of resurrection, and the heavens shall be rolled together in his right hand. Praise be unto him! and far be he exalted above the idols which they associate with him! The trumpet shall be sounded, and whoever are in heaven, and whoever are on earth shall expire, except those whom God shall please to exempt from the common fate. Afterwards it shall be sounded again, and behold they shall arise and look up. And the earth shall shine by the light of its Lord; and the book shall be laid open, and the prophets and the martyrs shall be brought as witnesses; and judgment shall be given between them with truth, and they shall not be treated unjustly. (70) And every soul shall be fully rewarded, according to that which it shall have wrought, for he perfectly knoweth whatever they do.
∥ And the unbelievers shall be driven unto hell by troops, until, when they shall arrive at the same, the gates thereof shall be opened, and the keepers thereof shall say unto them, Did not apostles from among you come unto you who rehearsed unto you the signs of your Lord, and warned you of the meeting of this your day? They shall answer, Yea; but the sentence of eternal punishment hath been justly pronounced on the unbelievers. (72) It shall be said unto them, Enter ye the gates of hell, to dwell therein for ever; and miserable shall be the abode of the proud! (73) But those who shall have feared their Lord shall be conducted by troops towards Paradise, until they shall arrive at the same, and the gates thereof shall be ready set open, and the guards thereof shall say unto them, Peace be on you! ye have been good, wherefore enter ye into Paradise, to remain therein for ever. And they shall answer, Praise be unto God, who hath performed his promise unto us, and hath made us to inherit the earth, that we may dwell in Paradise wherever we please! How excellent is the reward of those who work righteousness! (75) And thou shalt see the angels going in procession round the throne celebrating the praises of their Lord; and judgment shall be given between them with truth; and they shall say, Praise be unto God, the Lord of all creatures!
The title of this chapter is taken from ver. 29, where mention is made of “a man who was a true believer, of the family of Pharaoh.” The circumstances under which at least a portion of this chapter was written were those of discouragement and lack of zeal on the part of Muhammad himself, and may be on the part of his followers also (ver. 57). What the cause of this discouragement was can be learned with considerable certainty from a careful consideration of the contents of this chapter. That it was due in part to the obstinate unbelief of the Quraish is certain (vers. 57 and 77). They had confederated against the Prophet and his adherents (vers. 5 and 31). The prosperity of the confederates seems to have been a temptation to even Muhammad himself (ver. 4). If we are right in believing that the experiences of former prophets, whose history is related as a warning to the infidels of Makkah, reflect the experiences of Muhammad himself at the time such revelations were enunciated to his followers, we may conclude from the narratives of Moses and others found here that the enmity of the Quraish towards their “warner” was now not only very bitter but organised. As we have already noted, a confederacy had been formed, Muhammad was called a liar, a sorcerer, and an impostor (vers. 5, 25, and 39), and his life was even threatened (vers. 27-29). We learn further that his cause was espoused by an influential person related to the leader of the opposition, who was enabled to save his life, though unsuccessful in his effort to convert his enemies. This determined resistance on the part of the chief men of Makkah, now organised for his destruction, was most probably the cause of the discouragement alluded to in this chapter.
There was another cause of sorrow and disappointment. There was a fault on the part of Muhammad himself of more than ordinary heinousness. It is spoken of in ver. 57, where Muhammad is commanded to ask pardon for his fault. The commentators tell us either that there was no fault, the command to ask pardon having relation to his followers, or that the fault was remissness in preaching owing to fear of the infidels. On a point of this character the sayings of the commentators are quite worthless owing to their dogma that the prophets are sinless. This is specially true when the moral character of Muhammad is in question. Looking at the circumstances noted above, and comparing them with the experience of Muhammad as recorded in history, it seems pretty clear that the fault of Muhammad alluded to here was his compromise with the national idolatry, described so graphically by Muir in his Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. chap. v. The only flaw in the comparison of the circumstances of Muhammad after his disowning the compromise with the national religion with those reflected from the story of Moses in this chapter is that we must regard Abu Tálib as corresponding to the “true believer” of vers. 27-29. But may not Muhammad have either regarded his uncle as a secret believer, since he braved all to defend him, or have alluded to his defender under the sobriquet of “true believer”? This understanding as to the fault gathers strength from vers. 45 and 46, where Muhammad not only declines to accept the invitation of the Quraish to return to idolatry, but where he expressly declares that their false gods “deserve not to be invoked, either in this world or in the next,” words which very well express his disavowal of the strange words he had uttered in praise of these deities only a short time before (see notes on chap. xxii. 53). This theory fits in well with all parts of this chapter, explaining the cause of the fierce hatred of the Quraish, the danger of the Prophet, how it was averted, his discouragement and penitence.
The remainder of this chapter contains the usual exhortations to faith in Islám, with threatenings of divine wrath against the unbelievers.
