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 24 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 24 of 42)
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chap. vi. 109-m), or he trusted that something would turn up to
favour his cause in the future.

(89) We will surely cast thee . . . out of our city. Eodwell relates
a Jewish tradition of similar import regarding Jethro. See Koran,



CHAP. VII.] ( 224 ) [SIPARA IX.

truth ; for thou art the best judge. (91) And the chiefs of
his people who believed not said, If ye follow Shuaib, ye
shall surely perish. (92) Therefore a storm from heaven
assailed them, and in the morning they were found in their
dwellings dead and prostrate. (93) They who accused
Shuaib of imposture became as though they had never
dwelt therein ; they who accused Shuaib of imposture
perished themselves. (94) And he departed from them,
and said, my people, now have I performed unto you
the messages of my Lord ; and I advised you aright : but
why should I be grieved for an unbelieving people ?
It ^2' II (95) We have never sent any prophet unto a city but
we afflicted the inhabitants thereof with calamity and
adversity, that they might humble themselves. (96) Then
we gave them in exchange good in lieu of evil, until they
abounded, and said, Adversity and prosperity formerly
happened unto our fathers as unto us. Therefore we took
vengeance on them suddenly, and they perceived it not
beforehand. (97) But if the inhabitants of those cities had
believed and feared God, we would surely have opened to
them blessings both from heaven and earth. But they
charged our apostles with falsehood, wherefore we took

p. 117 note. This passage seems to point to the time when the
Quralsh proscribed Muhammad and his followers and sympathisers,
and compelled them to retire to " the Sheb of Abu Talib," about five
or six years before the Hijra.

(91) A storm "like that which destroyed the Thamudites." Sale.
Some translate the word earthquake. See Tafsir-i- Raufi.

(93) The fate of the Quraish is here prefigured. See notes on chap,
iii. 185, and notes above on vers. 2, 60, 66, and 74.

(94) Why should I be grieved, dec. Comp. Matt, xxiii. 37, and Luke
xix. 41, 42 ; xxiii. 34.

(95) See note on chap. vi. 131. There is here, in all probability,
allusion to some calamity which had befallen the city of Makkah.
Some say it was a famine.

(97-100) Those cities, i.e., those described above as inhabited by
the people of Moab, Hud, Salih, Lot, and Shuaib, whose dreadful
fate is set forth as a warning to those who refuse to believe on Mu-
hammad. The great crime of these people was that they charged their
prophets with being impostors. Was not Muhammad conscious of his
own imposture ? See note on ver. 2.

SIPARA IX.] ( 225 ) [CHAP. VII.

vengeance on them for that which they had been guilty of.
(98) Were the inhabitants therefore of those cities secure that
our punishment should not fall on them by night while
they slept ? (99) Or were the inhabitants of those cities
secure that our punishment should not fall on them by
day while they sported ? (100) Were they therefore
secure from the stratagem of God ? But none will think
himself secure from the stratagem of God except the
people who perish.

|| (101) And hath it not manifestly appeared unto those R
who have inherited the earth after the former inhabitants
thereof, that if we please we can afflict them for their
sins ? But we will seal up their hearts, and they shall
not hearken. (102) We will relate unto thee some stories
of these cities. Their apostles had come unto them with
evident miracles, but they were not disposed to believe in
that which they had before gainsaid. Thus will God seal
up the hearts of the unbelievers. (103) And we found not
in the greater part of them any observance of their cove-
nant ; but we found the greater part of them wicked doers.
(104) Then we sent after the above-named apostles Moses
with our signs unto Pharaoh and his princes, who treated

(100) The stratagem of God. " Hereby is figuratively expressed
the manner of God's dealing with, proud and ungrateful men, by
suffering them to fill up the measure of their iniquity, without
vouchsafing to bring them to a sense of their condition by chastise-
ments and afflictions till they find themselves utterly lost, when they
least expect it." Sale, Baidh&wi.

