E. M. (Elwood Morris) Wherry.

A comprehensive commentary on the Qurán; comprising Sale's translation and preliminary discourse, with additional notes and emendations; together with a complete index to the text, preliminary discourse, and notes (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 42)
Online LibraryE. M. (Elwood Morris) WherryA comprehensive commentary on the Qurán; comprising Sale's translation and preliminary discourse, with additional notes and emendations; together with a complete index to the text, preliminary discourse, and notes (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 42)
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III. Entitled Sur al Imran (The Family op Imran) i

IV. Entitled Surat un Nisa (Women) ... 64

V. Entitled Surat ul Maida (The Table) . .118

VI. Entitled Surat al Anam (Cattle) . . -159

VII. Entitled Surat al Araf (The Partition Wall) 201

VIII. Entitled Surat al Aufal (The Spoils) . . 248

IX. Entitled Surat al Tauba (Repentance, Im-
munity) 273

X. Entitled Surat al Yunas (Jonah) . . .321

XI. Entitled Surat al Hud 342

XII. Entitled Surat al Yasup (Joseph) . . . 368

XIII. Entitled Surat al Raad (Thunder) . . . 396





Revealed at Madina.


This chapter contains a variety of passages belonging to different
periods. The revelations are, however, all of Madina origin, except-
ing verses 26 and 27, which seem to be the remnant of a lost
Makkan Sura.

As to matter, the chapter may be divided into two portions. The
first, extending to verse 1 20, relates to various matters of instruction
and warning, suited to the circumstances of the Muslims during the
period of prosperity intervening between the victory at Badr and
the defeat at Ohod. The remainder of the chapter was intended to
counteract the evils consequent upon the misfortunes of the Muslims
at Ohod.

Probable Date of the Revelations.

Verses 1-25, 28-57, 66-94, and 98-120, belong to the period inter-
vening between Ramadhan of a.h. 2 (Badr) and Shawwal of a.h. 3

Verses 26 and 27 are Makkan, but their date cannot be ascertained.
Verses 58-65 allude to the visit of the Christians of Najran to
Madina in a.h. 9. They probably belong to that year.

Verses 95-97, referring to the rites of pilgrimage as fully estab-
lished, must be referred to the later years of Muhammad's life, say
a.h. 10.



( 2 )


The remaining verses, 121-200, belong to a period immediately
succeeding the battle of Ohod, and must therefore be referred to the
latter part of A.n. 3 or the beginning of a.h. 4.

Principal Subjects.

God one and self-existent ....
The Quran to be believed ....

God omniscient

Plain and obscure verses of the Qur&n

The prayer of those versed in Quranic mystery

The punishment of Pharaoh a warning to infidels

The victory at Badr alluded to

The faithful, their character and reward

Islam the true religion

The punishment of unbelievers eternal .

God omnipotent and sovereign

Obedience to God enjoined ....

The Virgin Mary- -her conception nurtured by

Za< luirias . ....

John Baptist, his birth ....

Christ announced to the Virgin his miracles

apostles, &c

Muhammad's dispute with the Christians of Najr&n

The hypocritical Jews reproached .

Prophets not to be worshipped

God's curse on infidels .....

Almsgiving enjoined

The Jews unlawfully forbid certain meats

The Kaabah founded

Muslims are warned against the friendship of Jews


The lot of infidels and believers contrasted
Muslims safe from the enmity of Jews and Chris


Certain believing Jews commended for their faith
Muslims not to make friends of Jews and Christians
The battle of Ohod alluded to
Disheartened Muslims encouraged .

Usury forbidden

The doom of calumniators of the apostles
Islam not dependent on Muhammad for success
The former prophets are examples of perseverance
Unbelievers to be avoided ....
Certain Muslims disobedient at Ohod





10, 12

19, 20





121, 122
137, 138

149-15 1


( 3 )


The hypocrites rebuked ....

Muslims slain at Ohod to enter paradise .
Mild treatment of vacillating Muslims .
The spoils of war to be honestly divided
The faithful sifted by defeat at Ohod
The joy of the Ohod martyrs in paradise
Certain Muslims commended for faithfulness ,
The fate of unbelievers .
The miser's doom ......

