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 20 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 20 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


of Muhammad in literary merit, thus meeting the challenge. This
passage clearly indicates that Muhammad's contemporaries did not
regard the Quran as inimitable.

This passage also belongs to the list of verses quoted to prove
Muhammad's sincerity in believing in his own inspiration ; but see
note on ver. 48.

The angels See notes on ver. 60.

(95) Alone, i.e., "without your wealth, your children, or your
friends, which ye so much depended on in your lifetime." Sale.

Your intercessors. Idols and false gods.

(96-102) This passage sets forth God as the all-wise, powerful,
and merciful Creator, everywhere manifesting himself in nature,
and therefore worthy of the worship and honour which was bestowed
by the idolaters upon the mere creature. It is one of the most ele-
vated and beautiful passages in this chapter. We learn from it the



CHAP. VI.] ( 184 ) [SIPARA VII.

bringeth forth the dead from the living. This is God.
Why therefore are ye turned away from him f (97) He
causeth the morning to appear; and hath ordained the
night for rest, and the sun and the moon for computing of
time. This is the disposition of the mighty, the wise God.
(98) It is he who hath ordained the stars for you, that ye
may be directed thereby in the darkness of the land and
of the sea. We have clearly shown forth our signs unto
people who understand. (99) It is he who hath produced
you from one soul ; and hath provided for you a sure re-
ceptacle and a repository. We have clearly shown forth
our signs unto people who are wise. (100) It is he who
sendeth down water from heaven, and we have thereby
produced the springing buds of all things, and have there-
out produced the green thing, from which we produce the
grain growing in rows, and palm-trees from whose branches
proceed clusters of dates hanging close together; and gar-
dens of grapes, and olives, and pomegranates, both like and
unlike to one another. Look on their fruits when they bear
fruit, and their growing to maturity. Verily herein are
signs unto people who believe. (101) Yet they have set
up the genii as partners with God, although he created
them: and they have falsely attributed unto him sons and
daughters, without knowledge. Praise be unto him, and



power which the preacher of Makkah exerted in opposition to the
idolatry of his countrymen the power of truth against falsehood.

(96) Tlie living from the dead, dbc. Compare with chap. iii. 27.
He bringeth forth life from the seed or the egg.

(98) The land. Literally, of the wilderness or desert, in travers-
ing which the stars serve the Arab in the same way as they do the
mariner. They worshipped the stars, but forgot the God who made
them.

(99) One soul Adam. The unity of the human race is here
recognised.

lleceptacle and repository. "Namely, in the loins of your fathers
and the wombs of your mothers." Sale, Baidhdwi.

(101) The genii. " This signifies properly the genus of rational
invisible beings, whether angels, devils, or that intermediate species
usually called genii. Some of the commentators, therefore, in this
place, understand the angels whom the pagan Arabs worshipped ;



SIPARA VII.] ( 185 ) [CHAP. VI.

far be that from him which they attribute unto him ! He T> is
is the maker of heaven and earth : how should he have
issue since he hath no consort ? he hath created all tilings,
and he is omniscient. (102) This is God your Lokd;
there is no God but he, the creator of all things ; there-
fore serve him : for he taketh care of all things. (103)
The sight comprehendeth him not, but he comprehendeth
the sight ; he is the gracious, the wise. (104) Now have
evident demonstrations come unto you from your Lord ;
whoso seeth them the advantage thereof will redound to his
own soul : and whoso is wilfidly blind, the consequence will
be to himself. I am not a keeper over you. (105) Thus
do we variously explain our signs, that they may say,
Thou hast studied diligently, and that we may declare
them unto people of understanding. (106) Follow that
which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord ; there

and others the devils, either because they became their servants by
adoring idols at their instigation, or else because, according to the
Magian system, they looked on the devil as a sort of creator, making
him the author and principle of all evil, and God the author of good
only." Sale, Baidhdwi.

The genii of Islam are a distinct class of beings some good, but
generally eviL Some of them were converted to Islam. See notes
on chap. xlvi. 28, and chap, lxxii.

Sons and daughters. See Prelim. Disc, pp. 38 and 70.

(102) How should he have issue, &c. This passage was directed
against the Makkah idolaters, but is commonly quoted against the
doctrine of the sonship of Christ. See note, chap. ii. 116.

(103) The sight comprehendeth him not, <hc. Literally, the eyes
cannot find him, and he findeth the eyes. So the Urdu and Per-
sian translations.

