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 16 of 42)
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of imposture, and some of them they killed : (75) And
they imagined that there should be no punishment for
those crimes, and they became blind, and deaf. Then was
God turned unto them ; afterwards many of them again
became blind and deaf; but God saw what they did.
(76) They are surely infidels who say, Verily God is
Christ the Son of Mary ; since Christ said, children of
Israel, serve God, my Lord and your Lord. Whoever
shall give a companion unto God, God shall exclude him
from paradise, and his habitation shall be hell fire ; and
the ungodly shall have none to help them. (77) They
are certainly infidels who say, God is the third of three;
for there is no God besides one God ; and if they refrain
not from what they say, a painful torment shall surely be
inflicted on such of them as are unbelievers. (78) Will

creates in the mind of the thoughtful reader a conviction that Mu-
hammad knew something at least of the irreconcilable differences be-
tween the doctrines of the Quran and those of the Bible, and that there-
fore the Jews and Christians would not believe in him or his Quran.

(73) See note on chap. ii. 61.

(74) They accused . . . of imposture. Chap. iii. 1S5, note.

(75) Because blind and deaf. " Shutting their eves and ears
against conviction and the remonstrances of the law, as when they
worshipped the calf." Sale.

(76) See notes on ver. 19 above. The teaching of Jesus, according
to this verse, was identical with that of Muhammad.

(77) God . . . the third of three. See notes on chap. iv. 169. The
Tafsir-illavfi says the Mareusians believed in the Trinity of God,
Mary, and Jesus, but in this the communicator is mistaken.

SIPARA VI.] ( 145 ) L CHAP - v -

they not therefore be turned unto God and ask pardon of
him, since God is gracious and merciful ? (79) Christ the
son of Mary is no more than an apostle ; other apostles have
preceded him ; and his mother was a woman of veracity :
they both ate food. Behold, how we declare unto them
the signs of God's unity ; and then behold how they turn
aside from the truth. (80) Say unto them, Will ye wor-
ship, besides God, that which can cause you neither harm
nor profit ? God is he who heareth and seeth. (81) Say,
ye who have received the scriptures, exceed not the just
bounds in your religion by speaking beside the truth;
neither follow the desires of people who have heretofore
erred, and who have seduced many, and have gone astray
from the straight path.

T) 1 1

|| (82) Those among the children of Israel who believed K ~T"
not were cursed by the tongue of David, and of Jesus the
son of Mary. This befell them because they were rebel-
lious and transgressed : they forbade not one another the
wickedness which they committed ; and woe unto them for
what they committed. (83) Thou shalt see many of them
take for their friends those who believe not. Woe unto
them for what their souls have sent before them, for that
God is incensed against them, and they shall remain in
torment for ever. (84) But if they had believed in God

(79) Compare chap. iii. 39.

A woman of veracity, i.e., " never pretending to partake of the
divine nature, or to be the mother of God." Sale, Jaldluddin.
Compare note on chap. iv. 169.

(81) Exceed not, dec. See chap. iv. note 169.

IIVio have . . . erred. "Their prelates and predecessors, who erred
in ascribing divinity to Christ before the mission of Muhammad."
Sale, Baidhdwi.

(82) Cursed . . . by Jesus. See note, chap. ii. 64. The curse said
to have been pronounced by Jesus against the Jews probably has
reference to his prophetic denunciations and warnings in general,
especially his prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and
the fall of the Jewish nationality. The woes of this passage may
have been suggested by the woes of our Lord against the Scribes,
Pharisees, and hypocrites.

(83) What their souls have sent before them. See chap. ii. 94.



CHAP. V.] ( I46 ) [SI PARA VII.

and the prophet, and that which hath been revealed unto
him, they had not taken them for their friends ; but many
of them are evil-doers. (85) Thou shalt surely find the
most violent of all men in enmity against the true be-
lievers to be the Jews and the idolaters ; and thou shalt
surely find those among them to be the most inclinable to
entertain friendship for the true believers who say, We
are Christians. This comcth to pass because there are
priests and monks among them, and because they are not
elated with pride.

|| (86) And when they hear that which hath been sent
down to the apostle read unto them, thou shalt see their

(85) This revelation must be relegated to a period earlier than is
usually assigned to the verses of this chapter. The hitter enmity
attributed to the Jews points to a period succeeding a.h. 3, while
the friendly feeling shown towards Christians points to a time pre-
ceding a.h. 8, for in a.h. 9 Muhammad contemptuously cast aside
both Jews and Christians. The mention of " the Jews and the
idolaters" together may refer to a period near to the end of a.h. 4 or
the beginning of a.h. 5, when the Jews, owing to the expulsion of
the Bani Nadhir, began to show their readiness to help the Quraish
against the common enemy.

