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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. 4 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.
In some manuscripts this chapter is entitled Worship or Adoration, “because,” says Sale, “the infidels are herein commanded to forsake the worship of idols and to worship God; but the thirty-second chapter bearing the same title, that which we have here prefixed is, for distinction, generally used.”
According to Hishám, 186 (Coussin de Perc, i. 375 seq.), the design of Muhammad in enunciating the revelations of this chapter was the conversion of Utba bin Rábia to Islám. This story accords well enough with the teaching of the chapter, but there is nothing in it to bar the idea of a more general application.
There is little in this chapter to distinguish it from other Makkan Suras, unless it be the vehemence with which Muhammad asserts his own prophetic claims and the inspired character of the Qurán. The Qurán is declared to be the Word of God (vers. 1-3, 41, 42), which has been revealed in the Arabic language (vers. 2 and 44) in order that the Quraish might have no good excuse for rejecting it (ver. 44). The Quraish are, however, charged with having rejected it (vers. 3 and 4); but this was not to be regarded as affording any evidence of the falsity of its claims, but rather of the contrary, inasmuch as the writings of Moses had met with similar treatment (ver. 45). The unbelievers are therefore threatened with the fate of the Ádites and of the Thamúdites (vers. 13-15), while believers are assured of protection in this life and of glorious rewards in Paradise (vers. 17 and 30-32). The folly of the worship of the idolaters is exposed by reference to the fact that God is the Creator of all things, especially of the objects of Makkan worship.
Throughout the chapter Muhammad appears as a prophet of God, yet a simple preacher of Islám, a “warner” of the people of Arabia.
Granting that this chapter was written in order to convert Utba bin Rábia to Islám, yet, as Noëldeke points out, this gives us no certain data wherewith to fix the date of the writing of it. True, Ibn Hishám gives the narrative of this attempt at conversion immediately after that of the conversion of Hamza, yet, when we remember that, in relating the events prior to the Hijra, this writer pays little attention to exact chronological order, we cannot infer that this attempt was really made at that time; moreover, nothing certain is known as to the time of Hamza’s conversion. It therefore follows that nothing certain can be learned from tradition as to the date of this chapter.
Having regard, however, to the style and contents of the chapter, we may fix the date approximately at about b.h. 8, a time when there was offered to the Muslims a sturdy opposition at Makkah, but as yet without violence to the person of the Prophet or his followers.
|The Qurán declared to be given by inspiration||1-3|
|The people generally reject it||3, 4|
|Muhammad only a man, yet a prophet||5|
|The woe of the wicked and the blessedness of the righteous||6, 7|
|God’s power manifested in the creation of earth and heaven||8-11|
|The Quraish are threatened with the fate of Ád and Thamúd||12-16|
|Believers among the Ádites and Thamúdites were saved||17|
|In the judgment the unbelievers shall be condemned by the members of their own bodies||18-22|
|The fate of the genii to befall the infidels||23, 24|
|Unbelievers counsel blasphemous levity—their punishment||25-28|
|False teachers to be trodden under foot by their own followers in hell||29|
|The glorious rewards of the faithful||30-32|
|The consistent Muslim commended||33|
|Evil to be turned away by good||34, 35|
|God the refuge of the Prophet against Satan’s suggestions||36|
|God’s works testify to himself as alone worthy of worship||37-39|
|Unbelievers shall not escape in the resurrection||40|
|The Qurán a revelation of God||41, 42|
|The infidels offer no new objections to Muhammad and the Qurán||43|
|Why the Qurán was revealed in the Arabic language||44|
|The books of Moses at first rejected by his people||45|
|God rewardeth according to works||46|
|The hour of the judgment known only to God||47|
|The false gods will desert their worshippers in the judgment||47, 48|
|The perfidy of hypocrites||49-51|
|Rejecters of God’s Word exposed to awful punishment||52-54|
∥ H. M. This is a revelation from the most Merciful; a book the verses whereof are distinctly explained, an Arabic Qurán, for the instruction of people who understand; bearing good tidings and denouncing threats; but the greater part of them turn aside, and hearken not thereto. (4) And they say, Our hearts are veiled from the doctrine to which thou invitest us; and there is a deafness in our ears, and a curtain between us and thee: wherefore act thou as thou shalt think fit; for we shall act according to our own scntiments. (5) Say, Verily I am only a man like you. It is revealed unto me that your God is one God: wherefore direct your way straight unto him; and ask pardon of him for what is past. And woe be to the idolaters; who give not the appointed alms, and believe not in the life to come! (7) But as to those who believe and work righteousness, they shall receive an everlasting reward.
∥ Say, Do ye indeed disbelieve in him who created the earth in two days; and do ye set up equals unto him? He is the Lord of all creatures. And he placed in the earth mountains firmly rooted, rising above the same: and he blessed it; and provided therein the food of the creatures designed to be the inhabitants thereof, in four days; equally, for those who ask. Then he set his mind to the creation of heaven, and it was smoke; and he said unto it, and to the earth, Come, either obediently, or against your will. They answered, We come, obedient to thy command. And he formed them into seven heavens, in two days; and revealed unto every heaven its office. And we adorned the lower heaven with lights, and placed therein a guard of angels. This is the disposition of the mighty, the wise God. (12) If the Makkans withdraw from these instructions, say, I denounce unto you a sudden destruction, like the destruction of Ád and Thamúd. When the apostles came unto them before them and behind them, saying, Worship God alone; they answered, If our Lord had been pleased to send messengers, he had surely sent angels; and we believe not the message with which ye are sent. As to the tribe of Ád, they behaved insolently in the earth, without reason, and said, Who is more mighty than we in strength? Did they not see that God, who had created them, was more mighty than they in strength? And they knowingly rejected our signs. Wherefore we sent against them a piercing wind, on days of ill luck, that we might make them taste the punishment of shame in this world: but the punishment of the life to come will be more shameful; and they shall not be protected therefrom. And as to Thamúd, we directed them: but they loved blindness better than the true direction: wherefore the terrible noise of an ignominious punishment assailed them, for that which they had deserved; (17) but we delivered those who believed and feared God.
∥ And warn them of the day on which the enemies of God shall be gathered together unto hell-fire, and shall march in distinct bands; (19) until, when they shall arrive thereat, their ears, and their eyes, and their skins shall bear witness against them of that which they shall have wrought. (20) And they shall say unto their skins, Wherefore do ye bear witness against us? They shall answer, God hath caused us to speak, who giveth speech unto all things: he created you the first time; and unto him are ye returned. Ye did not hide yourselves while ye sinned, so that your ears, and your eyes, and your skins could not bear witness against you; but ye thought that God was ignorant of many things which ye did. (22) This was your opinion, which ye imagined of your Lord: it hath ruined you, and ye are become lost people. (23) Whether they bear their torment, hell-fire shall be their abode; or whether they beg for favour, they shall not obtain favour. And we will give them the devils to be their companions; for they dressed up for them the false notions which they entertained of this present world, and of that which is to come: and the sentence justly fitteth them, which was formerly pronounced on the nations of genii and men who were before them; for they perished.
∥ The unbelievers say, Hearken not unto this Qurán, but use vain discourse during the reading thereof; that ye may overcome the voice of the reader by your scoffs and laughter. (26) Wherefore we will surely cause the unbelievers to taste a grievous punishment, (27) and we will certainly reward them for the evils which they shall have wrought. (28) This shall be the reward of the enemies of God,namely, hell-fire; therein is prepared for them an everlasting abode, as a reward for that they have wittingly rejected our signs. And the infidels shall say in hell, O Lord, show us the two that seduced us, of the genii and men, and we will cast them under our feet, that they may become most base and despicable.As for those who say, Our LordisGod, and who behave uprightly; the angels shall descend unto them, and shall say, Fear not, neither be ye grieved; but rejoice in the hopes of Paradise which ye have been promised. (31) We are your friends in this life, and in that which is to come: therein shall ye have that which your souls shall desire, and therein shall ye obtain whatever ye shall ask for; (32) as a gift from a gracious and merciful God.
∥ (33) Who speaketh better than he who inviteth unto God, and worketh righteousness, and saith, I am a Muslim? (34) Good and evil shall not be held equal. Turn away evil with that which is better; and behold, the man between whom and thyself there was enmity shall become, as it were, thy warmest friend: but none shall attain to this perfection except they who are patient; nor shall any attain thereto except he who is endued with a great happiness of temper. And if a malicious suggestion be offered unto thee from Satan, have recourse unto God; for it is he who heareth and knoweth. Among the signs of his power are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Worship not the sun, neither the moon: but worship God, who hath created them; if ye serve him. But if they proudly disdain his service, verily the angels, who are with thy Lord, praise him night and day, and are not wearied. (39) And among his signs another is, that thou seest the land waste; but when we send down rain thereon, it is stirred and fermenteth. And he who quickeneth the earth will surely quicken the dead; for he is almighty. (40) Verily those who impiously wrong our signs are not concealed from us. Is he, therefore, better who shall be cast into hell-fire, or he who shall appear secure on the day of resurrection? Work that which ye will: he certainly beholdeth whatever ye do. (41) Verily they who believe not in the admonition of the Qurán, after it hath come unto them, shall one day be discovered. It is certainly a book of infinite value: vanity shall not approach it, either from before it, or from behind it: it is a revelation from a wise God, whose praise is justly to be celebrated. (43) No other is said unto thee by the infidels of Makkah than what hath been formerly said unto the apostles before thee: verily thy Lordis inclined to forgiveness, and is also able to chastise severely. If we had revealed the Qurán in a foreign language, they had surely said, Unless the signs thereof be distinctly explained, we will not receive the same: is the book written in a foreign tongue, and the person unto whom it is directed an Arabian? Answer, It is, unto those who believe, a sure guide, and a remedy for doubt and uncertainty: but unto those who believe not, it is a thickness of hearing in their ears, and it is a darkness which covereth them; these are as they who are called unto from a distant place.
Twenty Fifth Sipara.
∥ We heretofore gave the book of the law unto Moses; and a dispute arose concerning the same: and if a previous decree had not proceeded from thy Lord,to respite the opposers of that revelation, verily the matter had been decided between them by the destruction of the infidels; for they were in a very great doubt as to the same. He who doth right, doth it to the advantage of his own soul; and he who doth evil, doth it against the same: for thy Lordis not unjust towards his servants. Unto him is reserved the knowledge of the hour of judgment: and no fruit cometh forth from the knops which involve it; neither doth any female conceive in her womb, nor is she delivered of her burden, but with his knowledge. On the day whereon he shall call them to him, saying, Where are my companions which ye ascribed unto me? they shall answer, We assure thee there is no witness of this matter among us: and the idols which they called on before shall withdraw themselves from them; and they shall perceive that there will be no way to escape. (49) Man is not wearied with asking good; but if evil befall him, he despondeth and despaireth. And if we cause him to taste mercy from us after affliction hath touched him, he surely saith, This is due to me on account of my deserts: I do not think the hour of judgment will ever come: and if I be brought before my Lord, I shall surely attain, with him, the most excellent condition. But we will then declare unto those who shall not have believed that which they have wrought; and we will surely cause them to taste a most severe punishment. (51) When we confer favours on man, he turneth aside, and departeth without returning thanks; but when evil toucheth him, he is frequent at prayer. (52) Say, What think ye? if the Qurán be from God, and ye believe not therein; who will lie under a greater error than he who dissenteth widely therefrom? Hereafter we will show them our signs in the regions of the earth, and in themselves; until it become manifest unto them that this book is the truth. Is it not sufficient for thee that thy Lord is witness of all things? (54) Are they not in a doubt as to the meeting of their Lordat the resurrection? Doth not he encompass all things?
This chapter receives its title from what is said in ver. 36 of the believers, “Whose affairs are directed by consultation among themselves.” The five single letters at the beginning are used by some as a title of the chapter. Rodwell and Palmer call it the Chapter of Counsel. It might have been called the Chapter of Apology but for the fact that the laboured effort of the Prophet to establish his prophetic claims and to vindicate his Qurán from the accusation of forgery brought against it by his enemies is by no means limited to this chapter.
The feature of the chapter just alluded to reveals to us the main design of the author in writing it, while a careful reading of the contents will reveal the following circumstances of the Prophet at this time. (1) He was strongly opposed by his townsmen, and his prophetic pretensions were rejected, especially by the Jewish and Christian portion of his hearers. (2) Though he professed to attest the doctrines of the Bible, and declared himself a believer in all the prophets from Adam to Jesus (vers. 11-14), yet both Jews and Christians hesitated not to call him an impostor (ver. 23), insinuating that their opinion was attested by the fact that no one had ever seen him receive a revelation from God or Gabriel (vers. 50, 51). (3) Some of the people, however, had believed in him (vers. 5 and 25), while others, once believers, had become apostates (ver. 15).
Throughout the chapter Muhammad represents himself as simply a preacher, holding himself in no way responsible for the unbelievers, satisfied to vindicate his prophetic claims before the people of Makkah and “to direct them into the right way.”
From what has been said above, it will appear that this chapter belongs to Makkah. Its date is fixed by Noëldeke somewhat later than that of the preceding chapter.
Some writers, as Baidháwi and Umr bin Muhammad, have regarded vers. 22-25 as Madínic, and Jaláluddín, as Syúti (Itqán 35), regards vers. 35-37 as also belonging to Madína. The reasons given, however, do not carry conviction, being based upon the assumption that there could be no reference to almsgiving and prayer in passages revealed before the Hijra.
|The Almighty reveals his will to Muhammad||1, 2|
|Angels intercede with God on behalf of sinful man||3|
|Muhammad not a steward over the idolaters||4|
|The Qurán revealed in the Arabic language to warn Makkah||5|
|God the only helper, creator, and preserver, the all-knowing||6-10|
|Islám the religion of all the former prophets||11-13|
|Muhammad commanded to declare his faith in the Bible||14|
|Disputers with God shall be severely punished||15|
|God only knows the hour of the judgment||16, 17|
|The Almighty will reward the righteous and the wicked according to their deeds||18, 19|
|Sinners only spared through God’s forbearance||20|
|Rewards of the just and of the unjust||21, 22|
|Muhammad charged with imposture||23|
|The sovereign God forgives and blesses whom he will||24-27|
|God’s power manifested in his works||28-33|
|A true believer’s character decided||34-41|
|The miserable fate of those whom God causes to err||42-45|
|Sinners exhorted to repent before it is too late||46|
|Muhammad only a preacher||47|
|God controls all things||48, 49|
|Why God reveals himself by inspiration and through apostles||50, 51|
|Muhammad himself ignorant of Islám until he had received the revelation of the Qurán||52, 53|
∥ H. M. A. S. Q. Thus doth the mighty, the wise God reveal his will unto thee; and in like manner did he reveal it unto the prophets who were before thee. (2) Unto him belongeth whatever is in heaven and in earth; and he is the high, the great God. It wanteth little but that the heavens be rent in sunder from above at the awfulness of his majesty: the angels celebrate the praise of their Lord, and ask pardon for those who dwell in the earth. Is not God the forgiver of sins the merciful? (4) But as to those who take other gods for their patrons, besides him, God observeth their actions: for thou art not a steward over them. Thus have we revealed unto thee an Arabic Qurán, that thou mayest warn the metropolis of Makkah, and the Arabs who dwell round about it; and mayest threaten them with the day of the general assembly, of which there is no doubt: one part shall then be placed in Paradise, and another part in hell. (6) If God had pleased, he had made them all of one religion; but he leadeth whom he pleaseth into his mercy; and the unjust shall have no patron or helper. (7) Do they take other patrons, besides him? whereas God is the only true patron: he quickeneth the dead, and he is almighty.
(8) Whatever matter ye disagree about, the decision thereof appertaineth unto God. This is God my Lord: in him do I trust, and unto him do I turn me: the Creator of heaven and earth: he hath given you wives of your own species, and cattle both male and female; by which means he multiplieth you: there is nothing like him; and it is he who heareth and seeth. (10) His are the keys of heaven and earth; he bestoweth provision abundantly on whom he pleaseth, and he is sparing unto whom he pleaseth; for he knoweth all things. He hath ordained you the religion which he commanded Noah, and which we have revealed unto thee, O Muhammad, and which we commanded Abraham, and Moses, and Jesus: saying, Observe this religion, and be not divided therein. (12) The worship of one God, to which thou invitest them, is grievous unto the unbelievers: God will elect thereto whom he pleaseth, and will direct unto the same him who shall repent. Those who lived in times past were not divided among themselves, until after that the knowledge of God’s unity had come unto them; through their own perverseness: and unless a previous decree had passed from thy Lord,to bear with them till a determined time, verily the matter had been decided between them by the destruction of the gainsayers. They who have inherited the scriptures after them are certainly in a perplexing doubt concerning the same. Wherefore invite them to receive the sure faith, and be urgent with them, as thou hast been commanded; and follow not their vain desires: and say, I believe in all the scriptures which God hath sent down; and I am commanded to establish justice among you: God is our Lord and your Lord: unto us will our works be imputed, and unto you will your works be imputed: let there be no wrangling between us and you; for God will assemble us all at the last day, and unto him shall we return. (15) As to those who dispute concerning God, after obedience hath been paid him by receiving his religion, their disputing shall be vain in the sight of their Lord; and wrath shall fall on them, and they shall suffer a grievous punishment. (16) It isGod who hath sent down the scripture with truth; and the balance of true judgment: and what shall inform thee whether the hour be nigh at hand? (17) They who believe not therein wish it to be hastened by way of mockery: but they who believe dread the same, and know it to be the truth. Are not those who dispute concerning the last hour in a wide error?
∥ (18) God is bounteous unto his servants: he provideth for whom he pleaseth; and he is the strong, the mighty. Whoso chooseth the tillage of the life to come, unto him will we give increase in his tillage: and whoso chooseth the tillage of this world, we will give him the fruit thereof; but he shall have no part in the life to come. (20) Have the idolaters deities which ordain them a religion which God hath not allowed? But had it not been for the decree of respiting their punishment to the day of separating the infidels from the true believers, judgment had been already given between them: for the unjust shall surely suffer a painful torment. (21) On that day thou shalt see the unjust in great terror, because of their demerits; and the penalty thereof shall fall upon them: but they who believe and do good works shall dwell in the delightful meadows of Paradise; they shall obtain whatever they shall desire, with their Lord. This is the greatest acquisition. This is what God promiseth unto his servants who believe and do good works. Say, I ask not of you, for this my preaching, any reward, except the love of my relations: and whoever shall have deserved well by one good action, unto him will we add the merit of another action thereto; for Godis inclined to forgive and ready to reward. Do they say Muhammad hath blasphemously forged a lie concerning God? If God pleaseth, he will seal up thy heart: and God will absolutely abolish vanity, and will establish the truth in his words; for he knoweth the innermost part of men’s breasts. (24) It is he who accepteth repentance from his servants, and forgiveth sins, and knoweth that which ye do. (25) He will incline his ear unto those who believe and work righteousness, and will add unto them above what they shall ask or deserve, of his bounty: but the unbelievers shall suffer a severe punishment. (26) If God should bestow abundance upon his servants, they would certainly behave insolently in the earth: but he sendeth down by measure unto every one that which he pleaseth; for he well knoweth and seeth the condition of his servants. (27) It is he who sendeth down the rain, after men have despaired thereof, and spreadeth abroad his mercy; and he is the patron, justly to be praised. Among his signs is the creation of heaven and earth, and of the living creatures with which he hath replenished them both; and he is able to gather them together before his tribunal whenever he pleaseth.
∥ (29) Whatever misfortune befalleth you is sent unto you by God, for that which your hands have deserved; and yet he forgiveth many things: (30) ye shall not frustrate the divine vengeance in the earth; neither shall ye have any protector or helper against God. (31) Among his signs also are the ships running in the sea, like high mountains: if he pleaseth, he causeth the wind to cease, and they lie still on the back of the water: (verily herein are signs unto every patient and grateful person): (32) or he destroyeth them by shipwreck, because of that which their crews have merited; though he pardoneth many things. (33) And they who dispute against our signs shall know that there will be no way for them to escape our vengeance.
∥ (34) Whatever things are given you, they are the provision of this present life; but the reward which is with God is better, and more durable, for those who believe, and put their trust in the Lord; (35) and who avoid heinous and filthy crimes, and when they are angry, forgive; (36) and who hearken unto their Lord, and are constant at prayer, and whose affairs are directed by consultation among themselves, and who give alms out of what we have bestowed on them; and who, when an injury is done them, avenge themselves, (and the retaliation of evil ought to be an evil proportionate thereto): but he who forgiveth and is reconciled unto his enemy shall receive his reward from God; for he loveth not the unjust doers. And whoso shall avenge himself, after he hath been injured; as to these, it is not lawful to punish them for it: (40) but it is only lawful to punish those who wrong men, and act insolently in the earth, against justice; these shall suffer a grievous punishment. (41) And whoso beareth injuries patiently and forgiveth, verily this is a necessary work.
∥ (42) Whom God shall cause to err, he shall afterwards have no protector. And thou shalt see the ungodly, (43) who shall say, when they behold the punishment prepared for them, Is there no way to return back into the world? (44) And thou shalt see them exposed unto hellfire; dejected, because of the ignominy they shall undergo: they shall look at the fire sideways and by stealth; and the true believers shall say, Verily the losers are they who have lost their own souls, and their families, on the day of resurrection: shall not the ungodly continue in eternal torment? They shall have no protectors to defend them against God; and whom God shall cause to err, he shall find no way to the truth. (46) Hearken unto your Lord before the day come, which God will not keep back: ye shall have no place of refuge on that day; neither shall ye be able to deny your sins. (47) But if those to whom thou preachest turn aside from thy admonitions, verily we have not sent thee to be a guardian over them: thy duty is preaching only. When we cause man to taste mercy from us, he rejoiceth thereat; but if evil befall them, for that which their hands have formerly committed, verily man becometh ungrateful. (48) Unto Godappertaineth the kingdom of heaven and earth: he createth that which he pleaseth; (49) he giveth females unto whom he pleaseth, and he giveth males unto whom he pleaseth; or he giveth them males and females jointly: and he maketh whom he pleaseth to be childless; for he is wise and powerful. It is not fit for man that God should speak unto him otherwise than by private revelation, or from behind a veil, or by his sending of a messenger to reveal, by his permission, that which he pleaseth; for he is high and wise. Thus have we revealed unto thee a revelation, by our command. Thou didst not understand before this what the book of the Qurán was, nor what the faith was; but we have ordained the same for a light, we will thereby direct such of our servants as we please; and thou shalt surely direct them into the right way, (53) the way of God, unto whom belongeth whatever is in heaven and in earth. Shall not all things return unto God?
Although the faith of Christians is alluded to in this chapter, the contents seem to have been solely intended for the instruction and warning of the idolaters of Makkah. The exposure of their idolatry is clear and convincing, while the truth of the new religion is everywhere assumed. The worship of female deities, who were called by the Arabs “daughters of God,” is visited with scathing irony. “When one of them,” says the revelation, “hath the news brought of the birth of a child of that sex, which they attribute unto the Merciful as his similitude, his face becometh black, and he is oppressed with sorrow!”
The allusion made to the Christian faith, though intended to be a reply to the Quraish, who had compared the worship of their deities with the Christian worship of Jesus, yet contains a distinct denial of the divinity of the Son of Mary. The Gospel of Jesus, according to Muhammad, was “Fear God and obey me: verily God is my Lord and your Lord; wherefore worship him: this is the right way.”
The close of the chapter indicates that while Muhammad had no doubt about the triumph of God’s cause, yet he despaired of the conversion of his townsmen (vers. 39-41, 88, 89). They have ears, but they hear not. He cries out, “O Lord, verily these are people who believe not.” To which the Lord replies, “Therefore turn aside from them; and say, Peace.” They are now rejected of God and his Prophet as reprobates.
There can be no doubt that the whole of this chapter must be referred to Makkah. The imagination of the traditionists that ver. 44 was enunciated at Jerusalem during the celebrated night-journey (Rodwell, note in loco), is refuted by the absence of any proof that such a journey was ever performed.
As to the date, aside from the general style of the contents, we have, in the last verse, a distinct allusion to a breach between Muhammad and the Quraish. That this was not the final breach, when Muhammad determined to leave Makkah and go to Madína, is evident from the absence of any allusion to persecution of the Muslims. It is probable, therefore, that the allusion here refers to Muhammad’s withdrawal with his followers to the house of Arqám to escape the taunts and threatened violence of the Quraish. This understanding of this passage would relegate this chapter to the fourth year of Muhammad’s ministry (b.h. 9), with which the style of the contents very well agrees. Noeldeke, however, places it somewhat later, about the beginning of the fifth year of Muhammad’s call.
|The Arabic Qurán copied from a divine original||1-3|
|Former nations, like the Quraish, rejected the prophets||4-7|
|Idolaters acknowledge God to be creator, yet worship the creature||8-14|
|The Arabs hate female offspring, and yet attribute such to God||15-18|
|Idolaters vainly excuse their unbelief by saying they will follow the religion of their fathers||19-24|
|Abraham rejected the idolatry of his fathers||25-27|
|God prospered the idolatrous Quraish until a prophet came, and now they reject him||28, 29|
|The unbelievers rebuked for saying they would have received the Qurán from some great man||30, 31|
|Poverty only permitted to save men from idolatry||32-34|
|Devils are constituted the companions of infidels, who lead them to destruction||35-38|
|Muhammad exhorted to remain steadfast in faith notwithstanding the unbelief of his countrymen||39-44|
|Moses rejected with contempt by Pharaoh and the Egyptians, who were drowned||45-56|
|The Arab idolaters justified their idolatry by reference to the Christian worship of Jesus||57, 58|
|But Jesus did not say he was a god, but was a servant and a prophet of God||59-64|
|Unbelievers warned of approaching judgment||65-67|
|The joys of Paradise reserved for Muslims and their wives||68-73|
|The damned shall vainly seek relief in annihilation||74-78|
|Angels record the secret plottings of infidels||79, 80|
|If God had a son, Muhammad would be the first to worship him||81, 82|
|God knoweth the folly of idolaters||83-87|
|Muhammad commanded to turn aside from the unbelieving Quraish||88, 89|
∥ H. M. By the perspicuous book; verily we have ordained the same an Arabic Qurán that ye may understand: and it is certainly written in the original book, kept with us, being sublime and full of wisdom. (4) Shall we therefore turn away from you the admonition, and deprive you thereof, because ye are a people who transgress? And how many prophets have we sent among those of old? and no prophet came unto them but they laughed him to scorn: (7) wherefore we destroyed nations who were more mighty than these in strength; and the example of those who were of old hath been already set before them. (8) If thou ask them who created the heavens and the earth, they will certainly answer, The mighty, the wise God created them: (9) who hath spread the earth as a bed for you, and hath made you paths therein, that ye may be directed: (10) and who sendeth down rain from heaven by measure, whereby we quicken a dead country; (so shall ye be brought forth from your graves:) (11) and who hath created all the various species of things, and hath given you ships and cattle, whereon ye are carried; (12) that ye may sit firmly on the backs thereof, and may remember the favour of your Lord, when ye sit thereon, and may say, Praise be unto him, who hath subjected these unto our service! for we could not have mastered them by our own power: (13) and unto our Lord shall we surely return. Yet have they attributed unto him some of his servants as his offspring: verily man is openly ungrateful. Hath God taken daughters out of those beings which he hath created, and hath he chosen sons for you? But when one of them hath the news brought of the birth of a child of that sex, which they attribute unto the Merciful as his similitude, his face becometh black, and he is oppressed with sorrow.
∥ Do they therefore attribute unto God female issue, which are brought up among ornaments, and are contentious without cause? (18) And do they make the angels, who are the servants of the Merciful, females? Were they present at their creation? Their testimony shall be written down, and they shall be examined concerning the same on the day of judgment. (19) And they say, If the Merciful had pleased, we had not worshipped them. They have no knowledge herein: they only utter a vain lie. (20) Have we given them a book of revelations before this; and do they keep the same in their custody? But they say, Verily we found our fathers practising a religion, and we are guided in their footsteps. (22) Thus we sent no preacher before thee unto any city, but the inhabitants thereof, who lived in affluence, said, Verily we found our fathers practising a religion, and we tread in their footsteps. (23) And the preacher answered, What, although I bring you a more right religion than that which ye found your fathers to practise? And they replied, Verily we believe not that which ye are sent to preach. Wherefore we took vengeance on them: and behold what hath been the end of those who accused our apostles of imposture.
∥ (25) Remember when Abraham said unto his father and his people, Verily I am clear of the gods which ye worship, (26) except him who hath created me; for he will direct me aright. (27) And he ordained this to be a constant doctrine among his posterity, that they should be turned from idolatry to the worship of the only true God. (28) Verily I have permitted these Makkans and their fathers to live in prosperity, until the truth should come unto them, and a manifest apostle; but now the truth is come unto them, they say, This is a piece of sorcery, and we believe not therein. And they say, Had this Qurán been sent down unto some great man of either of the two cities, we would have received it. Do they distribute the mercy of they Lord? We distribute the necessary provision among them in this present life, and we raise some of them several degrees above the others, that the one of them may take the other to serve him: and the mercy of thy Lord is more valuable than the riches which they gather together. If it were not that mankind would have become one sect of infidels, verily we had given unto those who believe not in the Merciful roofs of silver to their houses, and stairs of silver by which they might ascend thereto, and doors ofsilver to their houses, and couches of silver for them to lean on; and ornaments of gold: for all this is the provision of the present life; but the next life with thy Lordshall be for those who fear him.
∥ Whoever shall withdraw from the admonition of the Merciful, we will chain a devil unto him, and he shall be his inseparable companion: (36) (and the devils shall turn them aside from the way of truth; yet they shall imagine themselves to be rightly directed;) (37) until, when he shall appear before us at the last day, he shall say unto the devil, Would to God that between me and thee there was the distance of the east from the west! (38) Oh how wretched a companion art thou! But wishes shall not avail you on this day, since ye have been unjust; for ye shall be partakers of the same punishment. (39) Canst thou, O Prophet, make the deaf to hear, or canst thou direct the blind, and him who is in a manifest error? Whether we take thee away, we will surely take vengeance on them; (41) or whether we cause thee to see the punishment with which we have threatened them executed, we will certainly prevail over them. (42) Wherefore hold fast the doctrine which hath been revealed unto thee; for thou art in a right way; (43) and it is a memorial unto thee and thy people, and hereafter shall ye be examined concerning your observance thereof. And ask our apostles whom we have sent before thee whether we have appointed gods for them to worship besides the Merciful.
∥ (45) We formerly sent Moses with our signs unto Pharaoh and his princes, and he said, Verily I am the apostle of the Lord of all creatures. (46) And when he came unto them with our signs, behold, they laughed him to scorn; although we showed them no sign, but it was greater than the other: and we inflicted a punishment on them, that peradventure they might be converted. (48) And they said unto Moses, O magician, pray unto thy Lord for us, according to the covenant which he hath made with thee; for we will certainly be directed. (49) But when we took the plague from off them, behold, they brake their promise. And Pharaoh made proclamation among his people, saying, O my people, is not the kingdom of Egypt mine, and these rivers which flow beneath me? Do ye not see? Am not I better than this Moses, who is a contemptible person, and can scarce express himself intelligibly? Have bracelets of gold, therefore, been put upon him; or do the angels attend him in orderly procession? And Pharaoh persuaded his people to light behaviour; and they obeyed him: for they were a wicked people. And when they had provoked us to wrath, we took vengeance on them: and we drowned them all: and we made them a precedent, and an example unto others.
∥ And when the son of Mary was proposed for an example, behold, thy people cried out through excess of joy thereat; (58) and they said, Are our gods better, or he? They have proposed this instance unto thee no otherwise than for an occasion of dispute; yea, they are contentious men. Jesus is no other than a servant, whom we favoured with the gift of prophecy; and we appointed him for an example unto the children of Israel: (if we pleased, verily we could from ourselves produce angels, to succeed you in the earth;) and he shall be a sign of the approach of the last hour; wherefore doubt not thereof. And follow me: this is the right way. And let not Satan cause you to turn aside: for he is your open enemy. And when Jesus came with evident miracles, he said, Now am I come unto you with wisdom, and to explain unto you part of those things concerning which ye disagree; wherefore fear God and obey me. (64) Verily God is my Lord and your Lord; wherefore worship him: this is the right way. And the confederated sects among them fell to variance: but woe unto those who have acted unjustly, because of the punishment of a grievous day. (66) Do the unbelievers wait for any other than the hour of judgment; that it may come upon them suddenly, while they foresee it not? (67) The intimate friends on that day shall be enemies unto one another; except the pious.
∥ (68) O my servants, there shall no fear come on you this day, neither shall ye be grieved. (69) who have believed in our signs and have been Múslims; enter ye into Paradise, ye and your wives, with great joy. Dishes of gold shall be carried round unto them, and cups without handles: and therein shall they enjoy whatever their souls shall desire, and whatever their eyes shall delight in: and ye shall remain therein for ever. This is Paradise, which ye have inherited as a reward for that which ye have wrought. Therein shall ye have fruits in abundance, of which ye shall eat. (74) But the wicked shall remain for ever in the torment of hell: (75) it shall not be made lighter unto them; and they shall despair therein. (76) We deal not unjustly with them, but they deal unjustly with their own souls. And they shall call aloud, saying, O Málik, intercede for us that thy Lord would end us by annihilation. He shall answer, Verily ye shall remain here for ever. (78) We brought you the truth heretofore, but the greater part of you abhorred the truth. (79) Have the infidels fixed on a method to circumvent our Apostle? Verily we will fix on a method to circumvent them. Do they imagine that we hear not their secrets and their private discourse? Yea, and our messengers who attend them write down the same. Say, If the Merciful had a son, verily I would be the first of those who should worship him. (82) Far be the Lord of heaven and earth, the Lord of the throne, from that which they affirm of him! (83) Wherefore let them wade in their vanity, and divert themselves until they arrive at their day with which they have been threatened. (84) He who is God in heaven is God on earth also; and he is the wise, the knowing. (85) And blessed be he unto whom appertaineth the kingdom of heaven and earth, and of whatever is between them; with whom is the knowledge of the last hour; and before whom ye shall be assembled. They whom they invoke besides him have not the privilege to intercede for others; except those who bear witness to the truth, and know the same. (87) If thou ask them who hath created them, they will surely answer, God. How therefore are they turned away to the worship of others?God also heareth the saying of the Prophet, O Lord, verily these are people who believe not: and he answereth, Therefore turn aside from them; and say, Peace: hereafter shall they know their folly.