(104) Evident demonstrations. Not only the testimony to God in
his own works, alluded to above, but also the signs of the Qur&n.

(105) 7'hou hast studied diligently. "That is, thou hast been in-
structed by the Jews and Cnristians in these matters, and only
retailest to us what thou hast learned of them. For this the infidels
objected to Muhammad, thinking it impossible for him to discourse
on subjects of so high a nature, and in so clear and pertinent a
manner, without being well versed in the doctrines and sacred writ-
ings of those people." Sale.

The passage seems to us rather to predicate the superiority of the
teaching of the Quran over the thoughts and popular beliefs of the
Arabs. Certainly the next verse, which must be read in connection
with this, points to the idolaters alone.



chap, vr.] ( 186 ) [SIPARA VII.

is no God but he : retire therefore from the idolaters.
(107) If God had so pleased, they had not been guilty of
idolatry. We have not appointed thee a keeper over
them ; neither art thou a guardian over them. (108) Re-
vile not the idols which they invoke besides God, lest they
maliciously revile God, without knowledge. Thus have
we prepared for every nation their works : hereafter unto
God shall they return, and he shall declare unto them
that which they have done. (109) They have sworn by
God, by the most solemn oath, that if a sign came unto
them, they would certainly believe therein : Say, Verily
signs are in the power of God alone ; and he permitteth



(107) A keeper ... a guardian. A similar expression occurs in
ver. 104. The purport of the saying is that God lias chosen some
and rejected others, ami that he had not sent the Prophet to be a
keeper or guardian to any of those who had been given over to
reprobation. These would not believe, having been blinded and
hardened. See vers. 110-1 13 below.

(108) Revile not the idols. The Quraish had declared that unless
the Muslims should cease reviling their idols they would revile the
name of God. Tafsir-i-Raufi. The passage belongs to the period
when Muhammad finally broke with the Quraish, having come to
look upon them as rejected of God. He requires his followers to
separate from them (ver. 106), and here they are commanded to ab-
stain from aggressive action, seeing nothing would come of it but
that the name of God would be reviled. The attitude of the Mus-
lims towards tliem was to be one of passive defiance and conscious
superiority. This passage is regarded as now abrogated. Certainly
it never has been acted upon by the Muhammadans since the rise
of Muslim power in the world.

(109) Signs are in the power of Ood alone. " In this passage Mu-
hammad endeavours to excuse his inability of working a miracle, as
had been demanded of him ; declaring that God did not think fit to
comply with their desires ; and that if he had so thought lit, yet it
had been in vain, because if they were not convinced by the Quran,
they would not be convinced by the greatest miracle." Sale.

Sale compares this statement of Muhammad with that of Jesus in
Luke xvi. 31. But surely there is no comparison. Jesus did not
simply rely upon the testimony of Moses, though in his case that
might have been sufficient. But Muhammad, instead of resting his
claim upon the testimony of inspired writings already received by
the Quraish, bases it upon his own Quran. The Quraish, and pro-
bably also the Jews, demanded a miracle a single miracle and
swear most solemnly they will believe his claim if only he will give
them one sign of his apostleship ; but Muhammad, confessing him-



R



SIPARAVIII.] ( 187 ) [CHAP. VI.

you not to understand, that when they come, they will
not believe. (110) And we will turn aside their hearts
and their sight from the truth, as they believed not therein
the first time ; and we will leave them to wander in their
error.

II (111) And though we had sent down angels unto eighth

11 v ' SlPARA.

them, and the dead had spoken unto them, and we had -p 2Jc,
gathered together before them all things in one view;
they would not have believed, unless God had so pleased :
but the greater part of them know it not. (112) Thus
have we appointed unto every prophet an enemy ; the
devils of men, and of genii: who privately suggest the
one to the other specious discourses to deceive ; but if thy
Lord pleased, they would not have done it. Therefore
leave them, and that which they have falsely imagined ;

self unable to work even this one miracle, falls back upon the inimi-
table Qurdn and the doctrine of reprobation. What could be clearer
than the fact that Muhammad, at least up to this date, wrought no
miracle] It would seem that Muhammad was brought under
pressure by the demand of his own disciples that he should show the
unbelievers a sign. But his only reply is that God " permitted you
not to understand, that when they come they will not believe." He
leads his followers to expect signs in the future, but such signs will
not avail for the salvation of the infidels. See the next two verses.
Rod well's translation is here in error. The allusion is not to past
unbelief, but to the future. The verbs are all in the Aorist tense.