The kindliness attributed to the Christians, who are here said to
call themselves Nazarenes, was due (1) to the friendly treatment
Muhammad had received at their hands during his journeys to
Syria in the early years of his life, and (2) to the kindness shown by
the African Najdshi towards the Muslim exiles from Makkah.

Priests and monks. The original words are qisstsina wa ridtbdnan.
They are translated by Abdul Qadir well-redd and wonhijyjters ; in
the Persian translation, wise and sitters-in-a-corner (Dervishes). All
English translators follow Geiger, who derives both words from
Syriac terms, and ascribes to them the meaning of the text.

The principles of forbearance and love, inculcated by the Lord
Jesus, and still manifested in some degree by the corrupt Churches
of Muhammad's time, had impressed his mind favourably. It is
probable that his admiration was due especially to the fact that they
offered little or no opposition to his prophetic claims. Some of them
seem to have become Muslims (see next verse). On the story of
Muhammad's intercourse with the monk Sergius or Bahaira, see
chap. x. 17, note.

(86) When they hear, dec. The following stories, invented by the
Muslims to illustrate this passage, are related by Sale on the authority
of Baidhawi and Abulfida : " The persons directly intended in this
passage were either Ashama, king ol Ethiopia, and several bishops and
priests, who, being assembled for that purpose, heard Jaafar Ibn Abi

SIPARA VII.] ( 147 ) [CHAP. V.

eyes overflow with tears because of the truth which they
perceive therein, saying, Lord, we believe; write us
down therefore with those who bear witness to the truth.
(87) And what should hinder us from believing in God
and the truth which hath come unto us, and from earnestly
desiring that our Lord would introduce us into paradise
with the righteous people ? (88) Therefore hath God re-
warded them, for what they have said, with gardens through
which rivers flow; they shall continue therein forever ;
and this is the reward of the righteous. But they who
believe not, and accuse our signs of falsehood, they shall
be the companions of hell.

T) 1 2

|| (89) true believers, forbid not the good things which II 2"

Talib, who fled to that country in the first flight, read the 29th and
30th, and afterwards the 18th and 19th chapters of the Quran ; on
hearing of which the king and the rest of the company burst into
tears and confessed what was delivered therein to be conformable to
truth ; that prince himself, in particular, becoming a proselyte to
Muhammadanism : or else thirty, or as others say seventy, persons
sent ambassadors to Muhammad by the same king of Ethiopia, to
whom the prophet himself read the 36th chapter, entitled Y.S.
Whereupon they began to weep, saying, ' How like is this to that
which was revealed unto Jesus ! ' and immediately professed them-
selves Muslims."

The point of this revelation is that Christians hearing the Quran
at once recognised it as the word of God, and that its teachings were
in perfect accord with those of Jesus, and that they were thereby
persuaded to accept Isl&in. The tears shed were those of joy.

This passage therefore implies that these converts had the Chris-
tian Scriptures in their possession, that they were acquainted with
their teaching, and that they, by comparing them with the Quran,
at once recognised Muhammad as the prophet of God The copies
of their Scriptures were genuine, and if, as Muslims assert, the true
gospel be no longer in existence, we may fairly ask why Muslims
allowed them to become corrupt, seeing they had equal responsibility
in the preserving of them ] and further, we may challenge them to
prove that the copies in possession of the early converts oi Islam and
their Christian contemporaries ever were corrupted.

(89) Forbid not the good things. " These words were revealed
when certain of Muhammad's companions agreed to oblige them-
selves to continual fasting and watching, and to abstain from women,
eating flesh, sleeping on beds, and other lawful enjoyments of life,
in imitation of some self-denying Christians ; but this the Prophet
disapproved, declaring that he would have no monks in his religion."
Sale, Jaldluddin.

CHAP. V.] ( 148 ) [SIPARA VII.

