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 2 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 2 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

might judge between them ; then some of them turned
their backs, and retired afar off. (24) This they did be-
cause they said, the fire of hell shall by no means toucli

mentators regard the word naslban=part, as designating only a por-
tion of the Pentateuch, but "the book of God'' in the following
sentence is evidently the equivalent of "part of the Scriptures"
here, and that undoubtedly refers to the volume of the Jewisti Scrip-

They were called unto the book of God. The following is Sale's
note on this passage :

"This passage was revealed on occasion of a dispute Muhammad
had with some Jews, which is differently related by the commen-

" Al Baidh&wi says that Muhammad, going one day into a Jewish
synagogue, Nairn Ion Amr and al Harith Ibn Zaid asked him what
religion he was of. To which he answering, ' Of the religion of
Abraham,' they replied, 'Abraham was a Jew ; ' but on Muhammad's
proposing that the Pentateuch might decide the question, they would
by no means agree to it.

"But Jalaluddfn tells us that two persons of the Jewish religion
having committed adultery, their punishment was referred to Mu-
hammad, who gave sentence that they should be stoned, according
to the law of Moses. This the Jews refused to submit to, alleging
there was no such command in the Pentateuch ; but on Muhammad's
appealing to the book, the said law was found therein. Whereupon
the criminals were stoned, to the great mortification of the Jews.

" It is very remarkable that this law of Moses concerning the
stoning of adulterers is mentioned in the New Testament [John
viii. 5], (though I know some dispute the authenticity of that whole
pa-sage), but it is not now to be found either in the Hehrew or Sa-
maritan Pentateuch, or in the Septuagint; it being only .-aid thai
such shall be put to death [Lev. xx. 10]. This omission La insisted on
by the Muhammadans as one instance of the corruption of the law
of Moses by the Jews.

" It is also observable that there was averse once extant in the
Quran commanding adulterers to be stoned ; and the commentators
say the words oidy are abrogated, the sense of the law still remain-
in;,' in force."

On the question of the law relating to stoning raised here, see
Alford's Greek Testament, notes on John viii. 5. Stoning was the
ordinary mode of execution among the Jews (Exod. xvii. 4 ; Luke
xx. 6 ; John x. 31 ; and Acts xiv. 5), and therefore the general state-
ment of Lev. xx. 10 would designate this mode, unless some other
mode were distinctly commanded. Besides, Dent. xxii. 21-24 v,r . v
clearly appoints this as the mode of punishment. This suggests a
sufficient reply to the Muslim claim referred to by Sale in the note
just quoted.


us, but for a certain number of days ; and that which they
had falsely devised hath deceived them in their religion.
(25) How then will it be with them, when we shall gather
them together at the day of judgment, of which there is
no doubt ; and every soul shall be paid that which it hath
gained, neither shall they be treated unjustly ? (26) Say,
O God, who possessest the kingdom; thou givest the
kingdom unto whom thou wilt, and thou takest away the
kingdom from whom thou wilt : thou exaltest whom thou
wilt, and thou humblest whom thou wilt : in thy hand is
good, for thou art almighty. (27) Thou makest the night
to succeed the day : thou bringest forth the living out of
the dead, and thou bringest forth the dead out of the liv-
ing ; and providest food for whom thou wilt without mea-
sure. (28) Let not the faithful take the infidels for their
protectors, rather than the faithful: he who doth this
shall not be protected of God at all ; unless ye fear any

(24) A certain number of days. The number, according to the com-
mentators, is forty or seven or four. It is worth noting the fact that
this claim ascribed here to the presumption of the Jews is precisely
the claim of all Muhammadans who believe that all believers in
God and Muhammad will certainly reach the joys of paradise.
Some may have to undergo purgatorial sufferings, but only for " a
certain number of days."

That which they have falsely devised, i.e., their imagining that their
sins would be lightly punished through the intercession of their
fathers (Tafsir-i-Ravfi).

(25) How then will it be, ct'C Sale gives a tradition on the autho-
rity of Baidhawi, " that the first banner of the infidels that shall be
set up on the day of judgment will be that of the Jews, and that
God will first reproach them with their wickedness over the heads
of those who are present, and then order them to hell."

(26, 27) Rodwell regards these verses as misplaced here. They
are probably the fragment of some Makkan chapter.