Scoffing Jews denounced they charge Muhammad
with imposture .....

Meditations and prayers of the pious
God's answer to the prayers of the pious .
Certain believing Jews and Christians commended
Exhortation to patience and perseverance

. verses



158, 159


160, 161























I! (1) A. L. M. (2) There is no God but God, the living, \\ -J.
the self-subsisting : (3) he hath sent down unto thee the

(I)' A. L. M. See note on chap. ii. ver. 1, and Prelim. Disc,
p. 100.

(2) There is no God but God, &c. These words express one half
of the Muslim creed; they are said to have been delivered on the
occasion of a visit to the Prophet by certain Christians from Najran.
On being invited to join Islam, they professed their faith in Jesus
the Son of God. To this Muhammad replied that they were unable
to receive the true religion because of their having attributed to the
Deity the human relationships of wife and son. The Christians
declared their belief in the Sonship of Jesus, saying, " If God were
not his father, who was ? " To this Muhammad replied, that, accord-
ing to their own religion, God was immortal, and yet they believed
that Jesus would taste of death ; that he ate and drank, slept and
awoke, went and came, &c. This, he averred, could not be predi-
cated of divinity. See Tafsir-i-Husaini in loco.

According to the Tafsir-i-Raufi, this verse contains a distinct re-
jection of the Christian doctrine of the Divinity of Christ as well as
of the Trinity. The tradition handed down to the present genera-
tion by these commentators, and, so far as I know, by all commen-
tators of the Quran, confirms our interpretation of chap. ii. vers. 86,
116. Muhammad knew of no Trinity save that of God, Mary, and
Jesus, and Muhammadan commentators know of no other Trinity,
unless it be that of God, Jesus, and Gabriel see Tafsir-i-Raufi in
loco probably a modern gloss of the Bible language, " Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost," the term Holy Spirit, as found in the Quran, being


book of the Qurdn with truth, confirming that which was
revealed before it ; for he had formerly sent down the law,
and the gospel a direction unto men ; and he had also sent
down the distinction between good and evil. (4) Verily those
who believe not the signs of God shall suffer a grievous
punishment; for God is mighty, able to revenge. (5)
Surely nothing is hidden from God, of that which is on

always understood to refer to the Angel Gabriel : see chap. ii. 253.
No Christian would object to the statement upon which we are now
commenting. It is a statement clearly set forth in our Scriptures.
But if this statement is intended to refute the Christian doctrine
concerning the person of Christ and the Trinity, what becomes of
the claims set up for the Quran in this same verse as "confirming
that which was revealed before it"? What are we to say of the
inspiration of a prophet who seems to have been ignorant of the
teaching of the Scriptures he professed to confirm ? If he were not
ignorant of these doctrines, then what becomes of his character for
integrity ? How he could be so ignorant of them, after personal
intercourse with Christians as testified by tradition, as to attribute
to them views never held by any sect however heretical, I confess
myself unable to show.

(3) He had formerly sent down the laic, <fcc. The Muslim com-
mentators understand the reference to be to all the Scriptures of the
Old ami New Testament, and that these were " a direction " unto
the Jews that they should not call Ezra the Son of God, and "a
direction " to the Christians that they should not call Christ " God, the
Son of God, or one of three persons of a Trinity." Tafsir-i-Ravfi.

The distinction. The original word is Al Furq&n, a word usually
translated in the Persian and Urdu versions of the Quran, " miracles."
It is applied to the Quran in the sense of the text, as the dis-
tinguisher "between good and evil," especially between the false
and true in religion. This name, say the Muslims, is intended to
point to the miraculous character of the Qurdn. But if so, the same
character must be credited to the Christian and Jewish Scriptures,
for the commentators admit that what is referred to in the first part
of this verse in detail is here referred to in general (Tafsir-i-RauJi in
loco). The word therefore probably points to the seal of miracles
which God set upon all his prophets and his word as revealed by
them. In the case of the Qurdn, the verses (Aydt = signs) are the
miraculous seal of inspiration.

(4) Those who believe not the signs, i.e., who reject the teaching of
the Quran. If our view of the latter clause of the preceding verse
be correct, allusion may be had to the teaching of former Scriptures
as well.

