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 18 of 42)
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his proper form.

(10) Other apostles . . . laughed to scorn. This illustrates the
kind of argument used by Muhammad at Makkah. He was a pro-
phet of God because he said so, the inimitable Quran being witness.
The very fact that unbelievers scoffed at him and his message was
an additional argument, for so were all prophets treated. Not a
word is said of miracles, for there were none. Nor is there any
allusion to the testimony of former prophets as applying to him, all
such passages belonging to the Madina chapters. How very diffe-
rent all this from the conduct of the true prophets !

(11} Oo through the earth, dec. See note on chap. iii. 137.

(12) He hath prescribed unto himself mercy. Literally, he hath
written upon his being mercy. He delights in mercy, and when un-
believers are condemned and punished, it is owing to their having
destroyed themselves. It is plain that with passages like this before
them, Muhammadans may fairly claim that they do not deny the
freedom of the human will while holding to the absolute sovereignty
of God. But see note on chap. iii. 155.

(14) The first. " That is, the first of my nation." Sale.

Muhammad had not yet conceived of himself as a prophet for all

SIPARA VII.] ( 165 ) [CHAP. VI.

who professeth Islam, and it was said unto me, Thou shalt
by no means be one of the idolaters. (15) Say, Verily I
fear, if I should rebel against my Lord, the punishment of
the great day : (16) from whomsoever it shall be averted
on that day, God will have been merciful unto him ; this
will be manifest salvation. (17) If God afflict thee with
any hurt, there is none who can take it off/rom thee ex-
cept himself ; but if he cause good to befall thee, he is
almighty ; (18) he is the supreme Lord over his servants,
and he is wise and knowing. (19) Say, What thing is the
strongest in bearing testimony ? Say, God ; he is witness
between me and you. And this Quran was revealed unto
me that I should admonish you thereby, and also those
unto whom it shall reach. Do ye really profess that there
are other gods together with God ? Say, I do not profess
this. Say, Verily he is one God ; and I am guiltless of

the world. Brinckman remarks, that "if Muhammed was the first
of the Arabians to become a Moslem, all the Arabians before him
must have been infidels and estranged from God, and yet he chooses
one of them to be the seal of the prophets and to convert the world."
But this is the point upon which Muhammad depended to show his
own likeness to Abraham, who Avas chosen from among idolaters.
Chap. ii. 131, 132.

(19) What is . . . strongest . . . in testimony. " This passage was
revealed when the Quraish told Muhammad that they had asked the
Jews and Christians concerning him, who assured them they found
no mention or description of him in their books of Scripture.
" Therefore," said they, " who bear witness to thee that thou art the
apostle of Cod 1 " Sale, Baidhdwi, Jaldluddin.

Muhammad's reply is, "God, he is witness between me and you,"
allusion being made to the miraculous character of the verses (signs)
of the Quran.

This Qui an was revealed unto me. The Quran is here, as every-
where else, referred to as a complete volume, and a distinct claim for
its plenary inspiration is set up. Every word and letter is copied
from the divine original. Vain then is the hope of the apologists
for Muhammad that Muslims ' will soon see that there may be an
appeal to the Mohammed of Mecca from the Mohammed of Medina,"
and "that with the growth of knowledge of the real character of our
faith, Mohammedans must recognise that the Christ of the gospel
was something ineffably above the Christ of those Christians from
whom alone Mohammed drew his notions of him," &c. (li. Bosworth
Smith's Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 337). Such a hope is
based upon the idea that Muslims will come to believe that the

CHAP. VI.] ( 166 ) [SIPARA VII.

what ye associate with him. (20) They unto whom we
have given the scripture know our apostle, even as they
know their own children ; but they who destroy their own
souls will not believe.
[\ g. || (21) "Who is more unjust than he who inventeth a

lie against God, or chargeth his signs with imposture ?
Surely the unjust shall not prosper. (22) And on the
day of resurrection we will assemble them all ; then will
we say unto those who associated others with God, Where
are your companions, whom ye imagined to be those of God ?
But they shall have no other excuse than that they shall
say, By God our Lord, we have not been idolaters. (23)
Behold, how they lie against themselves, and what they
have blasphemously imagined to be the companion of God