(101) Those who have inherited the earth, dec, i.e., the Quraish, who
are here warned of the judgments in store for them on account of
their unbelief, unless they repent.

But we will seal up, dec. Rodvvell rightly connects this with the
preceding by the copulative and instead of the disjunctive but. The
passage should therefore read, We can afflict them for their sins, and
seal up their hearts, and (wherefore) they shall not hearken.

(102, 103) These verses give a sort of summary of what has gone
before, and would have been more appropriately placed before
ver. 60.

(104) We sent . . . Moses. The Quran everywhere presents Moses
as the apostle of the Egyptians as well as of the Israelites. He is
sent to them to warn them against idolatry, and to urge them to the

3 '


them unjustly ; but behold what was the end of the cor-
rupt doers ? (105) And Moses said, Pharaoh, verily I
am an apostle sent from the Lord of all creatures. (106) It
is just that I should not speak of God other than the truth.
Now am I come unto you with an evident sign from your
Lord: send therefore the children of Israel away with
me. Pharaoh answered, If thou comest with a sign, pro-
duce it, if thou speakest truth. (107) Wherefore he cast
down his rod ; and behold, it became a visible serpent

worship of the true God. The children of Israel who helieve on him
are therefore his followers are true Muslims. See parallel passages
in chaps, x. 76-93, and xl. 24-49.

The Moses of the Quran is a Muhammad in disguise. Muslini3
believe Moses to have been a black man.

Pharaoh. " Which of the kings of Egypt this Pharaoh of Moses
was is uncertain. Not to mention the opinions of the European
writers, those of the East generally suppose him to have been al
Walid, who, according to some, was an Arab of the tribe of Ad, or,
according to others, the son of Musab, the son of Riyan, the son of
Walid the Amalekite. There are historians, however, who suppose
Kabiis, the brother and predecessor of al Walid, was the prince we are
speaking of, and pretend he lived six hundred and twenty years,
and reigned four hundred, which is more reasonable, at least, than
the opinion of those who imagine it was his father Musab, or grand-
lather Riyan. Abulfida says that Musab being one hundred and
seventy years old, and having no child, while he kept the herds saw
a cow calve, and heard her say at the same time, O Musab, be not
grieved, for thou shalt have a wicked son, who will be at length cast into
hell. And he accordingly had this Walid, who afterwards coming
to be king of Egypt, proved an impious tyrant." Sale, Baidhdwi,

Treated them unjustly, i.e., refused to believe the signs of his

(107) A visible serpent. " The Arab writers tell enormous fables of
this serpent or dragon. For they say that he was hairy, and of so
prodigious a size, that when he opened his mouth, his jaws were
fourscore cubits asunder, and when he laid his lower jaw on the
ground, his upper reached to the top of the palace ; that Pharaoh
seeing this monster make towards him, fled from it, and was so
terribly frightened that he befouled himself ; and that the whole
assembly also betaking themselves to their heels, no less than twenty-
five thousand of them lost their lives in the press. They add that
Pharaoh upon this adjured Moses by God who had sent him to take
away the serpent, and promised he would believe on him and let
the Israelites go ; but when Moses had done what he requested, he
1 elapsed, and grew as hardened as before." Sale, Baidhdwi.

SIPARA IX.] ( 227 ) [CHAP. VII.

(108) And he drew forth his hand out of his bosom; and
behold, it appeared white unto the spectators.

|| (109) The chiefs of the people of Pharaoh said, This R x*
man is certainly an expert magician: (110) he seeketh to
dispossess you of your land. What therefore do ye direct?
(Ill) They answered, Put off him and his brother by fair
promises for some time, and in the mean while send unto
the cities persons, (112) who may assemble and bring unto
thee every expert magician. (113) So the magicians came
unto Pharaoh; (114) and they said, Shall we surely receive
a reward if we do overcome? (115) He answered, Yea;
and ye shall certainly be of those who approach near unto
my throne. (116) They said, Moses, either do thou cast
down thy rod first, or we will cast down ours. Moses an-
swered, Do ye cast down your rods first. (117) And
when they had cast them down, they enchanted the eyes of

The common view is that it was an ordinary serpent, and that the
Egyptians regarded it as having been produced by magic.

