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

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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 14 of 42)
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briel immediately descended to acquaint the Prophet with their
treachery, upon which he rose up and went his way. A third story is,
that Muhammad having hung up his arms on a tree under which he
was resting himself, and his companions being dispersed some dis-
tance from him, an Arab of the desert came up to him and drew his
sword, saying, ' Who hindereth me from killing thee 1 ' to which Mu-
hammad answered, 'God ;' and Gabriel beating the sword out of the
Arab's band, Muhammad took it up, and asked him the same ques-
tion, ' Who hinders me from killing thee 1 ' the Arab replied, ' No-
body,' and immediately professed Muhammad anisni. Abulfida tells
the same story, with some variation of circumstances." Sale, Bai-

We have little reason to regard any of these stories, excepting the
first, as true. They possess the marks of the improbable and the
apocryphal. Nevertheless they are reproduced by all commen-
tators and expositors of the Quran, and are believed by all good
Muslims. The passage apparently points to the lesser pilgrimage
and events connected therewith.

(13) Twelve leaders. The following is the Muslim account of these
twelve leaders as given by Sale on the authority of Baidhawi :

"After the Israelites had escaped from Pharaoh, God ordered
them to go against Jericho, which was then inhabited by giants,* of

* These giants, say the Muslims, were from 800 to 3300 yards in height;
their grapes were so large it required five persons to lift a cluster, and the
pomegranates were so large that five persons could get into the shell at

CHAP. V.] ( 126 ) [SIPARA VI.

dren of Israel, aud we appointed out of them twelve
leaders $ and God said, Verily I am with you: if ye ob-
serve prayer, and give alms, and believe in my apostles,
and assist them, and lend unto God on good usury, I will
surely expiate your evil deeds from you, and I will lead
you into gardens wherein rivers flow : but he among you
who disbelieveth after this, erreth from the straight path.
(14) Wherefore because they have broken their covenant,
we have cursed them, and hardened their hearts; they
dislocate the words of the Pentateuch from their places,
and have forgotten part of what they were admonished ;
and thou wilt not cease to discover deceitful practices
among them, except a few of them. But forgive them,
and pardon them, for God loveth the beneficent. (15)
And from those who say, "We are Christians, we have
received their covenant ; but they have forgotten part of
what they were admonished ; wherefore we have raised up
enmity and hatred among them, till the day of resurrec-
tion ; and God will then surely declare unto them what
they have been doing. (16) ye who have received the

the race of the Canaanites, promising to give it into their hands ;
and Moses, by the divine direction, appointed a prince or captain
over each tribe to lead them in that expedition (Num. i. 4, 5) ; and
when they came to the borders of the land of Canaan, sent the cap-
tains as spies to get information of the state of the country, enjoin-
ing them secrecy ; but they, being terrified at the prodigious size
and strength of the inhabitants, disheartened the people by publicly
telling what they had seen, except only Caleb the son of Yafunna
(Jephunneh), and Joshua the son of Nun" (Num. xiii. xiv.)

As usual, the message to the Israelites is represented as the same
as that given to the Arabs by Muhammad.

Good usury. The reward of those who spent their money in the
wars for the faith.

/ will surely expiate. See note on chap. iii. 194. It is altogether
probable that the word expiate was used in conformity with Jewish
idiom, but certainly not in a Jewish sense.

(14) They dislocate (lie words. See note on chap. iv. 44.
Dutforifive them. "That is, if they repent and believe, or submit

to pay tribute. Some, however, think these words are abrogated by
the verse of the Sword." Sale, Baidhdwi.

(15) Forgotten -part, i.e., the prophecies of the gospel concerning
Muhammad as the Paraclete (Tafdr-i-RauJi).

Enmity and hatred. The reference is to the sectarian quarrels
among Christians.

SIPARA VI.] ( 127 ) [CHAP. V.

scriptures, now is our apostle come unto you, to make
manifest unto you many things which ye concealed in the
scriptures, and to pass over many things. (17) Now is
light and a perspicuous book of revelations come unto you
from God. (18) Thereby will God direct him who shall
follow his good pleasure into the paths of peace; and
shall lead them out of darkness into light by his will, and
shall direct them in the right way. (19) They are infi-
dels who say, Verily God is Christ the son of Mary. Say
unto them, And who could obtain anything from God to
the contrary, if he .pleased to destroy Christ the son of
Mary, and his mother, and all those who are on the earth ?