This is a distinctively Makkan chapter. Its title is found in ver. 9, where a visible smoke is mentioned. The subject of the preacher is the necessity of accepting Islám. The Qurán, he declares, is a revelation from the only true God. This revelation the people had rejected, especially its teaching concerning the resurrection and the judgment. They had even charged their Prophet with forgery and with being a madman. They are now warned of coming calamity of Divine vengeance, unless they immediately repent and accept Islám. This instruction is enforced by reference to the destruction of Pharaoh and his hosts, and of the people of Tubbá, for their unbelief, and for their ignominious treatment of the prophets of God. To this is added a description of the horrors of hell and the joys of Paradise. The chapter ends with a notice of the Divine condescension in giving the Arab people his Word in their own language.
All agree that the revelations of this chapter are of Makkan origin. Some have thought, without good reason, that vers. 14 and 15 are Madínic, because of the supposition that the plague alluded to in ver. 14 refers to a famine which visited Makkah after the Hijra, and that the vengeance of ver. 15 was taken at Badr. The reference in these verses, however, is to the plague and vengeance of God to be visited upon the unbelievers in the judgment-day, and in the perdition to follow.
We learn from ver. 13 that while some of the people of Makkah charged their Prophet with forgery, others, moved by either more charitable or more contemptuous feelings, merely called him a madman. These charges, in the absence of any show of violence towards the preacher or followers of the new faith, point to an early period as the date of this chapter. Muir places it in the early part of the fourth stage, i.e., at a period extending from the sixth to the tenth years of Muhammad’s mission. Noëldeke places it in his second Makkan period, or the fifth and sixth years of Muhammad’s mission.
|The Qurán sent down on the Blessed Night||1-6|
|God the only source of life||7|
|Unbelievers threatened with the tormenting smoke of the judgment-day||8-15|
|Pharaoh and his people destroyed for rejecting Moses||16-32|
|The people of Makkah threatened with the fate of the people of Tubbá||33-37|
|God did not create the universe in jest||38, 39|
|The judgment-day a day when none shall be helped||40-42|
|Punishment of the wicked in hell||43-50|
|Rewards of the righteous in Paradise||51-57|
|The Qurán revealed in Arabic as an admonition||58|
∥ H. M. By the perspicuous book of the Qurán; verily we have sent down the same on a blessed night (for we had engaged so to do), on the night wherein is distinctly sent down the decree of every determined thing, (4) as a command from us. Verily we have ever used to send apostles with revelations at proper intervals, (5) as a mercy from thy Lord; for it is he who heareth and knoweth: (6) the Lord of heaven and earth, and of whatever is between them; if ye are men of sure knowledge. (7) There is no God but he: he giveth life, and he causeth to die; he is your Lord, and the Lord of your forefathers. (8) Yet do they amuse themselves with doubt. But observe them on the day whereon the heaven shall produce a visible smoke, (10) which shall cover mankind: this will be a tormenting plague. (11) They shall say, O Lord, take this plague from off us: verily we will become true believers. (12) How should an admonition be of avail to them in this condition; when a manifest apostle came unto them, but they retired from him, saying, This man is instructed by others, or is a distracted person? We will take the plague from off you, a little: but ye will certainly return to your infidelity. On the day whereon we shall fiercely assault them with great power, verily we will take vengeance on them. (16) We made trial of the people of Pharaoh before them, and an honourable messenger came unto them, saying, Send unto me the servants of God; verily I am a faithful messenger unto you: (18) and lift not yourselves up against God; for I come unto you with manifest power. And I fly for protection unto my Lord, and your Lord, that ye stone me not. If ye do not believe me, at least depart from me. (21) And when they accused him of imposture, he called upon his Lord,saying, These are a wicked people. (22) And God said unto him, March forth with my servants by night; for ye will be pursued: (23) and leave the sea divided, that the Egyptians may enter the same; for they are a host doomed to be drowned.
∥ (24) How many gardens, and fountains, (25) and fields of corn, and fair dwellings, (26) and advantages which they enjoyed, did they leave behind them! Thus we dispossessed them thereof; and we gave the same for an inheritance unto another people. Neither heaven nor earth wept for them; neither were they respited any longer.
∥ (29) And we delivered the children of Israel from a shameful affliction; (30) from Pharaoh; for he was haughty, and a transgressor: and we chose them, knowingly, above all people; and we showed them several signs, wherein was an evident trial. (33) Verily these Makkans say, (34) Assuredly our final end will be no other than our first natural death; neither shall we be raised again: (35) bring now our forefathers back to life, if ye speak truth. Are they better, or the people of Tubbá, (37) and those who were before them? we destroyed them, because they wrought wickedness. (38) We have not created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, by way of sport: we have created them no otherwise than in truth; but the greater part of them do not understand. Verily the day of separation shall be the appointed term of them all: (41) a day whereon the master and the servant shall be of no advantage to one another, neither shall they be helped; (42) excepting those on whom God shall have mercy; for he is the mighty, the merciful.
∥ Verily, the fruit of the tree of az Zaqqúm shall be the food of the impious; as the dregs of oil shall it boil in the bellies of the damned, like the boiling of the hottest water. And it shall be said to the tormentors, Take him, and drag him into the midst of hell: and pour on his head the torture of boiling water, saying, Taste this; for thou art that mighty and honourable person. Verily this is the punishment of which you doubted. But the pious shall be lodged in a place of security, among gardens and fountains: they shall be clothed in fine silk, and in satin; and they shall sit facing one another. Thus shall it be: and we will espouse them to fair damsels, having large black eyes. In that place shall they call for all kinds of fruits, in full security: they shall not taste death therein, after the first death; and God shall deliver from the pains of hell: through the gracious bounty of thy Lord. This will be great felicity. Moreover we have rendered the Qurán easy for thee, by revealing it in thine own tongue; to the end that they may be admonished; (59) wherefore do thou wait the event; for they wait to see some misfortune befall thee.
The title of this chapter is derived from verse 27, where it is said that in the judgment every nation shall be seen kneeling before God. The general outline of the teaching of this chapter differs little from that of other chapters enunciated at Makkah. God is declared to have revealed himself to Muhammad in the Qurán. Before this he had revealed himself to men in his works of creation and providence, and to the children of Israel in the Law and the Prophets. Infidels may reject this new revelation, but they shall realise, only too late for repentance to avail, that they have committed a fatal error.
The main point of interest to the Christian is the plain recognition of the Jewish Scriptures as the Word of God, preceding in date of revelation the Qurán. Muslims are, therefore, bound to receive the Bible as the Word of God.
Noëldeke places the date of this chapter immediately after that of chap. xli. This agrees very well with the circumstances of the Muslims revealed in this chapter. Much depends upon what is implied in the exhortation of vers. 13 and 14. If the exhortation is intended to restrain the Muslims from violent resentment of the insults poured upon them, the date assigned above may be regarded as pretty correct. If, however, the exhortation implies actual persecution of Muslims, the date must be fixed at a later day.
|The Qurán a revelation from God||1|
|God revealed in his works||2-5|
|Punishment of those who reject the Qurán||6-10|
|God’s mercy seen in his works of providence||11, 12|
|Muslims exhorted to forgive the unbelievers||13, 14|
|The Book of the law, wisdom, and prophecy given to the Israelites||15, 16|
|Muhammad received the Qurán||17-19|
|The wicked and just not rewarded alike||20|
|Unbelievers and idolaters threatened||21, 22|
|God the author of life, therefore may raise the dead||23-25|
|Contrasted condition of believers and unbelievers in the judgment||26-34|
|Praise to the Lord of the universe||35, 36|
∥ H. M. The revelation of this book is from the mighty, the wise God. (2) Verily both in heaven and earth are signs of the divine power unto the true believers: and in the creation of yourselves, and of the beasts which are scattered over the face of the earth are signs unto people of sound judgment; (4) and also in the vicissitude of night and day, and the rain which God sendeth down from heaven, whereby he quickeneth the earth after it hath been dead: in the change of the winds also are signs unto people of understanding. (5) These are the signs of God; we rehearse them unto thee with truth. In what revelation therefore will they believe, after they haverejectedGod and his signs? (6) Woe unto every lying and impious person; (7) who heareth the signs of God, which are read unto him, and afterwards proudly persisteth in infidelity, as though he heard them not: (denounce unto him a painful punishment:) (8) and who, when he cometh to the knowledge of any of our signs, receiveth the same with scorn. For these is prepared a shameful punishment: (9) before them lieth hell; and whatever they shall have gained shall not avail them at all, neither shall the idols which they have taken for their patrons besides God; and they shall suffer a grievous punishment. (10) This is a true direction; and for those who disbelieve the signs of their Lord,is prepared the punishment of a painful torment.
∥ (11) It isGod who hath subjected the sea unto you, that the ships may sail therein, at his command; and that ye may seek advantage unto yourselves by commerce, of his bounty; and that ye may give thanks: (12) and he obligeth whatever is in heaven and on earth to serve you; the whole being from him. Verily herein are signs unto people who consider. (13) Speak unto the true believers, that they forgive those who hope not for the days of God, that he may reward people according to what they shall have wrought. (14) Whoso doeth that which is right doth it to the advantage of his own soul; and whoso doeth evil doth it against the same: hereafter shall ye return unto your Lord. (15) We gave unto the children of Israel the book of the law, and wisdom, and prophecy; and we fed them with good things, and preferred them above all nations: and we gave them plain ordinances concerning the business of religion; neither do they fall to variance, except after that knowledge had come unto them, through envy among themselves: but thy Lord will decide the controversy between them on the day of resurrection, concerning that wherein they disagree. Afterwards we appointed thee, O Muhammad, to promulgate a law concerning the business of religion: wherefore follow the same, and follow not the desires of those who are ignorant. (18) Verily they shall not avail thee against God at all; the unjust are the patrons of one another; but Godis the patron of the pious. (19) This Qurán delivereth evident precepts unto mankind; and is a direction and a mercy unto people who judge aright. (20) Do the workers of iniquity imagine that we will deal with them as with those who believe and do good works, so that their life and their death shall be equal? An ill judgment do they make.
∥ (21) God hath created the heavens and the earth in truth, that he may recompense every soul according to that which it shall have wrought; and they shall not be treated unjustly. What thinkest thou? He who taketh his own lust for his God, and whom God causeth knowingly to err, and whose ears and whose heart he hath sealed up, and over whose eyes he hath cast a veil; who shall direct him, after Godshall have forsaken him? Will ye therefore not be admonished? (23) They say, There is no other life, except our present life: we die, and we live; and nothing but time destroyeth us. But they have no knowledge in this matter; they only follow a vain opinion. (24) And when our evident signs are rehearsed unto them, their argument which they offer against the same is no other than that they say, Bring to life our fathers who have been dead; if ye speak truth. (25) Say, God giveth you life; and afterwards causeth you to die: hereafter will he assemble you together on the day of resurrection; there is no doubt thereof; but the greater part of men do not understand.
∥ (26) Unto Godappertaineth the kingdom of heaven and earth; and the day whereon the hour shall be fixed, on that day shall those who charge the Qurán with vanity perish. And thou shalt see every nation kneeling: every nation shall be called unto its book of account; and it shall be said unto them, This day shall ye be rewarded according to that which ye have wrought. (28) This our book will speak concerning you with truth; therein have we written down whatever ye have done. (29) As to those who shall have believed and done good works, their Lord shall lead them into his mercy: this shall be manifest felicity. (30) But as to the infidels, it shall be said unto them, Were not my signs rehearsed unto you? but ye proudly rejected them, and became a wicked people! (31) And when it was said unto you, Verily the promise of Godis true: and as to the hour of judgment, there is no doubt thereof: ye answered, We know not what the hour of judgment is: we hold an uncertain opinion only; and we are not well assured of this matter. (32) But on that day the evils of that which they have wrought shall appear unto them; and that which they mocked at shall encompass them: (33) and it shall be said unto them, This day will we forget you, as ye did forget the meeting of this your day: and your abode shall be hell-fire; and ye shall have none to deliver you. (34) This shall ye suffer, because ye turned the signs of God to ridicule; and the life of the world deceived you. On this day, therefore, they shall not be taken forth from thence, neither shall they be asked any more to render themselves well-pleasing unto God. (35) Wherefore praise be unto God, the Lord of the heavens, and the Lord of the earth; the Lord of all creatures: (36) and unto him be glory in heaven and earth; for he is the mighty, the wise God.
In this chapter the dwelling-place of the Ádites is called al Ahqáf; hence the title. Sale says, “Al Ahqáf is the plural of haqf, and signifies sands which lie in a crooked or winding manner, whence it became the name of a territory in the province of Hadhramaut.”
Rodwell locates the sandhills at Tayif. This is in accordance with Sprenger’s theory of the Ádites, adopted by Muir in his Life of Mahomet, vol. i., Introd., p. cxxxviii. note.
The object of this chapter was to warn the people of Makkah of the impending judgments of God on account of their sin of rejecting Muhammad and the Qurán. They had charged their Prophet with being an impostor, who had forged a book which he called the Qurán. In this they were encouraged by certain Jews. On the other hand, certain other Jews, probably adherents from Madína, upheld the claims of Muhammad, declaring that the teaching of the Qurán was confirmatory of the doctrine of their own Scriptures. Thus encouraged, Muhammad answers the charges of his enemies by a solemn warning. He can now afford to be patient and calmly await the destruction of the unbelievers.
It is here specially noteworthy how Muhammad likens himself to the former prophets (vers. 20-31), putting his own message to the Quraish, with their taunting reply, into the mouths of Húd and the Ádites, yea, even into the mouths of the believing genii. But on this point see introduction to chapter xi.
Ver. 9 of this chapter is supposed by some to be Madínic, because of the Jews being mentioned; but this reason is not valid, since the Jews mentioned here were no doubt Jews of Madína visiting Makkah, with whom Muhammad was now in close correspondence, if indeed they were not his adherents. The “witness” surely does not refer to any particular person, as Baidháwi and others suppose, when referring it to Abdullah Ibn Salám.
On similarly weak grounds, vers. 14-17, and 34, 35, have been regarded as Madínic. We may therefore safely regard the whole chapter as Makkan. Vers. 30-31 were not, however, originally in this place (see notes), but they nevertheless belong to the same period.
As to the date of the revelations, we have the mention of the discourse of Muhammad to the genii, which occurred on his return from Tayif, just before the Hijra. This agrees with the allusion to the fate of the people of al Ahqáf, who inhabited the region about Tayif, and with the attitude of Muhammad (ver. 34) toward the unbelievers, and also with the mention made of the Jews of Madína, with whom Muhammad was now in correspondence. Noëldeke places this chapter immediately after chap. vii.
|The Qurán a revelation from God||1|
|Creation a witness for God against idolaters and idolatry||2-5|
|Muhammad charged with forging the Qurán||6, 7|
|Muhammad, like other apostles, only a warner||8|
|Believing Jews confirm the Qurán; unbelieving Jews call it an antiquated lie||9, 10|
|The Qurán confirms the Book of Moses||11|
|True believers, their happy condition||12, 13|
|Obedient sons and true believers, their life here and hereafter||14, 15|
|The conduct and fate of the disobedient son||16, 17|
|Rewards and punishments bestowed in accordance with works||18, 19|
|The fate of the people of al Ahqáf, &c., a warning to Makkah||20-27|
|The genii converted by hearing Muhammad recite the Qurán||28-31|
|God able to raise the dead; Muhammad exhorted to patience and forbearance||32-35|
∥ H. M. The revelation of this book is from the mighty, the wise God. We have not created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, otherwise than in truth and for a determined period; but the unbelievers turn away from the warning which is given them. Say, What think ye? Show me what part of the earth the idols which ye invoke, besides God, have created? Or had they any share in the creation of the heavens? Bring me a book of scripture revealed before this, or some footstep of ancient knowledge, to countenance your idolatrous practices; if ye are men of veracity. Who is in a wider error than he who invoketh, besides God, that which cannot return him an answer, to the day of resurrection; and idols which regard not their calling on them; (5) and which, when men shall be gathered together to judgment, will become their enemies, and will ungratefully deny their worship? When our evident signs are rehearsed unto them, the unbelievers say of the truth, when it cometh unto them, This is a manifest piece of sorcery. (7) Will they say, Muhammad hath forged it? Answer, If I have forged it, verily ye shall not obtain for me any favour from God: he well knoweth the injurious language which ye utter concerning it: he is a sufficient witness between me and you; and he is gracious and merciful. Say, I am not singular among the apostles; neither do I know what will be done with me or with you hereafter: I follow no other than what is revealed unto me; neither am I any more than a public warner. Say, What is your opinion? If this book be from God, and ye believe not therein; and a witness of the children of Israel bear witness to its consonancy with the law, and believeth therein; and ye proudly reject the same: are ye not unjust doers? Verily God directeth not unjust people.
∥ But those who believe not say of the true believers, If the doctrine of the Qurán had been good, they had not embraced the same before us. And when they are not guided thereby they say, This is an antiquated lie. Whereas the Book of Moses was revealed before the Qurán, to be a guide and a mercy: and this is a book confirming the same, delivered in the Arabic tongue; to denounce threats unto those who act unjustly, and to bear good tidings unto the righteous doers. (12) As to those who say, Our LordisGod; and who behave uprightly, on them shall no fear come, neither shall they be grieved. (13) These shall be the inhabitants of Paradise, they shall remain therein for ever: in recompense for that which they have wrought. We have commanded man to show kindness to his parents: his mother beareth him in her womb with pain, and bringeth him forth with pain: and the space of his being carried in her womb, and of his weaning, is thirty months; until, when he attaineth his age of strength, and attaineth the age of forty years, he saith, O Lord, excite me, by thy inspiration, that I may be grateful for their favours, wherewith thou hast favoured me and my parents; and that I may work righteousness, which may please thee: and be gracious unto me in my issue; for I am turned unto thee, and am a Muslim. (15) These are they from whom we accept the good work which they have wrought, and whose evil works we pass by; and they shall be among the inhabitants of Paradise: this is a true promise, which they are promised in this world. He who saith unto his parents, Fie on you! Do ye promise me that I shall be taken forth from the grave, and restored to life; when many generations have passed away before me, and none of them have returned back? And his parents implore God’s assistance, and say to their son, Alas for thee! Believe! for the promise of Godis true. But he answereth, This is no other than silly fables of the ancients. These are they whom the sentence passed on the nations which have been before them, of genii and of men, justly fitteth; they shall surely perish. (18) For every one is prepared a certain degree of happiness or misery, according to that which they shall have wrought: that God may recompense them for their works: and they shall not be treated unjustly. (19) On a certain day the unbelievers shall be exposed before the fire of hell; and it shall be said unto them, Ye received your good things in your lifetime, while ye were in the world; and ye enjoyed yourselves therein: wherefore this day ye shall be rewarded with the punishment of ignominy; for that ye behaved insolently in the earth, without justice, and for that ye transgressed.
∥ Remember the brother of Ád, when he preached unto his people in al Ahqáf (and there were preachers before him and after him), saying, Worship none but God: verily I fear for you the punishment of a great day. (21) They answered, Art thou come unto us that thou mayest turn us aside from the worship of our gods? Bring on us now the punishment with which thou threatenest us, if thou art a man of veracity. (22) He said, Verily the knowledge of the time when your punishment will be inflicted is with God; and I only declare unto you that which I am sent to preach; but I see ye are an ignorant people. (23) And when they saw the preparation made for theirpunishment, namely, a cloud traversing the sky, and tending towards their valleys, they said, This is a traversing cloud, which bringeth us rain. Húd answered, Nay; it is what ye demanded to be hastened: a wind wherein is a severe vengeance: it will destroy everything, at the command of its Lord. And in the morning nothing was to be seen besides their empty dwellings. Thus do we reward wicked people. (25) We had established them in the like flourishing condition wherein we have established you, O men of Makkah; and we had given them ears, and eyes, and hearts: yet neither their ears, nor their eyes, nor their hearts profited them at all, when they rejected the signs of God; but the vengeance which they mocked at fell upon them.
∥ We heretofore destroyed the cities which were round about you; and we variously proposed our signs unto them, that they might repent. (27) Did those protect them whom they took for gods, besides God,and imagined to be honoured with his familiarity? Nay; they withdrew from them: yet this was their false opinion which seduced them, and the blasphemy which they had devised. Remember when we caused certain of the genii to turn aside unto thee, that they might hear the Qurán; and when they were present at the reading of the same, they said to one another, Give ear: and when it was ended, they returned back unto their people, preaching what they had heard. They said, Our people, verily we have heard a book read unto us, which hath been revealed since Moses, confirming the scripture which was delivered before it, and directing unto the truth and the right way. (30) Our people, obey God’s preacher; and believe in him; that he may forgive you your sins, and may deliver you from a painful punishment. And whoever obeyeth not God’s preacher shall by no means frustrate God’s vengeance on earth; neither shall he have any protectors besides him. These will be in a manifest error. (32) Do they not know that God, who hath created the heavens and the earth, and was not fatigued with the creation thereof, is able to raise the dead to life? Yea, verily; for he is almighty. (33) On a certain day the unbelievers shall be exposed unto hell-fire; and it shall be said unto them, Is not this really come to pass? They shall answer, Yea, by our Lord.God shall reply, Taste, therefore, the punishment of hell, for that ye have been unbelievers. Do thou, O Prophet, bear the insults of thy people with patience, as our apostles, who were endued with constancy, bear the injuries of their people; and require not their punishment to be hastened unto them. On the day whereon they shall see the punishment wherewith they have been threatened, it shall seem as though they had tarried in the world but an hour of a day. This is a fair warning. Shall they perish except the people who transgress?
This chapter is also entitled War. because of the command enjoining the Muslims to fight in the cause of religion, which is certainly a more appropriate title than that of Muhammad.
Every student of Islám has observed the wondrous change which came over Muhammad and his religion at the time of the flight to Madína. Nothing could illustrate this change better than a comparison between this chapter and the one just preceding it. In chap. xlvi. we have Muhammad the warner of Makkah. There Islám is peaceable. Its Prophet is exhorted to bear the insults of the unbehevers with patience. In this chapter we have Muhammad the general of armies. Here Islám is warlike. Muslims are now required to lay aside the emblems of peace and to draw the sword. They are now enjoined to “strike off the heads” of their enemies. All must be prepared not only to spend their substance in the cause, but to fight to the death.
As yet but petty expeditions were sent forth from Madína harass the caravans of the Quraish. Yet even this required courage and self-denial. Some of the Muslims were timorous. The “hypocrites” of Madína, begrudging the cost of this warfare, and perhaps fearing the consequences of a war with Makkah, were busy dissuading the Muslims from carrying out the war policy of Muhammad. Both these parties are attacked in this chapter. Cowards and hypocrites are alike threatened with the horrors of hell; while rivers of pure water, rivers of milk, rivers of wine, rivers of clarified butter, and all kinds of fruits are set before the eyes of the faithful as the sure reward of those who fight valiantly the battles of the Lord.
Some Muslim writers have regarded this chapter as Makkan, but the best authorities, Baidháwi, Zamaḳhshari, Jaláluddín as Syúti, &c., agree that it is Madínic. One writer, Umar bin Muhammad, Itqan 43, maintains that ver. 14 was revealed during the flight from Makkah, when Muhammad with tearful eyes looked back towards his birthplace.
Noeldeke fixes the date of this chapter at a period some time after the victory of Badr. The reason for this opinion is his interpretation of ver. 37, which, he thinks, alludes to the efforts of some of Muhammad’s people to conclude peace with the Quraish after the success of the Muslims at Badr. This date is, however, too late to account for the fear of the Muslims rebuked in this chapter. After the victory of Badr the fears of the faithful were all dispelled, so that at the battle of Ohod we find Muhammad himself obliged to assume an offensive rather than a defensive policy, owing to the impetuosity of his followers. It is better to follow Muir here, and to place the date of this chapter before the battle of Badr, say the latter part of a.h. 1. See Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. pp. 79-81.
|The works of those who oppose Islám shall come to naught||1|
|True believers shall receive the expiation of their sins||2, 3|
|How enemies of Islám are to be treated in war||4. 5|
|God will reward those who fight for Islám||6-8|
|God will utterly destroy the unbelievers||9-12|
|The final condition of believers and infidels contrasted||13-17|
|Hypocrites reproved and warned||18-20|
|Muhammad commanded to ask pardon for his sins||21|
|Cowardly Muslims and hypocrites rebuked and warned||22-33|
|Those who would dissuade Muslims from their duty warned||34-36|
|Muslims exhorted to boldness in warring for their faith||37|
|Muslims exhorted to liberality in contributing towards the expenses of holy war||38-40|
∥ (1) God will render of none effect the works of those who believe not, and who turn away men from the way of God; but as to those who believe, and work righteousness, and believe the revelation which has been sent down unto Muhammad (for it is the truth from their Lord), he will expiate their evil deeds from them, and will dispose their heart aright.
∥ (3) This will he do, because those who believe not follow vanity, and because those who believe follow the truth from the Lord. Thus God propoundeth unto men their examples. When ye encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads, until ye have made a great slaughter among them; and bind them in bonds; and either give them a free dismission afterwards, or exact a ransom; until the war shall have laid down its arms. This shall ye do. Verily if God pleased he could take vengeance on them without your assistance; but he commandeth you to fight his battles, that he may prove the one of you by the other. And as to those who fight in defence of God’s true religion, God will not suffer their works to perish; (6) he will guide them, and will dispose their heart aright; (7) and he will lead them into Paradise, of which he hath told them. (8) O true believers, if ye assist Godby fighting for his religion, he will assist you against your enemies; and will set your feet fast: (9) but as for the infidels, let them perish; and their works shall God render vain. (10) This shall befall them, because they have rejected with abhorrence that which God hath revealed: wherefore their works shall become of no avail. (11) Do they not travel through the earth, and see what hath been the end of those who were before them? God utterly destroyed them: and the like catastrophe awaiteth the unbelievers. (12) This shall come to pass, for that God is the patron of the true believers, and for that the infidels have no protector.
∥ Verily God will introduce those who believe and do good works into gardens beneath which rivers flow: but the unbelievers indulge themselves in pleasures, and eat as beasts eat; and their abode shall be hell-fire. How many cities were more mighty in strength than thy city which hath expelled thee; yet have we destroyed them, and there was none to help them? (15) Shall he therefore, who followeth the plain declaration of his Lordbe as he whose evil works have been dressed up for him by the devil, and who follow their own lusts? The description of Paradise, which is promised unto the pious: therein are rivers of incorruptible water; and rivers of milk, the taste whereof changeth not; and rivers of wine, pleasant unto those who drink; (17) and rivers of clarified honey: and therein shall they have plenty of all kinds of fruits; and pardon from their Lord.Shall the man for whom these things are prepared be as he who must dwell for ever in hell-fire; and will have the boiling water given him to drink which shall burst their bowels? Of the unbelievers there are some who give ear unto thee, until, when they go out from thee, they say, by way of derision unto those to whom knowledge hath been given, What hath he said now? These are they whose hearts God hath sealed up, and who follow their own lusts; but as to those who are directed, God will grant them a more ample direction, and he will instruct them what to avoid. Do the infidels wait for any other than the last hour, that it may come upon them suddenly? Some signs thereof are already come; and when it shall actually overtake them, how can they then receive admonition? Know therefore that there is no god but God; and ask pardon for thy sin, and for the true believers, both men and women. God knoweth your busy employment in the world, and the place of your abode hereafter.
∥ The true believers say, Hath not a Sura been revealed commanding war against the infidels? But when a Sura without any ambiguity is revealed, and war is mentioned therein, thou mayest see those in whose hearts is an infirmity look towards thee with the look of one whom death overshadoweth. But obedience would be more eligible for them, and to speak that which is convenient. And when the command is firmly established, if they give credit unto God, it will be better for them. Were ye ready, therefore, if ye had been put in authority, to commit outrages in the earth and to violate the ties of blood? (25) These are they whom God hath cursed and hath rendered deaf, and whose eyes he hath blinded. (26) Do they not therefore attentively meditate on the Qurán? Are there locks upon their hearts? (27) Verily they who turn their backs, after the true direction is made manifest unto them, Satan shall prepare their wickedness for them, and God shall bear with them for a time. This shall befall them, because they say privately unto those who detest what God hath revealed, We will obey you in part of the matter. But God knoweth their secrets. (29) How therefore will it be with them when the angels shall cause them to die, and shall strike their faces and their backs? (30) This shall they suffer, because they follow that which provoketh God to wrath, and are averse to what is well-pleasing unto him: and he will render their works vain.
∥ Do they in whose hearts is an infirmity imagine that God will not bring their malice to light? If we pleased, we could surely show them unto thee, and thou shouldest know them by their marks; but thou shalt certainly know them by their perverse pronunciation of their words. God knoweth your actions; (33) and we will try you, until we know those among you who fight valiantly, and who persevere with constancy: and we will try the reports of your behaviour. (34) Verily those who believe not, and turn away men from the way of God, and make opposition against the Apostle, after the divine direction hath been manifested unto them, shall not hurt God at all; but he shall make their works to perish. (35) O true believers, obey God; and obey the apostle: and render not your works of no effect. (36) Verily those who believe not, and who turn away men from the way of God, and then die, being unbelievers, God will by no means forgive. (37) Faint not, therefore, neither invite your enemies to peace, while ye are the superior: for Godis with you, and will not defraud you of the merit of your works. (38) Verily this present life is only a play and a vain amusement; but if ye believe, and fear God, he will give you your rewards. He doth not require of you your whole substance; (39) if he should require the whole of you, and earnestly press you, ye would become niggardly, and it would raise your hatred against his Apostle. Behold, ye are those who are invited to expend part of your substance for the support of God’s true religion; and there are some of you who are niggardly. But whoever shall be niggardly shall be niggardly towards his own soul; for God wanteth nothing, but ye are needy: and if ye turn back, he will substitute another people in your stead, who shall not be like unto you.
This chapter takes its name from the statement in the first verse. A similar statement in ver. 27 would give the same title.
This chapter is composed of two parts, written at different times. I am not certain as to the precise point of division, whether at the beginning of ver. 20 or of ver. 25: on the whole, I prefer the former. According to this plan, the first portion of the chapter consists of vers. 1-19, which relates to the victory of the Muslims over the Jews at Ḳhaibar, and to the expedition previously made to Makkah, which ended in the truce of Hudaibiyah. This truce, though a deep humiliation to the Muslims at the time, turned out to be a master-stroke of policy, and might therefore be termed a victory.
The second portion of this chapter, consisting of vers. 20-29, was added on here, perhaps, by the compilers of the Qurán, because it related also to a victory—the victory of the Muslims over the sacred city of Makkah. The reasons for this division will appear from a perusal of the notes. The chapter as a whole is well named. Arabia was not yet conquered, but the final victory of the Muslims was now so well assured as to require no prophetic vision to foretell it.
Noëldeke assigns vers. 1-17 to a period immediately after the expedition to Hudaibiyah, in the month of Zul Q’ada, a.h. 6. The remainder of the chapter he places after the victory of the Muslims over the Jews of Ḳhaibar, in the early part of a.h. 7.
I am unable to follow Noëldeke here, for reasons expressed in the notes on the chapter. I would assign vers. 1-19 to a period immediately following the victory at Ḳhaibar, a.h. 7, a victory which restored the prestige of the Muslims, lost in a measure at Hudaibiyah, and at the same time afforded an opportunity to punish the Bedouin Arabs for their previous disloyalty. Vers. 20-29 I would assign to a period immediately following the conquest of Makkah, but preceding the battle of Hunain, a.h. 8.
|The victory (at Ḳhaibar) the earnest of the pardon of the sins of the Prophet||1-3|
|The mighty God the comforter of true believers, but the punisher of hypocrites||4-7|
|Loyalty to Muhammad is loyalty to God||8-10|
|Bedouin Arabs denounced for their treachery at Hudaibiyah and their subsequent hypocrisy||11-14|
|The Bedouin Arabs refused a share of the booty taken at Ḳhaibar, but encouraged with promises||15, 16|
|Those alone excused from going to war who are incapacitated||17|
|Muslim fidelity at Hudaibiyah rewarded by the victory at Ḳhaibar and much spoil taken there||18, 19|
|Many spoils assured to the believers though God had prevented the plunder of Makkah||20-24|
|God spared Makkah in the expedition to Hudaibiyah out of compassion||25, 26|
|The conquest of Makkah the divine attestation to Muhammad’s apostleship and the religion of Islám||27-29|
∥ Verily we have granted thee a manifest victory, that God may forgive thee thy preceding and thy subsequent sin, and may complete his favour on thee, and direct thee in the right way; (3) and that God may assist thee with a glorious assistance. (4) It is he who sendeth down secure tranquillity into the hearts of the true believers, that they may increase in faith beyond their former faith; (the hosts of heaven and earth are God’s; and God is knowing and wise): that he may lead the true believers of both sexes into gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein for ever; and may expiate their evil deeds from them: (this will be great felicity with God:) (6) and that he may punish the hypocritical men, and the hypocritical women, and the idolaters, and the idolatresses, who conceive an ill opinion of God. They shall experience a turn of evil fortune; and God shall be angry with them, and shall curse them, and hath prepared hell for them: an ill journey shall it be thither!
