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 17 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 17 of 42)
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abrogated. The former view is certainly the correct one.

The stories of the commentators show that Muhammad actually
decided the two Christians to be guilty of a breach of trust on the
adverse testimony of two Muslims. While this is entirely in accord
with the spirit of Islam, it does not commend the justice of the Law-
giver. It may, however, be seriously doubted whether the story of
the commentators is anything more than a fabrication. Their being
brought out during the afternoon prayer, the oath prescribed, and
the purport of ver. 107, all indicate that the law has nothing to
do with Christians whatever.

7'he afternoon prayer, i.e., Asar, " because," says Sale, on the
authority of Baidhawi, "that was the time of people's assembling in
public, or, say some, because the guardian angels then relieve each
other, so that there would be four angels to witness against them if
they gave false evidence. But others suppose theymitdit be examined
after the hour of any other prayer, when there was a sufficient

CHAP. V.l ( 154 ) [SIPARA VII.

of those who have convicted them of falsehood, the two
nearest in blood, and they shall swear by God, saying,
Verily our testimony is more true than the testimony of
these two, neither have we prevaricated ; for then should
we become of the number of the unjust. (107) This will
be easier, that men may give testimony according to the
plain intention thereof, or fear lest a different oath be
given, after their oath. Therefore fear God and hearken ;
for God directeth not the unjust people.
|{ 5 || (108) On a certain day shall God assemble the

apostles, and shall say unto them, What answer was re-
turned you when ye preached unto the people to whom ye
were sent ? They shall answer, We have no knowledge,
but thou art the knower of secrets. (109) When God
shall say, O Jesus son of Mary, remember my favour
towards thee, and towards thy mother; when I strength-
ened thee with the holy spirit, that thou shouldst speak
unto men in the cradle, and when thou wast grown up;
(110) and when I taught thee the scripture, and wisdom,
and the law, and the gospel : and when thou didst create

(107) This verse shows the purpose for which the law of witnesses
was given, viz., to deter from corrupt practices by the knowledge
that a solemn oath might be called for, and that even perjured per-
sons might be confronted by the oaths of the witnesses and thereby
be condemned. Two witnesses were necessary. Compare with Deut.
xix. 15.

(108) On a certain day, i.e., on the judgment-day.

Thou art the knower. That is, we are ignorant whether our prose-
lytes were sincere, or whether they apostatised after our deaths ; but
thou well knowest, not only what answer they gave us, but the
secrets of their hearts, and whether they have since continued firm
in their religion or not. Sale.

This passage contradicts the idea that the prophets will intercede
for their followers on the judgment-day.

(109) The Holy Spirit. See note on chap. ii. 86.
Speak . . . in the cradle. See notes on chap. iii. 46.

(110) The gospel. Muslims believe the New Testament Scriptures
(Injil) were sent down to Jesus just as the Quran was given to
Muhammad. Christ is here represented as having been taught of
God as Muhammad was. Muhammad is the type of all apostles.

The figure of a bird. See note on chap. iii. 48.

Blind . . . leper . . . dead from their graves. Three classes of mir-

SIPARA VII.] ( 155 ) [CHAP. V.

of clay as it were the figure of a bird by my permission,
and didst breathe thereon, and it became a bird, by my
permission, and thou didst heal one blind from his birth,
and the leper, by my permission ; and when thou didst
bring forth the dead from their graves by my permission ;
and when I withheld the children of Israel from killing
thee, when thou hadst come unto them with evident
miracles, and such of them as believed not said, This is
nothing but manifest sorcery. (Ill) And when I com-
manded the apostles of Jesus, saying, Believe in me and
in my messenger; they answered, We do believe; and do
thou bear witness that we are resigned unto thee. (112)
Remember when the apostles said, Jesus son of Mary, is
thy Lord able to cause a table to descend unto us from
heaven ? He answered, Fear God, if ye be true believers.

acles referred to here, all of which testified to the divinity Muhammad
is here so careful to deny. The constant use of the phrase " By my per-
mission " seems to indicate clearly one of two things : either a deli-
berate effort to combat the Christian doctrine of the divinity of
Christ, or to apologise for the absence of similar miracles in his own
case. Of the two, the first is most 'probable, for at this late day there
was no occasion to vindicate his own apostleship from charges of this
kind. The si/jns of the Quran and the successes of Islam were now
considered sufficient proof of his apostleship.

