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 15 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 15 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


law to be so. Whereupon they were stoned at the door >4 the
mosque." Sale, Baidhd wi.

That which is forbidden, i.e., usury, which in Oriental languages is
said to be eaten. Forbidden meats could only be intended providing
the persons addressed here included Christians as well as Jews.



S1PARA VI.] ( 135 ) [CHAP. V.

cleanse shall suffer shame in this world, and a grievous
punishment in the next : who hearken to a lie, and eat
that which is forbidden. (46) But if they come unto
thee for judgment, either judge between them, or leave
them; and if thou leave them, they shall not hurt thee at
all. But if thou undertake to judge, judge between them
with equity ; for God loveth those who observe justice.
(47) And how will they submit to thy decision, since
they have the law, containing the judgment of God ?
Then will they turn their backs, after this ; but those are
not true believers.

|| (48) We have surely sent down the law, containing K fi*
direction and light: thereby did the prophets, who pro-
fessed the true religion, judge those who judaised; and

(46) Or leave them, i.e., "take thy choice whether thou wilt deter-
mine their differences or not. Hence al Shafa'i was of opinion that
a judge was not obliged to decide causes between Jews or Christians ;
though if one or both of them be tributaries, or under the protection
of the Muhammadans, they are obliged, this verse not regarding them.
Abu Hanifa, however, thought that the magistrates were obliged
to judge all cases which were submitted to them/' Hale, Baidhdwi.

(47) They have the law. See note on chap. iv. 44. Sale says that
"in the following passage Muhammad endeavours to answer the ob-
jections of the Jews and Christians, who insisted that they ought to
be judged, the former by the law of Moses, and the latter by the
gospel. He allows that the law was the proper rule of judging till
the coming of Jesus Christ, after which the gospel was the rule ; but
pretends that both are set aside by the revelation of the Quran,
which is so far from being contradictory to either of the former, that
it is more full and explicit ; declaring several points which had been
stifled or corrupted therein, and requiring a vigorous execution of
the precepts in both, which had been too remissly observed, or rather
neglected, by the latter professors of those religions.''

On the doctrine of abrogation alluded to by Sale, see note on chap,
ii. 105. The statements of this passage alike contradict the idea
that Muhammad regarded the Christian or Jewish Scriptures as
corrupted in any way whatever, and that of the abrogation of those
Scriptures ; for, if corrupted, how could he say the Jews of Madina
"have the law, containing the judgment of God" ? And, if abrogated,
how could he say in ver. 49, " We have therein (in. the law (Tauret),
see ver. 48) commanded them," &c, quoting almost literally a portion
of the law of Exod. xxi. 23-27, and adding, "Whoso judgeth not ac-
cording to what God hath revealed, they are unjust and infidels"?

(48) The true religion, i.e., Islam, the one true religion of all ages
of the world. See note on chap. ii. 136.



CHAP. V.] ( I36 ) [SIPARA VI.

the doctors and priests also judged by the book of God,
which had been committed to their custody; and they
were witnesses thereof. Therefore fear not men, but fear
me ; neither sell my signs for a small price. And whoso
judgeth not according to what God hath revealed, they
are infidels. (49) We have therein commanded them, that
they sJwuld give life for life, and eye for eye, and nose for
nose, and ear for ear, and tooth for tooth ; and that wounds
should also be punished by retaliation : but whoever should
remit it as alms, it should be accepted as an atonement for
him. And whoso judgeth not according to what God
hath revealed, they are unjust. (50) We also caused
Jesus the son of Mary to follow the footsteps of the pro-
phets, confirming the law which was sent down before him ;



Committed to their custody ; and . . . witnesses. The only fair in-
terpretation of this passage is that the Scriptures of the Jews were
preserved from all corruption by the jealous watchfulness of those
"doctors and priests" who had been appointed as the custodians of
the precious treasure. These keepers of the law are the witnesses
to the character of that which has been committed to their charge.
(" They are vigilant to prevent any corruption therein." Sale.)
Wherefore he exhorts the Jews uhom he is here addressing, " There-
fore, Jews, fear not men, but fear me (i.e., God) ; neither sell my
signs for a small price," i.e., by perverting the meaning of your
Scriptures, as in ver. 45.

(49) Compare with Exod. xxi. 23-27. Muhammad could not have
had the Scriptures before him, else he would have quoted more fully.