(16) MShich ye concealed, e.g., "the verse of stoning adulterers
(chap. iii. 23), the description of Muhammad, and Christ's prophecy
of him by the name of Ahmed" (chap. lxi. 6). Sale, Baidhdwi.

And to pass over other things. The things thus passed over were
all that made Christianity a religion at all. The additions, made
under pretence of restoring lost revelations, were distinctly Muslim
in their character. How such a proceeding can be reconciled with a
character for honest sincerity is beyond my ken.

(17) Now is light . . . come unto you, i.e., the light of prophecy,
which resided in Muhammad and all the predecessors of Muhammad
up to Adam. This light was the first creation of God, and through
this light all the works of God were made manifest (Tafsir-i-Raufi).
Muhainmadan mystics have little difficulty in persuading them-
selves in this way that Muhammad and the Quran are divine in
the sense that they are the li.uht of God, manifesting him as the
light of the sun reveals to us the orb of day with all its retinue of

The orthodox, however, take more sober views of the passage, and
understand the truth of Islam as recorded in the Quran to be all that
is intended.

(19) The infidels. Christians are here called by the same name as
that which is applied to idolaters, because their clear confession oi
the divine nature and attributes of Christ declares them to be guilty
of this unpardonable sin of Islam. In almost all the earlier chapters
of the Quran, Christians are spoken of as "the people of the book,"
and the status assigned to them is far above that of either Jews or
idolaters. In the latter revelations the Mazarines are, as here, plainly
called idolaters. This inconsistency may be explained either by
supposing Muhammad to have been ignorant of Christianity until a
late period of his life, or by presuming that he chose to ignore them
when he could, and to patronise where he could not ignore, until his
pretensions as a prophet and his power as a politician had been esta-
blished. We think the last to be most in accord with probability,

CHAP. V.] ( 128 ) [SIPARA VI.

(20) For unto God bdongeth the kingdom of heaven and
earth, and whatsoever is contained between them ; he
createth what he pleaseth, and God is almighty. (21)
The Jews and the Christians say, We are the children of
God and his beloved. Answer, Why therefore doth he
punish you for your sins ? Nay, but ye are men, of those
whom he hath created. He forgiveth whom he pleaseth,
and punisheth whom he pleaseth ; and unto God bdongeth
the kingdom of heaven and earth, and of what is contained
between them both ; and unto him shall all things return.
(22) O ye who have received the scriptures, now is our
apostle come unto you, declaring unto you the true reli-
gion, during the cessation of apostles, lest ye should say,
There came unto us no bearer of good tidings, nor any
warner : but now is a bearer of good tidings and a warner
come unto you ; for God is almighty.

and as being most easily reconciled with traditions which accredit
Muhammad with a knowledge of Christianity even before he claimed
to be a prophet, and which even declare his wife Khadijah to have
been a Christian.

If he pleased to destroy Christ. This passage decidedly proves that
whatever purpose Muhammad had in using the terms " Word of
God," " Spirit from God," &c. (see chaps, ii. 86 and iii. 39), he certainly
never intended to sanction the doctrine of Christ's divinity in any

(21) Why . . . doth he punish you ? Compare with Heb. xii. 5-8.
This verse shows that Muhammad, while using the phraseology of
Christians, did not understand its import A son of God seemed to
him to certainly express the idea of a divine nature, hence he says,
"Nay. but ye are men, ' &c.

(22) The cessation of the apostles. " The Arabic word al fatra
signifies the intermediate space of time between two prophets, dur-
ing which no new revelation or dispensation was given ; as the
interval between Moses and Jesus, and between Jesus and Muham-
mad, at the expiration of which last Muhammad pretended to he
sent." Sale.

The Tafsir-i-Raufi says there were one thousand prophets interven-
ing successively hetween Moses and Jesus, but none between Jesus
and Muhammad. During the whole period of 2300 years, according
to Arab reckoning, between Moses and Muhammad, no prophet
appeared among the children of Ishmail. Surely the promise was
to Isaac, even on Muslim showing.

