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 19 of 42)
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land and in the sea : there falleth no leaf but he knoweth
it ; neither is there a single grain in the dark parts of the
earth, neither a green thing, nor a dry thing, but it is
written in the perspicuous book. (59) It is he who
causeth you to sleep by night, and knoweth what ye
merit by day ; he also awaketh you therein, that the pre-
fixed term of your lives may be fulfilled ; then unto him
shall ye return, and he shall declare unto you that which
ye have wrought.
R u' II (60) He is supreme over his servants, and sendeth the

guardian angels to v:atch over you, until, when death over-
taketh one of you, our messengers cause him to die : and

(5G) That which yt desire, d-c. " This passage is an answer to the
audacious defiances of the infidels, who bade Muhammad, if he were
a true prophet, to call for a shower of stones from heaven, or some
other sudden and miraculous punishment, to destroy them." Sale,

(57) The matter had been determined by the judgment of God upon
your impiety, and the bestowal of the punishment which ye have
challenged. Tafsir-i-Raufi. The fierce reply intended, according
to Baidhawi's interpretation, is premature. That spirit was not yet

(58) The perspicuous book. The Preserved Table, or Luh-i-Mahfuz.
See note on ver. 37. This verse, witli the three following it, very
graphically sets forth the omniscience and omnipresence of the
Sovereign Ruler of the Universe. Compare with Job xxxviii. 1-14 ;
Ps. 1. 10-12, and Ps. cxxxix. 1-16.

(59) Causeth you to sleep. Literally taketh up your souls, sleep
beiii^ regarded as the sister of Death.

(60) Guardian angels. See Prelim. Disc., pp. 1 18-120.

Our messengers. " That is, the Angel of Death and his assistants."
See Prelim. Disc, p. 119.

SIPARAVII.] ( 175 ) [CHAP. VI.

they will not neglect our commands. (61) Afterwards
shall they return unto God, their true Lord : doth not
judgment belong unto him ? He is the most quick in taking
an account. (62) Say, Who delivereth you from the dark-
ness of the land and of the sea, when ye call upon him
humbly and in private, saying, Verily if thou deliver us
from these dangers, we will surely be thankful ? (63)
Say, God delivereth you from them, and from every grief
of mind ; yet afterwards ye give him companions. (64)
Say, He is able to send on you a punishment from above
you, or from under your feet, or to engage you in dissen-
sion, and to make some of you taste the violence of others.
Observe how variously we show forth our signs, that per-
adventure they may understand. (65) This people hath
accused the revelation which thou hast brought of falsehood,
although it be the truth. Say, I am not a guardian over
you : (66) every prophecy hath its fixed time of accomplish-
ment ; and he will hereafter know it. (67) When thou
seest those who are engaged in cavilling at or ridiculing
our signs, depart from them until they be engaged in

(61) He is quick. See Prelim. Disc, p. 137.

(62) The darkness. The word is in the plural number, and means
dangers or distresses. See also note on ver. 1.

If thou deliver us. Sale says, " The Kufic copies read it in the
third person, if he deliver us" &c.

(63) Aftervjards ye gave him companions. In distress they called
on God, and so recognised him as the only Preserver ; but in pros-
perity they turned away from him to their idols.

(64) A punishment from above. " That is, by storms from heaven,
as he destroyed the unbelieving people of Noah and of Lot, and the
army of AbraM, the lord of the elephant." Sale, Baidhdwi.

Or from under your feet, as he destroyed Pharaoh and his host in
the Red Sea, or Korah and his company.
Dissension, by warfare and civil strife.

(66) Every prophecy hath its fixed time. The word translated
prophecy means news, thing, word, and the passage means that every-
thing has a fixed time for its accomplishment ; that is, there is a time
for those who oppose the messengers of God and who blaspheme to
receive their just punishment.

(67) Depart from them. The infidels having begun to mock the
Muslims whenever they found them repeating the Quran in their
company, the order was given to withdraw from them whenever they
should begin to laugh or jest Tafsir-i-llaufi.