God hath allowed you ; but transgress not, for God loveth
not the transgressors. (90) And eat of what God hath
given you for food, that which is lawful and good : and
fear God, in whom ye believe. (91) God will not punish
you for an inconsiderate word in your oaths ; but he will
punish you for what ye solemnly swear with deliberation.
And the expiation of such an oath shall be the feeding of
ten poor men with such moderate food as ye feed your
own families withal ; or to clothe them ; or to free the
neck of a true believer from captivity : but he who shall
not find wherewith to perform one of these three things shall
fast three days. This is the expiation of your oaths,
when ye swear inadvertently. Therefore keep your oaths.
Thus God declare th unto you his signs, that ye may give
thanks. (92) true believers, surely wine, and lots, and
images, and divining arrows are an abomination of the
work of Satan ; therefore avoid them that ye may prosper.
(93) Satan seeketh to sow dissension and hatred among
you by means of wine and lots, and to divert you from

However, in ver. 85, these priests and monks are the special objects
of Muhammad's praise. The passage, according to Abdul Qadir and
the Tafsir-i- Itauji, has a general reference, and teaches that there is
no merit in works of supererogation.

(91) An inconsiderate word. See note on chap. ii. 225. Perjury,
according to the Imams Azim and Shafa'i, is swearing deliberately
to that which is at the time thought to be false by the person swear-
ing. They therefore classify all thoughtless oaths used in conversa-
tion or mistakes made under oath under the head of " inconsiderate
words." The passage so understood contradicts the doctrine of Jesu>.

Inudvertently. This word should not have been introduced by
the translator. The inadvertent oaths require no expiation. On
the word expiation see chap. iii. 194.

(92) See notes on chap. ii. 218 aud chap. iv. 42.

(93) Satan seeketh to sow dissension, dec. We here learn the real
reason for prohibiting the practices of gambling and drinking a
reason, utilitarian though it be, yet sufficient. This law of Islam,
considered by itself, reflects great glory on Muhammad and his
religion ; yet, regarded as a part of the whole system of Islam, it
appears to great disadvantage. It is seen to be a purely political
measure, based on no solid groundwork of moral principle, and in-
consistent with much that is permitted by Islam. The same prin-
ciple of utility would have led to the distinct prohibition of all
intoxicating drugs and of polygamy.

SI PARA VII.] ( 149 ) [CHAP. V.

remembering God and from prayer : will ye not therefore
abstain from them ? Obey God and obey the apostle, and
take heed to yourselves : but if ye turn back, know that
the duty of our apostle is only to preach publicly. (94)
In those who believe and do good works, it is no sin that
they have tasted wine or gaming before they were forbidden ;
if they fear God, and believe, and do good works, and shall
for the future fear God, and believe, and shall persevere to
fear him and to do good; for God loveth those who do

1) 13

|| (95) true believers, God will surely prove you in jx 3
offering you plenty of game, which ye may take with your
hands or your lances, that God may know who feareth
him in secret ; but whoever transgresseth after this shall
suffer a grievous punishment. (96) true believers, kill
no game while ye are on pilgrimage ; whosoever among

The duty of our apostle, dec. See Prelim. Disc, p. 83. This pas-
sage looks very like a fragment of a Makkan chapter.

(94) If they fear, dec. " The commentators endeavour to excuse
the tautology of this passage by supposing the threefold repetition
of fearing and believing refers either to the three parts of time, past,
present, and future, or to the threefold duty of man, towards God,
himself, and his neighbour, &c." Sale, Baidhdwi.

(95) God will prove you. "This temptation or trial was at al
Hudaibiya, where Muhammad's men, who had attended him thither
with an intent to perform a pilgrimage to the Kaabah, and had
initiated themselves with the usual rights, were surrounded by so
great a number of birds and beasts, that they impeded their march ;
from which unusual accident some of them concluded that God had
allowed them to be taken ; but this passage was to convince them
of the contrary." Sale, Baidhdwi, Jaldluddin.

(96) On pilgrimage, i.e., while ye are muhrims. Muhrims are
those Muslims who have put on the ihrdm or peculiar dress donned
on entering the sacred precincts of Makkah to indicate that they are
now on the way to the sacred Kaabah. The law forbidding hunting
was established in accordance with the peaceful character of the
sacred places within the boundaries called Haram. Certain hurtful
animals might be killed, but this was also in accord with the law
which permitted Muslims to fight infidels within the sacred months,
provided they did so in self-defence. See chap. ii. 210.