SIPARA VI.] ( 129 ) [CHAP. V.

|| (23) Call to mind when Moses said unto his people, R
my people, remember the favour of God towards you,
since he hath appointed prophets among you, and consti-
tuted you kings, and bestowed on you what he hath given
to no other nation in the world. (24) my people, enter
the holy land, which God hath decreed you, and turn not
your backs, lest ye be subverted and perish. (25) They
answered, Moses, verily there are a gigantic people in
the land; and we will by no means enter it, until they
depart thence ; but if they depart thence, then will we
enter therein. (26) And two men of those who feared
God, unto whom God had been gracious, said, Enter ye
upon them suddenly by the gate of the city ; and when ye
shall have entered the same, ye shall surely be victorious:
therefore trust in God, if ye are true believers. (27)
They replied, Moses, we will never enter the land while
they remain therein : go therefore thou and thy Lord

(23) Kings. There is almost certainly an anachronism here ;
but Muslims regard the words as a prophecy of Moses concerning
kings to come, or they understand by the expression that God had
" made them kings or masters of themselves by delivering them from
Egyptian bondage " (Sale).

What he hath given, dec. Baidhawi says, "Having divided the Red
Sea for you, and guided you by a cloud, and fed you with quails
and manna, &c." The allusion is with more probability assigned to
the peculiar blessings of Israel as the chosen people of God.

(24) Holy land. This expression, like the language of the pre-
vious verse, was received from the vocabulary of contemporary Jews
or Christians. But it is here put in the mouth of Moses.

(25) Gigantic people. See note on ver. 13.

(26) Two men. Caleb and Joshua.

Enter . . . by the gate. This illustrates Muhammad's idea of the
mission of the Israelites to Canaan, and of Joshua's resources in hi3
efforts to conquer Jericho. He is confident of success through
stratagem. Yet this whole caricature of the history of the rebel-
lion of the children of Israel at Kadesh Barnea is put in the mouth
of God and related as authentic story. What can account for
such a phenomenon but satanic possession or wilful imposture ?
Certainly nothing from a Christian standpoint. The only other
possible supposition is the faith of the Muslim that this is inspired
history, and that everything contradictory to it is false.

CHAP. V.] ( I30 ) [SIPARA VI.

and fight ; for we will sit here. (28) Moses said, Lord,
surely I am not master of any except myself and my
brother ; therefore make a distinction between us and the
ungodly people. (29) God answered, Verily, the land
shall be forbidden them forty years ; during which time
they shall wander like men astonished on the earth ; there-
fore be not thou solicitous for the ungodly people.
K w || (30) Relate unto them also the history of the two

sous of Adam, with truth. When they offered their offer-
ing, and it was accepted from one of them, and was not
accepted from the other, Cain said to his brotlier, I will

(28) Except myself and my brother. Moses would seem to have for-
gotten Caleb and Joshua. The author of the T<>fsir-i-L'aufi conjec-
tures that it is Aaron who is called Lord in ver. 27 ; but this theory is
contrary to the dignity bestowed on Moses even where in the Quran.

Therefore make a distinction, Ac. Compare Numb. xiv. 1 1-20.

(29) They shall wander. "The commentators pretend that the
Israelites, wliile they thus wandered in the desert, were kept within
the compass of about eighteen (or, as some say, twenty-seven) miles ;
and that though they travelled from morning to night, yet they con-
stantly found themselves the next day at the place from whence they
set out." Sale.

(30) Relate with . . . truth. See note on chap. ii. 145.

The two sons of Adam, Cain and Abel ; called by Muhammadans
Kabil and Habfl.

W/ien they offered, dec. "The occasion of their making this offer-
ing is thus related, according to the common tradition in the East.
Each of them being born with a twin sister, when they were grown
up, Adam, by Gods direction, ordered Cain to marry Abel's twin
sister, and that Abel should marry Cain's (for it being the common
opinion that marriages ought not to be had in the nearest degrees of
Consanguinity, since they must necessarily mam* their sisters, it
seemed reasonable to suppose they ought to take those of the remoter
degree ; but this Cain refusing to agree to, because his own sister
was the handsomest, Adam ordered them to make their offerings to
God, thereby referring the dispute to his determination. The com-
mentators say Cain's offering was a sheaf of the very worst of his
turn, but Abel's a fat lamb, of the best of his Hock." Sale, Bai-
dhdwi, Jaldluddln.

" The offering of Abel was accepted by fire descending from heaven
and consuming it, while that of Cain was untouched.'' Tafsir-i-
Raufi, Taf8lr-i-Husaini.

Abel answered, dec. " This conversation between the two brothers,"
Sale, "is related somewhat to the same purpose in the Jeru-
salem Targuni and that of Jonathan ben Uzziel."