CHAP. VI.] ( 176 ) [SIPARA VIL

some other discourse : and if Satan cause thee to forget
this precept, do not sit with the ungodly people after re-
collection. (68) They who fear God are not at all ac-
countable for them, but their duty is to remember, that they
may take heed to themselves. (69) Abandon those who
make their religion a sport and a jest, and whom the
present life hath deceived ; and admonish them by the
Qurdn, that a soul becometh liable to destruction for that
which it committeth ; it shall have no patron nor inter-
cessor besides God: (70) and if it could pay the utmost
price of redemption, it would not be accepted from it.
R is* II (71) They who are delivered over to perdition for
that which they have committed shall have boiling water
to drink, and shall suffer a grievous punishment, because
they have disbelieved. Say, shall we call upon that,
besides God, which can neither profit us nor hurt us?
and shall we turn back on our heels, after that God
hath directed us, like him whom the devils hath infatu-
ated, wandering amazedly in the earth, and yet having
companions who call him into the true direction, saying,
Come unto us ? Say, The direction of God is the true
direction: we are commanded to resign ourselves unto

(68) Not at all accountable. " And therefore need not be troubled
at the indecent and impious talk of the infidels, provided they take
care not to be infected by them. When the preceding passage was
revealed, the Muslims told their prophet that if they were obliged
to rise up whenever the idolaters spoke irreverently of the Qurdn,
they could never sit quietly in the temple nor perform their devo-
tions there ; whereupon these words were added." Sale, Baidh&ici,

(69) A sport and a jest, i.e., by worshipping idols, consecrating
sacred animals, as Bahaira, Sahiba, &c. Tafdr-i-liaufi. See a simi-
lar passage in chap. v. 62.

No patron nor intercessor. See note on ver. 50. The expression is
here applied to unbelievers who have died in their sins.

S71) Boiling water. See chap. ii. 38, note.
Ake him whom the devils, dtc. He whom God has rejected as a re-
probate is like a man snatched away from a caravan and cast down
in a lone wilderness ; his companions call to him to come to them,
but he is dragged away by evil spirits and ghouls. Tafslr-i-RauJL

SIPARA VII.] ( 177 ) [CHAP. VI.

the Loed of all creatures ; (72) aud it is also commanded
us, saying, Observe the stated times of prayer, and fear
him ; for it is he before whom ye shall be assembled. (73)
It is he who hath created the heavens and the earth in
truth ; and whenever he saith unto a thing, Be, it is. (74)
His word is the truth ; and his will be the kingdom on
the day whereon the trumpet shall be sounded : he know-
eth whatever is secret, and whatever is public; he is the
wise, the knowing.

|| (75) Call to mind when Abraham said unto his father, suls.
Azar, Dost thou take images for gods ? Verily I perceive

(72) ITie stated times of prayer. See note on chap. ii. 38.

(74) The trumpet, dec. See Prelim. Disc, p. 135.

(75) Azar. " This is the name which the Muhammadans give to
Abraham's father, named in Scripture Terah. However, some of
their writers pretend that Azar was the son of Terah, and D'Her-
belot says that the Arabs always distinguish them in their genealogies
as different persons ; but that because Abraham was the son of
Terah according to Moses, it is therefore supposed (by European,
writers) that Terah is the same with the Azar of the Arabs. How
true this observation may be in relation to some authors, I cannot
say, but I am sure it cannot be true of all ; for several Arab and
Turkish writers (Baidhawi, Yahya, &c.) expressly make Azar and
Terah the same person. Azar, in ancient times, was the name of
the planet Mars, and the month of March was so called by the most
ancient Persians ; for the word originally signifying fire (as it still
does), it was therefore given by them and the Chaldeans to that
planet, which partaking, as was supposed, of a fiery nature, was
acknowledged by the Chaldeans and Assyrians as a god or planetary
deity, whom in old times they worshipped under the form of a
pillar : whence Azar became a name among the nobility, who
esteemed it honourable to be denominated from their gods, ami is
found in the composition of several Babylonish names. For these
reasons a learned author supposes Azar to have been the heathen
name of Terah, and that the other was given him on his conversion
(Hyde de Rel. Vet. Persar.) Al Baidhawi confirms this conjecture,
.saying that Azar was the name of the idol which he worshipped.
It may be observed that Abraham's father is also called Zarah in
the Talmud, and Athar by Eusebius." Sale. ,

Dost thou take images for gods ? " That Azar, or Terah, was an
idolater is allowed on all hands ; nor can it be denied, since he is
expressly said in Scripture to have served strange gods (Josh. xxiv.
2, 14). The Eastern authors unanimously agree that he was a sta-
tuary, or carver of idols ; and he is represented as the first who made
images of clay, pictures only having been in use before, and taught
that they were to be adored as gods. However, we are told his em-


CHAP. VI.] ( 178 ) [SIPARA VII.