Quran is the composition of Muhammad, and that he was mistaken in
his estimate of Christ and Christianity. When they come to believe
this, they will not be long in casting the whole thing aside, and so
either become Christians, or, as is often the case, they will disbelieve
all religions, and so sink into infidelity. The rationalising teachings
of the few enlightened Muslims, which have inspired the hope alluded
to above, are to all orthodox Muhammadans as gall and wormwood.
They clearly recognise that the result of their teaching would not be
to reconcile Christianity and Islam, but to destroy the foundation

fmnciples of both. The writer has been asked by at least one
earned Muslim author for assistance to refute the rationalistic
writings of Sayad Ahmad Khan, C.S.I. In presenting this request
I was reminded that in combating this doctrine Muslims and
Christians stood on common ground, inasmuch as we had here u
common enemy which eacli was alike interested in defeating. Was
lie mistaken in his estimate of the danger which threatened Islam
from this source ? We think not. Islam is based upon the Quran,
and anything which will undermine the faith of Muslims in the
Quran as the very Word of God, anything which will serve to trans-
fer the authorship from God to Muhammad, must result in the re-
jection of Islam altogether.

(20) They unto whom toe have given the Scriptures, dc, i.e., the Jews
at Makkah. Muir thinks the Jews were at this time inclined to
respect the prophetic claims of Muhammad (Life of Mahomet, vol.
ii. p. 184). See also note on chap. ii. 147.

(21) A lie against God. "Saying the angels are the daughters of
God, and intercessors for us with him," &c. Xale, Baidh&vri.

(22^ Your companions, i.e., " your idols and false gods." Sale.
(23) Flieth from them. " Their imaginary deities prove to be
nothing, and disappear like vain phantoms and chimeras." Sale.

SIPARA VII.] ( 167 ) [CHAP. VI.

flieth from them. (24) There is of them who hearkeneth
unto thee when thou reddest the Qurdn; but we have cast
veils over their hearts, that they should not understand
it, and a deafness in their ears : and though they should
see all kinds of signs, they will not believe therein ; and
their infidelity 10M arrive to that height that they will even
come unto thee to dispute with thee. The unbelievers
will say, This is nothing but silly fables of ancient times.
(25) And they will forbid others from believing therein, and
will retire afar off from it ; but they will destroy their own
souls only, and they are not sensible thereof. (26) If thou
didst see when they shall be set over the fire of hell ! and
they shall say, Would to God we might be sent back into
the world; we would not charge the signs of our Lord with
imposture, and we would become true believers : (27) nay,
but that is become manifest unto them, which they for-
merly concealed ; and though they should be sent back
into the world, they would surely return to that which was
forbidden them ; and they are surely liars. (28) And they
said, There is no other life than our present life ; neither

(24) Silly fables. This no doubt referred to the numerous stories,
learned from Jewish, Arab, and Magian tradition, with which the
Qurdn abounds. Such statements serve to show that there was
nothing in the style or matter of the Quran to impress the people
with its miraculous character. Sale says, on the authority of
Baidhawi, that the persons referred to in this verse were Abu
Sufian, Walid, Nudhar, Utba, Abu Jahl, and their comrades.
These having listened to Muhammad repeating the Quran, Nudhar
was asked what he said. He replied with an oath that he knew
not, only that he moved his tongue and told a parcel of foolish
stories, as he had done to them.

(2")) They will forbid, dec. They will neither accept of Islam
themselves, nor permit others to do so. Some refer the passage to
Abu Talib, Muhammad's uncle and protector, who, though forbid-
ding the enemies of his nephew from injuring him, yet declined to
accept Islam. See Tafsir-i-Raiiji.

(27) Become manifest, i.e, " their hypocrisy and vile actions ; nor
does their promise proceed from any sincere intention of amend-
ment, but from the anguish and misery of their condition." Sale,

(28) No other life, &c. The ideas of the future life attributed to
the Quraish here were such as are still prevalent among idolaters.

CHAP. VI.] ( 168 ) [SIPARA VII.

shall we be raised again. But if thou couldest see when
they shall be set before their Lord ! (29) He shall say
unto them, Is not this in truth come to pass ? They shall
answer, Yea, by our Lord. God shall say, Taste therefore
the punishment due unto you, for that ye have disbelieved.
R To" II (30) They are lost who reject as a falsehood the meet-
ing of God in the next life, until the hour cometh suddenly
upon them. Then will they say, Alas ! for that we have
behaved ourselves negligently in our lifetime ; and they
shall carry their burdens on their backs ; will it not be
evil which they shall be loaden with ? (31) This present
life is no other than a play and a vain amusement; but
surely the future mansion shall be better for those who
fear God : will they not therefore understand ? (32) Now
we know that what they speak grieveth thee: yet they
do not accuse thee of falsehood ; but the ungodly contra-

As Paul's doctrine of the resurrection and judgment was foolishness to
the Greeks, so was the same doctrine regarded by the idolaters of
Makkah. The astonishment of these unbelievers at the resurrection
day is very graphically set forth in what follows.