An atonement. This expression conveys here the Mosaic idea of
satisfaction, but does not seem to have been used by ."Muhammad in
the Bible sense, the meaning being that when the injured person
forgave the transgressor, no punishment should be inflicted by others
on this account. The popular belief among Muslims agrees with
this, viz., that God cannot forgive an offence against a man or beast
unless the offender first be pardoned by those whom he has injured.
See also note on chap. iii. 194.

This passage, as well as chap. xv. 35, is said to be abrogated by
chap. ii. 178. That passage certainly professes to relax the law of
retaliation prescribed by Moses. If so, there appears to be a con-
tradiction between these two passages which cannot fairly be recon-
ciled by the convenient doctrine of abrogation, for in this case the
_'e abrogated was revealed several years after the passage which
abrogates it.

(50) Confirming also the law. The testimony to the law is the
gospel of Jesus, and the testimony confirming both is the Quran.



SIPARA VI.] ( 137 ) [CHAP. V.

and we gave him the gospel, containing direction and
light ; confirming also the light which was given before it,
and a direction and admonition unto those who fear God :
(51) that they who have received the gospel might judge
according to what God hath revealed therein : and whoso
judgeth not according to what God hath revealed, they
are transgressors. (52) "We have also sent down unto
thee the book of the Qurdn with truth, confirming that
scripture which was revealed before it ; and preserving the
same sate from corruption. Judge therefore between them
according to that which God hath revealed ; and follow
not their desires by swerving from the truth which hath
come unto thee. Unto every one of you have we given a
law and an open path ; (53) and if God had pleased, he
had surely made you one people ; but he hath thought fit
to give you different laws, that he might try you in that
which he hath given you respectively. Therefore strive to
excel each other in good works : unto God shall ye all
return, and then will lie declare unto you that concerning



See v. 52. Portions may be abrogated, and so cease to be of bind-
ing force to whom they are so abrogated, but all remains true. The
eternal truths of God as to his own nature and attributes, his moral
law, historical fact, &c, cannot be abrogated (see chap. ii. 105 note),
and therefore the Quran again points the way to its own refutation.

(52) See notes on chaps, ii. 75-78 ; iii. 77 ; iv. 44.

(53) One people, i.e., " He had given you the same laws, which
should have continued in force through all ages, without being
abolished or changed by new dispensations ; or he could have forced
you all to embrace the Muhammadan religion." Sale, Baidhdwi.

This passage seems to have been intended to reconcile all par-
ties to Islam, notwithstanding its differences when compared with
Judaism and Christianity. These were intended as a trial of faith.
But, in accordance with the teaching of the preceding verses, the
claim should have been that God had made them one people, possess-
ing the same religion and acknowledging the same divine messen-
gers, and that that wherein they differed was due to their own sin and
unbelief, and not to God's will. The fact of irreconcilable differences
between the "people of the book" and himself seems to have forced
itself into the consciousness of the oracle of Islam, and made con-
sistency in the statement of prophetic claims and the facts of experi-
ence an impossibility. See also Arnold's Islam and Christianity, pp.
172 and 174.



CHAP. V.] ( 138 ) [SIPAKA VI.

which ye have disagreed. (54) Wherefore do thou, pro-
phet, judge between them according to that which God
hath revealed, and follow not their desires ; but beware of
them, lest they cause thee to err from part of those pre-
cepts, which God hath sent down unto thee; and if they
turn back, know that God is pleased to punish them for
some of their crimes ; for a great number of men are
transgressors. (55) Do they therefore desire the judg-
ment of the time of ignorance ? but who is better than
God, to judge between people who reason aright ?
muL || (56) true believers, take not the Jews or Christians

K T2' for your friends ; they are friends the one to the other;
but whoso among you taketh them for his friends, he is
surely one of them: verily God directeth not unjust
people. (57) Thou shalt see those in whose hearts there
is an infirmity, to hasten unto them, saying, We fear lest



(54) Beware of these. " It is related that certain of the Jewish
priests came to Muhammad with a design to entrap him ; and hav-
ing first represented to him that if they acknowledged him for a
prophet, the rest of the Jews would certainly follow their example,
made this proposal that if he would give judgment for them in a
controversy of moment which they pretended to have with their own
people, and which was agreed to be referred to his decision, they
would believe him ; but this Muhammad absolutely refused to
comply with." Sale, Baidh&wi.