(28) Unless ye fear any danger from them. There shall be no
friendship between Muslims and unbelievers, unless fear of the
enmity of the infidels should make it necessary. Here we find a
divine sanction to that duplicity so prevalent among Muslims. Taken
in connection with the preceding context, this passage would seem
to sanction apparent estrangement from Islam, provided expediency
should demand it. Under such circumstances a Muslim may
appear to be more friendly towards the unbelievers than he is towards
his co-religionists.


danger from them : but God warneth ye to beware of
himself: for unto God must ye return. (29) Say,
Whether ye conceal that which is in your breasts, or
whether ye declare it, God knoweth it ; for he knoweth
whatever is in heaven, and whatever is on earth : God is
almighty. (30) On the last day every soul shall find the
good which it hath wrought, present; and the evil which
it hath wrought, it shall wish that between itself and
that were a wide distance : but God warneth you to be-
ware of himself ; for God is gracious unto his servants.
|| (31) Say, if ye love God, follow me : then God shall

(29) JWwther ye conceal, &c, i.e., God knows the faith of your
hearts. If, therefore, you should find it necessary to dissemble so
as apparently to deny the faith, be of good cheer God knows your
heart-faith " God knowest whatever is in heaven, whatever is in

(31) Say, if ye love God, follow me. Passages inculcating the duty
of love to God are of rare occurrence in the Quran. Here it is made
the ground or reason of acceptance with God and of the pardon of
sin. In other places salvation is made to depend on faith and good
works (chap. ii. 3-5. 37, 38; chap. iii. 194 ; chap. iv. 55, 121-123,
&c.', on repentance (chap. ii. 161 ; chap. xxv. 69-76, &c), on pilgrimage
and warring for the faith (chap. ii. 217; chap. iii. 196; chap. lxi.
12, &c), on almsgiving (chap. ii. 271-274), on the grace of God (chap,
xxxvii. 39, 55), &c. Everywhere the plan of salvation by atonement,
as clearly taught in the Christian Scriptures, is ignored. It is in
reference to this fact that missionaries nave been led to make the
statement, controverted by Mr. Bosworth Smith (" Muhammad and
Muharnmadanism." 2d ed. p. 332), that "even the religious creed of
Muharnmadanism is further removed from the truth than is that of
the heathen." We think there can be scarcely any doubt as to the
truth of this statement. All heathen forms of religion have relics
of truth bound up in their doctrines and rites, handed down, pro-
bably, by tradition from ancient times, which afford to the Christian
evangelist some kind of common ground in his endeavour to lead
them to accept Christ as their substitute, and to believe in him as
their Saviour, because he alone satisfies the conditions of their own
religion and the cravings of their souls for a Divine Helper. Hut
Muharnmadanism strikes at this most important doctrine this very
heart of Christianity. It sweeps away almost every vestige of Bible
truth as to the way of pardon. It fills the mind of its votaries with
complacent pride and self-satisfaction. It destroys the last work-
ings of a guilty conscience. In short, it imports all the evils of that
form of Judaism against which our Lord hurled his " woes," saying,
among other things, " Ye compass sea and land to make one prose-


love you, and forgive you your sins ; for God is gracious
and merciful. (32) Say, Obey God, and his apostle ;
but if ye go back, verily God loveth not the unbelievers.
(33) God hath surely chosen Adam, and Noah, and the
family of Abraham, and the family of Imran above the
rest of the world ; (34) a race descending the one from the
other: God is he who heareth and knoweth. (35) Re-
member when the wife of Imran said, Lord, verily I

lyte ; and when he is made, ye make him twofold more a child of
hell than yourselves." Does Mr. Smith deny the justice of this de-
claration of our Lord? If not, does he infer that our Lord himself
thought " polytheism better than mouotheism, and idolatry than a
sublime spiritualism " 1

(33) The family of Abraham. This expression, say the com-
mentators, includes a number of prophets descended from Abraham,
including Muhammad. It probably is intended to include all the
prophets from Abraham to Moses. See Tafsir-i-Ranfi and Abdul

Family of Imran. This expression, like the one just noted,
also includes all prophets descended from Imran, e.g., Moses,
Aaron, Zacharias, John, and Jesus. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is
said to have been " the daughter of the son of Imran " (Tafsir-i-
Ravfi, &c.)

(34) A race descending the one from the other. This seems to show
that Muhammad regarded the prophets as either lineally descended
one from another, or that they were successors to each other in
office, botli of which ideas are incorrect.