(30) The Iwur. " The last day is here called the hour, as it is in
Scripture (i John v. 25, &c) ; and the preceding expression of
meeting God on that day is also agreeable to the same (1 Thess. iv.
, 7 V' Sale.

The same is true of the expression suddenly. This is, however,
due to Muhammad's having learned all he knew on this subject
from Jewish and Christian sources. Compare note on ver. 28.

Burdens on their backs. " When an infidel conies forth from his
grave, says Jalaluddin, his works shall be represented to him under
the ugliest form that ever he beheld, having a most deformed coun-
tenance, a filthy smell, and a disagreeable voice ; so that he shall
cry out, ' God defend me from thee ! what art thou ? I never saw
anything more detestable ! ' To which the figure will answer, 'Why
dost thou wonder at my ugliness 1 I am thy evil works. Thou didst
ride upon me while thou wast in the world ; but now will I ride
upon thee, and thou shalt carry me.' And immediately it shall get
upon him ; and whatever he shall meet shall terrify him, and say,
' Hail, thou enemy of God ! Thou art he who was meant by (these
words of the Quran), and they shall carry their burdens' dbc."Sa(e,
Jaldluddin, Tafsir-i-Raufi.

(31) The future mansion shall be better, because there remain for the
faithful other delights which shall never fail. Tafsir-i-liaufi. Com-
pare chap. ii. 25.

(32) Not . . . thee . . . but . . . Ood. "That is, it is not thou but

SIPARA VII.] ( 169 ) [CHAP. VI.

diet the signs of God. (33) And apostles before thee have
been accounted liars : but they patiently bore their being
accounted liars, and their being vexed, until our help came
unto them : for there is none who can change the words of
God : and thou hast received some information concerning
those who have been formerly sent from him.

|| (34) If their aversion to thy admonitions be grievous Nlsr -
unto thee, if thou canst seek out a den whereby thou mayest
penetrate into the inward parts of the earth, or a ladder by
which thou mayest ascend into heaven, that thou mayest
show them a sign, do so, but thy search will be fruitless; for
if God pleased he would bring them all to the true direc-
tion : be not therefore one of the ignorant. (35) He will
give a favourable answer unto those only who shall

God whom they injure by their impious gainsaying of what has
been revealed to thee. It is said that Abu Jahl once told Muhammad
that they did not accuse him of falsehood, because he was known
to be a man of veracity, but only they did not believe the revela-
tions which he brought them ; which occasioned this passage." Sale,

(33) Apostles before tliee, <&c. See note on chap. iii. 185.
Patiently bore. The attitude of the preacher of Makkah, as here

indicated, is in wide contrast with that of the warrior-prophet of
Madiua. Yet the latter could liken himself to the prophets of old
as readily as could the former. Compare note on chap. iii. 146.

Some information. This information purports to have been re-
ceived by inspiration, and is detailed in a number of the chapters
revealed at Makkah, where the persecutions of former prophets are
described, together with the punishments incurred by the persecu-
tors, e.g., chaps, xxxvii., 1., &c. Most of it was learned, as we know,
from Jewish Scripture and tradition, of which it is here said, There
is none who can change the words of God. But a comparison of the
Quran with the Bible will show that Muhammad did effectually
change the words of God whenever he attempted to relate the his-
tories of the prophets.

(34) A den . . . or a ladder. The Quraish had demanded a sign,
and Muhammad, according to the commentators, was anxious to
gratify their wish, in the hope they would believe. But he is here
reproved by the declaration that these unbelievers would not believe
even were they to witness the very miracles they demanded of him,
and by the assurance that they were infidels only because God had
not been pleased to bring them into the true way. The passage is
one among many proof texts to show that Muhammad did not work