This story of the commentators looks very like the one given in
note on ver. 45. That the passage is a reply to some effort on the
part of the Jews to tempt Muhammad 's clear enough. The follow-
ing verse points to some law abolishing the practices of the heathen
Arabs as the point of attack. The story of Baidhawi in the note in
ver. 45, if true, would sufficiently explain the character of the Jewish
proposal.

(56) Take not Jews and Christians for your friends. See note on
chap. iii. 118. The statement that Jews and Christians "are friends
one of another" is another slip of the pen that recorded the history
of the Quran. The spirit of hatred and contempt in. nlcated here i>
entirely inconsistent with the teaching of ver. 53. Vet this is the
spirit of Islam as it now is. Religious toleration in Muhammadan
countries u the toleration of contempt.

(57) We fear, dkc. "These were the words of Ibn Ubbai, who,
when Obddah Ibn al Satnat publicly renounced the friendship of the
infidels, and professed that he took God and his Apostle for his



SIPARA VI.] ( 139 ) [CHAP. V.

some adversity befall us ; but it is easy for God to give
victory, or a command from him, that they may repent of
that which they concealed in their minds. (58) And
they who believe will say, Are these the men who have
sworn by God, with a most firm oath, that they surely
held with you ? their works are become vain, and they
are of those who perish. (59) true believers, whoever
of you apostatiseth from his religion, God will certainly
bring other people to supply his place, whom he will love,



patrons, said that he was a man apprehensive of the fickleness of
fortune, and therefore would not throw off his old friends, wdio
might be of service to him hereafter." Sale, Baidhdwi.

A command " to extirpate and banish the Jews, or to detect and
punish the hypocrites." Sale.

This verse and the one following refer to the Jews of the tribes of
Nadhir and Quraidha.

(59) Whoever of you apostatiseth, &c. "This is one of those acci-
dents which it is pretended were foretold by the Quran long before
they came to pass. For in the latter days of Muhammad, and after
his death, considerable numbers of the Arabs quitted his religion
and returned to Paganism, Judaism, or Christianity. Al Baidhawi
reckons them up in the following order: 1. Three companies of
Banu Mudlaj, seduced by Dhulhamar al Aswad al Ansi, who set up
for a prophet in Yaman, and grew very powerful there. 2. Banu
Hunaifah, who followed the famous false prophet Musailama. 3.
Banu Assad, who acknowledged Tulaiha lbn Khuwailaii, another
pretender to divine revelation, for their prophet. All these fell off
in Muhammad's lifetime. The following, except only the last,
apostatised in the reign of Abu Baqr. 4. Certain of the tribe of
Fizarah, headed by Uyaima lbn Husain. 5. Some of the tribe of
Ghatfan, whose leader was Qurrah lbn Salmah. 6. Banu Sulaim,
who followed al Fahjaah lbn Abd Yalil. 7. Banu Yarbu, whose
captain was Malik lbn Nuwairah lbn Qais. 8. Part of the tribe of
Tamin, the proselytes of Sajaj the daughter of al Mundhar, who
gave herself out for a prophetess. 9. The tribe of Kind ah, led by al
Ashath lbn Qais. 10. Banu Baqr lbn al Wayil in the province of
Bahrain, headed by al Hutam lbn Zaid. And 11. Some of the
tribes of Ghassan, who, with their prince Jabalah lbn al Aysham,
renounced Muhammadanism in the time of Omar, and returned to
their former profession of Christianity.

" But as to the persons who fulfilled the other part of this prophecy,
by supplying the loss of so many renegades, the commentators are
not agreed. Some will have them to be the inhabitants of Yaman,
and others the Persians ; the authority of Muhammad himself being
vouched for both opinions. Others, however, suppose them to be
two thousand of the tribe of al Nakha (who dwelt in Yaman), five



CHAP. V.] ( 140 ) [SIPARA VI.

and who will love him ; who shall be humble towards the
believers, but severe to the unbelievers ; they shall fight
for the religion of God, and shall not fear the obloquy of
the detractor. This is the bounty of God ; he bestoweth
it on whom he pleaseth : God is extensive and wise.
(60) Verily your protector is God, and his apostle, and
those who believe, who observe the stated times of prayer,
and give alms, and who bow down to worship. (61) And
whoso taketh God, and his apostle, and the believers for
his friends, they are the party of God, and they shall be
victorious.
R TS' || (62) true believers, take not such of those to whom
the scriptures were delivered before you, or of the infidels,
for your friends, who make a laughing-stock and a jest of
your religion ; but fear God, if ye be true believers ;
(63) nor those tvho, when ye call to prayer, make a laugh-
ing-stock and a jest of it ; this they do because they are
people who do not understand. (64) Say, ye who have
received the scriptures, do ye reject us for any other reason
than because we believe in God, and that revelation which



thousand of those of Kimlah and Bajilaii, and three thousand of un-
known descent, who were present at the famous battle of Kadisia,
fought in the Khalifat of Omar, and which put an end to the Persian
empire." Sale.