(111) Thouoh we had sent down angels, &c. " For the Makkans re-
quired that Muhammad should either show them an angel descend-
ing from heaven in their sight, or raise their dead fathers, that they
might discourse with them, or prevail on God and his angels to
appear to them in a body." Sole.

So the commentators ; but the interpretation is probably inferred
from the text. The Tafsir-i- Raufi relates that the infidels had de-
manded that the mountain Safa should be changed into gold.
Muhammad prayed for power to work this miracle, but was dis-
suaded from the undertaking by Gabriel, who warned him that
were such a miracle wrought and any remain in unbelief, they
would be instantly destroyed. Such are the devices of Muslims
to explain away passages of the Qur&n at variance with their teach-
ing, and the teaching of the traditions, on the subject of Muhammad's
power to work miracles.

(112) An enemy j the devils, dec. The enemy of the prophets re-
ferred to here is not Satan, but a demon (the original is Sh&ydtin,
devils). These are the devils of men and the genii. Some think that



CHAP. VI.] ( 188 ) [SIPARA VIII.

(113) and let the hearts of those be inclined thereto who
believe not in the life to come : and let them please them-
selves therein, and let them gain that which they are
gaining. (114) Shall I seek after any other judge besides
God to judge between us? It is he who hath sent down
unto you the book of the Qur&n distinguishing between
(food and evil ; and they to whom we gave the scripture
know that it is sent down from thy Lord, with truth.
Be not therefore one of those who doubt thereof. (115)
The words of thy Lord are perfect, in truth and justice ;
there is none who can change his words : he both heareth
and knoweth. (116) But if thou obey the greater part of
them who are in the earth, they will lead thee aside from
the path of God : they follow an uncertain opinion only,
and speak nothing but lies; (117) verily thy Lord well
knoweth those who go astray from his path, and well

the infidels are referred to under this appellation. But it seems far
more reasonable to suppose the allusion to be to evil spirits. The
meaning, then, is that every prophet is beset by an evil spirit,
whose evil suggestions must be distinguished from those of the
Angel Gabriel. The word translated privately suggest is the same
which is translated revelation (wahl). We know that Muhammad
did on one occasion confess to having been deceived by a revelation
of the devil. See notes on chap. liii. 19, 20.

Genii. See note on ver. 101. They are here associated with men
as subject to demoniacal influences.

(113) Let the hearts . . . be inclined thereto, i.e., their idolatry and
obstinate unbelief are due to the influence of devils, wherefore with-
draw from them and permit them to be subject to these influences,
and so allow them to obtain the reward of their evil-doing.

(114) The book distinguishing. See notes on chap. iii. 3. This is
all the miracle required by those who believe.

They to whom we gave the Scripture know. See note on ver. 20.

(115) None who can change his words. "Some interpret this of
the immutability of God's decree, and the certainty of his threats
and promises ; others, of his particular promise to preserve the Quran
from any such alterations or corruptions as they imagine to have
happened to the Pentateuch and the Gospel (Prelim. Disc, sect, iv.),
and others, of the unalterable duration of the Muhammadan law,
which they hold is to last till the end of the world, there being no
other prophet, law, or dispensation to be expected after it."

See also note on ver. 33.

(116) An opinion only, "imagining that the true religion was that
which their idolatrous ancestors professed." Sale.



SIPARAVIII.] ( 189 ) [CHAP. VI.

knoweth those who are rightly directed. (118) Eat of that
whereon the name of God hath been commemorated, if ye
believe in his signs ; (119) and why do ye not eat of that
whereon the name of God hath been commemorated ?
since he hath plainly declared unto you what he hath
forbidden you ; except that which ye be compelled to eat
of by necessity; many lead others into error, because of
their appetites, being void of knowledge ; but thy Lord
well knoweth who are the transgressors. (120) Leave
both the outside of iniquity and the inside thereof: for
they who commit iniquity shall receive the reward of that
which they shall have gained. (121) Eat not therefore
of that whereon the name of God hath not been com-
memorated ; for this is certainly wickedness : but the
devils will suggest unto their friends, that they dispute
with you concerning this precept; but if ye obey them,
ye are surely idolaters.