(35) Those only who shall hearken. The Tafsir-i-Raufi says the


hearken with attention : aud God will raise the dead ; then
unto him shall they return. (36) The infidels say, Unless
some sign be sent down unto him from his Loud, we will
not believe : answer, Verily God is able to send down a
sign : but the greater part of them know it not. (37)
There is no kind of beast on earth, nor fowl which flieth
with its wings, but the same is a people like unto you :
we have not omitted anything in the book of our decrees :
then unto their Lord shall they return. (38) They who
accuse our signs of falsehood are deaf and dumb, walking
in darkness : God will lead into error whom he pleaseth,
and whom he pleaseth he will put in the right way ? (39)
Say, What think ye ? if the punishment of God come upon
you, or the hour of the resurrection come upon you, will
ye call upon any other than God, if ye speak truth ? (40)
Yea, him shall ye call upon, and he shall free you from
that which ye shall ask him to deliver you from, if he
pleaseth; and ye shall forget that which ye associated
with him.

infidels are as the dead : they cannot hear. Hence God will not
hear them. And yet, though dead, God will raise them to life, and
they shall hear, but then it will be too late to avail them for good.

(36) But . . . know not that such a sign would probably result in
their destruction ; for it is the command of God that if any one,
having demanded a sign, refuse to believe, he shall be utterly
destroyed . Tafsir- i- Raufi.

This verse also shows that Muhammad wrought no miracles.

(37) A people like unto you. " Being created and preserved by the
same omnipotence and providence as ye are." Sale. They will also
be brought into judgment. See Tafslr-i-Raufi in loco and Prelim.
Disc., p. 146.

We have not omitted anything in the book. " That is, in the Pre-
served Table, wherein God's decrees are written, and all things which
came to pass in the world, as well the most minute as the more
momentous, are exactly recorded." Sale. See Prelim. Disc, p. 164.

This verse, with ver. 58 below, and chap. xvi. 91, is "held to
prove that all law was provided for by anticipation in the Quran"
{The Faith of hldm, pp. 19, 20).

(38) See note on chap. iii. 185.

(39, 40) See notes above on vers. 22-27.

SIPARA VII.] ( 171 ) [CHAP. VI.

|| (41) We have already sent messengers unto sundry R
nations before thee, and we afflicted them with trouble
and adversity that they might humble themselves: (42)
yet when the affliction which we sent came upon them,
they did not humble themselves ; but their hearts became
hardened, and Satan prepared for them that which they
committed. (43) And when they had forgotten that con-
cerning which they had been admonished, we opened unto
them the gates of all things ; until, while they were re-
joicing for that which had been given them, we suddenly
laid hold on them, and behold, they were seized with de-
spair ; (44) and the utmost part of the people which had
acted wickedly was cut off: praise be unto God, the Lord
of all creatures ! (45) Say, What think ye ? if God should
take away your hearing and your sight, and should seal
up your hearts ; what god besides God will restore them
unto you ? (46) See how variously we show forth the
signs of God's unity ; yet do they turn aside from them.
Say unto them, What think ye ? if the punishment of God
come upon you suddenly or in open view, will any
perish except the ungodly people ? (47) We send not
our messengers otherwise than bearing good tidings and

(41-44) We afflicted them. The effect of which was to harden
them, implying that the prosperity of the Quraish indicated God's
mercy. And yet, when God, willing to show kindness to other
nations, opened unto them the gates of all things hy prospering them
in worldly things, as he now was prospering the people of Makkab,
and they continued unmindful of both judgments and mercies,
sudden destruction came upon them. The allusion here is to the
dealing of God with the children of Israel. The reading of the
passage suggests Prov. i. 24-33 ; Isa. lxvi. 3, 4, &c.

Praise be unto God, &c. As the destruction of infidels is the
deliverance of the faithful from their tyranny, it becomes us to
praise the Destroyer. Tafsir-i-Eaufi.

(46) See how variously, &c. " Laying them before you in different
views, and making use of arguments and motives drawn from various
considerations." Sale.

Suddenly or in open view, i.e., at night or in daytime. Tafsir-i-

Sale says, on the authority of Baidhawi, " either without previous
notice, or after some warning given."


CHAP. VI.] ( 172 ) [SIPARA VII.

denouncing threats. Whoso therefore shall believe and
amend, on them shall no fear come, neither shall they
be grieved : (48) but whoso shall accuse our signs of
falsehood, a punishment shall fall on them, because they
have done wickedly. (49) Say, I say not unto you,
The treasures of God are in my power: neither do I
say, I know the secrets of God : neither do I say unto you,
Verily I am an angel : I follow only that which is revealed
unto me. Say, Shall the blind and the seeing be held
equal ? do ye not therefore consider ?
R iV II (50) Preach it unto those who fear that they shall be
assembled before their Lokd : they shall have no patron
nor intercessor except him ; that peradventure they may
take heed to themselves. (51) Drive not away those who
call upon their Lord morning and evening, desiring to see
his face : it belongeth not unto thee to pass any judgment
on them, nor doth it belong unto them to pass any judg-