∥ (7) Unto Godbelong the hosts of heaven and earth; and God is mighty and wise. (8) Verily we have sent thee to be a witness, and a bearer of good tidings, and a denouncer of threats; (9) that ye may believe in God and his Apostle; and may assist him, and revere him, and praise him morning and evening. Verily they who swear fealty unto thee, swear fealty unto God: the hand of Godis over their hands. Whoever shall violate his oath will violate the same to the hurt only of his own soul: but whoever shall perform that which he hath covenanted with God, he will surely give him a great reward.
∥ The Arabs of the desert who were left behind will say unto thee, Our substance and our families employed us, so that we went not forth with thee to war; wherefore, ask pardon for us. They speak that with their tongues which is not in their hearts. Answer, Who shall be able to obtain for you anything from Godto the contrary, if he is pleased to afflict you, or is pleased to be gracious unto you? Yea, verily, God is well acquainted with that which ye do. (12) Truly ye imagined that the Apostle and the true believers would never return to their families: and this was prepared in your hearts: but ye imagined an evil imagination; and ye are a corrupt people. (13) Whoso believeth not in God and his Apostle, verily we have prepared burning fire for the unbelievers. (14) Unto Godbelongeth the kingdom of heaven and earth: he forgiveth whom he pleaseth, and he punisheth whom he pleaseth: and God is inclined to forgive, and merciful. Those who were left behind will say, When ye go forth to take the spoil, Suffer us to follow you. They seek to change the word of God. Say, Ye shall by no means follow us: thus hath God said heretofore. They will reply, Nay: ye envy us a share of the booty. But they are men of small understanding. Say unto the Arabs of the desert who were left behind, Ye shall be called forth against a mighty and a warlike nation; ye shall fight against them, or they shall profess Islám. If ye obey, God will give you a glorious reward: but if ye turn back, as ye turned back heretofore, he will chastise you with a grievous chastisement. (17) It shall be no crime in the blind, neither shall it be a crime in the lame, neither shall it be a crime in the sick, if they go not forth to war: and those who shall obey God and his Apostle, he shall lead them into gardens beneath which rivers flow; but whoso shall turn back, he will chastise him with a grievous chastisement.
∥ Now God was well pleased with the true believers when they sware fidelity to thee under the tree; and he knew that which was in their hearts; wherefore he sent down on them tranquillity of mind, and rewarded them with a speedy victory, (19) and many spoils which they took: for God is mighty and wise. God promised you many spoils which ye should take; but he gave you these by way of earnest; and he restrained the hands of men from you: that the same may be a sign unto the true believers; and that he may guide you into the right way. (21) And he also promiseth you other spoils, which ye have not yet been able to take: but now hath God encompassed them for you; and God is almighty. If the unbelieving Makkans had fought against you, verily they had turned their backs; and they would not have found a patron or protector: (23) according to the ordinance of God, which hath been put in execution heretofore against opposers of the prophets; for thou shalt not find any change in the ordinance of God.It was he who restrained their hands from you, and your hands from them, in the valley of Makkah; after that he had given you the victory over them: and God saw that which ye did. These are they who believed not, and hindered you from visiting the holy temple, and also hindered the offering being detained, that it should not arrive at the place where it ought to be sacrificed. Had it not been that ye might have trampled on divers true believers, both men and women, whom ye know not, being promiscuously assembled with the infidels, and that a crime might therefore have lighted on you on their account, without your knowledge, he had not restrained your hands from them: but this was done that God might lead whom he pleased into his mercy. If they had been distinguished from one another, we had surely chastised such of them as believed not with a severe chastisement. When the unbelievers had put in their hearts an affected preciseness, the preciseness of ignorance, and God sent down his tranquillity on his Apostle and on the true believers; and firmly fixed in them the word of piety, and they were the most worthy of the same, and the most deserving thereof: for God knoweth all things.
∥ Now hath God in truth verified unto his Apostle the vision wherein he said, Ye shall surely enter the holy temple of Makkah, if God please, in full security; having your heads shaved and your hair cut: ye shall not fear: for God knoweth that which ye know not; and he hath appointed you, besides this, a speedy victory. It is he who hath sent his Apostle with the direction, and the religion of truth; that he may exalt the same above every religion: and God is a sufficient witness hereof. Muhammad is the Apostle of God: and those who are with him are fierce against the unbelievers, but compassionate towards one another. Thou mayest see them bowing down, prostrate, seeking a recompense from God, and his good-will. Their signs are in their faces, being marks of frequent prostration. This is their description in the Pentateuch, and their description in the Gospel: they are as seed which putteth forth its stalk and strengtheneth it, and swelleth in the ear, and riseth upon its stem; giving delight unto the sower. Such are the Muslims described to be: that the infidels may swell with indignation at them. God hath promised unto such of them as believe and do good works pardon and a great reward.
This chapter receives its title from words contained in the fourth verse. It might have appropriately been styled the Chapter of Rebuke, inasmuch as it is made up of a variety of passages reprehending the Muslims for various offences. The faults for which the Muslims are rebuked are, too great familiarity in addressing the Prophet, rude calling to the Prophet when in retirement, false accusation, quarrelling among themselves, scornful laughing and taunting, evil speaking and use of opprobrious names, unjust suspicions, meddling, backbiting, and hypocrisy. The circumstances under which, and the parties for whose special instruction, these exhortations were originally uttered are described in the notes.
All authorities agree that this chapter is Madínic. Vers. 1-5, referring to the envoys of the Bani Tamím, were revealed in a.h. 9 or 10. Vers. 6-8 must be referred to about the same period. Vers. 9-13 probably refer to the Quraish, and were enunciated soon after the occupation of the sacred city in a.h. 8. The remaining verses may be referred to about the year a.h. 9.
|The Prophet of God to be treated with honour and respect||1-5|
|Believers warned against misrepresenting any matter to the Prophet||6-8|
|The duty of peacemaking enjoined||9-11|
|Sundry faults of the Muslims exposed||11-13|
|Bedouin Arabs rebuked and warned on account of hypocrisy||14-18|
∥ O true believers, anticipate not any matter in the sight of God and his Apostle: and fear God; for Godboth heareth and knoweth. O true believers, raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet; neither speak loud unto him in discourse, as ye speak loud unto one another, lest your works become vain, and ye perceive it not. (3) Verily they who lower their voices in the presence of the Apostle of Godare those whose hearts God hath disposed unto piety: they shall obtain pardon and a great reward. As to those who call unto thee from without the inner apartments, the greater part of them do not understand the respect due to thee. (5) If they wait with patience until thou come forth unto them, it will certainly be better for them: but Godis inclined to forgive, and merciful. O true believers, if a wicked man come unto you with a tale, inquire strictly into the truth thereof; lest ye hurt people through ignorance, and afterwards repent of what ye have done; (7) and know that the Apostle of Godis among you: if he should obey you in many things, ye would certainly be guilty of a crime in leading him into a mistake. But God hath made the faith amiable unto you, and hath prepared the same in your hearts; and hath rendered infidelity, and iniquity, and disobedience hateful unto you. These are they who walk in the right way; (8) through mercy from God and grace: and Godis knowing and wise. If two parties of the believers contend with one another, do ye endeavour to compose the matter between them: and if the one of them offer an insult unto the other, fight against that party which offered the insult, until they return unto the judgment of God; and if they do return, make peace between them with equity: and act with justice; for God loveth those who act justly. (10) Verily the true believers are brethren; wherefore reconcile your brethren; and fear God, that ye may obtain mercy. O true believers, let not men laugh other men to scorn; who peradventure may be better than themselves: neither let women laugh other women to scorn; who may possibly be better than themselves. Neither defame one another; nor call one another by opprobrious appellations. An ill name it is to be charged with wickedness after having embraced the faith: and whoso repenteth not, they will be the unjust doers.
∥ O true believers, carefully avoid entertaining a suspicion of another: for some suspicions are a crime. Inquire not too curiously into other men’s failings; neither let the one of you speak ill of another in his absence. Would any of you desire to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Surely ye would abhor it. And fear God; for Godis easy to be reconciled, and merciful. (13) O men, verily we have created you of a male and female; and we have distributed you into nations and tribes, that ye might know one another. Verily the most honourable of you, in the sight of God,is the most pious of you: and God is wise and knowing. The Arabs of the desert say, We believe. Answer, Ye do by no means believe; but say, We have embraced Islám: for the faith hath not yet entered into your hearts. If ye obey God and his Apostle, he will not defraud you of any part of the merit of your works: for Godis inclined to forgive, and merciful. (15) Verily the true believers are those only who believe in God and his Apostle, and afterwards doubt not; and who employ their substance and their persons in the defence of God’s true religion: these are they who speak sincerely. Say, Will ye inform God concerning your religion? But God knoweth whatever is in heaven and in earth! for Godis omniscient. They upbraid thee that they have embraced Islám. Answer, Upbraid me not with your having embraced Islám: rather God upbraideth you, that he hath directed you to the faith; if ye speak sincerely. (18) Verily God knoweth the secrets of heaven and earth; and God beholdeth that which ye do.
The letter placed at the beginning of this chapter has been chosen as its title. The contents relate throughout to the doctrine of the resurrection and a future life. To the idolaters of Makkah the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead seemed impossible, and on this account they rejected Muhammad and his Qurán. Muhammad is called an impostor. In reply to his traducers, Muhammad appeals to the power of God as seen in his works of creation and providence. He tells them that other prophets were in like manner with himself charged with forgery, but their calumniators were miserably destroyed. They are accordingly warned of the coming judgment, for which they will be ill prepared. As usual, however, all this warning and instruction is represented as coming from the mouth of God.
There can be no doubt about the Makkan origin of this chapter. One author, Umar bin Muhammad, however, maintains that ver. 37 was revealed in answer to the blasphemous talk of the Jews at Madína (see Sale’s notes), but this is certainly a mistake. The passage is connected in thought with ver. 14. As to the date of the chapter, Noëldeke places it immediately after chap. xliv.
|The unbelievers wonder at the doctrine of the resurrection||1-3|
|This wonder due to their unbelief||4, 5|
|God’s works a proof of his power to raise the dead||6-11|
|The Quraish warned by the fate of other nations who rejected their prophets||12, 13|
|God not so exhausted by the creation that he cannot raise the dead||14|
|God nearer man than his jugular vein||15|
|Angels record all human thoughts and actions||16, 17|
|Death and judgment shall overtake all men||18-20|
|The testimony of the two angels shall condemn the unbelievers||21, 22|
|God shall cast the wicked into hell||23-25|
|The devils shall disclaim the idolaters in hell||26-28|
|Hell shall be filled with the wicked||29|
|Paradise shall receive the true believers||30-34|
|Former generations destroyed as a warning to the people of Makkah||35, 36|
|The heavens and the earth created in six days||37|
|Muhammad exhorted to patience with unbelievers||38-43|
|Muhammad not sent to compel men to believe, but only to warn them||44, 45|
∥ Q. By the glorious Qurán; (2) verily they wonder that a preacher from among themselves is come unto them; and the unbelievers say, This is a wonderful thing; (3) after we shall be dead and become dust, shall we return to life? This is a return remote from thought. (4) Now we know what the earth consumeth of them; and with us is a book which keepeth an account thereof. But they charge falsehood on the truth, after it hath come unto them: wherefore they are plunged in a confused business. (6) Do they not look up to the heaven above them, and consider how we have raised it and adorned it; and that there are no flaws therein? We have also spread forth the earth, and thrown thereon mountains firmly rooted: and we caused every beautiful kind of vegetables to spring up therein; (8) for a subject of meditation, and an admonition unto every man who turneth unto us. (9) And we send down rain as a blessing from heaven, whereby we cause gardens to spring forth, and the grain of harvest, and tall palm-trees having branches laden with dates hanging one above another, (11) as a provision for mankind; and we thereby quicken a dead country: so shall be the coming forth of the dead from their graves. The people of Noah, and those who dwelt at Al Rass, and Thamúd, (13) and Ád, and Pharaoh, accused the prophets of imposture before the Makkans; and also the brethren of Lot, and the inhabitants of the wood near Midian, and the people of Tubba: all these accused the apostles of imposture; wherefore the judgments which I threatened were justly inflicted on them. (14) Is our power exhausted by the first creation? Yea; they are in a perplexity, because of a new creation which is foretold them, namely, the raising of the dead.
∥ (15) We created man, and we know what his soul whispereth within him; and we are nearer unto him than his jugular vein. When the two angels deputed to take account of a man’s behaviour take an account thereof, one sitting on the right hand and the other on the left, he uttereth not a word but there is with him a watcher ready to note it. (18) And the agony of death shall come in truth: this, O man, is what thou soughtest to avoid. (19) And the trumpet shall sound: this will be the day which hath been threatened. And every soul shall come; and therewith shall be a driver and a witness. (21) And the former shall say unto the unbeliever, Thou wast negligent heretofore of this day: but we have removed thy veil from off thee; and thy sight is become piercing this day. (22) And his companion shall say. This is what is ready with me to be attested. (23) And God shall say, Cast into hell every unbeliever, and perverse person, (24) and crery one who forbade good, and every transgressor, and doubter of the faith, (25) who set up another god with the trueGod; and cast him into a grievous torment. His companion shall say, O Lord, I did not seduce him; but he was in a wide error. (27) God shall say, Wrangle not in my presence: since I threatened you beforehand with the torments which ye now see prepared for you. (28) The sentence is not changed with me: neither do I treat my servants unjustly.
∥ On that day we will say unto hell, Art thou full? and it shall answer, Is there yet any addition? (30) And Paradise shall be brought near unto the pious; (31) and it shall be said unto them. This is what ye have been promised; unto every one who turned himself unto God, and kept his commandments; (32) who feared the Merciful in secret, and came unto him with a converted heart: (33) enter the same in peace: this is the day of eternity. Therein shall they have whatever they shall desire: and there will be a superabundant addition of bliss with us. (35) How many generations have we destroyed before the Makkans, which were more mighty than they in strength? Pass, therefore, through the regions of the earth, and see whether there be any refuge from our vengeance. (36) Verily herein is an admonition unto him who hath a heart to understand, or giveth ear, and is present with an attentive mind. We created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, in six days, and no weariness affected us. Wherefore patiently suffer what they say; and celebrate the praise of thy Lord before sunrise and before sunset, and praise him in some part of the night: and perform the additional parts of worship. And hearken unto the day whereon the crier shall call men to judgment from a near place: (41) the day whereon they shall hear the voice of the trumpet in truth: this will be the day of men’s coming forth from their graves: (42) we give life, and we cause to die; and unto us shall be the return of all creatures: (43) the day whereon the earth shall suddenly cleave in sunder over them. This will be an assembly easy for us to assemble. We well know what the unbelievers say; and thou art not sent to compel them forcibly to the faith. (45) Wherefore warn, by the Qurán, him who feareth my threatening.
As in nearly all the earlier chapters of the Qurán, this one begins with a number of oaths, wherewith God, swearing by various natural objects, attests the truth of his Prophet’s message. In this chapter the occasion of these vehement oaths was the rejection of the doctrine of a final judgment by the people of Makkah.
It is generally agreed that the latter portion of this chapter, consisting of vers. 24-60, was added on by the compilers of the Qurán, or during its recension under Othmán. The subject of discourse being similar, it was perhaps thought to belong to what precedes. While, however, it is true that the subject is the same, yet the circumstances under which it was enunciated were very different. In the first section the unbelievers simply reject the Prophet as an impostor and his message as incredible, but in this they threaten violent treatment (ver. 59), and the Prophet is in consequence told to withdraw from them (ver. 54).
Noëldeke places this chapter near the end of his first period, i.e., about the fourth year of Muhammad’s mission.
This date will do very well for the first portion of the chapter, but vers. 24-60 must be assigned a much later date. Muir places it near the end of the fourth stage of Muhammad’s ministry, when the ban against the Háshamites had interfered with his public preaching.
The date of this portion would therefore be about b.h. 6.
|Numerous oaths that the judgment will come||1-6|
|Oaths and curses relating to unbelievers||7-11|
|Doom of infidels and reward of true believers||12-16|
|The prety and charity of Muslims||17-19|
|God reveals himself in his work of providence||20-22|
|Muhammad swears by the Lord that the Qurán is true||23|
|The story of Abraham’s entertaining angels||24-30|
|Story of the destruction of Sodom||31-37|
|Pharaoh, Ád, Thamúd, and the people of Noah destroyed for rejecting their prophets as impostors||38-46|
|God reveals himself to men in his works of creation||47-49|
|Makkans warned to leave their idols and to fly to God||50, 51|
|Every apostle of God called a magician or madman||52, 53|
|Muhammad to withdraw from idolaters and yet to admonish them for the sake of true believers||54, 55|
|Men and genii created to serve God||56, 58|
|Woe to unbelievers who injure the apostles of God||59, 60|
∥ By the winds dispersing and scattering the dust; and by the clouds bearing a load of rain; by the ships running swiftly in the sea; and by the angels who distribute things necessary for the support of all creatures; (5) verily that wherewith ye are threatened is certainly true; (6) and the last judgment will surely come. By the heaven furnished with paths; ye widely differ in what ye say. (9) He will be turned aside from the faith who shall be turned aside by the divine decree. (10) Cursed be the liars. (11) who wade in deep waters of ignorance, neglecting their salvation. (12) They ask, When will the day of judgment come? (13) On that day shall they be burned in hell-fire; (14) and it shall be said unto them, Taste your punishment; this is what ye demanded to be hastened. (15) But the pious shall dwell among gardens and fountains, (16) receiving that which their Lord shall give them; because they were righteous doers before this day. They slept but a small part of the night; (18) and early in the morning they asked pardon of God; (19) and a due portion of their wealth was given unto him who asked, and unto him who was forbidden by shame to ask. (20) There are signs of the divine power and goodness in the earth, unto men of sound understanding; (21) and also in your own selves: will ye not therefore consider? Your sustenance is in the heaven; and also that which ye are promised. Wherefore by the Lord of heaven and earth I swear that this is certainly the truth; according to what ye yourselves speak.
∥ Hath not the story of Abraham’s honoured guests come to thy knowledge? (25) When they went in unto him, and said, Peace: he answered, Peace; saying within himself, These are unknown people. (26) And he went privately unto his family, and brought a fatted calf. (27) And he set it before them, and when he saw they touched itnot, he said, Do ye not eat? And he began to entertain a fear of them. They said, Fear not: and they declared unto him the promise of a wise youth. (29) And his wife drew near with exclamation, and she smote her face, and said, I am an old woman and barren. (30) The angels answered, Thus saith the Lord: verily he is the wise, the knowing.
∥ (31) And Abraham said unto them, What is your errand, therefore, O messengers of God? (32) They answered, Verily we are sent unto a wicked people, that we may send down upon them stones of baked clay, (34) marked from thy Lord, for the destruction of transgressors. (35) And we brought forth the true believers who were in the city; (36) but we found not therein more than one family of Muslims. (37) And we overthrew the same, and left a sign therein unto those who dread the severe chastisement of God. In Moses also was a sign, when we sent him unto Pharaoh with manifest power. But he turned back with his princes, saying, This man is a sorcerer or a madman. Wherefore we took him and his forces and cast them into the sea; and he was one worthy of reprehension. And in the tribe of Ád also was a sign, when we sent against them a destroying wind; it touched not aught whereon it came, but it rendered the same as a thing rotten, and reduced to dust. In Thamúd likewise was a sign, when it was said unto them, Enjoy yourselves for a time. But they insolently transgressed the command of their Lord: wherefore a terrible noise from heaven assailed them while they looked on; and they were not able to stand on their feet, neither did they save themselves from destruction. And the people of Noah did we destroy before these; for they were a people who enormously transgressed.
∥ (47) We have built the heaven with might; and we have given it a large extent; (48) and we have stretched forth the earth beneath; and how evenly have we spread the same! And of everything have we created two kinds, that peradventure ye may consider. (50) Fly, therefore, unto God: verily I am a public warner unto you from him. (51) And set not up another god with the trueGod: verily I am a public warner unto you from him. In like manner there came no apostle unto their predecessors, but they said, This man is a magician or a madman. (53) Have they bequeathed this behaviour successively the one to the other? Yea; they are a people who enormously transgress. Wherefore withdraw from them; and thou shalt not be blameworthy in so doing. (55) Yet continue to admonish; for admonition profiteth the true believers. I have not created genii and men for any other end than that they should serve me. I require not any sustenance from them; neither will I that they feed me. (58) Verily God is he who provideth for all creatures; possessed of mighty power. (59) Unto those who shall injure our Apostle shall be given a portion like unto the portion of those who behaved like them in times past; and they shall not wish the same to be hastened. (60) Woe, therefore, to the unbelievers, because of their day with which they are threatened!
The earlier portion of this chapter is occupied with the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, and closely resembles the first part of chap. li. The violence of the opposition of the Quraish to this doctrine is illustrated by the vehemence of the oaths by which that doctrine is asserted. Unbelievers are assured that the fires of hell shall overtake them; but, on the other hand, believers are encouraged by a description of the sensual delights of Paradise. This marks the introduction of the houris or black-eyed maidens of Paradise into the descriptions of the heaven of Islám.
The latter part of this chapter reveals to us a more active opposition of the Quraish. They no longer simply deny the doctrine of his Qurán, but declare him to be an impostor and plot his destruction (ver. 42). Muhammad, however, is undisturbed. Believing the eye of God to be upon him (ver. 48), he calmly waits, trusting in God for deliverance.
Noëldeke, in his chronological list of suras, places this chapter immediately after chap. li. He, however, maintains that vers. 21 and 29 seq. are of later date, because the use of certain expressions, e.g., [Editor: Arabic word - see p. 84 of the facsimile PDF] and [Editor: Arabic word - see p. 84 of the facsimile PDF] point clearly to the later style of Muhammad. Muir places the whole Sura in the early part of his fourth stage, i.e., at a period extending from the sixth to the tenth year of Muhammad’s ministry.
|Oaths by various objects that the judgment-day will come||1-8|
|The terrors of the unbelievers in that day||9-16|
|The bliss of Paradise described||17-28|
|Muhammad not a soothsayer, madman, poet, or impostor||29-34|
|Unbelievers reproved for their ignorance and idolatry||35-47|
|Plots of the enemies of Muhammad exposed||42, 43|
|Muhammad to leave the idolaters to their fate||44-47|
|Muhammad exhorted to praise and trust the Lord||48, 49|
∥ (1) By the mountain of Sinai; (2) and by the book written in an expanded scroll; and by the visited house; (5) and by the elevated roof of heaven; (6) and by the swelling ocean; (7) verily the punishment of thy Lord will surely descend; (8) there shall be none to withhold it. (9) On that day the heaven shall be shaken and shall reel, (10) and the mountains shall walk and pass away. And on that day woe be unto those who accused God’s apostles of imposture; (12) who amused themselves in wading in vain disputes! (13) On that day shall they be driven and thrust into the fire of hell; (14) and it shall be said unto them, This is the fire which ye denied as a fiction. (15) Is this a magic illusion? Or do ye not see? (16) Enter the same to be scorched: whether ye bear your torments patiently or impatiently, it will be equal unto you: ye shall surely receive the reward of that which ye have wrought. But the pious shall dwell amidst gardens and pleasures, delighting themselves in what their Lord shall have given them; and their Lord shall deliver them from the pains of hell. And it shall be said unto them, Eat and drink with easy digestion, because of that which ye have wrought; leaning on couches disposed in order: and we will espouse them unto virgins having large black eyes. And unto those who believe, and whose offspring follow them in the faith, we will join their offspring in Paradise; and we will not diminish unto them aught of the merit of their works. (Every man is given in pledge for that which he shall have wrought.) And we will give them fruits in abundance, and flesh of the kinds which they shall desire. They shall present unto one another therein a cup of wine, wherein there shall be no vain discourse, nor any incitement unto wickedness. And youths appointed to attend them shall go round them, beautiful as pearls hidden in their shell. And they shall approach unto one another, and shall ask mutual questions. (26) And they shall say, Verily we were heretofore, amidst our family, in great dread with regard to our state after death; (27) but God hath been gracious unto us, and hath delivered us from the pain of burning fire: (28) for we called on him heretofore; and he is the beneficent, the merciful.
∥ (29) Wherefore do thou, O Prophet, admonish thy people. Thou art not, by the grace of thy Lord, a soothsayer or a madman. Do they say, He is a poet; we wait, concerning him, some adverse turn of fortune? (31) Say, Wait ye my ruin: verily I wait, with you, the time of your destruction. (32) Do their mature understandings bid them say this; or are they people who perversely transgress? Do they say, He hath forged the Qurán? Verily they believe not. (34) Let them produce a discourse like unto it, if they speak truth. (35) Were they created by nothing; or were they creators of themselves? Did they create the heavens and the earth? Verily they are not firmly persuaded that God hath created them. (37) Are the stores of thy Lord in their hands? Are they the supreme dispensers of all things? Have they a ladder whereby they may ascend to heaven, and hear the discourses of the angels? Let one, therefore, who hath heard them produce an evident proof thereof. Hath God daughters, and have ye sons? (40) Dost thou ask them a reward for thy preaching? but they are laden with debts. (41) Are the secrets of futurity with them; and do they transcribe the same from the tables of God’s degrees? Do they seek to lay a plot against thee? But the unbelievers are they who shall be circumvented. (43) Have they any god besides God? Far be God exalted above the idols which they associate with him! If they should see a fragment of the heaven falling down upon them, they would say, It is only a thick cloud. Wherefore leave them until they arrive at their day, wherein they shall swoon for fear: (46) a day in which their subtle contrivances shall not avail them at all, neither shall they be protected. And those who act unjustly shall surely suffer another punishment besides this: but the greater part of them do not understand. (48) And wait thou patiently the judgment of thy Lordconcerning them; for thou art in our eye: and celebrate the praise of thy Lord when thou risest up; (49) and praise him in the night-season, and when the stars begin to disappear.
This chapter receives its title from the object by which Muhammad is commanded to swear, mentioned in the first verse. Like chapters li. and lii., this one consists of an earlier and a later portion, or may be, as Noëldeke suggests, fragments of one or two lost Suras have been added to the original revelation of this one by the compilers.
The earlier portion of this chapter presents two items of special interest. The first is the declaration of the Qurán itself that Muhammad was merely a passive instrument of revelation (ver. 6), and that, therefore, the words of the Qurán are in no sense whatever the words of Muhammad himself. The second item of special interest is the description of the angelic vision vouchsafed to Muhammad, and which was to him the proof of his apostleship. See the subject discussed in note on ver. 11.
The latter portion of the chapter contains the passage which records, in its amended form, a revelation said to have been suggested by Satan at the time of the lapse of the Prophet. The question of the lapse will be found discussed in notes on chap. xxii. 53.
Guided by the traditions relating to the lapse alluded to in vers. 19-23, the date of this portion of the chapter would be the months of Ramadhán and Shawwál of the fifth year of the Call. Vers. 26-33 are probably of a somewhat later origin, while vers. 58-62 seem to form a little Sura by themselves. This portion, with the first eighteen verses, were the earliest revelations of this chapter.
|Oath that Muhammad received the Qurán from the Angel Gabriel||1-5|
|Description of the angelic visions vouchsafed to Muhammad||6-18|
|The revelation concerning Al Lát, Al Uzzah, and Manáh, &c.||19-23|
|The vanity of trusting to the intercession of female deities||24-31|
|God almighty and omniscient||32, 33|
|Rebuke of a man who employed another to bear his punishment on the judgment-day||34-56|
|Muhammad a preacher like other prophets||57|
|The judgment-day approacheth, therefore prepare for it||58-62|
∥ By the star when it setteth, (2) your companion Muhammad erreth not, nor is he led astray, (3) neither doth he speak of his own will. (4) It is no other than a revelation, (5) which hath been revealed unto him. One mighty in power, endued with understanding, taught it him: and he appeared in the highest part of the horizon. Afterwards he approached the Prophet, and near unto him, until he was at the distance of two bows’ length from him, or yet nearer; (10) and he revealed unto his servant that which he revealed. The heart of Muhammad did not falsely represent that which he saw. (12) Will ye therefore dispute with him concerning that which he saw? He also saw him another time, by the lote-tree beyond which there is no passing: (15) near it is the garden of eternal abode. When the lote-tree covered that which it covered, (17) his eyesight turned not aside, neither did it wander: and he really beheld some of the greatest signs of his Lord. What think ye of Al Lát, and Al Uzza, and Manáh, that other third goddess? Have ye male children, and God female? (22) This, therefore, is an unjust partition. (23) They are no other than empty names, which ye and your fathers have named goddesses.God hath not revealed concerning them anything to authorise their worship. They follow no other than a vain opinion, and what their souls desire: yet hath the true direction come unto them from their Lord. Shall man have whatever he wisheth for? (25) The life to come and the present life areGod’s.
∥ And how many angels soever there be in the heavens, their intercession shall be of no avail, (27) until after God shall have granted permission unto whom he shall please and shall accept. (28) Verily they who believe not in the life to come give unto the angels a female appellation. (29) But they have no knowledge herein: they follow no other than a bare opinion; and a bare opinion attaineth not anything of truth. (30) Wherefore withdraw from him who turneth away from our admonition and seeketh only the present life. (31) This is their highest pitch of knowledge. Verily thy Lord well knoweth him who erreth from his way; and he well knoweth him who is rightly directed.
∥ (32) Unto Godbelongeth whatever is in heaven and earth, that he may reward those who do evil according to that which they shall have wrought, and may reward those who do well with the most excellent reward.As to those who avoid great crimes and heinous sins, and are guilty only of lighter faults, verily thy Lordwill be extensive in mercy towards them. He well knew you when he produced you out of the earth, and when ye were embryos in your mothers’ wombs: wherefore justify not yourselves: he best knoweth the man who feareth him.
∥ (34) What thinkest thou of him who turneth aside from following the truth, and giveth little, and covetously stoppeth his hand? Is the knowledge of futurity with him, so that he seeth the same? (37) Hath he not been informed of that which is contained in the books of Moses, (38) and of Abraham, who faithfully performed his engagements? (39) To wit, that a burdened soul shall not bear the burden of another; (40) and that nothing shall be imputed to a man for righteousness except his own labour; (41) and that his labour shall surely be made manifest hereafter, (42) and that he shall be rewarded for the same with a most abundant reward; (43) and that unto thy Lordwill be the end of all things; (44) and that he causeth to laugh, and causeth to weep; (45) and that he putteth to death, and giveth life; (46) and that he createth the two sexes, the male and the female, (47) of seed when it is emitted; (48) and that unto him appertaineth another production, namely, the raising of the dead again to life hereafter; (49) and that he enricheth, and causeth to acquire possessions; and that he is the Lord of the dog-star; (51) and that he destroyed the ancient tribe of Ád, (52) and Thamúd, and left not any of them alive; (53) and also the people of Noah before them; for they were most unjust and wicked: and he overthrew the cities which were turned upside down; (55) and that which covered them, covered them. (56) Which, therefore, of thy Lord’s benefits, O man, wilt thou call in question? This our Apostle is a preacher like the preachers who preceded him. (58) The approaching day of judgment draweth near: there is none who can reveal the exact time of the same, besides God. (59) Do ye, therefore, wonder at this new revelation, (60) and do ye laugh, and not weep, (61) spending your time in idle diversions? (62) but rather worship God, and serve him.
This chapter owes its title to the statement in ver. 1 that the moon shall be split in sunder as a sign of the approach of the judgmentday.
In style and matter this chapter so closely resembles chapter xi. that it might be called a compend of it. Noëldeke, however, points out that this is the first chapter in chronological order in which the Qurán gives the histories of several prophets together. This being so, we may regard the longer chapter as presenting a more detailed account of the events briefly described here.
The purpose of the revelations of this chapter was to meet the charge of imposture brought by the Quraish against Muhammad. No direct refutation is attempted. The stories of the destruction of other nations and peoples who had rejected their prophets are briefly narrated. Throughout these stories the prophets Noah, Húd, Sálih, Lot, and Moses are represented as messengers of God in all respects like Muhammad, as opposed by unbelievers of the same character as the Quraish, and as charged by the infidels of their day with imposture. The inference from each story is that Muhammad is a true prophet, and that his persecutors are doomed to destruction for their impiety in rejecting him.
After each of the stories related save the last, the following words occur as a sort of refrain: “Now have we made the Qurán easy for admonition, but is any one admonished thereby?” This sad refrain, together with the command to withdraw from the infidels (ver. 6), shows that Muhammad despaired of the conversion of his townsmen.
This chapter belongs to Makkah. Some Muslim writers, supposing ver. 45 to point to the battle of Badr, and vers. 47-49 to relate to the Christian embassy of Najrán, have thought the whole chapter to be Madínic; but the circumstances of the Prophet, the attitude of his opponents, the matter of the revelations, and the style of composition, all point to Makkah.