that thou and thy people art in a manifest error. (76)
And thus did we show unto Abraham the kingdom of
heaven and earth, that he might become one of those who
firmly believe. (77) And when the night overshadowed
him, he saw a star, and he said, This is my Lord ; but
when it set, he said, I like not gods which set. (78) And
when he saw the moon rising, he said, This is my Lord ;
but when he saw it set, he said, Verily if my Lord direct
me not, I shall become one of the people who go astray.
(79) And when he saw the sun rising, he said, This is my
Lord, this is the greatest ; but when it set, he said, my
people, verily I am clear of that which ye associate with
God: (80) I direct my face unto him who hath created

ployment was a very honourable one, and that he was a great lord,
and in high favour with Nimrod, whose son-in-law he was, because
he made his idols for him, and was excellent in his art. Some of
the Rabbins say Terah was a priest, and chief of the order." Sale.

(76) Abraham. The story of Abraham as told in the writings of
the Muslims is embellished by much that is of a miraculous char-
acter. The king, Nimrod, having had a dream of a wonderful
child being born who should destroy his idols, commanded all the
male children to be slain. The mother of Abraham, without ex-
hibiting the usual signs of pregnancy, brought forth her son in a
cave outside of Babylon, and hiding him there, informed her hus-
band that she had had a child, but that he was dead and buried.
The next day she repaired to the cave and found her son sucking his
thumbs, and to her surprise she discovered that milk flowed from one
thumb and honey from the other. In fifteen months Abraham had
grown from childhood to the size and maturity of a boy of fifteen years.
His mother then informed her husband of her deception, and took
him to the cave to see his son. Azar was delighted, and immediately
determined to present him to the king, which he could do with
safety, seeing he would appear to have been born many years before
the cruel edict went forth. The child, however, soon began to show
his reverence for the true God and his contempt for idolatry. One day
he asked his mother, " Who is your protector ? " She replied, " Your
father." Said he, "Who is my father's protector?" to which his
mother replied, "Nimrod." "And who is Nimrod's protector?"
said Abraham. His mother, being affrighted, said, " Stop now ; you
must not ask such questions ; it is dangerous to do so." And so the
story goes. See Tafxir-i-Raufi in loco.

(77-84) This is my Lord, <kc. "Since Abraham's parents were
idolaters, it seems to be a necessary consequence that himself was
one also in his younger years ; the Scripture not obscurely intimates

SIPARA VII.] ( 179 ) [CHAP. VI.

the heavens and the earth ; / am orthodox, and am not
one of the idolaters. (81) And his people disputed with
him: and he said, Will ye dispute with me concerning
God ? since he hath now directed me, and I fear not that
which ye associate with him, unless that my Lord willeth
a thing ; for my Lord comprehendeth all things by his
knowledge : will ye not therefore consider ? (82) And
how should I fear that which ye associate with God, since
ye fear not to have associated with God that concerning
which he hath sent down unto you no authority ? which
therefore of the two parties is the more safe, if ye under-
stand aright ? (83) They who believe, and clothe not
their faith with injustice, they shall enjoy security, and
they are rightly directed.

|| (84) And this is our argument wherewith we furnished R
Abraham that he might make use of it against his people :
we exalt unto degrees of wisdom and knowledge whom we

as much (Josh. xxiv. 2, 14) ; and the Jews themselves acknowledge
it (Joseph. Ant., lib. i. c. 7). At what age he came to the know-
ledge of the true God and left idolatry, opinions are various. Some
Jewish writers tell us he was then but three years old, and the Mu-
hammadans likewise suppose him very young, and that he asked his
father and mother several shrewd questions when a child. Others,
however, allow him to have been a middle-aged man at that time.
Maimonides, in particular, and E. Abraham Zacuth think him to
have been forty years old, which age is also mentioned in the Quran.
But the general opinion of the Muhammadans is, that he was about
fifteen or sixteen. As the religion wherein Abraham was educated
was the Sabian, which consisted chiefly in the worship of the
heavenly bodies (Prelim. Disc, sect, i.), he is introduced examining
their nature and properties, to see whether they had a right to the
worship which was paid them or not ; and the first which he ob-
served was the planet Venus, or, as others (Baidhawi) will have it,
Jupiter. This method of Abraham's attaining to the knowledge
of the Supreme Creator of all things is conformable to what Josephus
writes, viz., that he drew his notions from the changes which he
had observed in the earth and the sea, and in the sun and the moon,
and the rest of the celestial bodies ; concluding that they were sub-
ject to the command of a superior power, to whom alone all honour
and thanks are due. The story itself is certainly taken from the
Talmud. Some of the commentators, however, suppose this reason-
ing of Abraham with himself was not the first means of his conver-
sion, but that he used it only by way of argument to convince the
idolaters among whom he then lived." Sale.