From what has been said above it follows that the date of this chapter must be placed soon after the lapse of Muhammad, which would be in the latter part of the fifth year of Muhammad’s mission (b.h. 7). Some writers (Umr Bin Muhammad, &c. (see Itqán, 35), Noëldeke) regard ver. 58 as Madínic, but this is due to a misinterpretation of the passage, which makes it allude to the Jews of Madína.
|The Qurán a revelation from the only true God||1-3|
|It is denied by none but unbelievers||4|
|Confederated infidels, however prosperous, are doomed||4-6|
|The angels intercede for true believers||7-9|
|Infidels shall repent in hell, but in vain||10-12|
|God to be worshipped as the Supreme Being||13-15|
|The judgment-day shall come suddenly||16-18|
|Ungodly men shall have no intercessor||19-21|
|Former infidels destroyed to warn those coming after||22, 23|
|Moses called a sorcerer and a liar||24, 25|
|He and his followers persecuted by Pharaoh and his people||26, 27|
|Moses takes refuge in the Lord||28|
|A true believer espouses the cause of Moses||29, 30|
|He warns Pharaoh and his people against unbelief||31-37|
|Pharaoh orders a tower to be built up to heaven||38, 39|
|Pharaoh regards Moses as a liar||40|
|The true believer exhorts the Egyptians to believe in the God of Moses||41-47|
|God delivers the true believer from the devices of Pharaoh and his people||48|
|Pharaoh and his people condemned to hell-fire||49|
|Infidels shall reproach each other in hell, and call on their keepers for help in vain||50-53|
|God assists his apostles in this world and in the next||54, 55|
|Moses received the Book of the Law||56|
|Muhammad commanded to be patient, and to ask pardon for his sin||57|
|Muhammad to fly for refuge to God against proud infidels||58|
|God manifested to creation, but few men understand||59|
|The righteous and the evil not equal||60|
|The judgment-day sure to come||61|
|Rejectors of God shall be rejected||62|
|The true God rejected by ungrateful men||63-66|
|The true God alone to be worshipped||67, 68|
|God the Sovereign Creator of all things||69, 70|
|The miserable lot of those who reject the Scriptures||71-76|
|Muhammad to persevere patiently||77|
|No apostle ever wrought miracles without God’s permission||78|
|God revealed in his works of providence||79-81|
|Former infidels were destroyed for their unbelief||82, 83|
|They all repented when too late to avail||84, 85|
∥ H. M. The revelation of this book is from the mighty, the wise God, (2) the forgiver of sin and the accepter of repentance, severe in punishing, (3) long suffering. There is no God but he; before him shall be the general assembly at the last day. None disputeth against the signs of God except the unbelievers; but let not their prosperous dealing in the land deceive thee with vain allurement. The people of Noah, and the confederated infidels which were after them, accused their respective prophets of imposture before these, and each nation hatched ill designs against their apostle, that they might get him into their power; and they disputed with vain reasoning, that they might thereby invalidate the truth; wherefore I chastised them, and how severe was my punishment! (6) Thus hath the sentence of thy Lord justly passed on the unbelievers, and they shall be the inhabitants of hell-fire. The angels who bear the throne of God, and those who stand about it, celebrate the praise of their Lord and believe in him, and they ask pardon for the true believers, saying, O Lord, thou encompassest all things by thy mercy and knowledge; wherefore forgive those who repent and follow thy path, and deliver them from the pains of hell. O Lord, lead them also into gardens of eternal abode, which thou hast promised unto them, and unto every one who shall do right, of their fathers, and their wives, and their children; for thou art the mighty, the wise God. (9) And deliver them from evil; for whomsoever thou shalt deliver from evil, on that day on him wilt thou show mercy, and this will be great salvation.
∥ (10) But the infidels at the day of judgment shall hear a voice crying unto them, Verily the hatred of Godtowards you is more grievous than your hatred towards yourselves; since ye were called unto the faith, and would not believe. They shall say, O Lord, thou hast given us death twice, and thou hast twice given us life; and we confess our sins: is there therefore no way to get forth from this fire? (12) And it shall be answered them, This hath befallen you, for that when one God was preached unto you, ye believed not; but if a plurality of gods had been associated with him, ye had believed: and judgment belongeth unto the high, the great God. (13) It is he who showeth you his signs, and sendeth down food unto you from heaven; but none will be admonished, except he who turneth himself unto God. (14) Call therefore upon God, exhibiting your religion pure unto him, although the infidels be averse thereto.He is the Being of exalted degree, the possessor of the throne; who sendeth down the spirit at his command on such of his servants as he pleaseth, that he may warn mankind of the day of meeting, (16) the day whereon they shall come forth out of their graves, and nothing of what concerneth them shall be hidden from God. Unto whom will the kingdom belong on that day? Unto the only, the Almighty God. On that day shall every soul be rewarded according to its merits: there shall be no injustice done on that day. Verily Godwill be swift in taking an account. (18) Wherefore warn them, O Prophet, of the day which shall suddenly approach, when men’s hearts shall come up to their throats and strangle them. The ungodly shall have no friend or intercessor who shall be heard. (20) God will know the deceitful eye, and that which their breasts conceal; (21) and God will judge with truth; but the false gods which they invoke besides him shall not judge at all; for Godis he who heareth and seeth.