As to the date of the revelations, Noëldeke places this chapter at the very beginning of his second period—the fifth year of the call. This seems to me to be too early. It is true that persecution of the Muslims is not positively mentioned in this chapter. If, however, the stories of the prophets reflect the circumstances of the Muslims at the time they were here recorded, we may fairly infer that persecution of the Muslims had already begun. Then the command to withdraw and the despair of the Prophet regarding the conversion of the Quraish, point to a later date. Identifying the “withdrawal” with the retirement to the sheb of Abu Tálib, I would fix the date of this chapter at about b.h. 6 or 7. This agrees essentially with Muir, who places it near the beginning of his fourth stage.
|The moon shall be split as a sign of the judgment-day||1, 2|
|Muhammad commanded to withdraw from the infidels||3-6|
|Infidels shall surely be overtaken suddenly by the judgment||6-8|
|Noah was charged with imposture by his enemies, who were destroyed by the flood||9-14|
|Noah’s Ark, like the Qurán, a sign to unbelievers who will not be warned||15-18|
|The Ádites destroyed for calling their prophet an impostor||19-22|
|The Thamúdites destroyed for rejecting their prophet as an impostor||23-32|
|The Sodomites destroyed because they rejected Lot as an impostor||33-40|
|Pharaoh and his people destroyed for rejecting Moses as an impostor||41, 42|
|The people of Makkah warned by these examples of coming judgment||43-48|
|God’s decree certain and irresistible—illustrated by destruction of former nations||49-51|
|All actions recorded in the Divine records||52, 53|
|The pious shall dwell in the gardens of Paradise||54, 55|
∥ The hour of judgment approacheth, and the moon hath been split in sunder; but if the unbelievers see a sign, they turn aside, saying, This is a powerful charm. And they accuse thee, O Muhammad, of imposture, and follow their own lusts: but everything will be immutably fixed. And now hath a message come unto them, wherein is a determent from obstinate infidelity;the same being consummate wisdom: but warners profit them not; wherefore do thou withdraw from them. The day whereon the summoner shall summon mankind to an ungrateful business, (7) they shall come forth from their graves with downcast looks, numerous as locusts scattered far abroad; (8) hastening with terror unto the summoner. The unbelievers shall say, This is a day of distress. The people of Noah accused that prophet of imposture before thy people rejected thee: they accused our servant of imposture, saying, He is a madman; and he was rejected with reproach. He called, therefore, upon his Lord,saying, Verily I am overpowered; wherefore avenge me. (11) So we opened the gates of heaven, with water pouring down, (12) and we caused the earth to break forth into springs; so that the water of heaven and earth met, according to the decree which had been established. (13) And we bare him on a vessel composed of planks and nails; which moved forward under our eyes: as a recompense unto him who had been ungratefully rejected. And we left the said vessel for a sign: but is any one warned thereby? (16) And how severe was my vengeance and my threatening! (17) Now have we made the Qurán easy for admonition: but is any one admonished thereby? (18) Ád charged their prophet with imposture; but how severe was my vengeance, and my threatening! Verily we sent against them a roaring wind, on a day of continued ill-luck; it carried men away as though they had been roots of palm-trees forcibly torn up. (21) And how severe was my vengeance and my threatening! (22) Now we have made the Qurán easy for admonition; but is any one admonished thereby?
∥ (23) Thamúd charged the admonitions of their prophet with falsehood, (24) and said, Shall we follow a single man among us? verily we should then be guilty of error and preposterous madness: (25) is the office of admonition committed unto him preferably to the rest of us? Nay; he is a liar and an insolent fellow. (26) But God said to Sálih, To-morrow shall they know who is the liar and the insolent person; for we will surely send the she-camel for a trial of them: and do thou observe them, and bear their insults with patience; and prophesy unto them that the water shall be divided between them, and each portion shall be sat down to alternately. And they called their companion; and he took a sword and slew her. (30) But how severe was my vengeance and my threatening! For we sent against them one cry of the Angel Gabriel; and they became like the dry sticks used by him who buildeth a fold for cattle. (32) And now have we made the Qurán easy for admonition; but is any one admonished thereby?
∥ (33) The people of Lot charged his preaching with falsehood; (34) but we sent against them a wind driving a shower of stones, which destroyed them all except the family of Lot; whom we delivered early in the morning, (35) through favour from us. Thus do we reward those who are thankful. (36) And Lot had warned them of our severity in chastising; but they doubted of that warning. And they demanded his guests of him, that they might abuse them: but we put out their eyes, saying, Taste my vengeance and my threatening. And early in the morning a lasting punishment surprised them. (39) Taste, therefore, my vengeance and my threatening. (40) Now have we made the Quran easy for admonition; but is any one admonished thereby? The warning of Moses also came unto the people of Pharaoh; but they charged every one of our signs with imposture: wherefore we chastised them with a mighty and irresistible chastisement. (43) Are your unbelievers, O Makkans, better than these? Is immunity from punishment promised unto you in the scriptures? (44) Do they say, We are a body of men able to prevail against our enemies? The multitude shall surely be put to flight, and shall turn their back. But the hour of judgment is their threatened time ofpunishment; and that hour shall be more grievous and more bitter than their afflictions in this life. (47) Verily the wicked wander in error, and shall be tormented hereafter in burning flames. (48) On that day they shall be dragged into the fire on their faces; and it shall be said unto them, Taste ye the touch of hell. (49) All things have we created bound by a fixed decree: and our command is no more than a single word, like the twinkling of an eye. (51) We have formerly destroyed nations like unto you; but is any of you warned by their example? (52) Everything which they do is recorded in the books kept by the guardian angels; (53) and every action, both small and great, is written down in the preserved table. (54) Moreover, the pious shall dwell among gardens and rivers, (55) in the assembly of truth, in the presence of a most potent king.
This chapter, as indicated by the name given to God in the first verse, from which it receives its title, is a psalm of praise to Allah for his manifold mercies to mankind. This revelation of God is exhibited in his works of creation and providence, but especially in his bountiful provision for the happiness of Muslims amid the gardens and by the cooling fountains and rivers of Paradise.
Among Muslims this is one of the most popular chapters in the Qurán. This is no doubt due partly to its sensual description of Paradise and partly to the “fixed alternating versicle throughout, quaintly addressed in the dual number both to men and genii. To suit the rhyme the objects are introduced in pairs, excepting the damsels, whose number may not thus be limited” (Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 142). This arrangement gives the reading of the chapter in the Arabic language a certain musical ring which is very charming to the ear of an Oriental. In form it resembles Psalm xxxvii., of which, as has been conjectured by Marracci, it is an imitation.
There can be but one judgment as to the locality in which this chapter originated. “Its fanciful character,” says Noëldeke, “shows it to be a later Makkan production.” Some Muslim writers hold that the whole chapter is Madínic, or that at least ver. 29 is so; but this opinion is rejected by the better class of commentators. As to the date, the style and contents alike point to the end of the first period, i.e., of the fourth year of the Call.
|God taught the Qurán to Muhammad||1|
|God the creator of all things||2-15|
|God controlleth the seas and all that is therein||16-25|
|God ever liveth, though all else decay and die||26-30|
|God will certainly judge both men and genii||31-40|
|God will consign the wicked to hell-fire||41-45|
|The joys of Paradise described||46-78|
∥ The Merciful hath taught his servant the Qurán. (2) He created man; (3) he hath taught him distinct speech. (4) The sun and the moon run their courses according to a certain rule: (5) and the vegetables which creep on the ground, and the trees submit to his disposition. He also raised the heaven; and he appointed the balance, (7) that ye should not transgress in respect to the balance: (8) wherefore observe a just weight, and diminish not the balance. (9) And the earth hath he prepared for living creatures: (10) therein are various fruits, and palm-trees bearing sheaths of flowers; (11) and grain having chaff, and leaves. Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny?
∥ He created man of dried clay like an earthen vessel: but he created the genii of fire clear from smoke. (15) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? He is the Lord of the east, (17) and the Lord of the west. (18) Which, therefore of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? He hath let loose the two seas, that they meet each another: (20) between them is placed a bar which they cannot pass. (21) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? (22) From them are taken forth unions and lesser pearls. (23) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? (24) His also are the ships, carrying their sails aloft in the sea like mountains. (25) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? (26) Every creature which liveth on the earth is subject to decay: (27) but the glorious and honourable countenance of thy Lord shall remain for ever. (28) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny?
∥ Unto him do all creatures which are in heaven and earth make petition: every day is he employed in some new work. (30) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? (31) We will surely attend to judge you, O men and genii, at the last day. (32) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? O ye collective body of genii and men, if ye be able to pass out of the confines of heaven and earth, pass forth: ye shall not pass forth but by absolute power. (33) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? A flame of fire without smoke, and a smoke without flame shall be sent down upon you, and ye shall not be able to defend yourselves therefrom. (36) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? And when the heaven shall be rent in sunder, and shall become red as a rose, and shall melt like ointment. (38) (Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny?) On that day neither man nor genius shall be asked concerning his sin. (40) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? The wicked shall be known by their marks, and they shall be taken by the forelocks and the feet and shall be cast into hell. (42) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? (43) This is hell, which the wicked deny as a falsehood: they shall pass to and fro between the same and hot boiling water. (45) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny?
∥ But for him who dreadeth the tribunal of his Lordare prepared two gardens: (47) (Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny?) (48) planted with shady trees. (49) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? (50) In each of them shall be two fountains flowing. (51) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? In each of them shall there be of every fruit two kinds. (53) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? They shall repose on couches, the linings whereof shall be of thick silk interwoven with gold: and the fruit of the two gardens shall be near at hand together. (55) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Therein shall receive them beauteous damsels, refraining their eyes from beholding any besides their spouses: whom no man shall have deflowered before them, neither any genius: (Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny?) Having complexions like rubies and pearls. (59) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? (60) Shall the reward of good works be any other good? (61) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? And besides these there shall be two other gardens: (63) Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Of a dark green. Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? In each of them shall be two fountains pouring forth plenty of water. Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? In each of them shall be fruits, and palm-trees, and pomegranates. Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Therein shall be agreeable and beauteous damsels: Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Having fine black eyes, and kept in pavilions from public view: Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Whom no man shall have deflowered before their destined spouses, nor any genius. Which, therefore, of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Therein shall they delight themselves, lying on green cushions and beautiful carpets. (77) Which, therefore of your Lord’s benefits will ye ungratefully deny? (78) Blessed be the name of the Lord, possessed of glory and honour!
This chapter forms a single discourse. The first three verses may be regarded as giving the subject of the discourse. In the following verses we have described: (1) the terrors which shall suddenly befall the human race at the judgment-day; (2) the rewards of the righteous to which they shall then be admitted; (3) the punishment then to be inflicted upon the wicked, because they had refused to believe in the warnings of the Qurán; and, finally, arguments to prove the possibility of the resurrection of the dead.
Some writers, however, maintain that a new part of this chapter begins with ver. 74; but since the termination of both parts are alike and ver. 87 seq. refer to what is said in the first part, it is only reasonable to regard the chapter as forming a whole.
A few writers have held this chapter to be Madínic, or that at least vers. 74-81 are so, or ver. 81 only, which they suppose to refer to the hypocrites of Madína; or vers. 91-96 for the same reason; or, finally, vers. 1-3, which they suppose to allude to the battle of Badr. The style and matter of the chapter are, however, too clearly in favour of a Makkan origin to admit of any doubt.
As to the date of the revelations, Noëldeke places this chapter immediately after chap. lii. Muir makes it to follow chap. lv., which, considering the similarity of the description of the sensual delights of Paradise and the torments of hell, is the better arrangement.
|The coming of the judgment-day inevitable||1, 2|
|Its terrors described||3-7|
|Its coming shall separate men into three classes||8-11|
|Joys of the Muslim heaven described||12-39|
|The punishment of the wicked in hell depicted||40-56|
|Arguments for the resurrection of the dead drawn from God’s work in creation and providence||57-73|
|Oath by the stars that the Qurán is divinely inspired||74-81|
|Men should believe in God since they cannot save the dying from death||82-96|
∥ When the inevitable day of judgment shall suddenly come, (2) no soul shall charge the prediction of its coming with falsehood: (3) it will abase some and exalt others. (4) When the earth shall be shaken with a violent shock, (5) and the mountains shall be dashed in pieces, (6) and shall become as dust scattered abroad; (7) and ye shall be separated into three distinct classes: the companions of the right hand (how happy shall the companions of the right hand be!), and the companions of the left hand (now miserable shall the companions of the left hand be!); and those who have preceded others inthe faith shall precede them to Paradise. (11) These are they who shall approach near unto God: (12) they shall dwell in gardens of delight. (13) (There shall be many of the former religions, and few of the last.) (15) Reposing on couches adorned with gold and precious stones, sitting opposite to one another thereon. Youths which shall continue in their bloom for ever, shall go round about to attend them, with goblets, and beakers, and a cup of flowing wine: their heads shall not ache by drinking the same, neither shall their reason be disturbed: and with fruits of the sorts which they shall choose, and the flesh of birds of the kind which they shall desire. And there shall accompany them fair damsels having large black eyes; resembling pearls hidden in their shells: as a reward for that which they shall have wrought. They shall not hear therein any vain discourse, or any charge of sin; but only the salutation, Peace! Peace! (26) And the companions of the right hand (how happy shall the companions of the right hand be!) (27) shall have their abode among lote-trees free from thorns, and trees of mauz loaded regularly with their produce from top to bottom; (29) under an extended shade, near a flowing water, (31) and amidst fruits in abundance, (32) which shall not fail, nor shall be forbidden to be gathered: and they shall repose themselves on lofty beds. Verily we have created the damsels of Paradise by a peculiar creation: and we have made them virgins, (36) beloved by their husbands, of equal age with them; (37) for the delight of the companions of the right hand. There shall be many of the former religions, and many of the latter.
∥ And the companions of the left hand (how miserable shall the companions of the left hand be!) shall dwell amidst burning winds and scalding water, under the shade of a black smoke, neither cool nor agreeable. For they enjoyed the pleasures of life before this, while on earth; and obstinately persisted in a heinous wickedness: and they said, After we shall have died, and become dust and bones, shall we surely be raised to life? Shall our forefathers also be raised with us? Say, Verily both the first and the last shall surely be gathered together to judgment, at the prefixed time of a known day. Then ye, O men, who have erred, and denied the resurrection as a falsehood, shall surely eat of the fruit of the tree of al Zaqqúm, and shall fill your bellies therewith: and ye shall drink thereon boiling water; and ye shall drink as a thirsty camel drinketh. This shall be their entertainment on the day of judgment. (57) We have created you: will ye not therefore believe that we can raise you from the dead? (58) What think ye? The seed which ye emit, (59) do ye create the same, or are we the creators thereof? (60) We have decreed death unto you all: and we shall not be prevented. (61) We are able to substitute others like unto you in your stead, and to produce you again in the condition or form which ye know not. (62) Ye know the original production by creation; will ye not therefore consider that we are able to produce you by resuscitation? (63) What think ye? The grain which ye sow, (64) do ye cause the same to spring forth, or do we cause it to spring forth? If we pleased, verily we could render the same dry and fruitless, so that ye would not cease to wonder, saying, Verily we have contracted debts for seed and labour, but we are not permitted to reap the fruit thereof. (67) What think ye? The water which ye drink, (68) do ye send down the same from the clouds, or are we the senders thereof? (69) If we pleased, we could render the same brackish: will ye not therefore give thanks? (70) What think ye. The fire which ye strike, do ye produce the tree whence ye obtain the same, or are we the producers thereof? We have ordained the same for an admonition, and an advantage to those who travel through the deserts. (73) Wherefore praise the name of thy Lord, the great God.
∥ Moreover I swear by the setting of the stars, (75) (and it is surely a great oath, if ye knew it,) (76) that this is the excellent Qurán, (77) the original whereof is written in the preserved book: none shall touch the same except those who are clean. (79) It is a revelation from the Lord of all creatures. (80) Will ye, therefore, despise this new revelation? And do ye make this return for your food which ye receive from God, that ye deny yourselves to be obliged to him for the same? When the soul of a dying person cometh up to his throat, and ye at the same time are looking on, (and we are nigher unto him than ye, but ye see not histrue condition,) would ye not, if ye are not to be rewarded for your action hereafter, cause the same to return into the body, if ye speak the truth? And whether he be of those who shall approach near unto God,his reward shall be rest, and mercy, and a garden of delights: or whether he be of the companions of the right hand, he shall be saluted with the salutation, Peace be unto thee! by the companions of the right hand, his brethren: or whether he be of those who have rejected the true faithand gone astray, his entertainment shall consist of boiling water and the burning of hell-fire. (95) Verily this is a certain truth. (96) Wherefore praise the name of thy Lord, the great God.
The title of this chapter is taken from the mention of iron in ver. 25. The object of the revelations seems to have been to arouse the faithful to greater zeal and energy in warring for the faith. It belongs, therefore, to a period in the history of Islám when Muhammad was in trouble. From ver. 22 seq. we infer that that period was the dark time succeeding the defeat at Ohod; comp. ver. 22 seq. with chap. iii. 149-154. The latter part of the chapter, vers. 25-29, is addressed to Christians, and therefore probably belongs to a different period. This part is specially interesting, because it sets forth Muhammad’s prophetic claims in relation to the former prophets and especially in relation to Jesus. We find that all these prophets are recognised as well as the Word of God spoken by them. The “Gospel,” by which is intended the New Testament Scriptures, is distinctly mentioned. The prophets and Jesus are all the servants of God, and the books sent down to them are the Word of God; but now another Prophet and a new revelation have been sent. It is the duty of Christians to recognise these; failing which they must be regarded as “evil-doers” (ver. 27).
Muslim authors are quite divided in opinion as to where this chapter belongs. The statement in ver. 10, according to the interpretation of Al Farrá, Al Bagháwi, and Al Buḳhári, is quite decisive for Makkah. But, according to others, this statement does not refer to Makkah at all, but to the “victory” at Badr. See Rodwell. Turning to the style and spirit of the composition, we find it on the whole decidedly Madínic.
As to the date of composition, Noëldeke says, “Verse 22 seq. implies, if we are not mistaken (comp ver. 23, with chap. iii. 149 seq.), that Muhammad at this time was in distress. We are therefore inclined to place this Sura in the time between the faith of Ohod and the war of the Ditch.”
|God omniscient and omnipresent||1-6|
|Muslims exhorted to give alms and help on the holy war||7-11|
|The wise and the foolish in the judgment-day||12-14|
|True believers admonished to submit humbly to God||15-17|
|God will reward the faithful but will punish the wicked||18|
|The present life a vain show||19, 20|
|Men exhorted to seek the life to come||21|
|All things recorded in God’s book of decrees||22, 23|
|God hateth proud and covetous persons (therefore the defeat at Ohod)||24|
|Apostles sent to former nations||25|
|Noah, Abraham, the prophets, and Jesus, with the Gospel, sent||26, 27|
|Christians exhorted to become Muslims||28, 29|
∥ Whatever is in heaven and earth singeth praise unto God; and he is mighty and wise. His is the kingdom of heaven and earth; he giveth life, and he putteth to death; and he is almighty. He is the first and the last; the manifest and the hidden: and he knoweth all things. It is he who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and then ascended his throne. He knoweth that which entereth into the earth, and that which issueth out of the same, and that which descendeth from heaven, and that which ascendeth thereto: and he is with you wheresoever ye be: for God seeth that which ye do. His is the kingdom of heaven and earth; and unto God shall all things return. He causeth the night to succeed the day, and he causeth the day to succeed the night; and he knoweth the innermost part of men’s breasts. Believe in God and his Apostle, and lay out in alms a part of the wealth whereof God hath made you inheritors: for unto such of you as believe and bestow alms shall be given a great reward. And what aileth you, that ye believe not in God, when the Apostle inviteth you to believe in your Lord; and he hath received your covenant concerning this matter, if ye believe any proposition? (9) It is he who hath sent down unto his servant evident signs, that he may lead you out of darkness into light; for Godis compassionate and merciful unto you. And what aileth you, that ye contribute not of your substance for the defence of God’s true religion? Since unto Godappertaineth the inheritance of heaven and earth. Those among you who shall have contributed and fought in defence of the faith before the taking of Makkah, shall not be held equal with those who shall contribute and fight for the same afterwards. These shall be superior in degree unto those who shall contribute and fight for the propagation of the faith after the abovementioned success; but unto all hath God promised a most excellent reward; and God well knoweth that which ye do.
∥ (11) Who is he that will lend unto God an acceptable loan? for he will double the same unto him, and he shall receive moreover an honourable reward. On a certain day thou shalt see the true believers of both sexes: their light shall run before them, and on their right hands; and it shall be said unto them, Good tidings unto you this day: gardens through which rivers flow; ye shall remain therein for ever. This will be great felicity. On that day the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women shall say unto those who believe, Stay for us, that we may borrow some of your light. It shall be answered, Return back into the world and seek light. And a high wall shall be set betwixt them, wherein shall be a gate, within which shall be mercy; and without it, over against the same, the torment of hell. The hypocrites shall call out unto the true believers, saying, Were we not with you? They shall answer, Yea; but ye seduced your own souls by your hypocrisy; and ye waited our ruin; and ye doubted concerning the faith; and your wishes deceived you, until the decree of God came, and ye died; and the deceiver deceived you concerning God. (14) This day, therefore, a ransom shall not be accepted of you, nor of those who have been unbelievers. Your abode shall be hell-fire: this is what ye have deserved; and an unhappy journey shall it be thither! (15) Is not the time yet come unto those who believe, that their hearts should humbly submit to the admonition of God, and to that truth which hath been revealed; and that they be not as those unto whom the Scripture was given heretofore, and to whom the time of forbearance was prolonged, but their hearts were hardened, and many of them were wicked doers? (16) Know that God quickeneth the earth after it hath been dead. Now have we distinctly declared our signs unto you, that ye may understand. (17) Verily as to the almsgivers, both men and women, and those who lend unto God an acceptable loan, he will double the same unto them; and they shall moreover receive an honourable reward. And they who believe in God and his apostles, these are the men of veracity, and the witnesses in the presence of their Lord: they shall have their reward and their light. But as to those who believe not, and accuse our signs of falsehood, they shall be the companions of hell.
∥ (19) Know that this present life is only a toy and a vain amusement: and worldly pomp, and the affectation of glory among you, and the multiplying of riches and children, are as the plants nourished by the rain, the springing up whereof delighteth the husbandmen; afterwards they wither, so that thou seest the same turned yellow, and at length they become dry stubble. And in the life to come will be a severe punishment for those who covet worldly grandeur; (20) and pardon from God, and favour for those who renounce it: for this present life is no other than a deceitful provision. (21) Hasten with emulation to obtain pardon from your Lord, and Paradise, the extent whereof equalleth the extent of heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in God and his apostles. This is the bounty of God: he will give the same unto whom he pleaseth; and God is endued with great bounty. (22) No accident happeneth in the earth, nor in your persons, but the same was entered in the book of our decrees before we created it: verily this is easy with God: (23) and this is written lest ye immoderately grieve for the good which escapeth you, or rejoice for that which happened unto you; for God loveth no proud or vainglorious person, (24) or those who are covetous, and command men covetousness. And whoso turneth aside from giving alms; verily Godis self-sufficient, worthy to be praised. We formerly sent our apostles with evident miracles and arguments; and we sent down with them the Scriptures and the balance, that men might observe justice: and we sent them down iron, wherein is mighty strength for war, and various advantages unto mankind: that God may know who assisteth him and his apostles in secret; for Godis strong and mighty.
∥ (26) We formerly sent Noah and Abraham, and we established in their posterity the gift of prophecy, and the Scripture: and of them some were directed, but many of them were evil-doers. Afterwards we caused our apostles to succeed in their footsteps; and we caused Jesus the son of Mary to succeed them, and we gave him the gospel: and we put in the hearts of those that followed him compassion and mercy: but as to the monastic state, they instituted the same (we did not prescribe it to them) only out of a desire to please God; yet they observed not the same as it ought truly to have been observed. And we gave unto such of them as believed their reward: but many of them were wicked doers. O ye who believe in the prophets, fear God and believe in his Apostle Muhammad: he will give you two portions of his mercy, and he will ordain you a light wherein ye may walk, and he will forgive you; for Godis ready to forgive, and merciful! that those who have received the Scriptures may know that they have not power over any of the favours of God, and that good is in the hand of God; he bestoweth the same on whom he pleaseth: for Godis endued with great beneficence.
This chapter differs from most of the chapters of the Qurán in that it is addressed entirely to the Muslims. Nothing could better illustrate the change which had taken place in the fortunes of the Makkan preacher. No longer does he appear as “a mere warner;” no more does he strive to win over his adversaries by appeals to the signs of God in his works and in his Qurán. Influential enemies and hypocritical allies are alike ignored. Even Muslims are now made to feel the power of their Prophet. Ancient customs are abrogated, with heavy penalties attached to any infringement of the new law. Muslims must henceforth show outward respect, even to the extent of bringing a gift (alms), though this regulation seems to have proved so unpopular as to require speedy abrogation.
We have in the latter verses of this chapter signs of that fanaticism, allied to a proud self-righteousness, which has ever since characterised the followers of Muhammad. “The party of God” is henceforth to be separated from “the party of the devil.” Dearest friends and kindred are to be shunned, unless by the formal utterance of the Kalimah, they join “the party of God.”
From what has already been said, it is plain that this is one of the latest of the Madína chapters. The opinion of those who regard vers. 1-10 as Makkan is certainly mistaken. Scarcely less mistaken is the opinion that these verses were revealed during the first years of the Hijra.
The several portions of the chapter, though separate revelations, are nevertheless, in point of time, closely connected together. The earlier authorities fix no date to the incident mentioned in vers. 1-5, but later authorities (Weil, 184) fix its date at the end of a.h. 6, or the beginning of a.h. 7, after the return from Hudaíbíyah. Noëldeke places this chapter immediately after chap. xxiv., inasmuch as the matters treated of here closely resemble those mentioned there.
|An ancient Arab custom of divorce abrogated||1-5|
|Those who oppose Muhammad threatened||6, 7|
|Clandestine discourse against Muhammad censured and forbidden||8-11|
|The prophet of God to be approached with due reverence and honour||12-14|
|Muslims reproached for keeping company with Jews and infidels||15-21|
|Nearest relatives, if unbelievers, to be avoided as enemies of Islám||22|
Twenty eighth Sipara.
∥ Now hath God heard the speech of her who disputed with thee concerning her husband, and made her complaint unto God; and God hath heard your mutual discourse: for Godboth heareth and seeth. As to those among you who divorce their wives by declaring that they will thereafter regard them as their mothers, let them know that they are not their mothers. They only are their mothers who brought them forth; and they certainly utter an unjustifiable saying and a falsehood: (3) but Godis gracious and ready to forgive. Those who divorce their wives by declaring that they will for the future regard them as their mothers, and afterwards would repair what they have said, shall be obliged to free a captive before they touch one another. That is what ye are warned to perform: and Godis well apprised of that which ye do. (5) And whoso findeth not a captive to redeem shall observe a fast of two consecutive months before they touch one another. And whoso shall not be able to fast that time shall feed threescore poor men. This is ordained you that ye may believe in God and his Apostle. These are the statutes of God: and for the unbelievers is prepared a grievous torment. (6) Verily they who oppose God and his Apostle shall be brought low, as the unbelievers who preceded them were brought low. And now have we sent down manifest signs: and an ignominious punishment awaiteth the unbelievers. (7) On a certain day God shall raise them all to life, and shall declare unto them that which they have wrought. God hath taken an exact account thereof; but they have forgotten the same: and Godis witness over all things.
∥ Dost thou not perceive that God knoweth whatever is in heaven and in earth? There is no private discourse among three persons, but he is the fourth of them: nor among five, but he is the sixth of them; neither among a smaller number than this, nor a larger, but he is with them, wheresoever they be: and he will declare unto them that which they have done on the day of resurrection: for God knoweth all things. Hast thou not observed those who have been forbidden to use clandestine discourse, but afterwards return to what they have been forbidden, and discourse privily among themselves of wickedness, and enmity, and disobedience towards the Apostle? And when they come unto thee, they salute thee with that form of salutation wherewith God doth not salute thee; and they say among themselves, by way of derision, Would not God punish us for what we say if this man were a prophet? Hell shall be their sufficient punishment: they shall go down into the same to be burned; and an unhappy journey shall it be! (10) O true believers, when ye discourse privily together, discourse not of wickedness, and enmity, and disobedience towards the Apostle; but discourse of justice and piety: and fear God, before whom ye shall be assembled. (11) Verily the clandestine discourse of the infidels proceedeth from Satan, that he may grieve the true believers: but there shall be none to hurt them in the least, unless by the permission of God; wherefore in God let the faithful trust. O true believers, when it is said unto you, Make room in the assembly; make room: God will grant you ample room in Paradise. And when it is said unto you, Rise up; rise up: God will raise those of you who believe, and those to whom knowledge is given to superior degrees of honour; and Godis fully apprised of that which ye do. O true believers, when ye go to speak with the Apostle, give alms previously to your discoursing with him; this will be better for you, and more pure. But if ye find not what to give, verily Godwill be gracious and merciful unto you. (14) Do ye fear to give alms previously to your discoursing with the Prophet, lest ye should impoverish yourselves? Therefore if ye do it not, and God is gracious unto you by dispensing with the said precept for the future, be constant at prayer, and pay the legal alms; and obey God and his Apostle in all other matters: for God well knoweth that which ye do.
∥ Hast thou not observed those who have taken for their friends a people against whom God is incensed? They are neither of you nor of them: and they swear to a lie knowingly. God hath prepared for them a grievous punishment; for it is evil which they do. They have taken their oaths for a cloak, and they have turned men aside from the way of God: wherefore a shameful punishment awaiteth them; neither their wealth nor their children shall avail them at all against God. These shall be the inhabitants of hell-fire; they shall abide therein for ever. On a certain day God shall raise them all; then will they swear unto him as they swear now unto you, imagining that it will be of service to them. Are they not liars? Satan hath prevailed against them, and hath caused them to forget the remembrance of God. These are the party of the devil; and shall not the party of the devil be doomed to perdition? Verily they who oppose God and his apostles shall be placed among the most vile. God hath written, Verily I will prevail, and my apostles: for Godis strong and mighty. (22) Thou shalt not find people who believe in God and the last day to love him who opposeth God and his Apostle; although they be their fathers, or their sons, or their brethren, or their nearest relations. In the hearts of these hath God written faith: and he hath strengthened them with his spirit: and he will lead them into gardens, beneath which rivers flow, to remain therein for ever. God is well pleased in them; and they are well pleased in him. These are the party of God: and shall not the party of God prosper?
The title of this chapter is taken from a word in the second verse, which means, says Sale, “the quitting or removing from one’s native country or settlement to dwell elsewhere, whether it be by choice or compulsion.” It accords better with the matter of the chapter than titles in the Qurán generally do, nearly the whole chapter being taken up with the expulsion of the Baní Nadhír and matters resulting therefrom.
In the portion of this chapter relating to the distribution of the rich spoils taken from these unfortunate Jews, we see how the Qurán is made to subserve the political interests of Muhammad in providing at once for the replenishment of the war chest (vers. 6 and 7) and for the support of the poor refugees at Madína (vers. 8-10).
The expulsion of the Jews had weakened the party in Madína antagonistic to the Muslims, here styled “the hypocrites.” This party is dealt with severely in this chapter. If the closing words (vers. 18-24) belong to Madína, they were probably intended for the instruction of these hypocrites, though addressed to the “true believers.”
The expulsion of the Baní Nadhír occurred in Rabí ul Awwal, a.h. 4. The revelations of this chapter were enunciated soon after that event. “Of vers. 18-24,” says Noëldeke, “I cannot say anything definite. Nothing, however, hinders their having originated at the same time as the first portion of the Sura (compare the expression yúsabbihú laho in ver. 24 with sabbaha lilláhi in the first verse).”
|Everything in the universe praiseth God||1|
|Passage relating to the expulsion of the Baní Nadhír||2-5|
|Ruling of Muhammad concerning spoils||6, 7|
|Special ruling for the benefit of the Muhájirín||8-10|
|Hypocrites in Madína reproved for treachery||11-17|
|Muslims exhorted to fear God||18-20|
|Had the Qurán descended on a mountain, it would have split asunder||21|
|God hath excellent names, and he only to be worshipped||22-24|
∥ (1) Whatever is in heaven and earth celebrateth the praise of God: and he is the almighty, the wise. It was he who caused those who believed not, of the people who receive the Scripture, to depart from their habitations at the first emigration. Ye did not think that they would go forth; and they thought that their fortresses would protect them against God. But the chastisement ofGod came upon them from whence they did not expect; and he cast terror into their hearts. They pulled down their houses with their own hands, and the hands of the true believers. Wherefore take example from them, O ye who have eyes. And if God had not doomed them to banishment, he had surely punished them in this world; and in the world to come they shall suffer the torment of hell-fire. (4) This, because they opposed God and his Apostle: and whoso opposeth God, verily Godwill be severe in punishing him. (5) What palm trees ye cut down or left standing on their roots, were so cut down or left by the will of God; and that he might disgrace the wicked doers. And as to the spoils of these people, which God hath granted wholly to his Apostle, ye did not push forward any horses or camels against the same; but God giveth unto his apostles dominion over whom he pleaseth: for Godis almighty. (7) The spoils of the inhabitants of the towns which God hath granted to his Apostle are due unto God and to the Apostle, and to him who is of kin to the Apostle, and the orphans, and the poor, and the traveller; that they may not be for ever divided in a circle among such of you as are rich. What the Apostle shall give you, that accept; and what he shall forbid you, that abstain from: and fear God; for Godis severe in chastising.