(48) Whoso shall accuse our signs, &c. This phrase lias occurred
110 less than five times before in this chapter, vers. 11, 21, 26, 32,
and 38. This illustrates Muhammad's anxiety to remove this stigma
from himself. Strange to say, this persistency of Muhammad in
asserting his claim to he a true prophet is regarded by some writers
as conclusive proof that he was not an impostor. But surely, grant-
ing the false assumption to have been once made, there could be no
other course open to him, excepting retraction and disgrace. Besides,
impostors have never been noted for anything more than for their
audacity and impudent self-assertion, e.g., Joseph Smith, the Mor-
mon prophet. The false prophet of Islam and rival of Muhammad,
Musailama, persisted in nis claim to the very last yea, died in
defence of his claim.

(49) I say not unto you, <tc. In ver. 34 Muhammad was denied
the power of working miracles. Here he declares himself unac-
quainted with the ''secrets of God," literally hidden things, by
which he confesses that he does not possess the gift of prophecy.
How different the claim of Jesus! John viii. 38, 42; x. 15, 30,
37, &c.

(50) No patron nor intercessor. This passage is directly contradic-
tory to the doctrine of Muslims, that Muhammad will intercede for
his followers on the judgment-day. See notes on chap. ii. 47, 123,
and 254.

(51) Drive not away. dkc. " These words Mere occasioned when
the Quraish desired Muhammad not to admit the poor or more
inferior people, such as Ammar, Suhaib, Kliubbab, and Salman,

SIPARA VII.] ( 173 ) [CHAP. VI.

ment on thee : therefore if thou drive them away, thou
wilt become one of the unjust. (52) Thus have we
proved some part of them by other part, that they
may say, Are these the people among us unto whom God
hath been gracious ? Doth not God most truly know those
who are thankful ? (53) And when they who believe in
our signs shall come unto thee, say, Peace he upon you.
Your Lord hath prescribed unto himself mercy ; so who-
ever among you worketh evil through ignorance, and
afterwards repenteth and amendeth, unto him will he
surely he gracious and merciful. (54) Thus have we
distinctly propounded our signs, that the path of the
wicked might be made known.

|| (55) Say, Verily I am forbidden to worship the false R 3^
deities which ye invoke besides God. Say, I will not
follow your desires ; for then should I err, neither should
I be one of those who are rightly directed. (56) Say, I
hehave according to the plain declaration, which I have

into his company, pretending that then they would come and dis-
course with him ; but he refusing to turn away any believers, they
insisted at least that he should order them to rise up and withdraw
when they came, which he agreed to do. Others say that the chief
men of Makkah expelled all the poor out of their city, bidding them
go to Muhammad, which they did, and offered to embrace his reli-
gion ; but he made some difficulty to receive them, suspecting their
motive to be necessity, and not real conviction, whereupon this
passage was revealed." Sale, Baidhdwi, Jaldluddin.

It belongeth not to thee, dec, i.e., " rashly to decide whether their in-
tentions be sincere or not, since thou canst not know their heart,
and their faith may possibly be more firm than that of those who
would persuade thee to discard them." Sale.

(52) Proved some part . . . by other part. " That is to say, the
noble by those of mean extraction, and the rich by the poor, in
that God chose to call the latter to the faith by the former." Sale,
Baidhdwi, dec.

(53) Say, Peace be upon you. See chap. iv. 85, note.
Prescribed . . . mercy. See on ver. 12, above.

(55) This verse suggests the thought that Muhammad may have
been tempted to make a compromise with the idolatry of the Kaabah.
May he not have been urged to do so by some of his friends ? Or
the passage may belong to a period subsequent to the temporary
lapse of the prophet, referred to in chap. xxii. 53 and 54.

CHAP. VI.] ( 174 ) [S1PARA VII

received from my Lord ; but ye have forged lies concern-
ing him. That which ye desire should be hastened is not.
in my power; judgment belongeth only unto God; he will
determine the trutli ; and he is the best discerner. (57)
Say, If what ye desire should be hastened were in my
power, the matter had been determined between me and
you : but God well knoweth the unjust (58) "With him
are the keys of the secret things; none knoweth them
besides himself: he knoweth that which is on the dry

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 18 of 42)