From killing thee. See notes on chap. iii. 53, 55, and iv. 156.

Sorcery. See Sale's note on chap. iii. 48, and Rodwell in loco.

(111) Apostles. In Arabic Al haivdriin, a word descriptive of the
chosen followers of Jesus. It does not convey any idea of apostle-
ship in the ordinary sense of the word. If derived from the Ethio-
pic hawyra (Rod well), the etymological meaning would indicate one
sent ; but if derived from hur, it would mean friends or helpers, and
so correspond with the idea of the Ansdr, or helpers of Muhammad.

We are resigned, i.e., we are Muslims. Such expressions show
that Muhammad regarded his followers as identified with the true
followers of all other prophets.

(112) A table. This word supplies the title of this chapter. It is
thought to allude to the Table of the Lord or Christ's Last Supper.
It might as well allude to the miracles of loaves and fishes given in
Matt. xiv. and xv. A similar inquiry is attributed to the children
of Israel, Ps. lxxviii. 19. The passage is far from being confir-
matory of the former Scriptures, if the following opinions of the com-
mentators indicate anything of what Muhammad believed on this
subject : " This miracle is thus related by the commentators. Jesus
having, at the request of his followers, asked it of God, a red table

CHAP. V.] ( 156 ) [SIPAHAVII.

(113) They said, We desire to eat thereof, and that our
hearts may rest at ease, and that we may know that thou
hast told us the truth, and that we may be witnesses
thereof. (114) Jesus the son of Mary said, God our
Lord, cause a table to descend unto us from heaven, that
the day of its descent may become a festival day unto us,
unto the first of us, and unto the last of us, and a sign
from thee ; and do thou provide food for us, for thou art

immediately descended in their sight between two clouds, and was
set before them : whereupon he rose up, and having made the ablu-
tion, prayed, and then took off the cloth which covered the table,
saying, " In the name of God, the best provider of food." What the
provisions were with which this table was furnished is a matter where-
in the expositors are not agreed. One will have them to be nine
cakes of bread and nine fishes ; another, bread and flesh ; another,
all sorts of food except flesh ; another, ail sorts of food except bread
and flesh ; another, all except bread and fish ; another, one fish,
which had the taste of all manner of food ; and another, fruits of
Paradise ; but the most received tradition is, that when the table
was uncovered, there appeared a fish ready dressed, without scales
or prickly fins, dropping with fat, having salt placed at its head, and
vinegar at its tail, and round it all sorts of herbs except leeks, and
five loaves of bread, on one of which there were olives, on the second
honey, on the third butter, on the fourth cheese, and on the fifth
dried flesh. They add, that Jesus, at the request of the apostles,
showed them another miracle, by restoring the fish to life, and
causing its scales and fins to return to it ; at which the standers-by
being affrighted, he caused it to become as it was before : that one
thousand three hundred men and women, all afflicted with bodily
infirmities or poverty, ate of the>e provisions, and were satisfied,
the fish remaining whole as it was at first ; that then the table flew
up to heaven in the sight of all ; and that all who had partaken of
this food were delivered from their infirmities and misfortunes ; and
that it continued to descend for forty days together at dinner-time,
and stood on the ground till the sun declined, and was then taken
up into the clouds. Some of the Muhammadan writers are of
opinion that this table did not really descend, but that it was only a
parable ; but most think the words of the Quran are plain to the
contrary. A further tradition is, that several men were changed
into swine for disbelieving this miracle and attributing it to magic
art ; or, as others pretend, for stealing some of the victuals from off
it. Several other fabulous circumstances are also told, which are
scarce worth transcribing." Sale, Baidh&wi, Thaldbi.

(114) A festival day. This expression seems to point to the
Eucharist as the subject of this passage. It may ? however, rather
refer to the love-feasts of the early Christians, which were observed
every Sunday.