For an account of the pretenders who rose up against Muhammad
towards the end of his lifetime, see Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iv.
chap, xxxii.

(bO) Stated times of prayer, dec. See note, chap. ii. 42.

(62) Who makes . . . a jest of your religion, i.e., certain Jews
who mocked the Muslims when at prayer (Tafrfr-i- Ihnifi). Bai-
dhawi gives the following story as translated by Sale : " These words
were added on occasion of a certain Christian who, hearing the
Muadhdhin, or crier, in calling to prayers, repeat this part of the
usual form, ' I profess that Muhammad is the apostle of God,' said
aloud, 'May God burn the liar;' but a few nights after his own
house was accidentally set on fire by a servant, and himself and
his family perished in the flames."

(04) The Jews and Christians are here again told that a profession
of Islam is consistent with their own Scriptures. The passage
belongs to a period before Muhammad had broken with Jews and
Christians.



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

hath been sent down unto us, and that which was for-
merly sent down, and for that the greater part of you are
transgressors ? (65) Say, Shall I denounce unto you a
worse thing than this, as to the reward which ye are to
expect with God ? He whom God hath cursed, and with
whom he hath been angry, having changed some of them
into apes and swine, and who worship Taghut, they are in
the worse condition, and err more widely from the straight-
ness of the path. (66) When they came unto you, they
said, We believe: yet they entered into your company
with infidelity, and went forth from you with the same ;
but God well knew what they concealed. (67) Thou
shalt see many of them hastening unto iniquity and
malice, and to eat things forbidden ; and woe unto them
for what they have done. (68) Unless their doctors and
priests forbid them uttering wickedness and eating things
forbidden, woe unto them for what they shall have com-
mitted. (69) The Jews say, The hand of God is tied up.
Their hands shall be tied up, and they shall be cursed for
that which they have said. Nay, his hands are both
stretched forth ; he bestoweth as he pleaseth : that which
hath been sent down unto thee from thy Lokd shall in-
crease the transgression and infidelity of many of them ;
and we have put enmity and hatred between them, until
the day of resurrection. So often as they shall kindle a
fire for war God shall extinguish it ; and they shall set
their minds to act corruptly in the earth, but God loveth



(65) Having changed . . . them into apes. See note on chap,
ii. 64.

(67) Things forbidden. See notes on ver. 4.

(69) Tlie hand of God is tied wp. "That is, he is become nig-
gardly and close-fisted. These were the words of Phineas, Ibn Aziira
(another indecent expression of whom, almost to the same purpose,
is mentioned elsewhere), when the Jews were much impoverished by
a dearth which the commentators will have to be a judgment on
them for their rejecting of Muhammad ; and the other Jews who
heard him, instead of reproving him, expressed their approbation of
what he had said." Sale, Baidhdwi.

Their hands shall be tied up, i.e., they shall appear in the judg-



CHAP. V.] ( 142 ) [S1PARA VL

not the corrupt doers. (70) Moreover, if they who have
received the scriptures believe and fear God, we will
surely expiate their sins from them, and we will lead
them into gardens of pleasure ; and if they observe the
law, and the gospel, and the other scriptures which have
been sent down unto them from their Lord, they shall



ment with their hands tied up to their necks. See Prelim. Disc, p.
144.

That tchich hath been sent down, d-c. This statement is put in the
form of a prophecy, though the fulfilment had taken place years
before the oracle spake. There is, however, underlying this state-
ment, the prophetic claim of Muhammad still firmly maintained at
this late period of his life. This claim has not changed its form.
He still plac< s himself in the catalogue of true prophets, and his
religion is still presented as the one only true religion, the rejection
of which by the Jews adds to their transgression, as did their rejec-
tion of Jesus.

God shall extinguish it, " Either by raising feuds and quarrels
among themselves, or by granting the victory to the Muslims. Al
Baidhawi adds, that on the Jews neglecting the true observance of
their law, corrupting their religion, God had successively delivered
them into the hands, first of Bakht Nasr or Nebuchadnezzar, then
of Titus the Roman, and afterwards of the Persians, and has now at
last subjected them to the Muhammadans." Sale.