∥ A part also belongeth to the poor Muhájirín, who have been dispossessed of their houses and their substance, seeking favour from God and his good-will, and assisting God and his Apostle. These are the men of veracity. And they who quietly possessed the town of Madína, and professed the faith without molestation before them, love him who hath fled unto them, and find in their breasts no want of that which is given the Muhájirín, but prefer them before themselves, although there be indigence among them. And whoso is preserved from the covetousness of his own soul, those shall surely prosper. And they who have come after them say, O Lord, forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in the faith, and put not into our hearts ill-will against those who have believed O Lord, verily thou art compassionate and merciful.
∥ Hast thou not observed them who play the hypocrites? They say unto their brethren who believe not, of those who have received the Scriptures, Verily if ye be expelled your habitations, we will surely go forth with you; and we will not pay obedience, in your respect, unto any one for ever: and if ye be attacked, we will certainly assist you. But God is witness that they are liars. Verily if they be expelled, they will not go forth with them: and if they be attacked, they will not assist them: and if they do assist them, they will surely turn their backs; and they shall not be protected. (13) Verily ye are stronger than they, by reason of the terror cast into breasts from God. This, because they are not people of prudence. They will not fight against you in a body, except in fenced towns or from behind walls. Their strength in war among themselves is great: thou thinkest them to be united; but their hearts are divided. This, because they are people who do not understand. Like those who lately preceded them, they have tasted the evil consequence of their deed; and a painful torment is prepared for them hereafter. (16) Thus have the hypocrites deceived the Jews: like the devil, when he saith unto a man, Be thou an infidel; and when he is become an infidel, he saith, Verily I am clear of thee; for I fear God, the Lord of all creatures. (17) Wherefore the end of them both shall be that they shall dwell in hell-fire, abiding therein for ever: and this shall be the recompense of the unjust.
∥ O true believers, fear God; and let a soul look what it sendeth before for the morrow: and fear God, for Godis well acquainted with that which ye do. (19) And be not as those who have forgotten God, and whom he hath caused to forget their own souls: these are the wicked doers. (20) The inhabitants of hell-fire and the inhabitants of Paradise shall not be held equal. The inhabitants of Paradise are they who shall enjoy felicity. If we had sent down this Qurán on a mountain, thou wouldest certainly have seen the same humble itself, and cleave in sunder for fear of God. These similitudes do we propose unto men, that they may consider. (22) He isGod, besides whom there is no God; who knoweth that which is future and that which is present: he is the most Merciful; he isGod, besides whom there is no God: the King the Holy, the Giver of peace, the Faithful, the Guardian, the Powerful, the Strong, the Most High. Far be God exalted above the idols which they associate with him! He is God, the Creator, the Maker, the Former. He hath most excellent names. Whatever is in heaven and in earth praiseth him: and he is the Mighty, the Wise.
This chapter bears this title, says Sale, “because it directs the women who desert and come over from the infidels to the Muslims to be examined and tried whether they be sincere in their profession of the faith.” The incident which is said to have occasioned this revelation is given in the note on the first verse.
The separation of the Muslims from believers, noticed in the Introduction to chap. lviii., is here strictly enjoined. In this case the measure seems to have been a matter of policy to prevent the Quraish from tampering with the loyalty of the refugees, or to prevent their receiving information as to the intentions of the Muslims. See Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. p. 45, note.
According to the Muslim commentators, the first part of this chapter (vers. 1-9) was revealed in a.h. 8, when the incident occurred which is narrated in the note on the first verse. The remaining verses date from a short time after the treaty with the Quraish at Hudaibiyah (ver. 10, note), a.h. 6.
|Muslims forbidden to make friends with the enemies of God||1-3|
|This precept enforced by the example of Abraham||4-6|
|Enemies of God may become friends of Muslims by conversion||7|
|Distinction between enemies and mere unbelievers||8, 9|
|Female refugees, being true believers, are to be regarded as divorced from their heathen husbands||10|
|How to recover dowers of Muslim women who apostatise||11|
|The confession of faith required of converts from Arab idolatry||12|
|True believers not to make friends with infidels||13|
∥ O true believers, take not my enemy and your enemy for your friends, showing kindness towards them; since they believe not in the truth which hath come unto you, having expelled the Apostle and yourselves from your native city, because ye believe in God your Lord. If ye go forth to fight in defence of my religion, and out of a desire to please me, and privately show friendship unto them, verily I well know that which ye conceal and that which ye discover: and whoever of you doth this hath already erred from the straight path. (2) If they get the better of you, they will be enemies unto you, and they will stretch forth their hands and their tongues against you with evil; and they earnestly desire that ye should become unbelievers. (3) Neither your kindred nor your children will avail you at all on the day of resurrection, which will separate you from one another: and God seeth that which ye do. Ye have an excellent pattern in Abraham and those who were with him, when they said unto their people, Verily we are clear of you, and of the idols which ye worship besides God: we have renounced you; and enmity and hatred is begun between us and you for ever, until ye believe in God alone: except Abraham’s saying unto his father, Verily I will beg pardon for thee; but I cannot obtain aught of God in thy behalf. O Lord, in thee do we trust, and unto thee are we turned; and before thee shall we be assembled hereafter. O Lord, suffer us not to be put to trial by the unbelievers; and forgive us, O Lord; for thou art mighty and wise. (6) Verily ye have in them an excellent example, unto him who hopeth in God and the last day: and whoso turneth back; verily Godis self-sufficient and praiseworthy.
∥ Peradventure God will establish friendship between yourselves and such of them as ye now hold for enemies: for Godis powerful; and Godis inclined to forgive, and merciful. As to those who have not borne arms against you on account of religion, nor turned you out of your dwellings, God forbiddeth you not to deal kindly with them, and to behave justly towards them; for God loveth those who act justly. (9) But as to those who have borne arms against you on account of religion, and have dispossessed you of your habitations, and have assisted in dispossessing you, God forbiddeth you to enter into friendship with them: and whosoever of you entereth into friendship with them, those are unjust doers. O true believers, when believing women come unto you as refugees, try them: God well knoweth their faith. And if ye know them to be true believers, send them not back to the infidels: they are not lawful for the unbelievers to have in marriage; neither are the unbelievers lawful for them. But give their unbelieving husbands what they shall have expended for their dowers. Nor shall it be any crime in you if ye marry them, provided ye give them their dowries. And retain not the patronage of the unbelieving women; but demand back that which ye have expended for the dowry of such of your wives as go over to the unbelievers; and let them demand back that which they have expended for the dowry of those who come over to you. This is the judgment of God, which he establisheth among you, and Godis knowing and wise. If any of your wives escape from you to the unbelievers, and ye have your turn by the coming over of any of the unbelievers’ wives to you; give unto those believers whose wives shall have gone away, out of the dowries of the latter, so much as they shall have expended for the dowers of the former: and fear God, in whom ye believe. O Prophet, when believing women come unto thee, and plight their faith unto thee that they will not associate anything with God, nor steal, nor commit fornication, nor kill their children, nor come with a calumny which they have forged between their hands and their feet, nor be disobedient to thee in that which shall be reasonable: then do thou plight thy faith unto them, and ask pardon for them of God; for Godis inclined to forgive, and merciful. O true believers, enter not into friendship with a people against whom God is incensed; they despair of the life to come, as the infidels despair of the resurrection of those who dwell in their graves.
This chapter is an exhortation to Muslims to spend their money and their lives in the defence of Islám. Its title is taken from the words of the fourth verse, “God loveth those who fight for this religion in battle-array.”
The circumstances which gave rise to this exhortation were those which resulted from the disobedience and cowardice of some of the Muslims during the battle of Ohod. This he likens to the rebellion of the Israelites against Moses, probably at Kadesh Barnea. The reference to Jesus, introduced here probably by the compilers of the Qurán, was intended to confirm the faith of the Muslims in this time of distress and doubt. Victory over the infidels had not been secured at Ohod, as they had anticipated, but “a speedy victory” over them would yet be secured (ver. 13), because Islám would yet be exalted over every other religion (ver. 9). If by “religion” we understand the Muhammadan faith, this prophecy was only true of its relation to the idolatrous religions of Arabia. It is probable, however, that Muhammad here identified his religion with the religion of God, which had always been upheld against all enemies in the past, and would therefore finally triumph over all other religions.
From what has been said above we conclude that the probable date of this chapter is about the beginning of a.h. 4. The date of vers. 6-9 is uncertain, but, like the rest of the chapter, is Madínic, “because,” says Noëldeke, “Muhammad before the Hijra could not have spoken of his religion conquering all others (ver. 9).”
|All things in the universe praise God||1|
|Muslims exhorted to be faithful and to fight for Islám||2-4|
|This exhortation enforced by the example of Moses||5|
|Jesus foretells Muhammad by the name Ahmad||6|
|Jesus was rejected as a sorcerer notwithstanding his miracles||7, 8|
|Islám to be exalted above every other religion||9|
|Muslims exhorted to seek wealth by fighting for Islám||10, 11|
|The rewards of those who fight for the faith||12, 13|
|Muslims exhorted to follow the example of the apostles of Jesus||14|
∥ (1) Whatever is in heaven and in earth celebrateth the praise of God; for he is mighty and wise. O true believers, why do ye say that which ye do not? (3) It is most odious in the sight of God that ye say that which ye do not.
∥ (4) Verily God loveth those who fight for his religion in battle-array, as though they were a well-compacted building. Remember when Moses said unto his people, O my people, why do ye injure me; since ye know that I am the apostle of Godsent unto you? And when they had deviated from the truth,God made their hearts to deviate from the right way; for God directeth not wicked people. And when Jesus the Son of Mary said, O children of Israel, verily I am the apostle of Godsent unto you, confirming the law which was delivered before me, and bringing good tidings of an apostle who shall come after me, and whose name shall be Ahmad. And when he produced unto them evident miracles, they said, This is manifest sorcery. (7) But who is more unjust than he who forgeth a lie against God when he is invited unto Islám? And God directeth not the unjust people. (8) They seek to extinguish God’s light with their mouths; but God will perfect his light, though the infidels be averse thereto.It is he who hath sent his Apostle with the direction and the religion of truth, that he may exalt the same above every religion, although the idolaters be averse thereto.
∥ (10) O true believers, shall I show you a merchandise which will deliver you from a painful torment hereafter? (11) Believe in God and his Apostle; and defend God’s true religion with your substance, and in your own persons. This will be better for you, if ye knew it. (12) He will forgive you your sins, and will introduce you into gardens through which rivers flow, and agreeable habitations in gardens of perpetual abode. This will be great felicity. (13) And ye shall obtain other things which ye desire, namely, assistance from God and a speedy victory. And do thou bear good tidings to the true believers. O true believers, be ye the assistants of God; as Jesus the son of Mary said to the apostles, Who will be my assistants with respect to God? The apostles answered, We will be the assistants of God. So a part of the children of Israel believed, and a part believed not: but we strengthened those who believed, above their enemy; wherefore they became victorious over them.
This chapter consists of two parts; first, vers. 1-8, relating to the enmity of the Jews of Madína towards Muhammad and his prophetic pretensions: second, vers. 9-11, relating to the prayer service of Friday, called here the Day of the Assembly, from which the chapter derives its title.
The first part of this chapter is thought to belong to the same period as the greater portion of chap. ii., i.e.,a.h. 2, because it is aimed at the Jews of Madína. The second part of the chapter, according to the commentators, was revealed when Dahya al Kalbi, before his conversion, entered Madína with a loud noise, at the head of a caravan (ver. 11, note). But Noëldeke points out that this statement gives no exact chronological date, because we know nothing of the date of Dahya’s conversion beyond this, that he is said by some to have fought as a Muslim at the battle of the Ditch, and by others at the battle of Ohod. Inasmuch, however, as the Friday prayers were instituted soon after the Hijra, it is probable that this part of the chapter belongs to about the same date as the first part.
|A wise, powerful, and holy God sent Muhammad as his apostle to the Arabians||1-4|
|The Jews rebuked for their opposition to Islám||5-8|
|Admonition concerning the observance of worship on Friday||9-11|
∥ (1) Whatever is in heaven and earth praiseth God, the King, the Holy, the Mighty, the Wise. It is he who hath raised up amidst the illiterate Arabians an Apostle from among themselves, to rehearse his signs unto them, and to purify them, and to teach them the Scriptures and wisdom; whereas before they were certainly in a manifest error; (3) and others of them have not yet attained unto them, by embracing the faith; though they also shall be converted in God’s good time; for he is mighty and wise. (4) This is the free grace of God: he bestoweth the same on whom he pleaseth; and God is endued with great beneficence The likeness of those who were charged with the observance of the law and then observed it not is as the likeness of an ass laden with books. How wretched is the likeness of the people who charge the signs of God with falsehood! and God directeth not the unjust people. Say, O ye who follow the Jewish religion, if ye say that ye are the friends of God above other men, wish for death if ye speak truth. But they will never wish for it, because of that which their hands have sent before them: and God well knoweth the unjust. (8) Say, Verily death, from which ye fly, will surely meet you; then shall ye be brought before him who knoweth as well what is concealed as what is discovered; and he will declare unto you that which ye have done.
∥ O true believers, when ye are called to prayer on the day of the assembly, hasten to the commemoration of God and leave merchandising. This will be better for you, if you knew it. And when prayer is ended, then disperse yourselves through the land as ye list, and seek gain of the liberality of God: and remember God frequently, that ye may prosper. But when they see any merchandising or sport, they flock thereto, and leave thee standing up in the pulpit. Say, The reward which is with Godis better than any sport or merchandise: and God is the best provider.
This chapter was revealed shortly after the expedition against the Baní Mustaliq, in order to rebuke Abdullah Ibn Ubbai and his followers for their treatment of the refugees, and for certain seditious words uttered at the wells of Maraisí when on the march back. See Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. pp. 241, 242. The declaration of ver. 8, that “the worthier shall expel thence the meaner,” though intended to convey a threat, was never fulfilled, except by the gradual absorption of the disaffected by the Muslim party, after that military success had made religious and temporal interests in Madína to be identical.
If what has been said as to the circumstances under which this chapter was enunciated is true, the date of the revelations, excepting vers. 9-11, which may belong to some other period, must be fixed at about the end of a.h. 6.
|The treachery of the hypocrites of Madína exposed and rebuked||1-3|
|Muhammad warned to beware of trusting the hypocrites||4|
|Hypocrites cursed and declared reprobates||5, 6|
|They are threatened with expulsion from Madína||7, 8|
|The duty of almsgiving enjoined||9-11|
∥ When the hypocrites come unto thee, they say, We bear witness that thou art indeed the Apostle of God. And God knoweth that thou art indeed his Apostle; but God beareth witness that the hypocrites are certainly liars. They have taken their oaths for a protection, and they turn others aside from the way of God: it is surely evil which they do. This is testified of them, because they believed, and afterwards became unbelievers: wherefore a seal is set on their hearts, and they shall not understand. When thou beholdest them, their persons please thee; and if they speak, thou hearest their discourse with delight. They resemble pieces of timber set up against a wall. They imagine every shout to be against them. They are enemies: wherefore beware of them. Go curse them: how are they turned aside from the truth! (5) And when it is said unto them, Come, that the Apostle of God may ask pardon for you; they turn away their heads, and thou seest them retire big with disdain. It shall be equal unto them, whether thou ask pardon for them, or do not ask pardon for them: God will by no means forgive them; for God directeth not the prevaricating people. (7) These are the men who say to the inhabitants of Madína, Do not bestow anything on the refugees who are with the Apostle of God, that they may be obliged to separate from him. Whereas unto Godbelong the stores of heaven and earth: but the hypocrites do not understand. They say, Verily, if we return to Madína, the worthier shall expel thence the meaner. Whereas superior worth belongeth unto God and his Apostle, and the true believers; but the hypocrites know it not.
∥ (9) O true believers, let not your riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of God; for whosoever doth this, they will surely be losers. And give alms out of that which we have bestowed on you, before death come unto one of you, and he say, O Lord, wilt thou not grant me respite for a short term, that I may give alms, and become one of the righteous? (11) For God will by no means grant further respite to a soul when its determined time is come: and Godis fully apprised of that which ye do.
The title of this chapter is taken from words found in ver. 9, but there is no connection between it and the matter of the composition.
The revelations are hortatory in their character, but exceedingly confused. In the beginning the exhortation is to faith in God and his power to raise the dead. Farther on the subject is faith in the Qurán. Then we have words of comfort for those in distress, who are urged to trust God, since nothing occurs without his permission. The exhortation then turns to the duty of obeying God and Muhammad; and, finally, married Muslims are urged to contribute towards the cause of God, especially by way of almsgiving, not allowing the cares of family and children to interfere with the performance of this duty.
Neither Muslim commentators nor modern writers are agreed as to whether this chapter belongs to Makkah or Madína. Noëldeke thinks there can be no doubt about vers. 14-18 being Madínic. He thinks this is also probably true of vers. 11-13. Rodwell thinks ver. 7 and the phrase “God and the Apostle” in vers. 8 and 12, together with the subject-matter, confirm the view of those who regard the chapter as Madínic. Weil and Muir regard it as Makkan. Vers. 2-7 are in their form and matter like the ordinary Makkan Suras, and the sentence in ver. 12, “the duty of our Apostle is only a public preaching,” looks also towards Makkah.
On the whole, we think the chapter should be regarded as Madínic, though it includes passages imported into it from Makkah, either by Muhammad or the compilers. As to date, Noëldeke places it just before chap. lxii., which would make its date about a.h. 2.
|All things in heaven and earth praise God||1|
|God hath fore-ordained men to be either believers or unbelievers||2|
|God, the Creator, knoweth all things||3, 4|
|Former nations destroyed for their unbelief||5, 6|
|Unbelief will not prevent infidels from rising from the dead||7|
|Exhortation to believe in God and his Apostle||8-10|
|God sovereign, therefore should be trusted||11-13|
|Muslims exhorted to abjure worldly ties and to devote themselves to God||14-18|
∥ (1) Whatever is in heaven and earth celebrateth the praises of God: his is the kingdom, and unto him is the praise due; for he is almighty. (2) It is he who hath created you; and one of you is predestined to be an unbeliever, and another of you is predestined to be a believer: and God beholdeth that which ye do. (3) He hath created the heavens and the earth with truth; and he hath fashioned you, and given you beautiful forms: and unto him must ye all go. (4) He knoweth whatever is in heaven and earth: and he knoweth that which ye conceal, and that which ye discover; for God knoweth the innermost part of men’s breasts. (5) Have ye not been acquainted with the story of those who disbelieved heretofore, and tasted the evil consequence of their behaviour? And for them is prepared in the life to come a tormenting punishment. (6) This shall they suffer, because their apostles came unto them with evident proofs of their mission, and they said, Shall men direct us? Wherefore they believed not, and turned their backs. But God standeth in need of no person; for Godis self-sufficient, and worthy to be praised. (7) The unbelievers imagine that they shall not be raised again. Say, Yea, by my Lord, ye shall surely be raised again; then shall ye be told that which ye have wrought; and this is easy with God. Wherefore believe in God and his Apostle, and the light which we have sent down; for Godis well acquainted with that which ye do. On a certain day he shall assemble you, at the day of the general assembly: that will be the day of mutual deceit. And whoso shall believe in God, and shall do that which is right, from him will he expiate his evil deeds, and he will lead him into gardens beneath which rivers flow, to remain therein for ever. This will be great felicity. (10) But they who shall not believe, and shall accuse our signs of falsehood, those shall be the inhabitants of hell-fire, wherein they shall remain for ever; and a wretched journey shall it be thither!
∥ (11) No misfortune happeneth but by the permission of God; and whoso believeth in God, he will direct his heart: and God knoweth all things. Wherefore obey God, and obey the Apostle: but if ye turn back, verily the duty incumbent on our Apostle is only public preaching. God! there is no God but he: wherefore in God let the faithful put their trust. (14) O true believers, verily of your wives and your children ye have an enemy: wherefore beware of them. But if ye pass over their offences, and pardon and forgive them,Godis likewise inclined to forgive, and merciful. (15) Your wealth and your children are only a temptation; but with Godis a great reward. Wherefore fear God as much as ye are able; and hear and obey: and give alms for the good of your souls; for whoso is preserved from the covetousness of his own soul, they shall prosper. If ye lend unto God an acceptable loan, he will double the same unto you, and will forgive you: for God is grateful and long-suffering, (18) knowing both what is hidden and what is divulged; the Mighty, the Wise.
This chapter was probably revealed to supplement the law of divorce given in chap. ii. 226-237; hence the title, found in the first verse.
That this is not the original law of divorce, as the title might suggest, is evident from the statement in the first verse, as well as from the testimony of tradition, which states that it was revealed to correct an abuse of the privilege of divorce by Ibn Omar, who, having put away his wife at an improper time, was hereby obliged to take her again.
The latter portion of the chapter reads very much like a Makkan revelation, and indeed is so regarded by at least one author, Umar Bin Muhammad. However, since it is addressed to true believers, it is probably Madínic. It was intended to impress more deeply the Muslim mind with the solemnity of the law which precedes it.
If the first verse refers to Ibn Omar, as tradition declares, then we must refer this chapter to a period as late as a.h. 6 or 8, because Ibn Omar was then only eighteen or twenty years of age. But, Noeldeke informs us, another and an accurate tradition declares that Muhammad only read this passage from the Qurán, it having been revealed before. Noëldeke places it in his chronological list just after chap. iv., whose date is a.h. 4 or 5.
|Certain limitations to the law of divorce||1-7|
|The apostate and disobedient chastised for their sin||8-10|
|True believers exhorted to faith in Muhammad||11|
|God hath created the seven heavens||12|
∥ O Prophet, when ye divorce women, put them away at their appointed term; and compute the term exactly: and fear God your Lord. Oblige them not to go out of their apartments, neither let them go out, until the term be expired, unless they be guilty of manifest uncleanness. These are the statutes of God; and whoever transgresseth the statutes of God assuredly injureth his own soul. Thou knowest not whether God will bring something new to pass, which may reconcile them after this. (2) And when they shall have fulfilled their term, either retain them with kindness, or part from them honourably: and take witnesses from among you, men of integrity; and give your testimony as in the presence of God. (3) This admonition is given unto him who believeth in God and the last day; and whoso feareth God, unto him will he grant a happy issue out of all his afflictions, and he will bestow on him an ample provision from whence he expecteth it not: and whoso trusteth in God, he will be his sufficient support; for God will surely attain his purpose. Now hath God appointed unto everything a determined period. (4) As to such of your wives as shall despair having their courses, by reason of their age; if ye be in doubt thereof, let their term be three months: and let the same be the term of those who have not yet had their courses. But as to those who are pregnant, their term shall be until they be delivered of their burden. And whoso feareth God, unto him will he make his command easy. (5) This is the command of God, which he hath sent down unto you. And whoso feareth God, he will expiate his evil deeds from him and will increase his reward. (6) Suffer the women whom ye divorce to dwell in some part of the houses wherein ye dwell; according to the room and conveniences of the habitations which ye possess: and make them not uneasy, that ye may reduce them to straits. And if they be with child, expend on them what shall be needful, until they be delivered of their burden. And if they suckle their children for you, give them their hire; and consult among yourselves, according to what shall be just and reasonable. And if ye be put to a difficulty herein, and another woman shall suckle the child for him, (7) let him who hath plenty expend proportionably in the maintenance of the mother and the nurse out of his plenty: and let him whose income is scanty expend in proportion out of that which God hath given him. God obligeth no man to more than he hath given him ability to perform:God will cause ease to succeed hardship.
∥ (8) How many cities have turned aside from the command of the Lord and his apostles! Wherefore we brought them to a severe account; and we chastised them with a grievous chastisement: (9) and they tasted the evil consequence of their business; and the end of their business was perdition. (10) God hath prepared for them severe punishment; wherefore fear God, O ye who are endued with understanding. (11) True believers, now hath God sent down unto you an admonition, an Apostle who may rehearse unto you the perspicuous signs of God; that he may bring forth those who believe and do good works from darkness into light. And whoso believeth in God and doth that which is right, him will he lead into gardens beneath which rivers flow, to remain therein for ever: now hath God made an excellent provision for him. It isGod who hath created seven heavens, and as many different storeys of the earth; the divine command descendeth between them; that ye may know that God is omnipotent, and that God comprehendeth all things by his knowledge.
The title of this chapter is taken from the statement of the first verse. According to Sale, who writes on the authority of Baidháwi, Jaláluddín, and Yahya, the occasion of this chapter was as follows: “Muhammad having lain with a slave of his, named Mary, of Coptic extract (who had been sent him as a present by al Muqauqas, governor of Egypt), on the day which was due to Ayesha or to Hafsa, and, as some say, on Hafsa’s own bed, while she was absent; and this coming to Hafsa’s knowledge, she took it extremely ill, and reproached her husband so sharply, that, to pacify her, he promised, with an oath, never to touch the maid again; and to free him from the obligation of this promise was the design of the chapter.”
As, however, such a contretemps was looked upon as improper, another ludicrous story is related to explain vers. 1-5 of this chapter. It is alluded to by Sale thus: “There are some who suppose this passage to have been occasioned by Muhammad’s protesting never to eat honey any more, because, having once eaten some in the apartment of Hafsa or of Zainab, three other of his wives, namely, Ayesha, Sauda, and Safía, all told him they smelt he had been eating of the juice which distils from certain shrubs in those parts, and resembles honey in taste and consistence, but is of a very strong savour, and which the Prophet had a great aversion to.”
This story, Noeldeke thinks, was probably invented by Ayesha, as she was chiefly concerned in this quarrel. Scarcely any portion of the Qurán has been attacked so violently by Christians, or defended so strenuously by Muslims and their apologists as this chapter. In it the character of Muhammad appears in anything but a favourable light. From the Christian standpoint, he appears to have been guilty of breaking a solemn vow, and that in order to gratify unholy passion. This done, he justifies himself by pretending to have the sanction of God for the act. In this light it is difficult to see how he is to be cleared of the charge of imposture. We see here the low and selfish ends which these revelations of the Qurán were now made to subserve. The only parallel to it, and that perhaps an imitation of it, is the pretended revelation by which Smith, the Mormon prophet, sought to justify his adultery.
It appears to me that vers. 6-9, which manifestly relate to other circumstances, and which break the continuity of sentiment between vers. 1-5 and 10-12, were inserted here by mistake, probably by the compilers.
According to Noëldeke, the first and last portions of this chapter, i.e., vers. 1-5 and 10-12, belong to the year a.h. 7. The remaining verses belong to a later period, when Muhammad was in a position to deal harshly with the infidels and hypocrites.
|Muhammad reproved for making a vow to please his wives||1|
|He is relieved from his vow||2|
|Muhammad’s wives reproved and threatened for their jealousy in the affair of Mary, the Coptic slave||3-5|
|Exhortation to believers to exercise faith, repentance, &c.||6-8|
|Muhammad commanded to treat infidels and hypocrites with severity||9|
|The wives of Noah, Lot, Pharaoh, and the daughter of Imrán examples to Muslim women||10-12|
∥ O Prophet, why holdest thou that to be prohibited which God hath allowed thee, seeking to please thy wives; since Godis inclined to forgive, and merciful? God hath allowed you the dissolution of your oaths; and Godis your master; and he is knowing and wise. When the Prophet intrusted as a secret unto one of his wives a certain accident; and when she disclosed the same, and God made it known unto him; he acquainted her with part of what she had done, and forbore to upbraid her with the other part thereof. And when he had acquainted her therewith, she said, Who hath discovered this unto thee? He answered, The knowing, the sagacious God hath discovered it unto me. If ye both be turned unto God (for your hearts have swerved), it is well: but if ye join against him, verily God is his patron; and Gabriel, and the good men among the faithful, and the angels also are his assistants. (5) If he divorce you, his Lord can easily give him in exchange other wives better than you, women resigned unto God, true believers, devout, penitent, obedient, given to fasting, both such as have been known by other men, and virgins. O true believers, save your souls, and those of your families, from the fire whose fuel is men and stones, over which are set angels fierce and terrible; who disobey not God in what he hath commanded them, but perform what they are commanded. O unbelievers, excuse not yourselves this day; ye shall surely be rewarded for what ye have done.
∥ O true believers, turn unto God with a sincere repentance: peradventure your Lord will do away from you your evil deeds, and will admit you into gardens through which rivers flow; on the day whereonGod will not put to shame the Prophet, or those who believe with him: their light shall run before them, and on their right hands, and they shall say, Lord, make our light perfect, and forgive us: for thou art almighty. (9) O Prophet, attack the infidels with arms, and the hypocrites with arguments; and treat them with severity: their abode shall be hell, and an ill journey shall it be thither.God propoundeth as a similitude unto the unbelievers the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot: they were under two of our righteous servants, and they deceived them both: wherefore their husbands were of no advantage unto them at all in the sight of God: and it shall be said untothem at the last day, Enter ye into hell-fire, with those who enter therein.God also propoundeth as a similitude unto those who believe the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, Lord, build me a house with thee in Paradise, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his doings, and deliver me from the unjust people: and Mary the daughter of Imrán, who preserved her chastity, and into whose womb we breathed of our spirit, and who believed in the words of her Lord and his Scriptures, and was a devout and obedient person.
This chapter receives its title from the mention of the “kingdom” of God in the first verse. “It is also entitled by some,” says Sale, “The Saving or The Delivering, because, say they, it will save him who reads it from the torture of the sepulchre.” The contents of the chapter differ little from those of other Makkan Suras. The object of these revelations was to warn the people of the sin of rejecting the doctrine of the Qurán, especially the doctrine of the resurrection and future judgment.
This chapter is regarded by nearly all authorities as belonging wholly to Makkah. Noëldeke mentions one tradition which declares it to be Madínic, but gives no sufficient reason for that opinion. As to the date, all authorities agree in fixing the date about b.h. 8.
|Praise to the Almighty, the Creator and Ruler of all things||1-3|
|The perfection of the works of God, seen in the heavens, glorify him||3-5|
|The heavens adorned with shooting stars||5|
|Torments of hell prepared for unbelievers||6-8|
|Infidels shall confess in hell their folly in calling Muhammad an impostor||8-11|
|The righteous shall receive great reward||12|
|God knoweth all things||13, 14|
|God shall destroy unbelievers||15-18|
|Unbelievers ungrateful to the God who sustains them in life||19-24|
|The Prophet challenged to hasten the judgment-day, but they shall dread its approach||25-28|
|The Merciful the only protector on that day||29, 30|
∥ (1) Blessed be he in whose hands is the kingdom, for he is almighty! (2) Who hath created death and life, that he might prove you, which of you is most righteous in his actions: and he is mighty, and ready to forgive. Who hath created seven heavens, one above another: thou canst not see in a creature of the most Merciful any unfitness or disproportion. (4) Lift up thine eyes again to heaven, and look whether thou seest any flaw; then take two other views, and thy sight shall return unto thee dull and fatigued. Moreover, we have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps, and have appointed them to be darted at the devils, for whom we have prepared the torment of burning fire: (6) and for those who believe not in their Lordis also prepared the torment of hell; an ill journey shall it be thither. When they shall be thrown thereinto, they shall hear it bray like an ass; and it shall boil, (8) and almost burst for fury. So often as a company of them shall be thrown therein, the keepers thereof shall ask them, saying, Did not a warner come unto you? (9) They shall answer, Yea, a warner came unto us; but we accused him of imposture, and said, God hath not revealed anything; ye are in no other than a great error: (10) and they shall say, If we had hearkened or had rightly considered, we should not have been among the inhabitants of burning fire: (11) and they shall confess their sins; but far be the inhabitants of burning fire from obtainingmercy! (12) Verily they who fear their Lord in secret shall receive pardon and a great reward. (13) Either conceal your discourse or make it public; he knoweth the innermost parts of your breasts; (14) shall not he know all things who hath created them, since he is the sagacious, the knowing?
∥ (15) It is he who hath levelled the earth for you: therefore walk through the regions thereof, and eat of his provision; unto him shall be the resurrection. (16) Are ye secure that he who dwelleth in heaven will not cause the earth to swallow you up? and behold, it shall shake. (17) Or are you secure that he who dwelleth in heaven will not send against you an impetuous whirlwind, driving the sands to overwhelm you? then shall ye know how important my warning was. (18) Those also who were before you disbelieved; and how grievous was my displeasure! (19) Do they not behold the birds above them, extending and drawing back their wings! None sustaineth them except the Merciful; for he regardeth all things. (20) Or who is he that will be as an army unto you, to defend you against the Merciful? Verily the unbelievers are in no other than a mistake. (21) Or who is he that will give you food, if he withholdeth his provision? yet they persist in perverseness and flying from the truth. Is he, therefore, who goeth grovelling upon his face better directed than he who walketh upright in a straight way? Say, It is he who hath given you being, and endued you with hearing, and sight, and understanding; yet how little gratitude have ye! (24) Say, It is he who hath sown you in the earth, and unto him shall ye be gathered together. (25) They say, When shall this menace be put in execution, if ye speak truth? Answer, The Knowledge of this matter is with God alone; for I am only a public warner. (27) But when they shall see the same nigh at hand, the countenance of the infidels shall grow sad: and it shall be said unto them, This is what ye have been demanding. (28) Say, What think ye? Whether God destroy me and those who are with me, or have mercy on us, who will protect the unbelievers from a painful punishment? (29) Say, He is the Merciful; in him do we believe, and in him do we put our trust. Ye shall hereafter know who is in a manifest error? (30) Say, What think ye? If your water be in the morning swallowed up by the earth, who will give you clear and running water?