(35) When the wife of Imran said, &c. According to the com-
mentators her name was Anna or Hannah. In the Apocryphal
Gospels the parents of Mary are called Joachim and Anna. The
name was probably derived from Christian tradition (see Arnold,
Isldm and Christianity, p. 150), but the ''wife of Imran" in this
verse looks very like the wife of Elkanah in 1 Sam. i. 11. All the
stories related by the commentators confirm this impression.

Again, the statement here, that the Virgin Mary was the
" daughter of Imran," coupled with that of chap. xix. 29, that she
was " the sister of Aaron," certainly looks as if the Virgin Mary
were confounded with the sister of Moses and Aaron. That there is
in this passage a medley of Jewish and Christian traditionary fiction
and Bible story, learned from hearsay, I think indisputable. I will
quote briefly the views of several writers, giving both sides of the
question, and leave the reader to draw his own inference :

"From her (Mary) being called the sister of Aaron and the
daughter of Amran, it has been justly concluded that Muhammad
considered the Virgin Mary and Miriam, the sister of Moses and
Aaron, as identical ; and no sophistry on the part of Muhammadan


have vowed unto thee that which is in my womb, to
be dedicated to thy service; accept it therefore of me;

divines or European writers can remove this impression." Arnold,
Isldm and Christianity, p. 149.

" It is concluded by some that Mahomet confounded Mary
(Maryam) with the sister of Moses. The confusion of names is
the more suspicious, as it is not favoured by Christian authority
of any description the traditional names of Mary's parents being
Joachim and Anna."

"Gerock combats this idea at some length (p. 24), showing that
Imran is never named in the Coran as the father of Moses, nor
Mary (Maryam) as his sister, and that Mahomet is seen else-
where to be well aware of the interval between Jesus and Moses.
The latter fact cannot, of course, be doubted ; Mahomet could
never have imagined that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the sister
of Moses and Aaron. But it is still extremely probable that the
confusion of this mis-nomenclature originated in the notions of
Jewish informants, amongst whom the only notorious Mary
(Maryam) was the daughter of Imran and sister of Moses; and
they could ordinarily give the name of Maryam those accompani-
ments ; that is, they would speak of ' Mary the daughter of Imran.'
Mahomet adopted the phraseology (for his informants were
mainly, if not solely, Jews) probably through inadvertence and
without perceiving the anachronism it involved." Muir, Life of
Mahomet, vol. ii. pp. 281, 282, note.

The following is Sale's note on this passage, in which he combats
the charge of anachronism brought by Keland, Marracci, and
Prideaux ; his Muslim authorities are, as usual, Baidh&wi and
Zamakhshari :

"Amran is the name of two several persons, according to the
Muhammadan tradition. One was the father of Moses and Aaron,
and the other was the father of the Virgin Mary ; but he is called
by some Christian writers Joachim. The commentators suppose
the first, or rather both of them, to be meant in this place ; how-
ever, the person intended in the next passage, it is agreed, was tin-
latter, who, besides Mary the mother of Jesus, had also a son named
Aaron, and another sister named Isha (or Elizabeth), who married
Zacharias, and was the mother of John the Baptist ; whence that
prophet and Jesus are usually called by the Muhammadans, The,
two sons of the aunt, or the cousins-gennan.

" From the identity of names it has been generally imagined by
Christian writers that the Qur&n here confounds Mary the mother
of Jesus with Mary or Miriam the sister of Moses and Aaron ;
which intolerable anachronism, if it were, certain, is sufficient of
itself to destroy the pretended authority of this book. But though
Muhammad may be supposed to have been ignorant enough in
ancient history and chronology to have committed so gross a
blunder, yet 1 do not see how it can be; made out from the words
of the Quran. For it does not follow, because two persons have
the same name, and have each a father and brother who bear the


for thou art he who heareth and knoweth. (36) And
when she was delivered of it, she said, Lord, verily I
have brought forth a female (and God well knew what
she had brought forth), and a male is not as a female.

same names, that they must therefore necessarily be the same
person : besides, such a mistake is inconsistent with a number of
other places in the Quran, whereby it manifestly appears that
Muhammad well knew and asserted that Moses preceded Jesus
several ages. And the commentators accordingly fail not to tell us
that there had passed about one thousand eight hundred years
between Amran the father of Moses and Amrdn the father of the
Virgin Mary : they also make them the sons of different persons ;
the first, they say, was the son of Yeshar, or Izhar (though he was
really his brother), the son of Kdhath, the son of Levi ; and the
other was the son of Mathan, whose genealogy they trace, but in
a very corrupt and imperfect manner, up to David, and thence to

" It must be observed that though the Virgin Mary is called in
the Quran the sister of Aaron, vet she is nowhere called the sister
of Moses ; however, some Muhammadan writers have imagined that
the same individual Mary, the sister of Moses, was miraculously
preserved alive from his time till that of Jesus Christ, purposely to
become the mother of the latter."