∥ (22) Have they not gone through the earth, and seen what hath been the end of those who were before them? They were more mighty than these in strength, and left more considerable footsteps of their power in the earth; yet God chastised them for their sins, and there was none to protect them from God. (23) This they suffered because their apostles had come unto them with evident signs, and they disbelieved: wherefore God chastised them; for he is strong and severe in punishing. (24) We heretofore sent Moses with our signs and manifest power unto Pharaoh, and Hámán, and Qárún; and they said, He is a sorcerer and a liar. And when he came unto them with the truth from us, they said, Slay the sons of those who have believed with him, and save their daughters alive: but the stratagem of the infidels was no other than vain. And Pharaoh said, Let me alone, that I may kill Moses; and let him call upon his Lord: verily I fear lest he change your religion, or cause violence to appear in the earth. (28) And Moses said unto his people, Verily I have recourse unto my Lord and your Lord,to defend me against every proud person, who believeth not in the day of account.
∥ And a man who was a true believer, of the family of Pharaoh, and concealed in his faith, said, Will ye put a man to death because he saith, Godis my Lord; seeing he is come unto you with evident signs from your Lord? If he be a liar, on him will the punishment of his falsehood light; but if he speaketh the truth, some of those judgments with which he threateneth you will fall upon you: verily God directeth not him who is a transgressor or a liar: (30) O my people, the kingdom is yours this day; and ye are conspicuous in the earth; but who shall defend us from the scourge of God, if it come unto us? Pharaoh said, I only propose to you what I think to be most expedient; and I guide you only into the right path. And he who had believed said, O my people, verily I fear for you a day like that of the confederates against the prophets in former times, a condition like that of the people of Noah, and the tribes of Ád and Thamúd, and of those who have lived after them; for God willeth not that any injustice be done unto his servants. O my people, verily I fear for you the day whereon men shall call unto one another, the day whereon ye shall be turned back from the tribunal and driven to hell: then shall ye have none to protect you against God. And he whom God shall cause to err shall have no director. Joseph came unto you before Moses with evident signs; but ye ceased not to doubt of the religion which he preached unto you, until, when he died, ye said, God will by no means send another apostle after him. Thus doth God cause him to err who is a transgressor and a sceptic. (37) They who dispute against the signs of God, without any authority which hath come unto them, are in great abomination with God and with those who believe. Thus doth God seal up every proud and stubborn heart. And Pharaoh said, O Hámán, build me a tower that I may reach the tracts, the tracts of heaven, and may view the God of Moses; for verily I think him to be a liar. (40) And thus the evil of his work was prepared for Pharaoh, and he turned aside from the right path: and the stratagems of Pharaoh ended only in loss.
∥ And he who had believed said, O my people, follow me: I will guide you into the right way. O my people, verily this present life is but a temporary enjoyment; but the life to come is the mansion of firm continuance. Whoever worketh evil shall only be rewarded in equal proportion to the same; but whoever worketh good, whether male or female, and is a true believer, they shall enter Paradise: they shall be provided for therein superabundantly.
∥ And, O my people, as for me, I invite you to salvation; but ye invite me to hell-fire; ye invite me to deny God, and to associate with him that whereof I have no knowledge; but I invite you to the most mighty, the forgiver of sins.There is no doubt but that the false gods to which ye invite me deserve not to be invoked, either in this world or in the next; and that we must return unto God; and that the transgressors shall be the inhabitants of hell-fire: and ye shall then remember what I now say unto you. And I commit my affair unto God; for God regardeth his servants. Wherefore God delivered him from the evils which they had devised; and a grievous punishment encompassed the people of Pharaoh. They shall be exposed to the fire of hell morning and evening; and the day whereon the hour of judgment shall come it shall be said unto them, Enter, O people of Pharaoh, into a most severe torment. And think on the time when the infidels shall dispute together in hell-fire; and the weak shall say unto those who behaved with arrogance, Verily, we were your followers: will ye therefore relieve us from any part of this fire? (51) Those who behaved with arrogance shall answer, Verily we are all doomed to suffer therein; for God hath now judged between his servants. And they who shall be in the fire shall say unto the keepers of hell, Call ye on your Lord, that he would ease us for one day from this punishment. (53) They shall answer, Did not your apostles come unto you with evident proofs? They shall say, Yea. The keepers shall reply, Do ye therefore call on God; but the calling of the unbelievers on him shall be only in vain.