This chapter is also entitled Nún (N), from the letter in the beginning of the first verse, wherein the ordinary title is also found. In its revelation we have indicated a period of strong opposition between Muhammad and his townsmen. The Prophet had been called a madman and an impostor. Slander and defamation had been resorted to even by some of the chief men of Makkah. In reply to the warnings of the seer, they had challenged him to hasten on his judgments.
These charges had not failed to rouse the resentment of Muhammad. He did not now hesitate to call the chief of his opponents “a common swearer,” “a transgressor, a wicked person, cruel, and, besides this, of spurious birth.” He even threatens him with a mark on a prominent part of his face!
The preacher of Makkah had been rejected, and his unbelieving hearers were ready to treat him with violence (ver. 51).
This chapter is regarded by ancient Muslim writers as the oldest, or at least the second revelation of the Qurán. There is, however, little to give credence to their dictum. On the contrary, there is good reason to believe that this chapter does not even belong to the very early period of Muhammad’s ministry assigned it by Noëldeke and Rodwell. The attitude of the Quraish (vers. 8 and 51), especially of the notable person mentioned in vers. 10-16, is not that of the earliest period of Muhammad’s prophetic history. The same is true of the attitude of the preacher towards his townsmen, apparent in vers. 16 and 48. At the same time, the absence of any notice of violence towards Muslims (which notice would assuredly have been recorded in a chapter specifying the crimes of the unbelievers), proves Muir’s date (fourth stage) to be too late. We would fix the date about the fourth year of Muhammad’s ministry.
|Muhammad not a madman nor an impostor||1-8|
|Invective against a prominent enemy of Islám||9-16|
|The example of certain gardeners a warning to the Makkans||17-34|
|Unbelievers warned of coming judgment||35-47|
|Muhammad exhorted not to be impatient, like Jonah||48-50|
|Extreme hatred of the Quraish towards Muhammad and the Qurán exposed||51, 52|
∥ N. By the pen, and what they write, (2) thou, O Muhammad, through the grace of thy Lord,art not distracted. (3) Verily there is prepared for thee an everlasting reward: for thou art of a noble disposition. (5) Thou shalt see, and the infidels shall see, (6) which of you are bereaved of your senses. (7) Verily thy Lord well knoweth him who wandereth from his path; and he well knoweth those who are rightly directed; wherefore obey not those who charge thee with imposture. They desire that thou shouldest be easy with them, and they will be easy with thee. But obey not any who is a common swearer, a despicable fellow, a defamer, going about with slander, who forbiddeth that which is good, who is also a transgressor, a wicked person, cruel, and besides this, of spurious birth; (14) although he be possessed of wealth and many children; when our signs are rehearsed unto him, he saith, They are fables of the ancients. We will stigmatise him on the nose. Verily we have tried the Makkans, as we formerly tried the owners of the garden, when they swore that they would gather the fruit thereof in the morning, (18) and added not the exception, if it please God: (19) wherefore a surrounding destruction from thy Lord encompassed it while they slept; (20) and in the morning it became like a garden whose fruits had been gathered. (21) And they called the one to the other as they rose in the morning, (22) saying, Go out early to your plantation, if ye intend to gather the fruit thereof: (23) so they went on, whispering to one another, (24) No poor man shall enter the garden upon you this day. (25) And they went forth early, with a determined purpose. (26) And when they saw the garden blasted and destroyed they said, We have certainly mistaken our way: but when they found it to be their own garden they cried, Verily we are not permitted to reap the fruit thereof. (28) The worthier of them said, Did I not say unto you, Will ye not give praise unto God? (29) They answered, Praise be unto our Lord! Verily we have been unjust doers. And they began to blame one another, (31) and they said, Woe be unto us! verily we have been transgressors: (32) peradventure our Lord will give us in exchange a better garden than this: and we earnestly beseech our Lordto pardon us. (33) Thus is the chastisement of this life: but the chastisement of the next shall be more grievous: if they had known it, they would have taken heed. (34) Verily for the pious are prepared, with their Lord, gardens of delight.
∥ Shall we deal with the Muslims as with the wicked? (36) What aileth you that ye judge thus? (37) Have ye a book from heaven wherein ye read (38) that ye are therein promised that which ye shall choose? (39) Or have ye received oaths which shall be binding upon us to the day of resurrection, that ye shall enjoy what ye imagine? (40) Ask them which of them will be the voucher of this. Or have they companions who will vouch for them? Let them produce their companions, therefore, if they speak truth. On a certain day the leg shall be made bare, and they shall be called upon to worship, but they shall not be able. (43) Their looks shall be cast down: ignominy shall attend them; for that they were invited to the worship of God while they were in safety, but would not hear. Let me alone, therefore, with him who accuseth this new revelation of imposture. We will lead them gradually to destruction, by ways which they know not, (45) and I will bear with them for a long time; for my stratagem is effectual. (46) Dost thou ask them any reward for thy preaching? But they are laden with debts. Are the secrets of futurity with them; and do they transcribe the same from the table of God’s decrees? Wherefore, patiently wait the judgment of thy Lord: and be not like him who was swallowed by the fish, when he cried unto God, being inwardly vexed. (49) Had not grace from his Lord reached him, he had surely been cast forth on the naked shore, covered with shame: (50) but his Lord chose him, and made him one of the righteous. (51) It wanteth little but that the unbelievers strike thee down with their malicious looks, when they hear the admonition of the Qurán; and they say, He is certainly distracted: (52) but it is no other than an admonition unto all creatures.
The title of this chapter, understood as referring to the infallible truth of the doctrine of a future judgment, though probably taken at random from the first verse, as in the case of so many other titles, nevertheless expresses the purport of the contents very well. The strong asseveration of the Prophet to the truth of his claims found in the last verses of the chapter must be understood as intended to emphasise the inevitable advent of the dread day. The necessity for such strong language, however, predicates strong opposition to the Prophet and his message on the part of his hearers. Aside from this, there is nothing worthy of special note to distinguish this from other Makkan revelations.
In his chronological list, Noëldeke places this chapter immediately before chap. li., i.e., about the sixth year of the Call. Muir places it somewhat later.
|The judgment of God will infallibly come||1-3|
|Ád, Thamúd, and Pharaoh destroyed for rejecting their prophets||4-10|
|As the flood came, so shall the judgment certainly come||11-16|
|On the judgment-day God’s throne shall be borne by eight mighty angels||17|
|The good and bad shall receive their account-books and be judged according to their deeds||18-29|
|Infidels shall be bound with chains seventy cubits in length and be cast into hell-fire||30-37|
|With terrible oaths Muhammad asserts the truth of his prophetic claims||38-39|
∥ The infallible! (2) What is the infallible? (3) And what shall cause thee to understand what the infallible is?The tribes of Thamúd and Ád denied as a falsehood the day which shall strike men’s hearts with terror. (5) But Thamúd were destroyed by a terrible noise, (6) and Ád were destroyed by a roaring and furious wind, which God caused to assail them for seven nights and eight days successively: thou mightest have seen people during the same lying prostrate, as though they had been the roots of hollow palm-trees; (8) and couldest thou have seen any of them remaining? Pharaoh also, and those who were before him, and the cities which were overthrown, were guilty of sin: (10) and they severally were disobedient to the apostle of their Lord; wherefore he chastised them with an abundant chastisement. (11) When the water of the deluge arose, we carried you in the ark which swam thereon; (12) that we might make the same a memorial unto you, and the retaining ear might retain it. And when one blast shall sound the trumpet, (14) and the earth shall be moved from its place, and the mountains also, and shall be dashed in pieces at one stroke: (15) on that day the inevitable hour of judgment shall suddenly come; (16) and the heavens shall cleave in sunder, and shall fall in pieces, on that day: and the angels shall be on the sides thereof; and eight shall bear the throne of thy Lord above them, on that day. (18) On that day ye shall be presented before the judgment-seat of God; and none of your secret actions shall be hidden. And he who shall have his book delivered into his right hand shall say, Take ye, read this my book; verily I thought that I should be brought to this my account: he shall lead a pleasing life in a lofty garden, the fruits whereof shall be near to gather. Eat and drink with easy digestion; because of the good works which ye sent before you, in the days which are past. But he who shall have his book delivered into his left hand shall say, O that I had not received this book; (26) and that I had not known what this my account was! (27) O that death had made an end of me! (28) My riches have not profited me; (29) and my power is passed from me. (30) And God shall say to the keepers of hell, Take him and bind him, (31) and cast him into hell to be burned: then put him into a chain of the length of seventy cubits: (33) because he believed not in the great God, (34) and was not solicitous to feed the poor: (35) wherefore this day he shall have no friend here; (36) nor any food, but the filthy corruption flowing from the bodies of the damned, (37) which none shall eat but the sinners.
∥ I swear by that which ye see, (39) and that which ye see not, (40) that this is the discourse of an honourable apostle, and not the discourse of a poet: how little do ye believe! Neither is it the discourse of a soothsayer: how little are ye admonished! It is a revelation from the Lord of all creatures. If Muhammad had forged any part of these discourses concerning us, verily we had taken him by the right hand, and had cut in sunder the vein of his heart; neither would we have withheld any of you from chastising him. And verily this book is an admonition unto the pious; and we well know that there are some of you who charge the same with imposture: but it shall surely be an occasion of grievous sighing unto the infidels; for it is the truth of a certainty. Wherefore praise the name of thy Lord, the great God.
The title of this chapter is taken from ver. 3. The occasion of its composition is mentioned in the first verse. One of the unbelievers at Makkah, whether one of those mentioned by Sale in his note on ver. 1, or some other representative of the infidel Quraish, mockingly asked Muhammad to attest the proof of his prophetic claims by bringing upon them the punishment of the judgment-day. In reply, we have a discourse at once suited to warn the unbelievers and to comfort the Prophet.
In this chapter we have probably the earliest rule of Muslim practice, vers. 22-34. A portion of this, however, vers. 29-34, seems to have been added at a later date, because the law regulating the marriage of Muslims, and especially their practice regarding “the slaves which their right hands possess,” is referred to here with too much definiteness to comport with a Makkan revelation. Besides this, the statement in ver. 34 is a mere repetition of that of ver. 23, which is best accounted for by supposing these passages to have been originally separate, but brought together here by the compilers.
The attitude of Muhammad towards his townsmen here is that of despair for their conversion. He now calmly awaits the visitation of divine justice against their unbelief.
Noëldeke places this chapter immediately after chaps. lvi. and liii., probably because of the allusion of the first verse of this chapter to the beginning of chap. lvi. Muir places it in about the same period of time. This would fix the date at about the fifth year of the call of Muhammad to preach. I would, however, except vers. 29-34, which I would assign to a period as late as a.h. 5.
|A man demanded that the day of judgment might come at once||1|
|The day, whose space is fifty thousand years, will surely come||2-4|
|Muhammad to bear the insults of the infidels patiently, because judgment is near||5-14|
|Riches, children, and friends will not save the wicked from hell||12-18|
|The wicked are niggardly in health, but full of complaint when evil befalleth||19-24|
|The character of true believers described||25-35|
|Unbelievers need entertain no hope they shall escape destruction||36-41|
|Muhammad counselled to permit the unbelieving Makkans to sport themselves, because their damnation is nigh||42-45|
∥ One demanded and called for vengeance to fall on the unbelievers: (2) there shall be none to avert the same from being inflicted byGod, the possessor of the steps by which the angels ascend unto him, and the spirit Gabriel also, in a day whose space is fifty thousand years: (5) wherefore bear the insults of the Makkans with becoming patience: (6) for they see their punishment afar off, (7) but we see it nigh at hand. (8) On a certain day the heaven shall become like molten brass, (9) and the mountains like wool of various colours scattered abroad by the wind: (10) and a friend shall not ask a friend concerning his condition, (11) although they see one another. The wicked shall wish to redeem himself from the punishment of that day by giving up his children, (12) and his wife, and his brother, (13) and his kindred, who showed kindness unto him, (14) and all who are in the earth; and that this might deliver him: (15) by no means: for hellfire, (16) dragging them by their scalps, (17) shall call him who shall have turned his back, and fled from the faith, (18) and shall have amassed riches, and covetously hoarded them. Verily man is created extremely impatient: (20) when evil toucheth him, he is full of complaint; (21) but when good befalleth him, he becometh niggardly: (22) except those who are devoutly given, (23) and who persevere in their prayers; (24) and those of whose substance a due and certain portion (25) is ready to be given unto him who asketh, and him who is forbidden by shame to ask: (26) and those who sincerely believe the day of judgment, (27) and who dread the punishment of their Lord: (28) (for there is none secure from the punishment of their Lord:) and who abstain from the carnal knowledge of women other than their wives, or the slaves which their right hands possess: (for as to them they shall be blameless; but whoever coveteth any woman besides these, they are transgressors).
∥ (32) And those who faithfully keep what they are intrusted with, and their covenant; (33) and who are upright in their testimonies, (34) and who carefully observe the requisite rights in their prayers: (35) these shall dwell amidst gardens, highly honoured. (36) What aileth the unbelievers, that they run before thee in companies, (37) on the right hand and on the left? (38) Doth every man of them wish to enter into a garden of delight? By no means: verily we have created them of that which they know. I swear by the Lord of the east and of the west, that we are able to destroy them, (41) and to substitute better than them in their room; neither are we to be prevented, if we shall please so to do. (42) Wherefore suffer them to wade in vain disputes, and to amuse themselves with sport, until they meet their day with which they have been threatened; the day whereon they shall come forth hastily from their graves, as though they were troops hastening to their standard: (44) their looks shall be downcast; ignominy shall attend them. (45) This is the day with which they have been threatened.
This chapter records the prophetic experience of Noah, and is therefore rightly named. The Noah of these revelations, however, is no other than the Muhammad of Makkah. The words ascribed to him are those constantly used by Muhammad. This Noah was a warner; so was Muhammad. His people rejected him, refused to leave the worship of their idols, Wadd, Suwa, Yaghúth, Yauk, and Nasr, and plotted against him. The Quraish rejected Muhammad, refused to leave Wadd, Suwa, Yaghúth, Yauk, and Nasr, and devised a dangerous plot against their prophet. We leave the reader to make his own inferences from the facts thus stated, referring him for further instances of a like character to chapter xi. Surely a counterfeit of prophecy like this must have been inspired by a spirit different from that which moved holy men of old.
On the assumption that the circumstances of Noah detailed in this chapter were the circumstances of Muhammad at the time of writing it, we have to seek a date for it when (1) Muhammad was rejected by the Quraish as a body (vers. 5, 6, and 20), (2) when the Quraish had devised a dangerous plot against him (ver. 21), and (3) when they had taken steps to defend the national idols (vers. 22-24). We think such a combination of circumstances were present to Muhammad about the time when Abu Tálib frustrated the evil designs of the Quraish who plotted to slay him. This would give us b.h. 7 as about the date of this chapter. Noëldeke places it early in his second period, which would be about the fifth year of the Call. This is hardly consistent with his conjecture that this chapter is a fragment of a longer Sura.
|Noah sent as a warner; his message to his people||1-4|
|Noah’s people refuse to believe him, notwithstanding every effort||5-20|
|The people of Noah plot against him and are destroyed||21-26|
|Noah prays for the destruction of the infidels, and for the pardon of his parents and the true believers||27-29|
∥ Verily we sent Noah unto his people, saying. Warn thy people before a grievous punishment overtake them. (2) Noah said, O my people, verily I am a public warner unto you; (3) wherefore serve God, and fear him, and obey me: he will forgive you part of your sins; and will grant you respite until a determined time: for God’s determined time, when it cometh, shall not be deferred; if ye were men of understanding, ye would know this. (5) He said, Lord, verily I have called my people night and day; but my calling only increaseth their aversion: (6) and whensoever I call them to the true faith, that thou mayest forgive them, they put their fingers in their ears, and cover themselves with their garments, and persist in their infidelity, and proudly disdain my counsel. (7) Moreover, I invited them openly, (8) and I spake to them again in public; and I also secretly admonished them in private; (9) and I said, Beg pardon of your Lord; for he is inclined to forgive: (10) and he will cause the heaven to pour down rain plentifully upon you, and will give you increase of wealth and of children; and he will provide you gardens, and furnish you with rivers. What aileth you, that ye hope not for benevolence in God, since he hath created you variously? (14) Do ye not see how God hath created the seven heavens, one above another; (15) and hath placed the moon therein for a light, and hath appointed the sun for a taper? (16) God hath also produced and caused you to spring forth from the earth: (17) hereafter he will cause you to return into the same; and he will again take you thence, by bringing you forth from your graves.
∥ (18) And God hath spread the earth as a carpet for you, (19) that ye may walk therein through spacious paths. (20) Noah said, Lord, verily they are disobedient unto me; and they follow him whose riches and children do no other than increase his perdition. (21) And they devised a dangerous plot against Noah: (22) and the chief men said to the others, Ye shall by no means leave your gods; neither shall ye forsake Wadd, nor Suwa, nor Yaghúth, and Yauk, and Nasr. (24) And they seduced many (for thou shalt only increase error in the wicked): (25) because of their sins they were drowned, and cast into the fire of hell; (26) and they found none to protect them against God. And Noah said, Lord, leave not any families of the unbelievers on the earth: for if thou leave them, they will seduce thy servants, and will beget none but a wicked and unbelieving offspring.Lord, forgive me and my parents, and every one who shall enter my house, being a true believer, and the true believers of both sexes; and add unto the unjust doers nothing but destruction.
This chapter records the conversion of certain genii, who overheard Muhammad reading the Qurán while on his return from Tayif to Makkah. It is only remarkable for the position which it assigns these imaginary beings, making them along with mankind the recipients of the blessings or curses consequent upon faith or disbelief in the Qurán. We have here what professes to be a divine revelation concerning the nature, character, employment, and religion of these spirits. The Qurán is therefore responsible for perpetuating the superstitious belief of the Arabs regarding the genii among Muslims everywhere.
For a historical statement of the circumstances of the Prophet alluded to here, see Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. pp. 203-205.
Noëldeke accepts a tradition which ascribes Muhammad’s vision of the genii to a journey which he made to Oqátz, and accordingly places this chapter immediately after chap. xliii. We prefer here to follow Muir, who places the scene of the vision in the grove of an idol temple in the valley of Nakhla, where Muhammad slept after his expulsion from Tayif. The date of the revelations would therefore be about b.h. 2.
|Certain of the genii converted to Islám by hearing the Qurán||1, 2|
|The folly of men and genii in ascribing offspring to God||3-7|
|Genii prying into heavenly secrets are driven away with fiery darts||8, 9|
|Different classes of genii, some Muslims and others infidels||10-14|
|Believing genii rewarded in Paradise, the unbelievers punished in hell||15-18|
|The genii pressed upon Muhammad to hear the Qurán||19|
|Muhammad can only publish what hath been revealed to him||20-24|
|The judgments of God shall overtake the unbelievers||25, 26|
|God revealeth his secrets to his apostles only||27, 28|
∥ Say, It hath been revealed unto me that a company of genii attentively heard me reading the Qurán, and said, Verily we have heard an admirable discourse, (2) which directeth unto the right institution; wherefore we believe therein, and we will by no means associate any other with our Lord. He (may the majesty of our Lord be exalted!) hath taken no wife, nor hath he begotten any issue. Yet the foolish among us hath spoken that which is extremely false of God; (5) but we verily thought that neither man nor genius would by any means have uttered a lie concerning God. And there are certain men who fly for refuge unto certain of the genii; but they increase their folly and transgression: and they also thought, as ye thought, that God would not raise any one to life. And we formerly attempted to pry into what was transacting in heaven; but we found the same filled with a strong guard of angels, and with flaming darts; and we sat on some of the seats thereof to hear the discourse of its inhabitants; but whoever listeneth now findeth a flame laid in ambush for him, to guard the celestial confines. (10) And we know not whether evil be hereby intended against those who are in the earth, or whether their Lord intendeth to direct them aright. (11) There are some among us who are upright; and there are some among us who are otherwise: we are of different ways. (12) And we verily thought that we could by no means frustrate God in the earth, neither could we escape him by flight: (13) wherefore, when we had heard the direction contained in the Qurán, we believed therein. And whoever believeth in his Lord need not fear any diminution of his reward, nor any injustice. There are some Muslims among us, and there are others of us who swerve from righteousness. And whoso embraceth Islám, they earnestly seek true direction; (15) but those who swerve from righteousness shall be fuel for hell. If they tread in the way of truth, we will surely water them with abundant rain, (17) that we may prove them thereby; but whoso turneth aside from the admonition of his Lord, him will he send into a severe torment. (18) Verily the places of worship are set apart unto God: wherefore invoke not any other therein together with God. When the servant of God stood up to invoke him, it wanted little but that the genii had pressed on him in crowds, to hear him rehearse the Qurán.
∥ (20) Say, Verily I call upon my Lord only, and I associate no other god with him. Say, Verily I am not able of myself, to procure you either hurt or a right institution. Say, Verily none can protect me against God; neither shall I find any refuge besides him. I can do no more than publish what hath been revealed unto me from God, and his messages. And whosoever shall be disobedient unto God and his Apostle, for him is the fire of hell prepared: they shall remain therein for ever. Until they see the vengeance with which they are threatened, they will not cease their opposition: but then shall they know who were the weaker in a protector, and the fewer in number. Say, I know not whether the punishment with which ye are threatened be nigh, or whether my Lord will appoint for it a distant term. He knoweth the secrets of futurity; and he doth not communicate his secrets unto any, (27) except an apostle in whom he is well pleased: and he causeth a guard of angels to march before him and behind him; that he may know that they have executed the commissions of their Lord; he comprehendeth whatever is with them; and counteth all things by number.
This chapter is regarded by some writers as one of the earliest revelations of the Qurán. I can find for this opinion no other reason than that the words with which it begins, and from which it receives its title, have a somewhat striking similarity to those which are found in the first verse of chapter lxxiv., which, on all hands, is admitted to be one of the earliest parts of the Qurán. This theory, however, is disproved by the following facts:—(1) Ver. 10 speaks of enemies of the Prophet, contumelies, and opposition, which did not exist at so early a period; (2) vers. 10 and 11 exhort the Prophet to withdraw from the infidels and to leave them in the hands of God; moreover, (3), the statements concerning the punishment of hell and the destruction of Pharaoh point to a later date.
The object of the chapter seems to have been the stirring up of the Muslims to more earnest devotion to God in prayer. This was due to the trials they were now called upon to endure. In later times, when the stress of business in the camp at Madina left no time for sleep in the daytime, this law was found to be inconvenient. For this reason ver. 20 was added to abrogate the obnoxious sections of the law in vers. 1-4.
Noëldeke fixes the date of this chapter at about the middle of the first period, while Muir, with more reason, fixes it at the beginning of the sixth year of Muhammad’s mission.
|Muhammad and the Muslims bidden to pray during the night||1-4|
|The Qurán to be pronounced with a distinct sonorous tone||5-9|
|Muhammad exhorted to bear patiently the contumelies of the infidels||10, 11|
|God will visit the infidels with dire calamities||11-14|
|The punishment of Pharaoh a warning to the people of Makkah||15-19|
|Modification of the law given in vers. 1-4||20|
∥ O thou wrapped up, arise to prayer, and continue therein during the night, except a small part; that is to say, during one half thereof: or do thou lessen the same a little or add thereto. And repeat the Qurán with a distinct and sonorous voice: for we will lay on thee a weighty word. Verily the rising by night is more efficacious for steadfast continuance in devotion, and more conducive to decent pronunciation: (7) for in the daytime thou hast long employment. (8) And commemorate the name of thy Lord; and separate thyself unto him, renouncing worldly vanities. (9) He is the Lord of the east and of the west; there is no God but he. Wherefore take him for thy patron: (10) and patiently suffer the contumelies which the infidels utter against thee; and depart from them with a decent departure. (11) And let me alone with those who charge the Qurán with falsehood, who enjoy the blessings of this life; and bear with them for a while: (12) verily with us are heavy fetters and a burning fire, and food ready to choke him who swalloweth it, and painful torment. (14) On a certain day the earth shall be shaken, and the mountains also, and the mountains shall become a heap of sand poured forth. Verily we have sent unto you an Apostle, to bear witness against you; as we sent an apostle unto Pharaoh; but Pharaoh was disobedient unto the apostle; wherefore we chastised him with a heavy chastisement. (17) How, therefore, will ye escape, if ye believe not, the day which shall make children become grey-headed through terror? (18) The heavens shall be rent in sunder thereby: the promise thereof shall surely be performed. (19) Verily this is an admonition: and whoever is willing to be admonished will take the way unto his Lord.
∥ Thy Lord knoweth that thou continuest in prayer and meditation sometimes near two third parts of the night, and sometimes one half thereof, and at other times one third part thereof; and a part of thy companions, who are with thee, do the same. But God measureth the night and the day; he knoweth that ye cannot exactly compute the same: wherefore he turneth favourably unto you. Read, therefore, so much of the Qurán as may be easy unto you. He knoweth that there will be some infirm among you; and others travel through the earth, that they may obtain a competency of the bounty of God; and others fight in the defence of God’s faith. Read, therefore, so much of the same as may be easy. And observe the stated times of prayer, and pay the legal alms; and lend unto God an acceptable loan: for whatever good ye send before your souls, ye shall find the same with God. This will be better, and will merit a greater reward. And ask God forgiveness; for Godis ready to forgive and merciful.
This chapter is regarded by some writers as the very first which was revealed (Sale’s note on ver. 1), but the preponderance of evidence is in favour of chapter xcvi. It is, therefore, given the second place by Noeldeke, Rodwell, and Palmer. This place is not, however, accorded to any but the first seven verses. The interval between the revelation of chapter xcvi. and that of these verses is called by Muslims the Fatrah or Intermission, the duration of which “is variously held to have lasted from six months to three years” (Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. pp. 85, 86). The remaining portion of the chapter belongs to a later Makkan period, excepting vers. 31-34, which undoubtedly belong to Madína. We find in these verses allusion to all the parties prominent in Madína Suras; the Jews, or “they to whom the Scriptures have been given;” the Muslims, or “the true believers;” the hypocrites, or “those in whose hearts there is an infirmity;” and the idolaters, or “the unbelievers.” Muir gives this chapter the twentieth place in his chronological list of Suras.
From what has been said above we may safely assign vers. 1-7 to the earliest period of Muhammad’s ministry. Vers. 8-30 and 35-55 probably mark the period of early opposition to Muhammad by the Quraish in the third year of his public ministry (see Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. pp. 79, 80). The Madínic section, vers. 31-34, Noeldeke thinks should be assigned to a period soon after the Híjra, owing to the kindly mention of the Jews, whom Muhammad, soon after his arrival at Madína, found to be his most inveterate enemies.
|Muhammad commanded to rise and preach Islám||1-7|
|The judgment-day shall be a sad day for the unbelievers||8-10|
|God exhorts Muhammad to leave his enemy in his hands||11-26|
|The pains of hell described||27-29|
|Nineteen angels set as a guard over hell, and why nineteen are mentioned||30-34|
|Oath to attest the horrible calamities of hell-fire||35-40|
|The wicked shall in hell confess their sins to the righteous||41-49|
|Infidels shall receive no other warning than that of the Qurán||50-55|
∥ O thou covered, arise and preach, (3) and magnify thy Lord. (4) And cleanse thy garments: and fly every abomination: (6) and be not liberal in hopes to receive more in return: (7) and patiently wait for thy Lord. (8) When the trumpet shall sound, (9) verily that day shall be a day of distress, (10) and uneasiness unto the unbelievers. Let me alone with him whom I have created, on whom I have bestowed abundant riches, and children dwelling in his presence, and for whom I have disposed affairs in a smooth and easy manner, (15) and who desireth that I will yet add other blessings unto him. By no means; because he is an adversary to our signs. I will afflict him with grievous calamities: (18) for he hath devised and prepared contumelious expressions to ridicule the Qurán. (19) May he be cursed: how maliciously hath he prepared the same! (20) And again, may he be cursed: how maliciously hath he prepared the same! (21) Then he looked, (22) and frowned, and put on an austere countenance; (23) then he turned back, and was elated with pride; and he said, This is no other than a piece of magic, borrowed from others: these are only the words of a man. (26) I will cast him to be burned in hell. (27) And what shall make thee to understand what hell is? (28) It leaveth not anything unconsumed, neither doth it suffer anything to escape; (29) it scorcheth men’s flesh: (30) over the same are nineteen angels appointed. We have appointed none but angels to preside over hell-fire; and we have expressed the number of them only for an occasion of discord to the unbelievers; that they to whom the Scriptures have been given may be certain of the veracity of this book, and the true believers may increase in faith; and that those to whom the Scriptures have been given, and the true believers, may not doubt hereafter; (33) and that those in whose hearts there is an infirmity, and the unbelievers, may say, What mystery doth God intend by this number? Thus doth God cause to err whom he pleaseth; and he directeth whom he pleaseth. None knoweth the armies of thy Lord besides him; and this is no other than a memento unto mankind.
∥ (35) Assuredly. By the moon, (36) and the night when it retreateth, (37) and the morning when it reddeneth, (38) I swear that this is one of the most terrible calamities, (39) giving warning unto men, (40) as well as unto him among you who desireth to go forward, as untohim who chooseth to remain behind. Every soul is given in pledge for that which it shall have wrought: except the companions of the right hand; (42) who shall dwell in gardens, and shall ask one another questions concerning the wicked, (43) and shall also ask the wicked themselves, saying, What hath brought you into hell? (44) They shall answer, We were not of those who were constant at prayer, (45) neither did we feed the poor; (46) and we waded in vain disputes with the fallacious reasoners; (47) and we denied the day of judgment, until death overtook us; (49) and the intercession of the interceders shall not avail them. (50) What aileth them, therefore, that they turn aside from the admonition of the Qurán, (51) as though they were timorous asses flying from a lion? But every man among them desireth that he may have expanded scrolls delivered to him from God. (53) By no means. They fear not the life to come. (54) By no means: verily this is a sufficient warning. (55) Whoso is willing to be warned, him shall it warn: but they shall not be warned, unless God shall please. He is worthy to be feared, and he is inclined to forgiveness.
The title of this chapter, taken from the first verse, expresses very well the general subject of its contents. The doctrine of the resurrection was rejected by the Quraish of Makkah as incredible, but the preacher declares that he who created every bone of man would have no difficulty in collecting together the scattered bones of the dead on the resurrection-day.
The passage contained in vers. 16-19, which has been inserted probably by the compilers, has no connection with the subject of this chapter. It seems to have been placed here because it could not be placed more appropriately elsewhere. It must therefore be read as a parenthesis.
All authorities agree in placing this chapter at about the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth year of Muhammad’s public ministry.
|God is able to raise the dead||1-4|
|Unbelievers may mock, but they shall be overtaken by the resurrection-day||5-11|
|Man shall be his own accuser on that day||12-15|
|Muhammad rebuked for anticipating Gabriel in receiving the Qurán||16-19|
|Men choose this life, but neglect the life to come||20-21|
|Various thoughts of the righteous and the wicked on the resurrection-day||22-25|
|Man helpless in the hour of death||26-36|
|God, who created man, can raise him from the dead||37-40|
∥ Verily I swear by the day of resurrection; and I swear by the soul which accuseth itself: (3) doth man think that we will not gather his bones together? (4) Yea, we are able to put together the smallest bones of his fingers. (5) But man chooseth to be wicked, for the time which is before him. (6) He asketh, When will the day of resurrection be? (7) But when the sight shall be dazzled, (8) and the moon shall be eclipsed, and the sun and the moon shall be in conjunction; (10) on that day man shall say. Where is a place of refuge? (11) By no means: there shall be no place to fly unto. (12) With thy Lordshall be the sure mansion of rest on that day: on that day shall a man be told that which he hath done first and last. (14) Yea, a man shall be an evidence against himself; (15) and though he offer his excuses, they shall not be received. Move not thy tongue, O Muhammad, in repeating the revelations brought thee by Gabriel, before he shall have finished the same, that thou mayest quickly commit them to memory; for the collecting the Qurán in thy mind, and the teaching thee the true reading thereof, are incumbent on us. But when we shall have read the same unto thee by the tongue of the angel, do thou follow the reading thereof; and afterwards it shall be our part to explain it unto thee. By no means shalt thou be thus hasty for the future. But ye love that which hasteneth away, (21) and neglect the life to come. (22) Some countenances on that day shall be bright, (23) looking towards their Lord: (24) and some countenances on that day shall be dismal: (25) they shall think that a crushing calamity shall be brought upon them. (26) Assuredly. When a man’s soul shall come up to his throat in his last agony, (27) and the standers-by shall say, Who bringeth a charm to recover him? (28) and shall think it to be his departure out of this world; and one leg shall be joined with the other leg: (30) on that day unto thy Lord shall he be driven.
∥ For he believed not, neither did he pray; (32) but he accused God’s Apostle of imposture, and turned back from obeying him; (33) then he departed unto his family, walking with a haughty mien. Wherefore, woe be unto thee; woe! And again, woe be unto thee: woe! (36) Doth man think that he shall be left at full liberty, without control? (37) Was he not a drop of seed, which was emitted? (38) Afterwards he became a little coagulated blood, and God formed him, and fashioned him with just proportion; (39) and made of him two sexes, the male and the female. (40) Is not he who hath done this able to quicken the dead?
In the Arabic copies of the Qurán the title of this chapter is Al Dahr (a space of time).
Beyond the statement that God has created and directed man, this chapter has very little to say of his career in this world. Almost the whole of the revelation is taken up with a description of the joys of Paradise.
The story recorded by Umr Bin Muhammad (Itqán 28, see Noëldeke), and given by Sale in note on ver. 10, as affording the occasion of this revelation, is entirely unworthy of credence. That story would oblige us to regard the chapter, or at least vers. 8-31, as Madínic, whereas the style and language show it to be Makkan.