Domestic animals. " That is, he shall bring an offering to the
temple of Makkah, to be slain there and distributed among the poor,
of some domestic or tame animal, equal in value to what he shall
have killed ; as a sheep, for example, in lieu of an antelope ; a

CHAP. V.] ( 150 ) [SIPARA VII.

you shall kill any designedly shall restore the like of
what he shall have killed in domestic animals, according
to the determination of two just persons among you, to be
brought as an offering to the Kaabah ; or in atonement
thereof shall feed the poor ; or instead thereof shall fast,
that he may taste the heinousness of his deed. God hath
forgiven what is past, but whoever returneth to transgress,
God will take vengeance on him ; for God is mighty and
able to avenge. (97) It is lawful for you to fish in the
sea, and to eat what ye shall catch, as a provision for you
and for those who travel ; but it is unlawful for you to
hunt by land while ye are performing the rights of pil-
grimage; therefore fear God, before whom ye shall be
assembled at the last day. (98) God hath appointed the
Kaabah, the holy house, an establishment for mankind ;

pigeon for a partridge, &c. And of this value two prudent persons
were to be judges. If the offender was not able to do this, lie was
to give a certain quantity of food to one or more poor men ; or if he
could not att'ord that, to fast a proportionable number of days."
Sale, Jaldluddin, Abdul Qddir.

That ye may taste, dec. We see here again the idea attached to
atonement in the Quran. It is not to free from condemnation by
vicarious suffering, but is in its nature a punishment, and intended
as a warning to transgressors.

(97) Lawful . . . tojish. This law has reference to pilgrimage,
though of general application. The commentators understand fish
found in all bodies of water, whether fountains, rivulets, rivers, or
ponds, and lakes, as well as the sea. They differ in applying the
law to amphibious creatures.

Unlaxcful . . . to hunt, i.e., during pilgrimage, after the ihrdm has
once been put on. See notes on 95.

(98) The Kaabah. See notes on chap. ii. 125 and 189.

An establishment, i.e., "the place where the practice of their
religious ceremonies is chiefly established ; where those who are
under any apprehension of danger may find a sure asylum, and the
merchant certain gain, &c." Sale, Jaldluddin.

Sacred month. " Baidhawi understands this to be the month of
Dhu'l Hajja, wherein the ceremonies of the pilgrimage are performed ;
but Jalaluddin supposes all the four sacrea mouths are here in-
tended. See Prelim. Disc, sect vii." Sale.

Ornaments. Se note on ver. 3.

That ye might know, dec. How the observance of the rites of
pilgrimage can convince any one of God's omniscience is enough to
puzzle the clearest-headed Muslim.

SIPARA VII.] ( 151 ) [CHAP. V.

and hath ordained the sacred month, and the offering, and
the ornaments hung thereon. This hath he done that ye
might know that God knoweth whatsoever is in heaven
and on earth, and that God is omniscient. Know that
God is severe in punishing, and that God is also ready to
forgive, and merciful. (99) The duty of our apostle is to
preach only ; and God knoweth that which ye discover,
and that which ye conceal. (100) Say, Evil and good
shall not be equally esteemed of, though the abundance
of evil pleaseth thee ; therefore fear God, ye of under-
standing, that ye may be happy.

|| (101) true believers, inquire not concerning things 11
which, if they be declared unto you, may give you pain ;
but if ye ask concerning them when the Quran is sent
down, they will be declared unto you : God pardoneth you
as to these matters ; for God is ready to forgive, and
gracious. (102) People who have been before you for-
merly inquired concerning them ; and afterwards dis-
believed therein. God hath not ordained anything con-
cerning Bahaira, nor Saiba, nor Wasila, nor Hami ; but the

(99) The duty of our apostle. See note on ver. 93.

(101) Inquire not, &c. "The Arabs continually teasing their
Prophet with questions, which probably he was not always prepared
to answer, they are here ordered to wait till God should think fit to
declare his pleasure by some farther revelation : and to abate their
curiosity, they are told, at the same time, that very likely the
answers would not be agreeable to their inclinations. Al Baidhawi
says, that when the pilgrimage was first commanded, Suraka Ibn
Malik asked Muhammad whether they were obliged to perform it
every year. To this question the Prophet at first turned a deaf ear;
l>ut being asked it a second and a third time, he at last said, 'No ;
but if I had said yes, it would have become a duty, and if it were a
duty, ye would not be able to perform it ; therefore give me no
trouble as to things wherein I give you none:' whereupon this
passage was revealed." Sale.