(5) Nothing is hidden from God, dec. A distinct recognition of the
omniscience of God. The commentators see in this statement a refu-
tation of the Christian doctrine of the Divinity of Christ. The Son


earth, or in heaven : (6) it is he who formeth you in the
wombs, as he pleaseth ; there is no God but he, the mighty,
the wise. (7) It is he who hath sent down unto thee the
book, wherein are some verses clear to be understood, they
are the foundation of the book ; and others are parabolical.
But they whose hearts are perverse will follow that which
is parabolical therein, out of love of schism, and a desire
of the interpretation thereof; yet none knoweth the inter-
pretation thereof, except God. But they who are well

of Mary did not know everything, therefore he could not he divine.
Here again we see that the Muslim conception of Christ's divinity
is that his humanity was divine.

(6) He that formeth you, &c, i.e., " tall or short, male or female,
black or white, deformed or perfect, beautiful or ugly, good and
fortunate, or wretched and miserable." Tafsir-i-Bauji.

(7) Some verses clear, . . . others are parabolical. " This passage is
translated according to the exposition of al Zamakhsharf and Bai-
dh&wi, which seems to be the truest.

" The contents of the Quran are here distinguished into such pas-
sages as are to be taken in the literal sense, and such as require a
figurative acceptation. The former, being plain and obvious to be
understood, compose the fundamental part, or, as the original ex-
presses it, the mother of the book, and contain the principal doctrines
and precepts, agreeably to and consistently with which, those pas-
sages which are wrapt up in metaphors and delivered in enigmatical,
allegorical style are always to be interpreted." See Prelim. Disc,
p. 1 1 3. Sale.

On this subject, Hughes, in his Notes on Muhammad anism, pp.
32-34, second edition, writes as follows : "The sentences Clbdrat)
of the Quran are either Zdhir or Khafi, i.e., either obvious or hidden.

" Obvious sentences are of four classes : zdhir, nass, mufassar,

11 Zahir = those sentences the meaning of which is obvious or clear
without any assistance from the context, &c.

" Hidden sentences are either khafi, mushkil, mujmal, or muta-
sluibih," i.e., " hidden," "ambiguous," " compendious," or " intricate."

We have therefore in this passage the foundation principle of
Muslim exegesis. See also the Tafslr-i- Raufi in loco.

None knoweth the interpretation, &c. Sale has followed the inter-
pretation of the Sunni or orthodox sect in this translation. The
Shiah sect, however, dissents from an interpretation which makes
God say that he has revealed what is not after all a revelation.
They, therefore, understand this sentence as being closely connected
with the one following, as the original will very well allow, and
render the passage thus : " None knoweth the interpretation thereof
except God and those who are well grounded in the knowledge which

R jo'


grounded in the knowledge say, We believe therein, the
whole is from our Lord ; and none will consider except
the prudent. (8) Lord, cause not our hearts to swerve
front truth, after thou hast directed us : and give us from
thee mercy, for thou art he who giveth. (9) Lord,
thou shalt surely gather mankind together, unto a day
of resurrection : there is no doubt of it, for God will not
be contrary to the promise.

|| (10) As for the infidels, their wealth shall not profit
them anything, nor their children, against God : they shall
be the fuel of hell fire. (11) According to the wont of the
people of Pharaoh, and of those who went before them, they
charged our signs with a lie ; but God caught them in their
wickedness, and God is severe in punishing. (12) Say unto
those who believe not, Ye shall be overcome, and thrown
together into hell ; and an unhappy couch shall it be. (13)
Ye have already had a miracle shown yon in two armies,

say, <kc. By " those who are well grounded in the knowledge,"
they understand the Imams of their own sect. This interpretation,
however, does not avail them much, inasmuch as they are dependent
on the fallible testimony of the traditionists for a knowledge of the
dictum of the Imams ; and, amidst the conflict of witnesses, most
men would be ready to say with the text, "None knoweth the inter-
pretation thereof except God."

The principle enunciated in this verse should not be forgotten by
Christians when called upon by Muslims to explain some of the
obscure passages of the Bible or the mysteries of our religion.