CHAP. VI.] ( l8o ) [SIPARA VII.

please ; for thy Lord is wise and knowing. (85) And we
gave unto them Isaac and Jacob ; we directed them both :
and Noah had we before directed, and of his posterity
David and Solomon; and Job, and Joseph, and Moses,
and Aaron : thus do we reward the righteous ; (86) and
Zacharias, and John, and Jesus, and Elias; all of tliem
were upright men : (87) and Ismael, and Elisha, and

Of this account of Abraham's conversion it may be fairly said (i),
That it is taken for the most part from Jewish tradition, as already
shown by Sale ; (2) that something of Muhammad's own experience
is here predicated of Abraham ; and (3) that, in Muhammad's con-
ception, Abraham was a prophet in all respects like himself. And
yet, according to his own claim, this garbled tale was received en-
tirely by revelation from the Angel Gabriel Muhammad merely
repeating the words given to him. Was there nothing of imposition
in all this 1

(85) The order in which Muhammad has here recited the names
of the "prophets" indicates his ignorance of history, and clearly
shows that he did not have access to the written Scriptures of the
Old and New Testament. Of twenty-five prophets mentioned in the
Quran, eighteen are named here.

His posterity. " Some refer the relative his to Abraham, the per-
son chiefly spoken of in this passage ; some to Noah, the next ante-
cedent, because Jonas and Lot were not (say they) of Abraham's
seed ; and others suppose the persons named in this and the next
verse are to be understood as the descendants of Abraham, and those
in the following verse as those of Noah." Sale, Baidh&wi.

The conjunctions make it necessary to refer the his to Noah. The
attempt to refer it to Abraham was due to the declaration that
David and Solomon were descended from Noah prior to Abraham,
which the commentators desired to remove.

Job. The commentators say he was of the race of Esau, but he
is everywhere mentioned in the Quran after Solomon, so that a
suspicion at least is admissible that in Muhammad's mind he was
descended from David and Solomon, or that he lived after them.
See chap. xxi. 83, and xxxviii. 4a

(86) Zacharias, like Aaron in the preceding verse and Ismail in
the one following, is numbered among the prophets, contrary to
the teaching of the Bible. It is rather remarkable that Ismail is
placed at the end of the catalogue of the successors of Abraham.
This is probably due to the change of attitude towards the Jews,
which took place after the Hijra, from which time it became the
policy of Muhammad to exalt Ismail, in order to please the Arabs.
Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, is probably confounded
with the prophet of the same name.

And Elias. See notes on chap, xxxvii. 123-131.

(87) Eli<ha, i.e., the son of Shaphat, whom the commentators say
was the son of Akhtub. Tafslr-i-Raufi.

SIPARA VII.] ( l8l ) [CHAP. VI.

Jonas, and Lot ; all these have we favoured above the rest
of the world ; (88) and also divers of their fathers, and
their issue, and their brethren ; and we chose them, and
directed them into the right way. (89) This is the direc-
tion of God ; he directeth thereby such of his servants as
he pleaseth ; but if they had been guilty of idolatry, that
which they wrought would have become utterly fruitless
unto them. (90) Those were the persons unto whom we
gave the scripture, and wisdom, and prophecy; but if
these believe not therein, we will commit the care of them
to a people who shall not disbelieve the same. (91)
Those were the persons whom God hath directed, therefore
follow their direction. Say unto the inhabitants ofMahkah,
I ask of you no recompense for preaching the Qurdn ; it
is no other than an admonition unto all creatures.

|| (92) They make not a due estimation of God, when & i?'
they say, God hath not sent down unto man anything at

Jonas. See chap. x. 98, chap. xxi. 87, and chap, xxxvii. 139, and
notes there.
Lot. See chap. vii. 81.

(88) Their fathers, &c. This verse strengthens the statement
under ver. 85. Muhammad had forgotten the names of other pro-
phets of whom he had heard, and accordingly the spirit of his
inspiration makes this very general statement. See also note on
chap. iii. 34.

(89) Guilty of idolatry. See note on chap. iv. 46.

(90) If these believe not. Baidhawi makes these words to refer to
the Quraish. They, however, agree with the teaching of the Bible
in regard to the Jews, to whom they may very well refer. See Rod-
well's translation. This passage may be quoted to show that the
Scriptures of the former prophets were extant in Muhammad's day,
and that they were not only genuine, but that Jewish unbelief was
incapable of corrupting them. They would be committed to the
care of another people.