SIPARA VII.] ( 157 ) [CHAP. V.

the best provider. (115) God said, Verily I will cause it
to descend unto you ; but whoever among you shall dis-
believe hereafter, I will surely punish him with a punish-
ment wherewith I will not punish any other creature.

|| (116) And when God shall say unto Jesus at the last ruba.
day, Jesus son of Mary, hast thou said unto men, Take -p 3 6.
me and my mother for two gods beside God ? he shall b
answer, Praise be unto thee ! it is not for me to say that
which I ought not ; if I had said so, thou wouldst surely
have known it : thou knowest what is in me, but I know
not what is in thee ; for thou art the knower of secrets.
(117) I have not spoken to them any other than what
thou didst command me, namely, Worship God, my Lord
and your Lord : and I was a witness of their actions while
I stayed among them ; but since thou hast taken me to
thyself, thou hast been the watcher over them ; for thou
art witness of all things. (118) If thou punish them,
they are surely thy servants ; and if thou forgive them,
thou art mighty and wise. (119) God will say, This day
shall their veracity be of advantage unto those who speak
truth ; they shall have gardens wherein rivers flow, they
shall remain therein forever : God hath been well pleased

(116) Two gods beside God. See notes on chap. iv. 169, and v. 77.
Muir says, "So far as I can judge from the Coran, Mahomet's know-
ledge of Christianity was derived from the Orthodox party, who
styled Mary ' Mother of God.' He may have heard of the Nesto-
rian heresy, and it is possibly referred to among the 'sects' into
which Jews and Christians are said in the Coran to be divided ; but,
had he ever obtained a closer acquaintance with the Nestorian
doctrine, at least in the earlier part of his career, it would (accord-
ing to the analogy of his practice with respect to other subjects) have
been more definitely mentioned in his revelation. The truth, how-
ever, is, that Mahomet's acquaintance with Christianity was at the
best singularly dim and meagre." Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 19,

/ know not what is in thee. This passage expressly contradicts the
teaching of Jesus in John x. 15.

(117) My Lord and your Lord. The strained effort of Muhammad
to refute the doctrine of Christ's divinity is here manifest. See
note on ver. 1 10.

Since thou hast taken me, &c, " or since thou hast caused me to

CHAP. V.] ( 158 ) [SI PARA VII.

in them, and they have been well pleased in him. This
shall be great felicity. (120) Unto God belongeth the
kingdom of heaven and of earth, and of whatever therein
is ; and he is almighty.

die ; but as it is a dispute among the Muhammadans whether Christ
actually died or not before his assumption, and the original may be
translated either way, I have chosen the former expression, which
leaves the matter undecided." Sale.

See notes on chap. iii. 54, and chap. iv. 1 56.

(120) Thus the Quran ends as it begins, with a declaration of the
sovereignty of God the cardinal doctrine of Islam.

INTROD.] ( 159 ) [CHAP. VI.



Bevealed at Makkah.


This chapter owes its title to the frequent mention of certain cattle
in connection with the idolatrous rites of the people of Makkah. It
relates to the controversy of Muhammad with the inhabitants of his
native city during the period immediately preceding his flight to
Madfna. This is evident from the tone of the revelations. Every-
where the Quraish are spoken of as hopelessly infidel, as given over
to unbelief, abandoned of God, and doomed to perdition. Having
rejected the signs of the Quran, they will not hear though an angel
were to speak audibly to them, though a written book were to de-
scend to them from heaven, or though the Prophet were to ascend
into the heavens or delve into the earth to bring them a sign to their
own liking.

Other passages contain commands addressed to the Prophet to
withdraw from the idolaters and to have no fellowship with them.
From all this it is clear that Muhammad had matured his plan of
leaving Makkah and of retiring to Madina.

Probable Bate of the Revelations.

From what has been said above, and relying especially upon the
command of ver. 106, to retire from the idolaters, which all authori-
ties agree in referring to the Hijra, we may fairly conclude that most
of the revelations of this chapter were rehearsed in public for the
first time during the year immediately preceding that event There
are, however, a few verses which belong to the number of Madina
revelations. These are vers. 92-94 and 151-153. Noeldeke thinks
the latter three are referred to Madina without good reason. The
requirements of ver. 152 certainly fit in best with the circum-


( 1 60 )


stances of I slim after the Hijrn. Their date may be considered as
doubtful. This is, in our opinion, true also of vers. 118-121, 145,
146, and 159-165. The command to abstain from certain kinds of
meat is said, on the authority of tradition, to have been delivered
after the Night Journey, and might therefore have been delivered
before the Hijta. But the requirements of the law of permitted and
forbidden meats are so certainly an imitation of the Jewish law on
the same subject, as to lead us to think that all passages referring t<>
this law of Islam belong to Madina though found in chapters be-
longing to Makkah. As Muir has already pointed out, the habit
was formed soon after the Ilijra "of throwing into a former Sura
newly-revealed passages connected with its subject." * Wherefore
many passages like these, relating to rites borrowed from the Jews,
may belong to Madina, though recited in a Makkau chapter.