SIPARA VI.] (131 ) [CHAP. V.

certainly kill thee. Abel answered, God only accepteth
the offering of the pious ;

|| (31) If thou stretchest forth thy hand against me, to nisf.
slay me, I will not stretch forth my hand against thee, to
slay thee ; for I fear God, the Lord of all creatures. (32)
I choose that thou shouldest bear my iniquity and thine
own iniquity; and that thou become a companion of hell
fire; for that is the reward of the unjust. (33) But his
soul suffered him to slay his brother, and he slew him ;
wherefore he became of the number of those who perish.
(34) And God sent a raven, which scratched the earth, to
show him how lie should hide the shame of his brother,
and he said, Woe is me ! am I unable to be like this raven,

(31) J will not stretch forth my hand, dbc. Baidhawi says Abel was
much stronger than Cain, and that he could easily have prevailed
against him if he had chosen to fi^ht.

(32) A companion of hell fire. This fierce revengeful spirit com-
ports well with the character of the Arabian Prophet, but comes far
short of the truth when applied to the brother of Cain.

(33) He slew him. The commentators say he did not know how
to kill his brother until the devil, appearing in human form, killed
in his sight a bird by laying its head on one stone and smiting it
with another. Cain then went at night-time to his brother, who
was sleeping with his head pillowed on a stone, and striking him on
the head with a stone, slew him (Tafsir-i-Raufi).

(34) A raven . . . to show him, dx. The Jewish tradition, which
makes Adam to be indebted to a raven for his knowledge as to how
to dispose of the body of his murdered son, is here so distorted as
actually to make God to sympathise with the murderer in his
anxiety to conceal the corpse ol his victim.

"Cain, having committed this fratricide, became exceedingly
troubled in his mind, and carried the dead body about on his
shoulders for a considerable time, not knowing where to conceal it,
till it stank horridly ; and then God taught him to bury it by the
example of a raven, who having killed another raven in his presence,
due a pit with his claws and beak, and buried him therein." Sale,

Tne commentators say that, previous to the burial, Cain carried
the body of his brother about for forty days (Others say a year), ever
struggling to keen off birds of prey and ravenous beasts ; that his skin
became black, and a voice ever shouted in his ears, " Be thou for ever
in terror," and that at last he was murdered by his own son. The
punishment of Cain is said to be equal to half the punishment of
all the rest of mankind. His repentance was therefore in vain. See
the Tafsir-i-Raufi in loco.

CHAP. V.J ( 132 ) [SIPARA VI.

that I may hide my brother's shame ? and he became one
of those who repent. (35) Wherefore we commanded the
children of Israel, that he who slayeth a soul, without
having slain a soul, or committed wickedness in the earth,
shall be as if he had slain all mankind : but he who saveth
a soul alive, shall be as if he had saved the lives of all
mankind. (36) Our apostles formerly came unto them,
with evident miracles; then were many of them after
this transgressors on the earth. (37) But the recom-
pense of those who fight against God and his apostle, and
study to act corruptly in the earth, shall be, that they shall
be slain, or crucified, or have their hands and their feet
cut off on the opposite sides, or be banished the land.
This shall be their disgrace in this world, and in the next

(35) Without hairing slain a soul. From this the inference is
drawn that a murderer may be slain without crime (Abdul

Wickedness in the earth, " Such as idolatry or robbing on the high-
way." Sale, Bahlli&vri.

All mankind. See Rodwell's note here, showing the Jewish origin
of this sentiment.

(37) The recompense, dec. A party of eight Bedouin Arabs, having
professed Islam at Madina, was appointed to guard the camels of
Muhammad sent to graze at Ayr, near Madina. The Bedouins
drove off the camels and wounded some herdsmen who had gone in
pursuit, killing one in a barbarous manner. Muhammad, having
been informed of this transaction, sent twenty horsemen in pursuit,
who captured the robbers, recovering all the camels but one. In
punishment Muhammad ordered the arms and legs of the eight men
to be cut off, their eyes to be put out, and their trunks to be im-
paled until life was extinct. This horrible barbarity seems to have
appeared excessive, and accordingly this verse was revealed. (See
Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. pp. 19 and 20.) The barbarities
herein sanctioned are still practised in every Muhammadan country.
As to the infliction of these punishments, Sale, on the authority of
Baidliawi and others, says, "The lawyers are not agreed. But
the commentators suppose that they who commit murder only are
to be put to death in the ordinary way ; those who murder and rob
too, to be crucified ; those who rob without committing murder, to
have their right hand and their left foot cut off; and they who
assault persons and put them in fear, to be banished. It is also a
doubt whether they who are crucified shall be crucified alive, or be
first put to death, or whether they shall hang on the cross till they