(102) Bah< lira . . . JIdmi. "These were the names given by the
pagan Arabs to certain camels or sheep which were tinned loose to
feed, and exempted from common services in some particular cases,
having their ears slit, or some other mark that they might be known ;
and this they did in honour of their gods (Prelim. Disc, p. 199).
Which superstitions are here declared to be no ordinances of God,
but the inventions of foolish men." Sale.

4 *

CHAP. V.] ( 152 ) [SIPARA VII.

unbelievers have invented a lie against God: and the
greater part of them do not understand. (103) And
when it was said unto them, Come unto that which God
hath revealed, and to the apostle ; they answered, That
religion which we found our fathers to follow is sufficient
for us. "What, though their fathers knew nothing and
were not rightly directed ? (104) true believers, take
care of your souls ! He who erreth shall not hurt you
while ye are rightly directed : unto God shall ye all return,
and he will tell you that which ye have done. (105)
true believers, let witnesses be taken between you, when
death approaches any of you, at the time of making the

A camel devoted to an idol had its ears slit, and was called lia-
haira. Any animal devoted to an idol and let run loose to roam
whither it pleased was called Sdiba. It was unlawful to kill or eat
any animal thus consecrated. If a man should devote the offspring
of his animals yet unborn, saying. " If a male is born I will sacrifice
it to an idol, and if a female I will keep it," and the result should he
the birth of twins, one a male and the other a female, he would in that
case keep the male alive as sacred to the idol ; such an animal was
called wusila. A camel that had been the mother of ten camels fit
to carry a rider or a burden was allowed to roam at liberty in any
pasture, and was called Hdmi (Tafsir-i- Ruufi and Abdul Qddir).
This account differs somewhat from Rodwell's. See his note in loco.

(103) That religion, dec. This is a very common reply on the part
of idolaters even in these days. But for the sword of Islam the
Arabs would no doubt have remained in the religion of their fathers
for many years after the death of the Makkan preacher.

(104) See note on chap. iii. 118.

(105) Let witnesses be taken, dec. Sale gives the following story,
on the authority of Baidhdwi, as the occasion of the revelations in
this and the following verse : u The occasion of the, preceding pas-
sage is said to have been this. Tamin al Dari and Audi Ibn Yazid,
both Christians, took a journey into Syria to trade, in company with
Budhail. the freedman of Amru lbn al Aas, who was a .Muslim.
When they came to Damascus, Budhail fell sick and died, having
first wrote down a list of his effects on a piece of paper, which he
hid in his baggage, without acquainting his companions with it, and
desired them only to deliver what he had to his friends of the tribe
of Sahm. The survivors, however, searching among his goods, found
a vessel of silver of considerable weight and inlaid with gold, which
they concealed, and on their return delivered the rest to the deceased's
relations, who, finding the list of Budhail's writing, demanded the
vessel of silver of them, but they denied it ; and the affair being
brought before Muhammad, these words, viz., O true believers, take
witnesses, &c, were revealed, and he ordered them to be sworn at the

SIPARAVII.] ( 153 ) [CHAP. V.

testament ; let there be two witnesses, just men, from among
you ; or two others of a different tribe or faith from your-
selves, if ye be journeying in the earth, and the accident
of death befall you. Ye shall shut them both up after
the afternoon prayer, and they shall swear by God, if ye
doubt them, and they shall say, We will not sell our evi-
dence for a bribe, although the person concerned be one who
is related to us, neither will we conceal the testimony of
God, for then should we certainly be of the number of the
wicked. (106) But if it appear that both have been
guilty of iniquity, two others shall stand up in their place,

pulpit in the mosque, just as afternoon prayer was over, and on their
making oath that they knew nothing of the plate demanded, dis-
missed them. But afterwards, the vessel being found in their hands,
the Sahmites, suspecting it was Budhail's, charged them with it, and
they confessed it was his, but insisted that they had bought it of
him, and that they had not produced it because they had no proof
of the bargain. Upon this they went again before Muhammad, to
whom these words, And if it appear, &c, were revealed ; and there-
upon Amru Ibn al Aas and al Mutallib Ibn Abi Rafaa, both of the
tribe of Sahm, stood up, and were sworn against them ; and judgment
was given accordingly."

Two others. Two different parties may be referred to here, and
hence the difference of interpretation, indicated by italics in the text.
Those who hold that the witnesses must be Muslims understand the
two others to mean two Muslims of different family or tribe. Others,
holding that the witnesses intended here may belong to any religion,
still practically agree with the principle that only Muslims should be
witnesses, inasmuch as they regard this portion of the verse as being

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 16 of 42)