(8) Lord, dec. Muslims understand all prayers of this kind
found in the Qui&n as introduced by the word "say." See notes in
chap. i. This prayer is dictated by the third clause of the preceding
verse, and is connected with that passage thus : " They who are
well grounded, say . . . O Lord," &c.

(9) A day, dec. Rodwell gives the correct rendering of this pas-
sage thus : "For the day of whose coming there is not a doubt, thou
wilt surely gather mankind together." So too the Urdu and Persian

(11) They churned our signs with a lie. Muhammad again likens
himself to Moses and other prophets, whose message had been treated
with contempt by infidels like unto the Jews and Qiiraish of his time.

(12) Ye shdl be overcome. These defiant words, addressed to the
enemies of Lhlm, and to the Quraish in particular, were inspired by
the Muslim victory at Badr, A.H. 2.

(13) Ye have already had a miracle shoicn you. "The sign or


which attacked each other : one army fought for God's true
religion, but the other were infidels; they saw the faithful
twice as many as themselves in their eyesight ; for God
strengthened with his help whom he pleaseth. Surely
herein was an example unto men of understanding. (14)

miracle here meant was the victory by Muhammad in the second
year of the Hijra over the idolatrous Makkans ... in the valley
of Badr. . . . Muhammad's forces consisted of no more than three
hundred and nineteen men, but the enemy's army of near a thousand,
notwithstanding which odds he put them to flight, having killed
seventy of the principal Quraish " (forty-nine, see Aluir's Life of Ma-
homet, vol. hi. p. 107, note), "and taken as many prisoners, with the
loss of only fourteen of his own men. This was the first victory
obtained by the Prophet; and though it may seem no very consider-
able action, yet it was of great advantage to him, and the foundation
of all his future power and success. For which reason it is famous in
the Arabian history, and mote than once vaunted in the Quran (chap.
viii. 45, 46) as an effect of the divine assistance. The miracle, it is
said, consisted in three things : r. Muhammad, by the direction of
the Angel Gabriel, took a handful of gravel and threw it towards the
enemy in the attack, saying, May their faces be confounded ; where-
upon they immediately turned their backs and fled. But though
the Prophet seemingly threw the gravel himself, yet it is told in the
Quran (chap. viii. 17) that it was not he, but God, who threw it,
that is to say, by the ministry of his angel. 2. The Muhammadan
troops seemed to the infidels to be twice as many in number as
themselves, which greatly discouraged them. And 3. God sent
down to their assistance first a thousand, and afterwards three thou-
sand angels, led by Gabriel, mounted on his horse Haizum ; and,
according to the Quran (chap. viii. 17), these celestial auxiliaries
really did all the execution, though Muhammad's men imagined
themselves did it, and fought stoutly at the same time. ; ' Sale.

There is a discrepancy between the statement of this verse and
that of chap. viii. 46. Here the miracle consists in the dismay
wrought among the Quraish by magnifying the number of Muslims
in their eyes; but there it is recorded that "when he caused them
to appear unto you when ye met to be few in your eyes, and dimini-
shed your number in their eyes." In this verse the miracle consisted
in encouraging the Muslims by diminishing the number of those of
Makkah and in luring on the Quraish to destruction by making
the number of their adversaries appear even less than it really was.
The commentators reconcile these statements by making the former
to succeed the latter in time. Considering the number of angels
called in to assist the Muslims on this occasion, one would infer
that the angelic hosts of Islam were not highly gifted in the art of
war. Compare Isa. xxxvii. 36, but see below, ver. 123, note, and on
chap. viii. 45, 46.


The love and eager desire of wives, and children, and
sums heaped up of gold and silver, and excellent horses,
and cattle, and land, is prepared for men : this is the pro-
vision of the present life ; but unto God shall be the most
excellent return. (15) Say, Shall I declare unto you
better things than this ? For those who are devout are
prepared with their Lord gardens through which rivers
flow ; therein shall they continue for ever : and they shall
enjoy wives free from impurity, and the favour of God ;
for God regardeth his servants, (16) who say, Lord, we
do sincerely believe; forgive us therei"ore our sins, and
deliver us from the pain of hell fire : (17) the patient, and
the lovers of truth, and the devout, and the almsgivers,
and those who ask pardon early in the morning. (18)
God hath borne witness that there is no God but he ; and
the angels, and those who are endowed with wisdom, pro-
fess the same ; who executeth righteousness ; there is no
God but he ; the mighty, the wise.