∥ (54) We will surely assist our apostles and those who believe in this present life, and on the day whereon the witnesses shall stand forth, (55) a day whereon the excuse of the unbelievers shall not avail them, but a curse shall attend them, and a wretched abode. We heretofore gave unto Moses a direction, and we left as an inheritance unto the children of Israel the book of the law; a direction and an admonition to men of understanding. Wherefore do thou, O Prophet, bear the insults of the infidels with patience; for the promise of Godis true; and ask pardon for thy fault, and celebrate the praise of thy Lord in the evening and in the morning. As to those who impugn the signs of God, without any convincing proof which hath been revealed unto them, there is nothing but pride in their breasts; but they shall not attain their desire: wherefore fly for refuge unto God; for it is he who heareth and seeth. (59) Verily the creation of heaven and earth is more considerable than the creation of man; but the greater part of men do not understand. (60) The blind and the seeing shall not be held equal; nor they who believe and work righteousness and the evildoer: how few revolve these things in their mind! (61) The last hour will surely come; there is no doubt thereof; but the greater part of men believe it not. (62) Your Lord said, Call upon me, and I will hear you; but they who proudly disdain my service shall enter with ignominy into hell.
∥ (63) It isGod who hath appointed the night for you to take your rest therein, and the day to give you light: verily Godis endued with beneficence towards mankind; but the greater part of men do not give thanks. (64) This isGod your Lord, the creator of all things; there is no God beside him; how therefore are ye turned aside from his worship? (65) Thus are they turned aside who oppose the signs of God. (66) It isGod who hath given you the earth for a stable floor, and the heavens for a ceiling, and who hath formed you, and made your forms beautiful, and feedeth you with good things. This isGod your Lord. Wherefore blessed be God, the Lord of all creatures. (67) He is the living God: there is no God but he. Wherefore call upon him, exhibiting unto him the pure religion. Praise be unto God, the Lord of all creatures! (68) Say, Verily I am forbidden to worship the deities which ye invoke besides God, after that evident proofs have come unto me from my Lord; and I am commanded to resign myself unto the Lord of all creatures. It is he who first created you of dust, and afterwards of seed, and afterwards of coagulated blood; and afterwards brought you forth infants out of your mothers’ wombs: then he permitteth you to attain your age of full strength, and afterwards to grow old men (but some of you die before that age), and to arrive at the determined period of your life; that peradventure ye may understand. It is he who giveth life and causeth to die; and when he decreeth a thing he only saith unto it, Be, and it is.
∥ (71) Dost thou not observe those who dispute against the signs of God, how they are turned aside from the true faith? They who charge with falsehood the book of the Qurán, and the other scriptures and revealed doctrines which we have sent our former apostles to preach, shall hereafter know their folly, when the collars shall be on their necks, and the chains by which they shall be dragged into hell; then shall they be burned in the fire. And it shall be said unto them, Where are the gods which ye associated besides God? They shall answer, They have withdrawn themselves from us: yea, we called on nothing heretofore. Thus doth God lead the unbelievers into error. (75) This hath befallen you for that ye rejoiced insolently on earth in that which was false; and for that ye were elated with immoderate joy. (76) Enter the gates of hell, to remain therein for ever: and wretched shall be the abode of the haughty! (77) Wherefore persevere with patience, O Muhammad; for the promise of Godis true. Whether we cause thee to see any part of the punishment with which we have threatened them, or whether we cause thee to die before thou see it; before us shall they be assembled at the last day. We have sent a great number of apostles before thee; the histories of some of whom we have related unto thee, and the histories of others of them we have not related unto thee: but no apostle had the power to produce a sign unless by the permission of God. When the command of God, therefore, shall come, judgment shall be given with truth; and then shall they perish who endeavour to render the signs of God of no effect.
∥ It isGod who hath given you the cattle, that ye may ride on some of them, and may eat of others of them; (ye also receive other advantages therefrom;) and that on them ye may arrive at the business proposed in your mind; and on them are carried by land, and on ships by sea. And he showeth you his signs; which, therefore, of the signs of God will ye deny? Do they not pass through the earth, and see what hath been the end of those who were before them? They were more numerous than these, and more mighty in strength, and left more considerable monuments of their power in the earth; yet that which they had acquired profited them not. And when their apostle came unto them with evident proof of their mission, they rejoiced in the knowledge which was with them; but that which they mocked at encompassed them. (84) And when they beheld our vengeance, they said, We believe in God alone, and we renounce the idols which we associated with him; but their faith availed them not, after they had beholden our vengeance. This was the ordinance of God, which was formerly observed in respect to his servants, and then did the unbelievers perish.
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