|| (122) Shall he who hath been dead, and whom we R T*
have restored unto life and unto whom we have ordained
a light, whereby he may walk among men, he as he whose
similitude is in darkness, from whence he shall not come



(118-121) See notes on chap. ii. 174, and chap. v. 4-6. The
Tafsir-i-Raufi gives the opinion of some commentators that the flesh
of animals which have died without being slaughtered is here speci-
ally referred to. The heathen Arabs had endeavoured to persuade
some of the Muslims to eat of such flesh, on the ground that if what
was slaughtered by man was allowable for food, much more that
which was killed by God ! The reply of the Prophet is that nothing
but necessity would make such flesh lawful for food. Rodwell thinks
these verses should follow ver. 153 ; but such misplacement of pas-
sages is very common.

The outside of iniquity and the inside, i.e., " both open and secret
sins." Sale. The lengthy discussions of the Muslim commentators
on this clause illustrate their general ignorance of heart purity. See
chap. v. 7, note.

(121) Devils will suggest. See note on ver. 112.

(122) Sale says the persons alluded to in this verse " were Hamza,
Muhammad's uncle, and Abu Jahl ; others, instead of Hamza, name
Omar or Ammar." But there is no need of giving the passage any
more special reference than that there is infinite difference between
a believer and an infidel.



CHAP. VI.] ( I90 ) [SIPAKA VIII.

forth ? Thus was that which the infidels are doing pre-
pared for them. (123) And thus have we placed in every
city chief leaders of the wicked men thereof, that they
may act deceitfully therein ; but they shall act deceitfully
against their own souls only ; and they know it not. (124)
And when a sign cometh unto them, they say, "We will
by no means believe until a revelation be brought unto
us, like unto that which hath been delivered unto the
messengers of God. God best knoweth whom he will
appoint for his messenger. Vileness in the sight of God
shall fall upon those who deal wickedly, and a grievous
punishment, for that they have dealt deceitfully. (125)
And whomsoever God shall please to direct, he will open
his breast to receive the faith of Islam : but whomsoever
he shall please to lead into error, he will render his breast
straight and narrow, as though he were climbing up to
heaven. Thus doth God inflict a terrible punishment on
those who believe not. (126) This is the right way of
thy Lord. Now have we plainly declared our signs unto
those people who will consider. (127) They shall have a
dwelling of peace with their Lord, and he shall be their
patron, because of that which they have wrought. (128)



(123) Leaders of the wicked, as Pharaoh, Nimrod, and others
(Abdul Qddir). Others refer the passage to the influential leaders of
the opposition to Muhammad in tribes other than the Quraish.

(124) A sign, i.e., a verse of the Quran.

We will not believe, dbc. " These were the words of the Quraish.
who thought there were persons among themselves more worthy of
the honour of being God's messenger than Muhammad." Sale.

Whom he roill appoint, &c. " Literally, Where he will place his com-
mission. God, says al Baidhdwi, bestows not the gift of prophecy 011
any one on account of his nobility or riches, but for their spiritual
qualifications ; making choice of such of his servants as he pleases,
and who he knows will execute their commissions faithfully. Sale.

(125) Whomsoever O'od shall please to direct. This verse makes a
man's salvation to depend solely on the will of God. Muslims are
such because God has opened their hearts to Islam, and the infidels
are lost because God has rendered them as incapable of believing as
they are of ascending up to heaven. He leads them into error in
order to inflict upon them a terrible punishment.



SIPARA VIII.] ( 191 ) [CHAP. VI.

Think on the day whereon God shall gather them all
together, and shall say, company of genii, ye have been
much concerned with mankind; and their friends from
among mankind shall say, Lord, the one of us hath
received advantage from the other, and we are arrived at
our limited term which thou hast appointed us. God will
say, Hell fire shall he your habitation, therein shall ye
remain forever ; unless as God shall please to mitigate
your pains, for thy Lord is wise and knowing. (129)
Thus do we set some of the unjust over others of them,
because of that which they have deserved.

|| (130) company of genii and men, did not mes- K, &*
sengers from among yourselves come unto you, rehearsing
my signs unto you, and forewarning you of the meeting
of this your day ? They shall answer, We bear witness
against ourselves : the present life deceived them : and
they shall bear witness against themselves that they were

(128) A company of genii. See vers. 101 and 112, with notes.

Much concerned with mankind " in tempting and seducing them to
sin." Sale.