Principal Subjects.

Praise to the Almighty and Omniscient Creator .

The wilful unbelief of the Makkah infidels .

They are threatened with the divine judgment .

The people of Makkah hopelessly unbelieving

Why angels were not sent to the infidels

Those who rejected the former prophets were punished

Why the true God should be served

God the witness between Muhammad and the infidels

The Jews recognise Muhammad as a prophet

Idolaters on the judgment-day their condition .

Scoffing idolaters rebuked and threatened .

The condition of believers and unbelievers after death

Unbelievers make God a liar ....

God's word and purposes unchangeable

Miracles of no avail to convince infidels

God will raise the dead to life ....

Why God did not grant the signs asked by unbelievers

Animals and birds to be brought into judgment .

Infidels are deaf and dumb

Idolaters will call upon God in their distress
Adversity and prosperity alike unmeaning to infidels
God is the only helper in trouble ....
Unbelievers, if impenitent, sure to perish
Muhammad unacquainted with the secrets of God
There shall be no intercessor on the judgment-day






10. 11


















* Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 26S, note.


( 161 )

[CHAP. vr.

The motives of professing Muslims not to be judged
Muhammad declines the proposals of idolaters .
God the Omniscient and Sovereign Ruler

God the Almighty Deliverer

Muhammad charged with imposture

Unbelievers will certainly be punished

Mockers to be avoided by Muslims ....

The punishment of idolaters certain and dreadful .

Muslims commanded to obey God only

Abraham's testimony against idolatry

The prophets who succeeded Abraham

The unbelieving Jews (of Madina) rebuked

The Quran confirms the former Scriptures

The fate of those who forge Scriptures

Idolaters deserted by their gods on the judgment-day

The God of nature the true God ....

God has no offspring

God's favour in sending the Quran ....

The command to retire from Makkah

Muhammad not permitted to work miracles

The people of Makkah given over to unbelief .

Muhammad the prophet of God ....

The direction of Muslims and idolaters contrasted .

Law of permitted and forbidden meats

The righteous and unbelievers compared .

Wicked leaders of the people conduct and punishment

The blessedness of the faithful

God's threatenings against unbelieving men and genii

God always warns men before punishing idolatry

Rewards and punishments shall be according to works

The punishment of unbelievers certain

The idolaters of Makkah rebuked ....

Evil customs of the Quraish exposed

The idolaters of Makkah threatened ....

The fruit of trees to be eaten .....

Controversy between the Quraish and Muhammad con

cerning forbidden meats referred to .
The law concerning forbidden meats rehearsed
The Jewish law of forbidden meats ....
God will punish those who accuse the prophets of impos


The idolaters of Makkah are reprobate
Their testimony unworthy of credit ....
















104, 105









126, 127



132, 133


135, 136





148, 149


CHAP. VI.] ( 162 ) [SIPARA VII.

Forbidden things rehearsed

The Quran attests the teaching of Moses and Jesus .
The fate of the wicked on the judgment-day

Sectaries reproved .

The reward of the righteous and wicked compared .

Isldm the true religion 161,162

Muhammad's self-consecration to God .... 163

The idolaters exhorted to believe in God . . . 164, 165






R -f. II (1) Praise be unto God, who hath created the heavens

and the earth, and hath ordained the darkness and the
light : nevertheless they who believe not in the Lord equa-
lise other gods with him. (2) It is he who hath created you
of clay, and then decreed the term of your lives ; and the
prefixed term is with him : yet do ye doubt thereof. (3)
He is God in heaven and in earth ; he knoweth what ye
keep secret and what ye publish, and knoweth what ye
deserve. (4) There came not unto them any sign of the
signs of their Lord, but they retired from the same ; (5)
and they have gainsaid the truth after that it hath come
unto them ; but a message shall come unto them concern-

(1) Darkness and the light. Literally, darknesses and the light, from
which form some commentators infer that by darknesses is intended
the many false religions, and by light the one true faith of Islam.
These make God to be the author of evil as well as good. See the
Tafslr-i-Ranji in loco.