The purpose of the chapter seems to have been to encourage and comfort the Muslims amidst the opposition of the unbelievers, by setting before them, in contrast with present poverty and suffering, the riches and joy of the believers in Paradise.
As already observed, this chapter is without doubt of Makkan origin. Some (Itqán 28 and 37) have thought ver. 24 to be Madínic, but for this opinion there is no good reason given. Noëldeke, with whom Muir substantially agrees, fixes the date about the fifth year of the Call.
|Man conceived and born by the power of God||1, 2|
|Unbelievers warned by the terrors of hell||3, 4|
|The rewards of the Muslims in Paradise||5-22|
|The Qurán revealed by degrees||23|
|Muhammad and the Muslims exhorted to patience and prayer||24-26|
|Unbelievers love the present life||27, 28|
|Only those saved whom God willeth to save||29-31|
∥ Did there not pass over man a long space of time, during which he was a thing not worthy of remembrance? Verily we have created man of the mingled seed of both sexes, that we might prove him: and we have made him to hear and to see. (3) We have surely directed him in the way, whether he be grateful or ungrateful. (4) Verily we have prepared for the unbelievers chains, and collars, and burning fire. But the just shall drink of a cup of wine mixed with the water of Káfúr, (6) a fountain whereof the servants of God shall drink; they shall convey the same by channels whithersoever they please. (7) These fulfil their vow, and dread the day, the evil whereof will disperse itself far abroad; (8) and give food unto the poor, and the orphan, and the bondman, for his sake, (9) saying, We feed you for God’s sake only: we desire no recompense from you, nor any thanks: verily we dread from our Lord a dismal and calamitous day. (11) Wherefore God shall deliver them from the evil of that day, and shall cast on them brightness of countenance and joy; (12) and shall reward them for their patient persevering with a garden and silk garments: therein shall they repose themselves on couches; they shall see therein neither sun nor moon; (14) and the shades thereof shall be near, spreading above them; and the fruits thereof shall hang low, so as to be easily gathered. (15) And their attendants shall go round about unto them with vessels of silver and goblets: the bottles shall be bottles of silver shining like glass; (16) they shall determine the measure thereof by their wish. And therein shall they be given to drink of a cup of wine mixed with the water of Zanjabíl, a fountain in Paradise named Silsabíl: (19) and youths, which shall continue for ever in their bloom, shall go round to attend them; when thou seest them, thou shalt think them to be scattered pearls: (20) and when thou lookest, there shalt thou behold delights and a great kingdom. (21) Upon them shall be garments of fine green silk and of brocades, and they shall be adorned with bracelets of silver: and their Lord shall give them to drink of a most pure liquor; and shall say unto them, Verily this is your reward, and your endeavour is gratefully accepted.
∥ Verily we have sent down unto thee the Qurán by a gradual revelation. (24) Wherefore patiently wait the judgment of thy Lord, and obey not any wicked person or unbeliever among them. And commemorate the name of thy Lord in the morning and in the evening; and during some part of the night worship him, and praise him a long part of the night. (27) Verily these men love the transitory life, and leave behind them the heavy day of judgment. (28) We have created them, and have strengthened their joints; and when we please, we will substitute others like unto them in their stead. Verily this is an admonition: and whoso willeth, taketh the way unto his Lord: but ye shall not will, unless God willeth; for God is knowing and wise. He leadeth whom he pleaseth into his mercy; but for the unjust hath he prepared a grievous punishment.
This chapter seems to be a sort of philippic denunciatory of the conduct of those unbelievers at Makkah who charged him with being an impostor. The words “Woe be on that day unto those who accused the prophets of imposture” are repeated as a kind of refrain, and occur no less than ten times in the course of the chapter. It is the Prophet’s cry of “Woe! woe!” to the unbelievers of Makkah. May not this characteristic have given rise to the opinion expressed by Jaláluddín al Syuti, that this chapter was revealed while Muhammad and Abu Baqr were hidden in the cave during the flight from Makkah to Madína?
The general style and language of this chapter prove it to be of early Makkan origin. Muhammad appears as a “warner” crying “Woe! woe!” to the idolaters who have rejected him as an impostor Ver. 39 would seem to indicate that this opposition was more than passive, and now ready to take an active form. These circumstances justify the date assigned by Noeldeke and also by Muir, which is about the fourth year of the ministry.
|Oath by the messengers of God that the judgment-day is inevitable||1-7|
|Woe on that day to those who accuse Muhammad of imposture||8-15|
|In former times infidels were destroyed for accusing their prophets of imposture||16-19|
|God the Creator of all things, therefore woe to those who accuse his messengers of imposture||20-28|
|The woe of those who have been cast into hell for calling their prophets impostors||29-40|
|The joy of those who did not call their prophets impostors||41-44|
|The infidel Quraish soon to be overtaken by the woes of the judgment-day||45-50|
∥ By the angels which are sent by God, following one another in a continual series; and those which move swiftly with a rapid motion; and by those which disperse his commands, by divulging them through the earth; and by those which separate truth from falsehood, by distinguishing the same; and by those which communicate the divine admonitions, to excuse or to threaten: verily that which ye are promised is inevitable. (8) When the stars, therefore, shall be put out, (9) and when the heaven shall be cloven in sunder, (10) and when the mountains shall be winnowed, (11) and when the apostles shall have a time assigned to them to appear and bear testimony against their respective people; (12) to what a day shall that appointment be deferred! (13) to the day of separation: (14) and what shall cause thee to understand what the day of separation is? On that day, woe be unto them who accused the prophets of imposture! (16) Have we not destroyed the obstinate unbelievers of old? (17) We will also cause those of the latter times to follow them. (18) Thus do we deal with the wicked. (19) Woe be, on that day, unto them who accused the prophets of imposture! (20) Have we not created you of a contemptible drop of seed, (21) which we placed in a sure repository, (22) until the fixed term of delivery? (23) And we were able to do this: for we are most powerful. (24) On that day, woe be unto those who accused the prophets of imposture! (25) Have we not made the earth to contain (26) the living and the dead, (27) and placed therein stable and lofty mountains, and given you fresh water to drink? (28) Woe be, on that day, unto those who accused the prophets of imposture! (29) It shall be said unto them, Go ye to the punishment which ye denied as a falsehood: (30) go ye into the shadow of the smoke of hell, which shall ascend in three columns, (31) and shall not shade you from the heat, neither shall it be of service against the flame; (32) but it shall cast forth sparks as big as towers, resembling yellow camels in colour. (34) Woe be, on that day, unto those who accused the prophets of imposture! (35) This shall be a day whereon they shall not speak to any purpose; (36) neither shall they be permitted to excuse themselves. (37) Woe be, on that day, unto those who accused the prophets of imposture! (38) This shall be the day of separation: we will assemble both you and your predecessors. (39) Wherefore, if ye have any cunning stratagem, employ stratagems against me. (40) Woe be, on that day, unto those who accused the prophets of imposture! (41) But the pious shall dwell amidst shades and fountains, (42) and fruits of the kinds which they shall desire: (43) and it shall be said unto them, Eat and drink with easy digestion, in recompense for that which ye have wrought; (44) for thus do we reward the righteous doers. (45) Woe be, on that day, unto those who accused the prophets of imposture! (46) Eat, O unbelievers, and enjoy the pleasures of this life for a little while: verily ye are wicked men. (47) Woe be, on that day, unto those who accused the prophets of imposture! And when it is said unto them, Bow down; they do not bow down. (49) Woe be, on that day, unto those who accused the prophets of imposture! (50) In what new revelation will they believe, after this?
This chapter receives its title from ver. 2, where it signifies News of the Resurrection, which news was the burden of the Prophet’s message at this period. The whole is a warning to the unbelievers to repent and believe the Qurán ere it be too late, ere he say, “Would to God I were dust.”
The opinion of most writers is that this chapter belongs to the earlier Makkan revelations, though it is admitted that vers. 37-41 were added at a somewhat later date. Believing that ver. 17 presupposes chap. lxxvii. 12 seq., Noëldeke places this chapter immediately after chap. lxxvii.
|Unbelievers shall yet learn the truth of the resurrection||1-5|
|God the Creator and Preserver of all things||6-16|
|Judgment-day scenes described||17-20|
|The recompense of unbelievers in hell described||21-30|
|The joys of believers in Paradise described||31-37|
|No intercessor except by God’s permission||37, 38|
|Sinners exhorted to flee from the day of wrath||39-41|
∥ (1) Concerning what do the unbelievers ask questions of one another? (2) Concerning the great news of theresurrection, (3) about which they disagree. (4) Assuredly they shall hereafter know the truth thereof. (5) Again, assuredly they shall hereafter know the truth thereof. Have we not made the earth for a bed, and the mountains for stakes to fix the same? And have we not created you of two sexes; and appointed your sleep for rest; and made the night a garment to cover you; and destined the day to the gaining your livelihood; and built over you seven solid heavens; and placed therein a burning lamp? And do we not send down from the clouds pressing forth rain, water pouring down in abundance, that we may thereby produce corn and herbs, and gardens planted thick with trees? Verily the day of separation is a fixed period: the day whereon the trumpet shall sound, and ye shall come in troops to judgment; and the heaven shall be opened, and shall be full of gates for the angels to pass through; and the mountains shall pass away, and become as a vapour; verily hell shall be a place of ambush, a receptacle for the transgressors, who shall remain therein for ages: they shall not taste any refreshment therein or any drink, except boiling water and filthy corruption: a fit recompense for their deeds! For they hoped that they should not be brought to an account, and they disbelieved our signs, accusing them of falsehood. But everything have we computed and written down. Taste, therefore: we will not add unto you any other than torment.
∥ But for the pious is prepared a place of bliss: gardens planted with trees, and vineyards, and damsels with swelling breasts, of equal age with themselves, and a full cup. They shall hear no vain discourse there, nor any falsehood. This shall be their recompense from thy Lord; a gift fully sufficient: from the Lord of heaven and earth, and of whatever is between them; the Merciful. The inhabitants of heaven or of earth shall not dare to demand audience of him: the day whereon the spirit Gabriel and the other angels shall stand in order, they shall not speak in behalf of themselves or others, except he only to whom the Merciful shall grant permission, and who shall say that which is right. (39) This is the infallible day. Whoso, therefore, willeth, let him return unto his Lord. (40) Verily we threaten you with a punishment nigh at hand: (41) the day whereon a man shall behold the good or evil deeds which his hands have sent before him; and the unbeliever shall say, Would to God I were dust!
This chapter consists of three parts; vers. 1-14 containing a declaration concerning the certainty of the approach of the resurrection and judgment-day, vers. 15-26, giving a brief account of the call and ministry of Moses, and vers. 37-46, also relating to the doctrine of the resurrection and judgment-day.
The second of these parts is too detailed in its character to belong to the very early Makkan Suras, where Jewish history and legend are alluded to in a vague way. It is probably a fragment of a later Sura inserted here by the compilers.
Noëldeke places this chapter immediately before chap. lxxvii. Muir places it at a later period, i.e., about the sixth year of the Call. We would follow Noeldeke for the first fourteen verses; vers. 27-46 perhaps belong to a period somewhat later, but from vers. 15-26 we would follow Muir.
|Oaths by the messengers of death that there will be a resurrection and judgment-day||1-7|
|Infidels shall be restored to life notwithstanding their unbelief||8-14|
|The story of Moses and his mission to Pharaoh||15-26|
|The Creator can raise the dead||27-33|
|The righteous and the wicked in judgment, their various condition||34-41|
|No one knows the time of judgment, but whenever it comes it will be soon for the infidels||42-46|
∥ By the angels who tear forth the souls of some with violence: and by those who draw forth the souls of others with gentleness; (3) by those who glide swimmingly through the air with the commands of God; (4) and those who precede and usher the righteous to Paradise; (5) and those who subordinately govern the affairs of this world: (6) on a certain day the disturbing blast of the trumpet shall disturb the universe; (7) and the subsequent blast shall follow it. (8) On that day men’s hearts shall tremble: (9) their looks shall be cast down. The infidels say, Shall we surely be made to return whence we came? (11) After we shall have become rotten bones, shall we be again raised to life? (12) They say, This then will be a return to loss. Verily it will be but one sounding of the trumpet, and, behold, they shall appear alive on the face of the earth. (15) Hath not the story of Moses reached thee? When his Lord called unto him in the holy valley Tuwá, saying, Go unto Pharaoh; for he is insolently wicked: and say, Hast thou a desire to become just and holy? and I will direct thee unto thy Lord, that thou mayest fear to transgress. And he showed him the very great sign of the rod turned into a serpent: but he charged Moses with imposture, and rebelled against God. Then he turned back hastily; and he assembled the magicians, and cried aloud, saying, I am your supreme Lord. Wherefore God chastised him with the punishment of the life to come, and also of this present life. Verily herein is an example unto him who feareth to rebel.
∥ (27) Are ye more difficult to create, or the heaven which God hath built? (28) He hath raised the height thereof, and hath perfectly formed the same: (29) and he hath made the night thereof dark, and hath produced the light thereof. After this, he stretched out the earth, (31) whence he caused to spring forth the water thereof, and the pasture thereof; (32) and he established the mountains, (33) for the use of yourselves, and of your cattle. (34) When the prevailing, the great day shall come, on that day shall a man call to remembrance what he hath purposely done: (36) and hell shall be exposed to the view of the spectator. (37) And whoso shall have transgressed, (38) and shall have chosen this present life, (39) verily hell shall be his abode; but whoso shall have dreaded the appearing before his Lord, and shall have refrained his soul from lust, (41) verily Paradise shall be his abode. (42) They will ask thee concerning the last hour, when will be the fixed time thereof? (43) By what means canst thou give any information of the same? (44) Unto thy Lordbelongeth the knowledge of the period thereof: (45) and thou art only a warner, who fearest the same. (46) The day whereon they shall see the same, it shall seem to them as though they had not tarried in the world longer than an evening or a morning thereof.
The story told by the Muslim writers to account for the occasion upon which this chapter was revealed is related by Sale as follows:—“A certain blind man, named Abdullah Ibn Omm Maktúm, came and interrupted Muhammad while he was engaged in earnest discourse with some of the principal Quraish, whose conversion he had hopes of; but the Prophet taking no notice of him, the blind man, not knowing he was otherwise busied, raised his voice and said, ‘O Apostle of God, teach me some part of what God hath taught thee;’ but Muhammad, vexed at this interruption, frowned and turned away from him, for which he is here reprehended. After this, whenever the Prophet saw Ibn Omm Maktúm, he showed him great respect, saying, ‘The man is welcome on whose account my Lord hath reprimanded me;’ and he made him twice governor of Madína.”
Noeldeke doubts this story, with very good reason. This Ibn Omm Maktúm belonged to one of the most influential families of the tribe of Quraish, whereas the drift of the passage makes us expect a man of the common multitude.
The chapter relates to the obduracy of those unbelievers, who fail to recognise and obey the God who creates and preserves them.
All authorities agree in regarding this chapter as an early Makkan Sura. Noëldeke places it in the early part of his first period. Muir makes it one of the first Suras enunciated by Muhammad as a public preacher.
|Muhammad rebuked for frowning on a poor blind Muslim||1-11|
|The Qurán written in honourable, exalted, and pure volumes||12-15|
|Man cursed for turning aside from his Creator||16-23|
|It is God who provides man with food||24-32|
|On the judgment-day men will desert their nearest relatives and friends||33-37|
|The bright and sad faces of the resurrection-day||38-42|
∥ The Prophet frowned and turned aside because the blind man came unto him: and how dost thou know whether he shall peradventure be cleansed from his sins, or whether he shall be admonished, and the admonition shall profit him? The man who is wealthy thou receivest respectfully; whereas it is not to be charged on thee that he is not cleansed: but him who cometh unto thee earnestly, seeking his salvation, and who feareth God, dost thou neglect. By no means shouldst thou act thus. Verily, the Qurán is an admonition (12) (and he who is willing retaineth the same); written in volumes honourable, exalted, and pure; by the hands of scribes honoured and just. May man be cursed! What hath seduced him to infidelity? (17) Of what thing doth God create him? (18) Of a drop of seed (19) doth he create him: and he formeth him with proportion; (20) and then facilitateth his passage out of the womb: (21) afterwards he causeth him to die, and layeth him in the grave; (22) hereafter, when it shall please him, he shall raise him to life. (23) Assuredly. He hath not hitherto fully performed what God hath commanded him. (24) Let man consider his food; in what manner it is provided. (25) We pour down water by showers; (26) afterwards we cleave the earth in clefts, (27) and we cause corn to spring forth therein, (28) and grapes and clover, (29) and the olive and the palm, (30) and gardens planted thick with trees, (31) and fruits, and grass, (32) for the use of yourselves and of your cattle. When the stunning sound of the trumpet shall be heard; (34) on that day shall a man fly from his brother, (35) and his mother, and his father, (36) and his wife, and his children. (37) Every man of them, on that day, shall have business of his own sufficient to employ his thoughts. (38) On that day the faces of some shall be bright, (39) laughing, and joyful; (40) and upon the faces of others, on that day, shall there be dust; (41) darkness shall cover them. (42) These are the unbelievers, the wicked.
The title of this chapter is taken from the first verse. The only matter worthy of notice here is the allusion it makes to the vision of Gabriel which Muhammad claimed he had in Mount Hira. This vision is here referred to as a Divine attestation to his apostleship. Noeldeke thinks this vision to have been “a night vision,” and, from vers. 15-18, he concludes “the revelation took place toward the end of the night, when the light of the stars was waning and the dawn about to break.”
What is said in this chapter of Muhammad’s vision is so like the statement of chapter liii. as to suggest that the date is probably the same. The style and language agrees very well with this opinion.
|The terrible signs of the judgment-day||1-14|
|Oaths that the Qurán is the word of God, and that Muhammad is neither a madman nor deluded by the devil||15-25|
|The Qurán an admonition to all men||26-29|
∥ When the sun shall be folded up; (2) and when the stars shall fall; (3) and when the mountains shall be made to pass away; and when the camels ten months gone with young shall be neglected; and when the wild beasts shall be gathered together; and when the seas shall boil: (7) and when the souls shall be joined again to their bodies: and when the girl who hath been buried alive shall be asked (9) for what crime she was put to death; (10) and when the books shall be laid open; and when the heaven shall be removed; (12) and when hell shall burn fiercely: (13) and when Paradise shall be brought near: (14) every soul shall know what it hath wrought. (15) Verily I swear by the stars which are retrograde, which move swiftly, and which hide themselves; (17) and by the night, when it cometh on; (18) and by the morning, when it appeareth; that these are the words of an honourable messenger, endued with strength, of established dignity in the sight of the possessor of the throne, (21) obeyed by the angels under his authority, and faithful: (22) and your companion Muhammad is not distracted. He had already seen him in the clear horizon: and he suspected not the secrets revealed unto him. Neither are these the words of an accursed devil. (26) Whither, therefore, are you going? (27) This is no other than an admonition unto all creatures; (28) unto him among you who shall be willing to walk uprightly; (29) but ye shall not will, unless God willeth, the Lord of all creatures.
This chapter is typical of the Suras first enunciated at Makkah. The burden of the Prophet is the unbelief of man in the doctrine of a future judgment, in which God shall reward the righteous and punish the wicked.
Nothing more definite can be said as to the date of this chapter than that it is one of the earliest Makkan Suras. Noëldeke places it immediately before chapter lxxxi.
|Signs of the judgment-day||1-5|
|Astonishing unbelief of man in his Creator||6-9|
|Guardian angels record the deeds of men||10-12|
|In the judgment the righteous shall be rewarded and the wicked punished||13-16|
|On the day of judgment there shall be no intercessor||17-19|
∥ When the heaven shall be cloven in sunder; and when the stars shall be scattered; and when the seas shall be suffered to join their waters; and when the graves shall be turned upside down: (5) every soul shall know what it hath committed, and what it hath omitted. O man, what hath seduced thee against thy gracious Lord, who hath created thee, and put thee together, and rightly disposed thee? In what form he pleased hath he fashioned thee. (9) Assuredly. But ye deny the last judgment as a falsehood. Verily there are appointed over you guardian angels, (11) honourable in the sight of God, writing down your actions, (12) who know that which ye do. (13) The just shall surely be in a place of delight, (14) but the wicked shall surely be in hell; (15) they shall be cast therein to be burned, on the day of judgment, (16) and they shall not be absent therefrom for ever. (17) What shall cause thee to understand what the day of judgment is? Again, what shall cause thee to understand what the day of judgment is?It is a day whereon one soul shall not be able to obtain anything in behalf of another soul; and the command on that day shall be God’s.
This chapter opens with a philippic against the use of false weights and measures. Woes are then pronounced against those who charge their prophets with imposture, while the believers are comforted by a description of the joys which await them in Paradise. The infidels may with mocking and jesting taunt the Muslims now, but the time will come when the Muslims shall laugh at the infidels as they look down from the couches of Paradise upon their writhings in hell-fire.
Muslim authors differ as to the location of this chapter. Some hold (Itqán, 37) that vers. 1-6 only are Madínic, others that the whole chapter is Madínic Itqán, 28, 55). According to others, this is the last Makkan Sura, or the first Madínic, or revealed between Makkah and Madína. Noeldeke and Muir alike place it among the early Makkan Suras, making the date to be about the fourth year of Muhammad’s public ministry.
|Denunciation of those who use false weights and measures||1-6|
|The acts of the wicked are recorded in the book Sajjín||7-9|
|Woe to those who reject Muhammad and deny the judgment-day||10-18|
|The acts of the righteous are registered in Illiyún||18-21|
|The rewards of the righteous in Paradise||22-28|
|Unbelievers mock at Muslims now, but shall be laughed at in turn||29-36|
∥ Woe be unto those who give short measure or weight; who, when they receive by measure from other men, take the full; but when they measure unto them, or weigh unto them, defraud! Do not these think they shall be raised again at the great day, the day whereon mankind shall stand before the Lord of all creatures? By no means. Verily the register of the actions of the wicked is surely in Sajjín. (8) And what shall make thee to understand what Sajjín is? (9) It is a book distinctly written. (10) Woe be on that day unto those who accused the prophets of imposture, (11) who denied the day of judgment as a falsehood! (12) And none denieth the same as a falsehood except every unjust and flagitious person, who, when our signs are rehearsed unto him, saith, They are fables of the ancients. (14) By no means; but rather their lusts have cast a veil over their hearts. (15) By no means. Verily they shall be shut out from their Lord on that day; (16) and they shall be sent into hell to be burned: (17) then shall it be said unto them by the infernal guards, This is what ye denied as a falsehood. Assuredly. But the register of the actions of the righteous is Illíyún: (19) and what shall cause thee to understand what Illíyún is? (20) It is a book distinctly written: those who approach near unto God are witnesses thereto. (22) Verily the righteous shall dwell among delights: (23) seated on couches, they shall behold objects of pleasure; (24) thou shalt see in their faces the brightness of joy. They shall be given to drink of pure wine, sealed; the seal whereof shall be musk: and to this let those aspire who aspire to happiness: and the water mixed therewith shall be of Tasním, a fountain whereof those shall drink who approach near unto the divine presence. (29) They who act wickedly laugh the true believers to scorn, (30) and when they pass by them, they wink at one another; (31) and when they turn aside to their people, they turn aside making scurrilous jests; (32) and when they see them, they say, Verily these are mistaken men. But they are not sent to be keepers over them. Wherefore one day the true believers, in their turn, shall laugh the infidels to scorn: (35) lying on couches, they shall look down upon them in hell. (36) Shall not the infidels be rewarded for that which they have done?
This chapter begins with very much the same language, and the style and composition throughout is much the same, as that of chapters lxxxi. and lxxxii. We cannot, therefore, err much if we regard the
to be about the same. With this opinion both Muir and Noëldeke seem to agree, as these chapters are brought quite near together in their chronological lists.
|Signs of the judgment-day||1-5|
|The books of the righteous and the wicked given into their hands, and the consequence thereof||6-15|
|Oaths attesting the doctrine of the resurrection||16-20|
|The unbelievers denounced and threatened||21-25|
∥ (1) When the heaven shall be rent in sunder, (2) and shall obey its Lord, and shall be capable thereof; and when the earth shall be stretched out, and shall cast forth that which is therein, and shall remain empty, (5) and shall obey its Lord, and shall be capable thereof: O man verily labouring thou labourest to meet thy Lord, and thou shalt meet him. (7) And he who shall have his book given into his right hand (8) shall be called to an easy account, and shall turn unto his family with joy; but he who shall have his book given him behind his back (11) shall invoke destruction to fall upon him, (12) and he shall be sent into hell to be burned; (13) because he rejoiced insolently amidst his family on earth. (14) Verily he thought he should never return unto God: (15) yea, verily, but his Lord beheld him. (16) Wherefore I swear by the redness of the sky after sunset, (17) and by the night, and the animals which it driveth together, (18) and by the moon when she is in the full, ye shall surely be transferred successively from state to state. (20) What aileth them, therefore, that they believe not the resurrection, and that, when the Qurán is read unto them, they worship not? (22) Yea, the unbelievers accuse the same of imposture; (23) but God well knoweth the malice which they keep hidden in their breasts. (24) Wherefore denounce unto them a grievous punishment, (25) except those who believe and do good works: for them is prepared a never-failing reward.
The first seven verses of this chapter are generally supposed to refer to the persecution of the Christians in Najrán by the cruel king Dhú Nawás. Geiger, however, and after him Noëldeke, adopts the opinion of al Bogháwi that the three men in the furnace (Dan. iii.) are here alluded to.
Vers. 8 and 11, says Noeldeke, “have probably been added later on by Muhammad himself, as they differ from the other verses, with which they are otherwise connected, by reason of a greater length, a more diffuse style, and a somewhat modified rhyme.” The term múminát (female believers) does not occur in any but the latest chapters of the Qurán.
The chapter, excepting perhaps vers. 8-11, is of Makkan origin. Noëldeke assigns it to the earlier half of his first period.
|Cursed were the persecutors of the believers burned with fire||1-7|
|The believers persecuted for their faith in God||8, 9|
|For the infidels is hell-fire, but for believers Paradise||10-12|
|God is Creator and Sovereign Ruler of the universe||13-16|
|Pharaoh and Thamúd examples to warn those who reject the Qurán||17-20|
|The glorious Qurán is kept in the Preserved Table||21|
∥ By the heaven adorned with signs; (2) by the promised day of judgment; by the witness and the witnessed; cursed were the contrivers of the pit, (5) of fire supplied with fuel; when they sat around the same, (7) and were witnesses of what they did against the true believers, (8) and they afflicted them for no other reason but because they believed in the mighty, the glorious God, (9) unto whom belongeth the kingdom of heaven and earth; and Godis witness of all things. Verily for those who persecute the true believers of either sex, and afterwards repent not, is prepared the torment of hell; and they shall suffer the pain of burning. (11) But for those who believe, and do that which is right, are destined gardens beneath which rivers flow: this shall be great felicity. (12) Verily the vengeance of thy Lordis severe. (13) He createth, and he restoreth to life: (14) he is inclined to forgive, and gracious; (15) the possessor of the glorious throne, (16) who effecteth that which he pleaseth. Hath not the story of the hosts of Pharaoh and of Thamúd reached thee? (19) Yet the unbelievers cease not to accuse the divine revelations of falsehood; (20) but God encompasseth them behind, that they cannot escape. (21) Verily that which they reject is a glorious Qurán; the original whereof is written in a table kept in heaven.
According to al Wakídí, the first three verses of this chapter, which, by the way, give it a title, were revealed when Abu Tálib was frightened by seeing a shooting star. This story receives some colouring from the mention of the guardian angel in ver. 4, as the shooting stars were supposed to be darts cast at the devils by the angels guarding the gates of heaven. Noëldeke, however, thinks the words point to a planet or fixed star.
This chapter seems to us to be composed of two small Suras or fragments of Suras, vers. 11-17 being the second, belonging to a later period, because of the mention of plots against Muhammad, which point to the time preceding the first emigration to Abyssinia.
The first part of this chapter certainly belongs to the earliest period of Muhammad’s ministry. Muir and Noëldeke place the whole chapter there; but, for the reason stated above, we prefer to regard vers. 11-17 as belonging to about the fourth year of the ministry at Makkah.
|Oath by the star of piercing brightness||1-3|
|Every soul has its guardian angel||4|
|God the Creator, and therefore can raise the dead||5-8|
|The judgment-day shall reveal secret thoughts||9, 10|
|Oaths by heaven and earth that the Qurán is God’s word||11-14|
|Muhammad exhorted to bear patiently with the unbelievers plotting his ruin||15-17|
∥ (1) By the heaven, and that which appeareth by night: (2) but what shall cause thee to understand what that which appeareth by night is?it is the star of piercing brightness: (4) every soul hath a guardian set over it. (5) Let a man consider, therefore, of what he is created. (6) He is created of seed poured forth, issuing from the loins and the breast-bones. (8) Verily God is able to restore him to life, the day whereon all secret thoughts and actions shall be examined into; (10) and he shall have no power to defend himself, nor any protector. By the heaven which returneth the rain, (12) and by the earth which openeth to let forth vegetables and springs, (13) verily this is a discourse distinguishing good from evil, (14) and it is not composed with lightness, (15) Verily the infidels are laying a plot to frustrate my designs; (16) but I will lay a plot for their ruin. (17) Wherefore, O Prophet, bear with the unbelievers! let them alone a while.
In some editions the title of this chapter is “Praise.” The matter of these revelations is considered to be so precious as to vouchsafe to every reader ten celestial blessings for every letter in the books of Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad!
This chapter professes especially to encourage the Prophet, promising him help to rehearse and remember the revelations, except such portions as it might please God to suppress. Thus early do we find mention of the very convenient law of abrogation. This fact, together with the statement in the last verse that the Qurán is attested by the Scriptures of Abraham and Moses, arouses the suspicion that vers. 7 and 18, 19, have been inserted at a later period; but if so, the additions were made by Muhammad himself.
Some Muslim writers, comparing vers. 1 and 15, and inferring that the five daily prayers are here alluded to, have concluded this chapter to be Madínic. Ver. 6, referring to Muhammad’s purpose to preach the Qurán publicly, together with the style and language of the chapter, shows it to be early Makkan. This can hardly apply to vers. 7, 18, and 19, for reasons given above. Noëldeke places the chapter immediately after chapter lxviii. in his chronological list of Suras.
|God, the Most High, praised for his works||1-5|
|God promises to help Muhammad to proclaim the Qurán||6-9|
|The God-fearing only shall be admonished||10, 11|
|The wicked shall be punished, but the righteous shall be blessed||12, 15|
|Men choose the present life rather than the life to come||16, 17|
|The books of Abraham and Moses attest the Qurán||18, 19|
∥ (1) Praise the name of thy Lord, the Most High, (2) who hath created and completely formed his creatures, and who determineth them to various ends, and directeth them to attain the same; (4) and who produceth the pasture for cattle, (5) and afterwards rendereth the same dry stubble of a dusky hue. We will enable thee to rehearse our revelations; and thou shalt not forget any part thereof, except what God shall please; for he knoweth that which is manifest and that which is hidden. And we will facilitate unto thee the most easy way. (9) Wherefore admonish thy people, if thy admonition shall be profitable unto them. (10) Whoso feareth God, he will be admonished: (11) but the most wretched unbeliever will turn away therefrom; who shall be cast to be broiled in the greater fire of hell, (13) wherein he shall not die, neither shall he live. (14) Now hath he attained felicity, who is purified by faith, (15) and who remembereth the name of his Lord, and prayeth. (16) But ye prefer this present life; (17) yet the life to come is better, and more durable. (18) Verily, this is written in the ancient books, the books of Abraham and Moses.
The object of the revelations of this chapter seems to have been to inspire reverence for the Prophet and his teachings by describing the tortures of the wicked in hell. The joys of Paradise are described for the comfort of the poor and as yet despised Muslims of Makkah. Muhammad is only a warner, but the very exhortations to use no force against the unbelievers show that the idea of compulsory conversion of the people was now present in his mind.
The hint that force might have been used to convert the Quraish (ver. 22) implies strong opposition to Muhammad. This, with the somewhat detailed description of the joys of Paradise, points to a period of Muhammad’s ministry near to and yet preceding the earliest persecutions of the Muslims. This would be, as Noeldeke has it, about the fourth year of the ministry at Makkah.
|The terrible day of judgment||1-3|
|Description of the torments of hell||4-7|
|The joyful state of the Muslims on the judgment-day||8-16|
|God manifests himself in his works||17-20|
|Muhammad only to warn, not to rule over, the infidels||21, 22|
|God will himself punish the unbelievers||23-26|
∥ (1) Hath the news of the overwhelming day of judgment reached thee? (2) The countenances of some, on that day, shall be cast down; labouring and toiling, (4) they shall be cast into scorching fire to be broiled: (5) they shall be given to drink of a boiling fountain: (6) they shall have no food, but of dry thorns and thistles: (7) which shall not fatten, neither shall they satisfy hunger. But the countenances of others, on that day, shall be joyful; well pleased with their past endeavour: they shall be placed in a lofty garden, wherein thou shalt hear no vain discourse: therein shall be a running fountain; therein shall be raised beds, and goblets placed before them, and cushions laid in order, and carpets ready spread. Do they not consider the camels, how they are created? (18) and the heaven, how it is raised? (19) and the mountains, how they are fixed? (20) and the earth, how it is extended? Wherefore warn thy people; for thou art a warner only: thou art not empowered to act with authority over them. But whoever shall turn back, and disbelieve, (24) God shall punish him with the greater punishment of the life to come. (25) Verily unto us shall they return: (26) then shall it be our part to bring them to account.