To be dedicated. "The Arabic word is free, but here signifies par-
ticularly one that is free or detached from all worldly desires and
occupations, and wholly devoted to God's service." Hale, Jalaluddin.

(36) / have brought forth a female. Hannah prayed for a son
(1 Sam. i. 11 ; see note on ver. 35). The birth of a female seemed
to be a disappointment, as such would not be suitable for the
service of the Temple. For extracts from the spurious Gospels con-
taining the traditions which are here incorporated in the Quran,
see Arnold's Islam and Christianity (pp. 150-155) and Muir's Life
of Mahomet (vol. ii. pp. 282, 283). These both draw from the
Christologie des Koran, by Gerock, 1839, pp. 30-47.

I have called her Man/, &c. " This expression alludes to a tradi-
tion that Abraham, when the devil tempted him to disobey God in
not sacrificing his son, drove the fiend away by throwing stones at
him ; in memory of which, the Muhammadans, at the pilgrimage of
Makkah, throw a certain number of stones at the devil, with certain
ceremonies, in the valley of Mind. (See Prelim. Disc, p. 188.)

" It is not improbable that the pretended immaculate conception
of the Virgin Mary is intimated in this passage ; for according to a
tradition of Muhammad, every person that comes into the world is
touched at his birth by the devil, and therefore cries out : Mary
and her son only excepted, between whom and the evil spirit God
placed a veil, so that his touch did not reach them. And for this
reason, they say, neither of them were guilty of any sin, like the
rest of the children of Adam : which peculiar grace they obtained


I have called her Mary ; and I commend her to thy
protection, and also her issue ; against Satan driven
away with stones. (37) Therefore the Lord accepted
her with a gracious acceptance, and caused her to bear
an excellent offspring. (38) And Zacharias took care
of the child ; whenever Zacharias went into the chamber
to her, he found provisions with her: and he said,
Mary whence hadst thou this ? she answered, This is from
God: for God provideth for whom he pleaseth without
measure. There Zacharias called on his Lord, and said,
Lord, give me from thee a good offspring, for thou art the
hearer of prayer. (39) And the angels called to him, while

by virtue of this recommendation of them by Hannah to God's pro-
tection." Sale, Jaldluddin, and Baidlidwi.

(37) The Lord accepted her, i.e., though a female, she was received
into the Temple as one dedicated to God. Zacharias became her
guardian and cared for her.

(38) He found provisions with her. " The commentators say that
none went into Mary's apartment but Zacharias himself, and that
he locked seven doors upon her ; yet he found she had always
winter fruits in summer and summer fruits in winter." Hale.

This story owes its origin to Christian tradition. See Historia
de Nativ. Marie et de In/an. Salv. (chap, vi.) and Protev. Jacob.
(chap, viii.), quoted in Muir's Life of Mahomet (p. 283) and in
Arnold'c Islam and Christianity (pp. 150, 151).

There Zacharias called on his Lord. The prayer would seem to
have been offered in the inner chamber of the Temple assigued,
according to the story, to Mary. The commentators think the
prayer was suggested by the miraculous supply of food furnished to
Mary. Zacharias was at this time ninety-nine years old, and his wife
ninety-eight (Tafsir-i-Baufi). Abdul Qadir says Zacharias prayed in
secret, because, at this age, to have prayed openly for offspring would
have exposed him to ridicuW.

Offspring. In chap. xix. 5, "a successor," from which Gerock
would infer that Zacharias did not pray for a son, but for an heir
only. But in the ninth verse of that same chapter he says, " How
shall I have a son?" &c. This decides clearly in favour of that
interpretation which makes oifspring to mean an heir from his own

(39) The angels. In chap. xix. 17 it is said that a "spirit"
(Gabriel) came to Mary. The commentators interpret "angels "to
be equivalent to "spirit," and understand Gabriel to be meant.
They account discrepancies of this sort as of little moment

7'he word which cometh from God. See notes on chap. ii. 86. The
Muslim interpretation, that Jesus is here called the Word because


he stood praying in the chamber, saying, Verily God pro-
miseth thee a son named John, who shall bear witness to
the Word which cometh from God ; an honourable person,
chaste, and one of the righteous prophets. (40) He

he was conceived by the word or command of God is, to say the
least, unsatisfactory.