SIPARAVI.] ( 133 ) [CHAP. V.

world they shall suffer a grievous punishment; (38) ex-
cept those who shall repent before ye prevail against
them; for know that God is inclined to forgive, and

|| (39) true believers, fear God, and earnestly desire R jo*
a near conjunction with him, and fight for his religion,
that ye may be happy. (40) Moreover they who believe
not, although they had whatever is in the earth, and as
much more withal, that they might therewith redeem
themselves from punishment on the day of resurrection ;
it shall not be accepted from them, but they shall suffer a
painful punishment. (41) They shall desire to go forth
from the fire, but they shall not go forth from it, and their
punishment shall be permanent. (42) If a man or a woman
steal, cut off their hands, in retribution for that which
they have committed ; this is an exemplary punishment
appointed by God ; and God is mighty and wise. (43)
But whoever shall repent after his iniquity and amend,

(38) Except those who shall repent. If the offenders be unbelievers,
and previous to their being forcibly seized they profess Islam, they
are to be forgiven ; even stolen property may not be taken from them.
If they be Muslims, they are to be pardoned ; stolen property being
returned and the price of blood being paid in case murder have been
committed. See the Tafsir-i-Baufi in loco.

(39) A near conjunction. The original word means a helper or a
means of accomplishing anything. The meaning here is that believers
should seek the means of near approach to God, which means, say
the commentators, is obedience to his commandments.

(42) Cut off their hand*. " But this punishment, according to the
Similar, is not to be inflicted unless the value of the thing stolen
amount to four dinars, or about forty shillings. For the first of fence
the criminal is to lose his right hand, which is to be cut off at the
wrist ; for the second offence, his left foot, at the ankle ; for the
third, his left hand ; for the fourth, his right foot ; and if he con-
tinue to offend, he shall be scourged at the discretion of the judge."
Sale, Jaldluddin.

Savary says this law is not observed by the Turks, who use the
bustonnado in ordinary cases, often beheading robbers of notoriety.
But if so, the Turk is inconsistent with his religion, for " this is an
exemplary punishment appointed of God."

(43) But whoever shall repent. " That is, God will not punish him
for it hereafter ; but his repentance doe-; not supersede the execution
of the law here, nor excuse him from making restitution. Yet,

CHAP. V.] ( 134 ) [SIPARAVI.

verily God will be turned unto him, for God is inclined
to forgive, and merciful. (44) Dost thou not know that
the kingdom of heaven and earth is God's ? He punisheth
whom he pleaseth, and he pardoneth whom he pleaseth ;
for God is almighty. (45) O apostle, let not them grieve
thee who hasten to infidelity, either of those who say, We
believe, with their mouths, but whose hearts believe not;
or of the Jews, who hearken to a lie, and hearken to other
people ; who come unto thee : they pervert the words of
the law from their true places, and say, If this be brought
unto you, receive it ; but if it be not brought unto you,
beware of receiving aught else ; and in behalf of him whom
God shall resolve to seduce, thou shalt not prevail with
God at all. They whose hearts God shall not please to

according to al Shafa'i, lie shall not be punished if the party wronged
forgive him before he be carried before a magistrate." Sale, Bai-
dha wi.

See above on vers. 37 and 38.

(45) See notes on chap. iv. 43-50. The passage is directed against
apostates, hypocrites, and Jews.

And hearken to other people. "These words are capable of two
senses, and may either mean that they attended to the lies and
forgeries of their Rabbins, neglecting the remonstrances of Muham-
mad, or else that they came to hear Muhammad as spies only, that
they might report what he said to their companions, and represent
him as a liar." Sale, Baidh&wi.

If this be brought unto you, dx. " That is, if what Muhammad
tells you agrees with Scripture, as corrupted and dislocated by us,
then you may accept it as the Word of God ; but if not, reject it.
These words, it is said, relate to the sentence pronounced by that
prophet on an adulterer and adulteress, both persons of some figure
among the Jews. For they, it seems, though they referred the
matter to Muhammad, yet directed the persons who carried the
criminals before him, that if he ordered them to be scourged and to
have their faces blackened (by way of ignominy), they should acqui-
esce in his determination ; but in case he condemned them to be
stoned, they should not. And Muhammad pronouncing the latter
sentence against them, they refused to execute it, till Ibn Suriyn (a
Jew), who was called upon to decide the matter, acknowledged the

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 14 of 42)