Abdul Qadir thinks the passage is directed against the eternal
duality of the Magian religion. This also makes God the author of
both good and evil.

Equalise, i.e., they regard their idols as equal with God.

(2) The term, dbc. " By the last term some understand the time of
the resurrection. Others think that by the first term \& intended
the space between creation and death, and by the latter that between
death and the resurrection." Sale.

(3) He knoweth, dbc. The omniscience of God is here very forcibly
expressed. The speaker is, according to Muslim faith, God, and the
passage should be introduced by Say (see note on chap, i.) These
words are addressed to the unbelievers mentioned in ver. 1.

(5) A message shall come. Coming destruction, either in this

SIPARAVII.] ( 163 ) [CHAP. VI.

ing that which they have mocked at. (6) Do they not
consider how many generations we have destroyed before
them ? We had established them in the earth in a manner
wherein we have not established you ; we sent the heaven
to rain abundantly upon them, and we gave them rivers
which flowed under their feet : yet we destroyed them in
their sins, and raised up other generations after them.
(7) Although we had caused to descend unto thee a book
written on paper, and they had handled it with their
hands, the unbelievers had surely said, This is no other
than manifest sorcery. (8) They said, Unless an angel
be sent down unto him, we will not believe. But if we had
sent down an angel, verily the matter had been decreed,
and they should not have been borne with, by having time
granted them to repent. (9) And if we had appointed an

world or the world to come, is here suggested. Some refer it to the
final success of Islam, which is here predicted.

(6) Many generations. Sale thinks the ancient tribes of Ad and
Thamud are here referred to. See Prelim. Disc, pp. 20-22.

(7) A book written on paper. The Quran being repeated piecemeal
to the people, according to the circumstances or necessities of the
Prophet, it was very natural they should regard the whole as the
composition of Muhammad himself. The Tafsir-i-Raufi relates that
three chiefs of the Quraish came to Muhammad saying they would
not believe him to be a prophet, or bis Quran to be from God, unless
four angels were to descend from heaven with a written book and
testify to his apostleship. It was then that this passage was re-
vealed. This story, however, does not fit on to the passage well, and
must be regarded as an invention of the commentators, the chief
incidents being suggested by the passage itself. It is, however, suffi-
ciently clear that the Quraish did not see anything sufficiently
miraculous in the style of the Quran to convince them of its heavenly

(8) Unless an angel. Muhammad claimed to have received the
Quran from Gabriel. This is probably the angel referred to here,
the Quraish having claimed the right to see the angel-visitor of their
townsman before believing in his prophetic pretensions.

Verily the matter had been decreed. " That is to say, as they would
not have believed even if an angel had descended to them from
heaven, God has shown his mercy in not complying with their de-
mands ; for if he had, they would have suffered immediate con-
demnation, and would have been allowed no time for repentance."


CHAP. VI.] ( 164 ) [SIPARA VII.

angel for our messenger, we should have sent him in the
farm of a man, and have clothed him before them, as they
are clothed. (10) Other apostles have been laughed to
scorn before thee, but the judgment which they made a
jest of encompassed those who laughed them to scorn.

|| (11) Say, Go through the earth, and behold what
hath been the end of those who accused our prophets of
imposture. (12) Say, Unto whom belongeth whatsoever is
in heaven and earth ? Say, Unto G OD ; he hath prescribed
unto himself mercy. He will surely gather you together
on the day of resurrection ; there is no doubt of it. They
who destroy their own souls are those who will not be-
lieve. (13) Unto him is owing whatsoever happeneth by
night or by day ; it is he who heareth and knoweth. (14)
Say, Shall I take any other protector than God, the
creator of heaven and earth, who feedeth all and is not
fed by any ? Say, Verily I am commanded to be the first

(9) The form of a man. Had the angels appeared to the Quraish,
they would liave appeared as men, therefore there would have been
nothing more convincing in the appearance of the heavenly mes-
sengers than in that of a human being who was a prophet. Sale
observes that Gabriel always appeared to Muhammad in human
form, because even a prophet could not bear the sight of an angel in

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 17 of 42)