Advantage. "The advantage which men received from the evil
spirits was their raising and satisfying their lusts and appetites ;
and that which the latter received in return was the obedience paid
them by the former," &c. Sale, Baidhdwi, Jaldluddin.

Term. See note on ver. 2.

Unless as God shall please, &c. " The commentators tell us that
this alleviation of the pains of the damned will be when they shall
be taken out of the fire to drink the boiling water, or to suffer the
extreme cold called al Zaniharir, which is to be one part of their
punishment ; but others think the respite which God will grant to
some before they are thrown into hell is here intended. According
to the exposition of Ibn Abbas, these words may be rendered, Un-
less him whom God shall please to deliver thence." Sale, Baidhdwi,
Jaldluddin.

See also Prelim. Disc, sect. ix. p. 149.

(130) Messengers from among yourselves. " It is the Muhammadan
belief that apostles were sent by God for the conversion both of
genii and of men ; being generally of human race (as Muhammad,
in particular, who pretended to have a commission to preach to both
kinds) ; according to this passage, it seems there must have been
prophets of the race of genii also, though their mission be a secret
to us." Sale.

Some regard the seven genii who came to Muhammad (see chap.
Ixxii.) as God's messengers to their own kind.



CHAP. VI.] ( 192 ) [SIPARA VIII.

unbelievers. (131) This hath been the method of God's
dealings with his creatures, because thy Lord would not
destroy the cities in their iniquity, while their inhabitants
were careless. (132) Every one shall have degrees of
recompense of that which they shall do; (133) for thy
Lord is not regardless of that which they do, and thy
Lord is self-sufficient and endued with mercy. If he
pleaseth he can destroy you, and cause such as he pleaseth
to succeed you, in like manner as he produced you from
the posterity of other people. (134) Verily that which is
threatened you, shall surely come to pass ; neither shall
ye cause it to fail. (135) Say unto those of Makkah, my
people, act according to your power; verily I will act
according to my duty : and hereafter shall ye know whose
will be the reward of paradise. The ungodly shall not
prosper. (136) Those of Makkah set apart unto God a por-
tion of that which he hath produced of the fruits of the
earth, and of cattle; and say, This oelongeth unto God
(according to their imagination), and this unto our com-
panions. And that which is destined for their companions
cometh not unto God ; yet that which is set apart unto

(131) Would not destroy, dec. These cities are evidently the same
mentioned in ver. 123. The doctrine taught here is that God sends
a messenger to every people to warn and instruct them in his way,
which, according to the Quran, is Islam. He could not justly punish
them, says the Tafsir-i-liavfi, unless he should first send them a
prophet.

(132) Degrees of recompense. The rewards of the wicked, as well
as of the righteous, shall be in proportion to their light and privilege.
This principle of justice seems to be clearly enunciated here.

(133) Self-sufficient, literally one rich or wealthy, needing not
the help of others.

If he 'pleaseth he can destroy you, dec. The allusion is to the tribes
of Ad and Thainud, &c, reported to have been destroyed on accouut
of their wickedness. See Prelim. Disc, pp. 21, 22.

(135) Verily I will act. "Tliat is, ye may proceed in your rebel-
lion against God and your malice towards me, and be confirmed in
your infidelity ; but I will persevere to bear your insults with
patience, and to publish those revelations which God has com-
manded me." Sale, Baidhdwi.

(136) This belomjeth unto God, dec. The commentators say the
idolaters divided the produce of their fields and flocks into two parts,



SIPARA VIII.] ( 193 ) [CHAP. VI.

God cometh unto their companions. How ill do they
judge ! (137) In like manner have their companions in-
duced many of the idolaters to slay their children, that
they might bring them to perdition, and that they might
render their religion obscure and confused unto them.
But if God had pleased, they had not done this : therefore
leave them and that which they falsely imagine. (138)
They also say, These cattle and fruits of the earth are
sacred ; none shall eat thereof but who we please (accord-
ing to their imagination) ; and there are cattle whose backs
are forbidden to be rode on, or laden with burdens; and
there are cattle on which they commemorate not the name
of God when they slay them ; devising a lie against him.
God shall reward them for that which they falsely devise.



one for God and one for the idols, or rather inferior deities, called
here and throughout this passage companions. Should the portion
of God prove greater at the time of harvest, they changed the por-



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 20 of 42)