!l (19) Verily the true religion in the sight of God is

(15) Shall I declare unto you better things than this? This verse,
taken iu connection with the preceding, clearly shows that the joys
of the Muslim heaven are carnal. " The provision of the present
life," viz., women, gold and silver, horses, cattle, and land, were such
as could alone gratify the " eager desire " of an Arab in this life. All
these are to be infinitely multiplied amid the pavilions and gardens
of paradise. See also notes on chap. ii. 25.

The attempt to explain these passages as figurative and symbolical
of spiritual blessing, while sanctioned by the teaching of some Mus-
lim writers, does violence to the language of the Quran as well as to
the faith of the orthodox in all ages of Islam. It is unfair to quote
in evidence the dreamy statements of the Sufis or the rationalistic
pleading of modern free-thinkers. These are alike regarded as
infidels by the orthodox Muhammadan. There cannot be a shadow
of a doubt that the heaven of Muslims is a place of sensual delights.
No orthodox Muslim commentator takes any other view, u and it is
impossible for any candid mind to read theQurnand the traditions
and arrive at any other conclusion on the subject." See Hughes's
Notes on Muhammadanism, 2d ed., pp. 91-95.

God regardeth his servants who eat/, dec. The ground of forgive-
ness, as here stated, is faith in Isl&m and obedience to its precepts.

(19) 77ie true religion . . . is Isldm. "The proper name of the
Muhammadan religion, which signifies the resigning or devoting one's
/ entirely to God and his service. This they say is the religion


Islam : and they who had received the scriptures dissented
not therefrom, until after the knowledge of God's unity
had come unto them, out of envy among themselves ; but
whosoever believeth not in the signs of God, verily God
will be swift in bringing him to account. (20) If they
dispute with thee, say, I have resigned myself unto God,
and he who followeth me doth the same; and say unto
them who have received the scriptures, and to the igno-
rant, Do ye profess the religion of Islam ? now if they
embrace Islam, they are surely directed ; but if they turn
their backs, verily unto thee belongeth preaching only; for
God regardeth his servants.

|| (21) And unto those who believe not in the signs of H
God, and slay the prophets without a cause, and put those
men to death who teach justice; denounce unto them a
painful punishment. (22) These are they whose works
perish in this world, and in that which is to come ; and
they shall have none to help them. (23) Hast thou not
observed those unto whom part of the scripture was

which all the prophets were sent to teach, being founded on the
unity of God." Sale, Jaldluddin.

See also below, on vers. 83, 84.

They who had received the Scriptures dissented, &c. The meaning
of this passage seems to be that Jews and Christians belonged to this
true religion of Islam until the revelation of the Quran came. They
were then filled with envy, and on this account dissented from the

Muhammad, therefore, again attests the truth of Judaism and
Christianity, and in this passage seems clearly to state that the Jews
and Christians were the followers of the true religion up to the date
of his prophetic claim. If so, a comparison of the religions will show
how far Islam falls short of being the true religion taught by the
prophets and Jesus, and also how far the charge of envy is justi-

(20) Do ye profess Islam ? See Kodwell's note on this passage.
The mission of Muhammad thus far was that of a preacher only.
Although the enemies of Islam were threatened, the policy of Mu-
hammed was as yet purely defensive.

(21, 22) The Jews are referred to in these verses. The intensity
of the opposition is very marked.

(23) Part of the Scripture, i.e., the Scriptures given to the Jews.
This verse shows clearly that these Jews possessed copies of the
Scriptures attested as the word of God by the Quran. Some com-

1 l'

CHAP. III.] ( IO ) [SIPARA I ,r -

given ? They were called unto the book of Gnu, that it

Online LibraryE. M. (Elwood Morris) WherryA comprehensive commentary on the Qurán; comprising Sale's translation and preliminary discourse, with additional notes and emendations; together with a complete index to the text, preliminary discourse, and notes (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 42)