The "witness" of John concerning the Word was very different
from that of Muhammad. Is it possible that he should have learned
so much of John and Jesus from tradition, and not have known
more of the character of the latter, as witnessed by John and Jesus
himself ? In answer to this question, I venture to give the following :
(1.) Muhammad heard more than he believed. This is evident from
the effort he made to refute the doctrine of the Trinity, the Sonship
of Christ, and the doctrine of Christ's death and resurrection. (2.)
What he learned concerning these and other doctrines he learned
from hearsay, and usually from unreliable sources. Hence the
indiscriminate mixing up of statements obtained originally from
the Bible and tradition Jewish and Christian. (3.) He seems to
have learned most of what he knew of Christianity, and perhaps of
Judaism also, after his arrival in Madina, and consequently after
his claim to be a prophet had been assumed. His most definite and
extended statements regarding Bible story are found in the Madina
chapters. (4.) The criterion by which he decided the true and false
as to what he heard was his own prophetic claims and the character of
his religion. Whatever would exalt Jesus over himself was rejected.
Hence Jesus is only " the son of Mary j " he is born miraculously,
but is not divine; he wrought miracles, but always by "the per-
mission of God" (ver. 48), &c. Again, whatever was contrary to
the religion he promulgated was either refuted or ignored ; the
character of the prophets is always moulded after his own ; the
character of all infidels in former ages is like that of the unbelieving
Quraish and Jews of Arabia.

Making every reasonable allowance for the Arabian prophet on
the score of ignorance and on the score of misrepresentations to
which he was no doubt subjected, still enough remains to sub-
stantiate the charge of imposture, however displeasing this charge
may be to his admirers and friends. The facts in this matter are
against them. Muhammad put these statements concerning matters
of history into the mouth of God, and so promulgated them as his
infallible word, confirming the Scriptures of the Old and New
Testaments Scriptures of whose teaching he was personally igno-
rant. Make out half as strong a case against any one of the inspired
writers of the Bible, and who among these apologists for Isldm
would defend him 1 Truly the glory of this hero-god seems to have
dazzled their eyes.

Chaste. Sale says, " The original word signifies one who refrains
not only from women, but from all other worldly delights and

(40) How shall I have a son ? See note on ver. 38. Sale states, on


answered, Lord, how shall I have a son, when old age
hath overtaken me, and my wife is barren ? The angel
said, So God doth that which he pleaseth. (41) Zacharias
answered, Lord, give me a sign. The angel said, Thy
sign shall be, that thou shalt speak unto no man for three
days, otherwise than by gesture: remember thy Lord
often, and praise him evening and morning.
R 13* II (42) And when the angels said, Mary, verily God
hath chosen thee, and hath purified thee, and hath chosen
thee above all the womeii of the world : (43) Mary, be
devout towards thy Lord, and worship, and bow down
with those who bow down. (44) This is a secret history :
we reveal it unto thee, although thou wast not present
with them when they threw in their rods to cast lots
which of them should have the education of Mary;

the authority of Jalaluddin, that the wife of Zacharias was eighty-

(41) Thy sign shall be, &c. This statement disagrees with that of
Luke in two particulars (i) In duration of Zachurias's dumbness;
and (2) in regarding this dumbness as merely a sign given in
answer to prayer, and in no way a punishment for unbelief. The
" three days," say the commentators, began with John's being con-
ceived in his mother's womb.

Remember thy Lord often. Zacharias's tongue was only free to
speak the praise of God.

(42) The angels. Gabriel. Compare Luke i. 28.

(43) Be devout, dec. This passage is also based on Christian tradi-
tion. See Rodwell's note.

Bow down, &-c. The forms of worship ascribed to Jews in the
Quran are, as here, distinctively Muslim.

(44) When they threw in their rods. " When Mary was first brought
to the Temple, the priests, because she was the daughter of one of
their chiefs, disputed among themselves who should have the educa-
tion of her. Zacharias insisted that he ought to be preferred
because he had married her aunt ; but the others not consenting
that it should be so, they agreed to decide the matter by casting

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 2 of 42)