This chapter, like almost all the earlier Makkan Suras, opens with a number of oaths, which seem to have been uttered as a kind of warning to call special attention to the solemnity of what was to follow. The fourth verse shows us that Muhammad formed these imprecations with deliberate purpose, and uttered them after careful consideration.
The burden of the preacher’s warning was levelled against the oppression and greed of the rich in his own town. Perhaps they had already begun to treat harshly the slave converts to Islám. However this may be, they are warned by the examples of Ád, Thamúd. and Pharaoh, who were destroyed for their wickedness and oppression. They are also pointed to the judgment-day, when the wicked shall vainly regret their evil deeds. The chapter ends with a call to the believing soul to enter the joy of Paradise.
Some Muslim writers (Itqán, 29) regard this chapter as Madínic. Noëldeke tells of one author (Hibat Allah) who declares that it was revealed at Makkah in a.h. 8. He, however, regards it as early Makkan, and in his chronological table places it immediately after chapter lxxxviii.
|Various oaths by natural objects||1-4|
|Unbelievers are warned by the fate of Ád, Thamúd, and Pharaoh||5-13|
|Man praises God in prosperity, but reproaches him in adversity||14-17|
|Oppression of the poor and the orphan denounced||18-22|
|The wicked will vainly regret their evil deeds on the judgment-day||23-25|
|The believing soul invited to the joys of Paradise||26-30|
∥ By the daybreak and ten nights: by that which is double, and that which is single; and by the night when it cometh on: (4) is there not in this an oath formed with understanding? (5) Hast thou not considered how thy Lord dealt with Ád, the people of Iram, adorned with lofty buildings, the like whereof hath not been erected in the land; and with Thamúd, who hewed the rocks in the valley into houses; and with Pharaoh, the contriver of the stakes: (10) who had behaved insolently in the earth, (11) and multiplied corruption therein? Wherefore thy Lord poured on them various kinds of chastisement: (13) for thy Lordis surely in a watch-tower, whence he observeth the actions of men. (14) Moreover, man, when his Lord trieth him by prosperity, and honoureth him, and is bounteous unto him, (15) saith, My Lord honoureth me; (16) but when he proveth him by afflictions and withholdeth his provisions from him, (17) he saith, My Lord despiseth me. By no means: but ye honour not the orphan, (19) neither do ye excite one another to feed the poor; and ye devour the inheritance of the weak, with undistinguishing greediness, (21) and ye love riches with much affection. (22) By no means should ye do thus. When the earth shall be minutely ground to dust: (23) and thy Lord shall come, and the angels rank by rank; and hell, on that day, shall be brought nigh: on that day shall man call to remembrance his cril deeds: but how shall remembrance avail him? He shall say, Would to God that I had heretofore done good works in my lifetime! On that day none shall punish with his punishment; nor shall any bind with his bonds. O thou soul which art at rest, (28) return unto thy Lord, well pleased with thy reward, and well-pleasing unto God: (29) enter among my servants; (30) and enter my Paradise.
This chapter is quoted by Muir in his “Life of Mahomet,” vol. ii. p. 65, to show how earnestly Muhammad at first strove after the truth. According to this author, these revelations, along with those of seventeen more of these short Suras, are not to be regarded as having been proclaimed publicly at the time of composition, but as expressing rather the private thoughts of the inquirer after truth, entertained even years before he set up his claim to be a prophet of God. The eighteen chapters thus described are as follows—103, 100, 99, 91, 106, 1, 101, 95, 102, 104, 82, 92, 105, 89, 90, 93, 94, and 108.
The commentators fancy a definite individual to be addressed in this chapter, and, as usual, they suggest the ubiquitous character of Walíd Ibnal Mughaira. It is better to regard the exhortation here to be addressed to men in general.
All authorities agree in placing this chapter among the earliest Makkan revelations. It is safe to assign it to the first year of the Call, when, even if written before, it was proclaimed as one of the “signs” to an unbelieving people.
|Man, though created in misery, yet boasts of his riches||1-7|
|Captives to be freed and the poor and orphan to be fed||8-16|
|Description of the companions of the right and left hand||17-20|
∥ I swear by this territory, (and thou, O Prophet, residest in this territory), and by the begetter, and that which he hath begotten; verily we have created man in misery. Doth he think that none shall prevail over him? He saith, I have wasted plenty of riches. (7) Doth he think that none seeth him? (8) Have we not made him two eyes, (9) and a tongue, and two lips; (10) and shown him the two highways of good and evil? (11) Yet he attempteth not the cliff. (12) What shall make thee to understand what the cliff is?It is to free the captive; (14) or to feed, in the day of famine, (15) the orphan who is of kin, (16) or the poor man who lieth on the ground. (17) Whoso doth this, and is one of those who believe, and recommend perseverance unto each other, and recommend mercy unto each other; these shall be the companions of the right hand. But they who shall disbelieve our signs shall be the companions of the left hand: (20) above them shall be arched fire.
The first ten verses of this chapter are very similar in style and rhythm to chap. xc., and may with it be numbered among what Muir calls the “Soliloquies.” In regard to the following verses, however, we think that, owing to the change in style, they must be relegated to a later period. This illustrates how the Prophet revised and improved the revelations in later years, for we can hardly refer the additions to these short chapters to the compilers.
The first part of this chapter may well be classed along with the preceding chapter as a revelation of the first year of Muhammad’s ministry. The allusion to imposture in the latter part of the chapter, however, points to the third and fourth year of the Call.
|Oaths that man’s happiness and misery depends on the purity or corruption he hath wrought in it||1-10|
|Thamúd destroyed for rejecting their prophet||11-15|
∥ (1) By the sun, and its rising brightness; by the moon, when she followeth him; (3) by the day, when it showeth his splendour; (4) by the night, when it covereth him with darkness; (5) by the heaven, and him who built it; (6) by the earth, and him who spread it forth; (7) by the soul, and him who completely formed it, and inspired into the same its faculty of distinguishing and power of choosing wickedness and piety; (9) now is he who hath purified the same happy; (10) but he who hath corrupted the same is miserable. Thamúd accused their prophet Sâlih of imposture, through the excess of their wickedness: when the wretch among them was sent to slay the camel; and the Apostle of God said unto them, Let alone the camel of God, and hinder not her drinking. But they charged him with imposture, and they slew her. Wherefore their Lord destroyed them for their crime, and made their punishment equal unto them all: and he feareth not the issue thereof.
“Jaláluddín,” says Sale, “thinks this whole description belongs peculiarly to Abu Baqr; for when he had purchased Bilál, the Ethiopian (afterwards the Prophet’s Muadhdhin, or crier to prayers), who had been put to the rack on account of his faith, the infidels said he did it only out of a view of interest; upon which this passage was revealed.”
The style and language of this chapter are, however, against this explanation. It is best, therefore, to regard the whole as addressed to Muhammad’s hearers generally.
Muir places this chapter among the “Soliloquies;” but this chapter seems to me to be ruled out of that category by the statements of ver. 14 seq., where Muhammad appears as a warner, and therefore is entered upon his pubic ministry. The whole must, however, be assigned to an early date.
|Oaths by various natural objects||1-4|
|The obedient blessed and the covetous accursed||5-13|
|The covetous threatened with hell-fire||14-16|
|True believers shall be rewarded hereafter||17-21|
∥ (1) By the night, when it covereth all things with darkness; (2) by the day, when it shineth forth; (3) by him who hath created the male and the female: (4) verily your endeavour is different. (5) Now whoso is obedient and feareth God, (6) and professeth the truth of that faith which is most excellent; (7) unto him will we facilitate the way to happiness: (8) but whoso shall be covetous, and shall be wholly taken up with this world, (9) and shall deny the truth of that which is most excellent; (10) unto him will we facilitate the way to misery; (11) and his riches shall not profit him when he shall fall headlong into hell. (12) Verily unto us appertaineth the direction of mankind; (13) and ours is the life to come and the present life. (14) Wherefore I threaten you with fire which burneth fiercely, (15) which none shall enter to be burned except the most wretched, (16) who shall have disbelieved and turned back. (17) But he who strictly bewareth idolatry and rebellion shall be removed far from the same; (18) who giveth his substance in alms, (19) and by whom no benefit is bestowed on any, that it may be recompensed, (20) but who bestoweth the same for the sake of his Lord, the Most High, (21) and hereafter he shall be well satisfied with his reward.
A striking peculiarity of this chapter, and also of the next one, is that it is addressed throughout to Muhammad himself. The following is a summary of the reasons assigned by Muslim tradition why it was revealed. “It is related,” says Sale, “that no revelation having been vouchsafed to Muhammad for several days in answer to some questions put to him by the Quraish, because he had confidently promised to resolve them the next day, without adding the exception, ‘If it please God’ (chap. xviii. 23), or because he had repulsed an importunate beggar, or else because a dead puppy lay under his seat, or for some other reason, his enemies said that God had left him; whereupon this chapter was sent down for his consolation.”
The traditions, however, are founded on the attempt to explain or illustrate the text. The most that can be said is that the chapter indicates the mental depression of the Prophet in the early and unsuccessful period of his ministry.
Both Muir and Noëldeke assign this chapter to a very early date, the former placing it after chap. xc., and the latter after chap. xciv. in chronological order.
|Muhammad comforted by the assurance that God is with him||1-3|
|The life to come to be preferred to the present life||4, 5|
|Muhammad exhorted to care for the orphan and beggar||6-11|
∥ By the brightness of the morning; (2) and by the night, when it groweth dark: (3) thy Lord hath not forsaken thee, neither doth he hate thee. (4) Verily the life to come shall be better for thee than this present life: (5) and thy Lord shall give thee a reward wherewith thou shalt be well pleased. (6) Did he not find thee an orphan, and hath he not taken care of thee? And did he not find thee wandering in error, and hath he not guided thee into the truth? (8) And did he not find thee needy, and hath he not enriched thee? Wherefore oppress not the orphan: neither repulse the beggar: (11) but declare the goodness of thy Lord.
Like the preceding chapter, this one is addressed to Muhammad himself. It was probably intended to express the encouragement he received from the sense of God’s presence with him.
Since this chapter seems to be closely connected with the one preceding, it is obviously of about the same date.
|God made Muhammad’s mission easy to him||1-4|
|He is exhorted to labour and pray after the mission is ended||5-8|
∥ Have we not opened thy breast; and eased thee of thy burden, (3) which galled thy back; (4) and raised thy reputation for thee? (5) Verily a difficulty shall be attended with ease. (6) Verily a difficulty shall be attended with ease. When thou shalt have ended thy preaching; labour to serve God in return for his favours: (8) and make thy supplication unto thy Lord.
This chapter contains what seems to be one of the earliest notices of the judgment-day in the Qurán. Indeed, if vers. 7 and 8 are rightly understood as addressed to Muhammad himself, we may regard this Sura as giving expression to his own apprehension of the doctrine of the judgment-day taught in the Qurán.
Some Muslim writers, blindly following traditions manufactured to illustrate the Qurán, have declared this chapter to be Madínic. But the statement of the third verse, to say nothing of language and style, plainly points to Makkah. Noëldeke places it immediately after chap. lxxxv.
|Oaths that God created man “a most excellent fabric”||1-4|
|God has made all men vile except true believers||5, 6|
|None may rightly deny the judgment-day||7, 8|
∥ By the fig and the olive; (2) and by Mount Sinai, and this territory of security; verily we created man of a most excellent fabric; afterwards we rendered him the vilest of the vile: (6) except those who believe and work righteousness; for they shall receive an endless reward. What, therefore, shall cause thee to deny the day of judgment after this? (8) Is not God the most wise judge?
The five first verses of this chapter are generally regarded as the first revelation of the Qurán. Like the first verses of chap. lxxiv., these were connected with a vision of Gabriel. These two visions are referred to in chap. lxxxi. as the ground of Muhammad’s assurance that he was truly a prophet of the Lord.
As to the vision in which Muhammad heard these five verses summoning him to the prophetic office, one tradition regards it as a real occurrence, while another tradition, said to have emanated from the same source, declares the whole incident to have been a dream. The former of these traditions is that of Urwa Ibn al Zubair, received from Ayesha, who heard it from Muhammad many years after the event. It is given as follows by Noëldeke:—“The revelation commenced with real dreams, which illuminated Muhammad like the glow of the dawn. Thereupon he retired to the solitude of Mount Hirá. When he had spent some time there in devotion, the angel appeared to him and said, ‘Read!’ Muhammad answered, ‘I cannot read.’ Thereupon the angel pressed him mightily, and repeated the command. This was all repeated three times, when at last the angel pronounced these five verses. Muhammad was greatly frightened at seeing this, and hastened to his wife, Khadíja, who comforted him.”
The other tradition, which represents this vision as simply a dream, is found in Ibn Hishaám, 151, on the authority of Umar Ibn Qatáda. In this tradition it is said that “when Muhammad woke up, the words of the revelation were impressed upon his heart.”
After noticing briefly the views of Weil, who thinks Muhammad received in these verses the direction to read publicly a revelation previously given, and who is followed by Muir,—and of Sprenger, who thinks that Muhammad was here commanded to “read the holy books of the Jews and Christians,”—Noëldeke, “following the import of the text, and keeping in mind the tradition, without considering its embellishment,” explains the origin of these verses as follows:—“Muhammad, having for some time led an ascetic life in solitude, and having wrought himself up by means of meditation and inner struggles to that condition which is adapted to apparitions, feels himself at last induced by a dream or vision definitely to undertake the work of proclaiming what he had recognised as the truth—in other words, to proclaim himself a prophet. This call to take up this work assumed in his mind the form of the first revelation, the drift of which is, ‘Preach to thy fellow-men that which thou hast learned (above all, the unity of God), in the name of thy Lord, who has raised man from the smallest beginning to a higher level, and who therefore may help also thee. Proclaim to them the truth, since thy Lord is the Mighty One who has taught man the art of writing, formerly unknown to thee, and who thereby has furnished thee with a powerful instrument to spread the faith.” Noëldeke rejects the position of Weil and Muir, but both his own explanation and the former of the traditions quoted above, which he regards as the most important, seem to me to require the supposition of a period preceding this vision during which Muhammad felt himself drawn toward the prophetic office. The tradition distinctly mentions dreams which occurred previous to this vision, and that the result of these dreams was the awakening of the spirit of inspiration. Granting, then, that these verses are the first of the Qurán, and that the “Soliloquies” of Muir should follow in chronological order, having now been proclaimed in public for the first time, may they not still represent the thoughts of Muhammad during these years of doubt and uncertainty?
As to the remainder of the chapter, it is said to refer to the opposition of Abu Jahl to the Muslim cause, and must therefore have been added by Muhammad at a later date.
The date of the first five verses of this chapter, being the first part of the Qurán, would be the celebrated Night of Power, which occurred in the month of Ramadhán. The remaining verses are of later origin.
|Command to Muhammad to recite the Qurán||1-5|
|Rebuke of Abu Jahl for hindering the Muslim cause||6-14|
|Abu Jahl threatened with the pains of hell||15-19|
∥ Read, in the name of thy Lord, who hath created all things; who hath created man of congealed blood. Read by thy most beneficent Lord; (4) who taught the use of the pen; (5) who teacheth man that which he knoweth not. Assuredly. Verily man becometh insolent, (7) because he seeth himself abound in riches. (8) Verily unto thy Lordshall be the return of all. What thinkest thou as to him who forbiddeth our servant when he prayeth? (11) What thinkest thou; if he follow the right direction; (12) or command piety? (13) What thinkest thou; if he accuse the divine revelations of falsehood, and turn his back? (14) Doth he not know that God seeth? Assuredly. Verily, if he forbear not, we will drag him by the forelock, (16) the lying, sinful forelock. And let him call his council to his assistance; we also will call the infernal guards to cast him into hell. (19) Assuredly. Obey him not: but continue to adore God, and draw nigh unto him.
“The word ‘al Qadr,’ ” says Sale, “signifies ‘power,’ and ‘honour’ or ‘dignity,’ and also the ‘divine decree;’ and the night is so named either from its excellence above all other nights in the year, or because, as the Muhammadans believe, the ‘divine decrees’ for the ensuing year are annually on this night fixed and settled, or taken from the ‘preserved table’ by God’s throne, and given to the angels to be executed. On this night Muhammad received his first revelations, when the Qurán, say the commentators, was sent down from the aforesaid table, entire and in one volume, to the lowest heaven, from whence Gabriel revealed it to Muhammad by parcels, as occasion required.”
Muir, in his Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 138, note, says that that which was sent down to Muhammad was more likely “a clear and vivid view of divine truth, which that night burst upon his mind.”
All authorities agree that this chapter belongs to the earliest Makkan period. Noëldeke places it immediately after chap. xciii.
|The Qurán or a divine illumination vouchsafed to Muhammad on the night of al Qadr||1|
|The night of al Qadr described and lauded||2-5|
∥ Verily we sent down the Qurán in the night of al Qadr. (2) And what shall make thee understand how excellent the night of al Qadr is? The night of al Qadr is better than a thousand months. Therein do the angels descend, and the spirit of Gabriel also, by the permission of their Lord,with his decrees concerning every matter. (5) It is peace until the rising of the morn.
This chapter has been thought by some authors to be of Makkan origin, but this opinion has nothing in its favour beyond the fact that it is found among Makkan revelations. We find herein all three of the Madína parties, Idolaters, Jews, and Christians, mentioned; while the style, language, and contents all point to Madína.
This chapter tells of the divisions and disputes which arose among the different religious sects at Madína, owing to some individuals from each party having become Muslims.
The mention of disputes having arisen among the Jews and Christians owing to the proclamation of Islám at Madína, points to an early period at Madína as the date of this chapter. The same may be inferred from that kindly spirit in which allusion is made to the Jews, who were so soon separated from the Prophet by bitterest enmity. For reasons like these, Noëldeke places this chapter immediately after chap. ii. in his chronological list of Suras.
|The idolaters stagger at the revelations of the Qurán||1, 2|
|Jews and Christians dispute among themselves since the advent of Muhammad and his new religion||3, 4|
|Unbelievers of all classes threatened with divine judgments||5|
|Muslims are “the best of creatures;” their reward||6-8|
∥ The unbelievers among those to whom the Scriptures were given, and among the idolaters, did not stagger until the clear evidence had come unto them: (2) an apostle from God, rehearsing unto them pure books of revelations, wherein are contained right discourses. Neither were they unto whom the Scriptures were given divided among themselves until after the clear evidence had come unto them. And they were commanded no other in the Scriptures than to worship God, exhibiting unto him the pure religion, and being orthodox; and to be constant at prayer, and to give alms; and this is the right religion. (5) Verily those who believe not, among those who have received the Scriptures, and among the idolaters, shall be cast into the fire of hell, to remain therein for ever. These are the worst of creatures. (6) But they who believe and do good works, these are the best of creatures: (7) their reward with their Lordshall be gardens of perpetual abode, through which rivers flow; they shall remain therein for ever. (8) God will be well pleased in them; and they shall be well pleased in him. This is prepared for him who shall fear his Lord.
Owing to the rhetorical style of the first verses, this chapter has been considered by some to be Madínic, but the received opinion is that it is Makkan. It appears to be a mere fragment of a Sura.
Little can be discovered as to the date of this chapter beyond the fact that it belongs to the earliest period of Muhammad’s ministry at Makkah.
|The judgment-day shall be ushered in by a great earthquake||1-3|
|The earth shall be inspired to declare why she trembles||4, 5|
|Men shall be judged according to their deeds||6-8|
∥ When the earth shall be shaken by an earthquake, and the earth shall cast forth her burdens; (3) and a man shall say, What aileth her? (4) On that day the earth shall declare her tidings, for that day thy Lord will inspire her. (6) On that day men shall go forward in distinct classes, that they may behold their works. And whoever shall have wrought good of the weight of an ant, shall behold the same. And whoever shall have wrought evil of the weight of an ant, shall behold the same.
Some Muslim writers, imagining that the first verses of this chapter refer to the camels employed by Muhammad in warfare, have erroneously classified it as Madínic.
The purport of the revelations is that God will certainly bring to light the secret thoughts of covetous and worldly men.
On this subject nothing more can be said than that this chapter belongs to an early period of the ministry of Muhammad at Makkah.
|Oaths that man is ungrateful to his God||1-6|
|Man loves the things of this world||7, 8|
|Man’s secret thoughts shall be discovered in the judgment-day||9-11|
∥ By the war-horses which run swiftly to the battle, with a panting noise; and by those which strike fire, by dashing their hoofs against the stones; and by those which make a sudden incursion on the enemy early in the morning, and therein raise the dust, and therein pass through the midst of the adverse troops: (6) verily man is ungrateful unto his Lord; (7) and he is witness thereof; (8) and he is immoderate in the love of worldly good. (9) Doth he not know, therefore, when that which is in the graves shall be taken forth, (10) and that which is in men’s breasts shall be brought to light, (11) that their Lordwill, on that day, be fully informed concerning them?
The name given to the judgment-day, which is made the title of this chapter, is translated “smiting” by Palmer and “blow” by Rodwell. It describes or designates the great day of assizes, not because it will “strike the hearts of all creatures with terror,” as Sale has it, but because on that day the wicked will receive the stroke of justice from an angry God.
All authorities regard this chapter as of Makkan origin. Noëldeke and Muir alike assign it a place among the earliest revelations of the Qurán.
|The day of judgment a day of striking||1-5|
|The good and bad shall be judged according to their works||6-9|
|Háwíyah described||10, 11|
∥ The striking! (2) What is the striking? (3) And what shall make thee to understand how terrible the striking will be? (4) On that day men shall be like moths scattered abroad, (5) and the mountains shall become like carded wool of various colours driven by the wind. (6) Moreover, he whose balance shall be heavy with good works, (7) shall lead a pleasing life: (8) but as to him whose balance shall be light, his dwelling shall be the pit of hell. (10) What shall make thee to understand how frightful the pit of hell is? (11) It is a burning fire.
This chapter is a sort of philippie directed against the covetousness and self-seeking of the Quraish, so often animadverted on in the Qurán. For this reason, perhaps, the judgment-day is referred to only to warn the wicked, and not, as usual, to comfort the righteous. We have given the explanation of this chapter found in Muslim commentators in Sale’s note quoted below, though regarding it as a pure fiction.
Like chap. ci., this one also belongs to the earliest period of the ministry at Makkah.
|Men spend their time seeking the things of this world||1-3|
|The judgment-day shall reveal their folly||3-5|
|In consequence they shall see hell-fire||6-8|
∥ (1) The emulous desire of multiplying riches and children employeth you, until ye visit the graves. (3) By no means should ye thus employ your time: hereafter shall ye know your folly. (4) Again, by no means: hereafter shall ye know your folly. (5) By no means: if ye knew the consequence hereof with certainty of knowledge, ye would not act thus. (6) Verily ye shall see hell: (7) again, ye shall surely see it with the eye of certainty. (8) Then shall ye be examined, on that day, concerning the pleasures with which ye have amused yourselves in this life.
This chapter seems to be merely a remnant of some longer Sura. Muir places it at the head of his chronological list of Suras, and therefore first among Muhammad’s soliloquies. As to the
the most that we can say is that the chapter belongs to the number of the early Makkan Suras.
|Men generally seek for gain and find loss||1, 2|
|The righteous, however, are the exception to this rule||3, 4|
∥ By the afternoon; (2) verily man employeth himself in that which will prove of loss: (3) except those who believe and do that which is right; (4) and who mutually recommend the truth, and mutually recommend perseverance unto each other.
This chapter is also a philippic against the enemies of Muhammad, who, hearing his pious ejaculations, spoke of him as a madman or as one possessed of an evil spirit. It is probable that some person is specially intended, as the commentators will have it, though the application of the chapter is also general.
Like chap. ii., there is mention of the righteous in speaking of future judgment. The
is about the same as that of the three preceding chapters.
|Woes pronounced on slanderers and backbiters||1-4|
|Al Hutama described||5-9|
∥ Woe unto every slanderer and backbiter, (2) who heapeth up riches, and prepareth the same for the time to come! (3) He thinketh that his riches will render him immortal. By no means. He shall surely be cast into Al Hutama. (5) And who shall cause thee to understand what Al Hutama is?It is the kindled fire of God; (7) which shall mount above the hearts of those who shall be cast therein. (8) Verily it shall be as an arched vault above them (9) on columns of vast extent.
This chapter is remarkable for its allusion to an incident in the history of Makkah, as an example of how God deals with His enemies. The inappropriateness of the example, however, will be manifest when we recollect that the army destroyed was an army of “the people of the book,” going to avenge an insult offered their holy place by the idolaters, who are here being warned. The story of the commentators, with its embellishments, is given in Sale’s note quoted below. The chapter is probably a fragment of a longer Sura.
Noëldeke places this chapter in the first Makkan period, and in his chronological list of Suras it follows chap. cii.
|The army of Abraha destroyed for attacking the Kaabah||1-5|
∥ Hast thou not seen how thy Lord dealt with the masters of the elephant? (2) Did he not make their treacherous design an occasion of drawing them into error; (3) and send against them flocks of birds, which cast down upon them stones of baked clay; (5) and render them like the leaves of corn eaten by cattle?
Like the preceding chapter, this one also appears to be a mere fragment of a longer Sura. Some writers regard it as a portion of chap. cv. In it Muhammad exhorts the Quraish to thank the Lord of the Kaabah for their commercial blessings, connected with the dispatch of the two annual caravans.
For reasons already given, the date of this chapter must be the same as that of chap. cv.
|The Quraish exhorted to thank God for commercial privileges||1-4|
∥ For the uniting of the tribe of Quraish; their uniting in sending forth the caravan of merchants and purveyors in winter and summer; let them serve the Lord of this house, who supplieth them with food against hunger, and hath rendered them secure from fear.
This chapter, which is evidently merely a fragment of a longer Sura, deals with those who fail to make their religious practice conform to their profession. The title is taken from the seventh verse. It is also sometimes entitled Dín (Religion), which name is found in the first verse.
The first part of this chapter is probably Makkan, though Zamaḳhshari, Baidháwi, &c. (Itqán 30) classify the whole chapter as Madínic. Noëldeke places it very early in the first period. Muir fixes it, with more probability, at about the fifth year of Muhammad’s public ministry. Verses 4-7 may also be Makkan, but there is much in favour of their being regarded as Madínic.
|Denunciation of the infidels, who deny the Qurán and oppress the orphan||1, 2|
|Hypocrites rebuked for neglect of prayer and charity||3-7|
∥ What thinkest thou of him who denieth the future judgment as a falsehood? It is he who pusheth away the orphan; (3) and stirreth not up others to feed the poor. (4) Woe be unto those who pray, (5) and who are negligent at their prayer: (6) who play the hypocrites, and deny necessaries to the needy.
These three verses are said by the best authorities to have been revealed to comfort Muhammad on account of an insult offered him by al Ás Ibn Waíl, who called Muhammad a tailless man, i.e., one having no sons. The opinion of those, who regard the chapter to be Madínic, because they think it refers to the death of Muhammad’s son Ibrahím, is wrong. In such a case the taunt would be ridiculous.
This chapter is one of the oldest in the Qurán, and therefore it must be placed among the early Makkan Suras.
|Muhammad comforted with abundance of goods||1-3|
∥ Verily we have given thee al Kauthar. Wherefore pray unto thy Lord, and slay the victims. (3) Verily he who hateth thee shall be childless.
This chapter contains the reply of Muhammad to certain of the Quraish who proposed a compromise between Islám and the ancient religion of Makkah, whereby he would concede to their gods an honourable place. Probably the occasion was like that of the lapse described in the notes on chap. xxii. 53.
Noëldeke places this chapter near the end of the first period of Muhammad’s Makkan ministry, because it predicates a time when the Prophet could have had disputes with the idolaters, and a time after which they could have come to him with an offer of compromise. The date would therefore be about the fourth or fifth year of the Call.
|Muhammad declines to compromise with idolatry||1-6|
∥ Say: O unbelievers, I will not worship that which ye worship; nor will ye worship that which I worship. Neither do I worship that which ye worship; neither do ye worship that which I worship. Ye have your religion, and I my religion.
This chapter has all the appearance of being a fragment of a Madína Sura. It may, however, have been composed at Makkah, as stated by Muslim, i. 446, and by Waqkídi, who says it was composed after the battle of Hunain. Noëldeke’s opinion is that it was composed when Muhammad was about to march against Makkah, and when he could count with certainty on the successful issue of the campaign. The chapter therefore records Muhammad’s anticipation of the success of his religion.
The date of this chapter, according to the views expressed above, is about a.h. 8.
|Command to praise God for the victory of Islám||1-3|
∥ When the assistance of God shall come, and the victory; and thou shalt see the people enter into the religion of God by troops; celebrate the praise of thy Lord, and ask pardon of him; for he is inclined to forgive.
This chapter was composed soon after the assembly of the Bani Háshim, called together by Muhammad in order that he might invite them to turn to God and accept of Islám. His uncle, Abd al Uzza Ibn Abdul Muttalib, who was surnamed Abu Lahab, came with others, but discovering the nature of the meeting, cried out, “Let him be damned! Is this all thou hast called us together for?” At these words the whole assembly broke up, as they could see no sense in Muhammad’s speech when he told them he was a “warner sent them before a grievous chastisement.” The words of this chapter contain the curses of Muhammad uttered against Abu Lahab on this occasion.
Muir and Noëldeke fix the date of this chapter at a very early period of the Prophet’s ministry at Makkah. But surely the intensity of the hatred here manifest between the parties points to a later date. I would say the fourth or fifth year of the Call.
|The curse of Muhammad against Abu Lahab and his house||1-5|
∥ The hands of Abu Lahab shall perish, and he shall perish. His riches shall not profit him, neither that which he hath gained. He shall go down to be burned into flaming fire; and his wife also, bearing wood, (5) having on her neck a cord of twisted fibres of a palm-tree.
“This chapter,” says Sale, “is held in particular veneration by the Muhammadans, and declared by a tradition of their Prophet to be equal in value to a third part of the whole Qurán. It is said to have been revealed in answer to the Quraish, who asked Muhammad concerning the distinguishing attributes of the God he invited them to worship.” Whether, as Muir seems to think, this is the confession of faith adopted by Muhammad immediately after his call to the prophetic office or not, it seems clearly to be one of the earliest chapters of the Qurán.
Muir places this chapter among the earliest Makkan Suras. Noëldeke places it near the end of the first period, or about the fourth year of the Call. I agree with Muir, inasmuch as a creed of a later date would have been more diffuse in style.
|The unity of God declared||1-4|
∥ Say, God is one God; the eternal God; he begetteth not, neither is he begotten; and there is not any one like unto him.
“The commentators relate,” says Sale, “that Lubaid, a Jew, with the assistance of his daughters, bewitched Muhammad by tying eleven knots on a cord which they hid in a well: whereupon Muhammad falling ill, God revealed this chapter and the following, and Gabriel acquainted him with the use he was to make of them, and of the place where the cord was hidden: according to whose directions the Prophet sent Ali to fetch the cord, and the same being brought, he repeated the two chapters over it, and at every verse (for they consist of eleven) a knot was loosed, till, on finishing the last words, he was entirely freed from the charm.”
This chapter with the next are called by Muslims the al Mauwidhatáni, or Preservative Chapters. They engrave them upon amulets, &c., as charms against evil influences.
We cannot do better than give the following from Noëldeke:—
“To fix the date of these two Suras (cxiii. and cxiv.) is a most difficult task. This is due to the grotesqueness of the style adopted in such superstitious productions, which allow of no safe conclusion. Indeed, we cannot even be sure these chapters originated before the Hijra. For granting that Muhammad did utter such magic formula in his last years, it assuredly differed from the usual style of the Madína Suras. It is therefore possible that in the tradition, embellished with marvellous excrescences, there is a certain modicum of truth. Possible, however, it is also, as Wiel thinks, that Muhammad applied incantations already existing in order to free himself from the imaginary spell. To such incantations against Satanic influences allusion seems to be made in chaps. xli. 36 and xvi. 160, and in other places. Be this as it may, there can be no doubt that these two Suras have originated at the same time. How difficult the point of chronology is appears evident from the fact that not even Muir, who otherwise fixes the date of each Sura so definitely, ventures to give a decided opinion. He says, indeed, that the date of these Suras is unimportant, but in this he is certainly wrong. It would be of great importance to know certainly the period whereto we might assign these evidences of Muhammad’s superstition.”
The exact date of these chapters cannot therefore be determined. Since, however, such formula as this is alluded to in the Makkan chapters xvi. and xli., I cannot agree with Noëldeke in thinking we cannot decide whether these chapters belong to Makkah. I also think the peculiarity of the style a strong argument in favour of Weil’s suggestion that these formulæ were adopted by Muhammad from incantations already in popular use among the Arabs. The fear of being called a sorcerer would have forbidden Muhammad from adopting anything grotesque at a late date in his ministry.
∥ Say, I fly for refuge unto the Lord of the daybreak, that he may deliver me from the mischief of those things which he hath created; and from the mischief of the night, when it cometh on; and from the mischief of women blowing on knots; (5) and from the mischief of the envious, when he envieth.
This chapter so much resembles the one preceding it, that I have recorded all there that need be said. The date may also be regarded as the same.
∥ Say, I fly for refuge unto the Lord of men, the king of men, the God of men, that he may deliver me from the mischief of the whisperer, who slyly withdraweth, who whispereth evil suggestions into the breasts of men; from genii and men.
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