(91) An admonition unto all creatures, i.e., the direction given to
all the prophets, and now declared by .Muhammad to be the teach-
ing of God for all men. We see here the theory of a universal
Islam already present in Muhammad's mind. See chap. ii. 193.

(92) They make not a due esti??iation of God. " That is, they know
him not truly, nor have just notions of his goodness and mercy
towards man. The persons here meant, according to some com-
mentators, are the Jews, and according to others the idolaters (Baid

CHAP. VI.] ( 182 ) [SIPARA VII.

all : Say, who sent down the book which Moses brought, a
light and a direction unto men ; which ye transcribe on
papers, whereof ye publish some part, and great part
whereof ye conceal ? and ye have been taught by Muham-
mad what ye knew not, neither your fathers. Say, God
sent it down : then leave them to amuse themselves with
their vain discourse. (93) This book which we have sent
down is blessed; confirming that which was revealed
before it; and is delivered unto thee that thou mayest
preach it unto the metropolis of Makkah and to those who
are round about it. And they who believe in the next
life will believe therein, and they will diligently observe
their times of prayer. (94) Who is more wicked than he
who forgeth a lie concerning God ? or saith, This was
revealed unto me ; when nothing had been revealed unto
him ? and who saith, I will produce a revelation like unto
that which God hath sent down ? If thou didst see when

"This verse and the two next, as Jalaluddin thinks, Mere revealed
at Madina.* Sale.

If the passage be referred to the Jews, the meaning of the phrase
God hath not sent down unto man anything at all is that God never
sent down a book to man, as Muhammad taught, but gave the word
by the inspiration of holy men. See Prelim. Disc, pp. 111-114.

Which ye transcribe, dec. These words also show that Muham-
mad's charge of corrupting the Scriptures had no reference to the
original text but to the practice of the Jews, whom he believed to
have suppressed or concealed those portions referring to himself as a
prophet. See note on chap. iv. 44.

Their vain discourse. This clause points to Madina as the place
to which this and the following verse belong. Muhammad did not
use this tone at Makkah.

(93) This book . . . confirming, dec. See note on chap. ii. 50.
Metropolis of Makkah. This should have been of Madina, seeing

the passage belongs there. The term metropolis would suit Madina
mucn better than the then heathen Makkah. The clause following,
and to those who are round about ii, also points to Madina, for Mu-
hammad did not preacli to those round about Makkah until his
unsuccessful visit to Tayff shortly before the Hijra.

(94) This was revealed unto me, dtc. "Falsely pretending to have
received revelations from him, as did Musailama, al Aswad, al Ansi,
and others, or doing as did Abdullah Ibn Saad Ibn Abi Sarah, who
for some time was the Prophet's amanuensis, and when these words
were dictated to him as revealed, viz., 'We created man of a purer


SIPARA VII.] ( 183 ) [CHAP. VI.

the ungodly are in the pangs of death, and the angels
reach out their hands, saying, Cast forth your souls ; this
day shall ye receive an ignominious punishment for that
which ye have falsely spoken concerning God; and be-
cause ye have proudly rejected his signs. (95) And now
are ye come unto us alone, as we created you at first, and
ye have left that which we had bestowed on you behind
your backs ; neither do we see with you your intercessors,
whom ye thought to have been partners with God among
you : now is the relation between you cut off, and what ye
imagined hath deceived you.

|| (96) God causeth the grain and the date-stone to put R x
forth : he bringeth forth the living from the dead, and he

kind of clay,' &c. (chap, xxiii. 12-14), cried out, by way of admira-
tion, ' Blessed be God the best Creator ! ' and being ordered by
Muhammad to write these words down also as part of the inspired
passage, began to think himself as great a prophet as his master.
Whereupon he took upon himself to corrupt and alter the Quran
according to his own fancy, and at length apostatising, was one of
the ten who were proscribed at the taking of Makkah (Prelim. Disc,
p. 93), and narrowly escaped with life on his recantation, by the
interposition of Othman Ibn Affan, whose foster-brother he was."
Sale, Baidhdwi.

I will produce a revelation like, &c. Muhammad's claim was that
the Quran was the word of God because it was inimitable, and over
and over the challenge was given to Bring a chapter like unto it. See
chap. ii. 23, x. 39, and chap. xvii. 90. Here, by assuming the Quran
to be the word of God, he declares the very attempt to meet his
challenge the most wicked of acts, whereas his opponents only
claimed to be able to write a revelation equal to that of the writing

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 19 of 42)