(70) We will surely expiate their sins. The word translated expiate
is the same as that used above (ver. 49) and in chap. iii. 194 (ee
notes). The meaning attached to it here is simply that of removal
or taking away.

And . . . which hath been sent do>ni, <x. Sale fills in the ellipsis
by supplying the words, "the other scriptures." But this is hardly
correct. The expression here is certainly the same in import as that
of the preceding verse, where the Quran is undoubtedly meant. The
meaning, then, is that those Jews and Christians, who, while hold-
ing on to their own Scriptures, believe also in the Qurdn, shall lie
blessed in both heaven and earth, "from above them and from
under their feet." The inference would therefore seem to follow that
every true Muslim must accept the Old and, Xew Testament Scriptures,
along icith the Qurdn, as the Word of God. The doctrine of abrogation
can have no force here, for this Sura was the last revealed, and there-
fore its requirements, while they may abrogate passages in the
earlier chapters, can by no means be abrogated. Of course, practi-
cally no Muslim does truly accept the former Scriptures along with
the Qurdn, nor indeed can he be blamed for failing to do the impos-
sible, but it is of great importance that he should know what he is
here required to do. There is no more manifest display of Muham-
mad's ignorance of the true teaching of the former Scriptures than
this ; no more violent contradiction of the plainest instincts of com-
mon sense.



SIPARA VI.] ( 143 ) [CHAP. V.

surely eat of good things both from above them and from
under their feet. Among them there are people who act
uprightly ; but how evil is that which many of them do
work !

|| (71) apostle, publish the whole of that which hath -K It*
been sent down unto thee from thy Lokd ; for if thou do
not, thou dost not in effect publish any part thereof : and
God will defend thee against luicked men ; for God direct-
eth not the unbelieving people. (72) Say, ye who have
received the scriptures, ye are not grounded on anything,
until ye observe the law and the gospel and that which
hath been sent down unto you from your Lord. That



(71) Publish the whole, <c. "That is, if they do not complete the
publication of all thy revelations without exception, thou dost not
answer the end for which they were revealed ; because the conceal-
ing of any part renders the system of religion which God has thought
fit to publish to mankind by thy ministry lame and imperfect."
Sale, Baidhdwi.

This is another mark indicating that this chapter was the last of
the revelations of the Quran.

God will defend thee. "Until this verse was revealed, Muhammad
entertained a guard of armed men for his security ; but on receiving
this assurance of God's protection, he immediately dismissed them."
Sale, Baidhdwi.

(72) This verse, by implication, condemns the practices of every
Muslim. See notes on vers. 69 and 70. The purpose of the revela-
tion was, however, to persuade the Jews and Christians to embrace
Islam. To quote this passage in proof of Muhammad's sincerity is
therefore really a begging of the question. Can his apologists show
us a single passage requiring Arab or Gentile Muslims to believe the
Scriptures of the Old and New Testament in addition to the Quran,
as necessary to salvation 1 So far as I know, such requirement is
purely, but, as we admit, justly, inferential, nevertheless there is no
reason to believe Muhammad intended any such inference to be
drawn. His great object was to maintain his prophetic claim, and
if possible to win over to his side the Jews. Christians, and Sabians.
In his anxiety to accomplish this, he made statements, like that of
the passage under consideration, which implied more than he in-
tended to teach. Certainly the universal faith of Muslims for thir-
teen centuries shows what Muhammad's real teaching was. None
such have ever felt bound to believe the doctrines of the Jewish and
Christian Scriptures, except in the sense that all such are conserved
by the Quran and to be found in it. The statement, twice repeated,
that " that which hath been sent down unto thee from thy Lord will
surely increase the transgression and infidelity of many of them,"



CHAP. V.] ( 144 ) [SIPARA VI.

which hath been sent down unto thee from thy Loiu> will
surely increase the transgression and infidelity of many
of them : but be not thou solicitous for the unbelieving
people. (73) Verily, they who believe, and those who
Judaise, and the Sabians, and the Christians, whoever of
them believeth in God and the last day, and doth that
which is right, there shall come no fear on them, neither
shall they be grieved. (74) We formerly accepted the
covenant of the children of Israel, and sent apostles unto
them. So often as an apostle came unto them with that
which their souls desired not, they accused some of them



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 15 of 42)