(108) He drew forth his hand, &c. The Bible nowhere says this
miracle was performed before Pharaoh. There seems to have been
Jewish tradition to which Muhammad was indebted for his know-
ledge on this point (see Rodwell's note in loco). Sale thinks we may
fairly infer from Exod. iv. 8, 9, that both signs were shown to

(109) The chiefs of the people. These chiefs, who symbolise the
Arab chiefs of Makkah, are represented as equally guilty with
Pharaoh. They continually mock at the miracles or signs of Moses
and Aaron, and stir up Pharaoh to rebellion against God.

(110) What . . . do ye direct? This is a question addressed by
Pharaoh to his counsellors.

(113) Magicians. " The Arabian writers name several of these
magicians, besides their chief priest Simeon, viz., Sadur and Ghadur,
Jaath and Musfa, Waran and Zaman, each of whom came attended
with their disciples, amounting in all to several thousands." Sale.

The Tafsir-i-liaufi gives the names of these magicians as follows :
Simeon, Sadur and Adiir, Hathat and Musfa. They were accom-
panied by 70,000 followers.

(117) They enchanted the eyes. " They provided themselves with
a great number of thick ropes and long pieces of wood, which they
contrived by some means to move, and make them twist themselves
one over the other ; and so imposed on the beholders, who at a dis-
tance took them to be true serpents." Sale, Baidhdwi.

The Tafsir-i-Raufi says they prepared their ropes by rubbing upon

CHAP. VII.] ( 228 ) [SIPARA IX.

the men who were present, and terrified them ; and they
performed a great enchantment. (118) And we spake by
revelation unto Moses, saying, Throw down thy rod. And
behold, it swallowed up the rods which they had caused
falsely to appear changed into serpents. (119) Wherefore
the truth was confirmed, and that which they had wrought
vanished. (120) And Pharaoh and his magicians were
overcome there, and were rendered contemptible. (121)
And the magicians prostrated themselves, worshipping ;
(122) and they said, We believe in the Lord of all crea-
tures, (123) the Lord of Moses and Aaron. (124) Pharaoh

them certain chemicals, filling their sticks with quicksilver, which,
under the heat of the sun, or, according to others, the heat of fires
previously kindled tinder the place where they were thrown, made
them curl up and intertwine so as to appear at a distance like real
serpents. The number of rods and ropes thus changed into the ap-
pearance of serpents is said to have been forty thousand.

( 1 18) Behold, it swallowed up, <kc. " The expositors add, that when
this serpent had swallowed up all the rods and cords, he made directly
towards the assembly, and put them into so great a terror that they
fled, and a considerable number were killed in the crowd : then
Moses took it up, and it became a rod in his hand as before. Where-
upon the magicians declared that it could be no enchantment, because
in such case their rods and cords would not have disappeared." Sale,

(120) Were rendered contemptible. Rodwell translates drew back
humiliated, which agrees with the Urdu and Persian translations,
which have it they returned disgraced.

(121) The magicians prostrated, dec. " It seems probable that all
the magicians were not converted by this miracle, for some writers
introduce Sadvir and Ghadur only acknowledging Moses's miracle to
be wrought by the power of God. These two, they say, were brothers,
and the sons of a famous magician, then dead ; but on their being
sent for to court on this occasion, their mother persuaded them to
go to their father's tomb to ask his advice. Being come to the tomb,
the father answered their call, and when they had acquainted him
with the affair, he told them that they should inform themselves
whether the rod of which they spoke became a serpent while its
masters slept, or only when they were awake ; for, said he, enchant-
ments have no effect while the enchanter is asleep, and therefore, if
it be otherwise in this case, you may be assured that they act by a
divine power. These two magicians then, arriving at the capital of
Egypt, on inquiry found to their great astonishment that when
Moses and Aaron went to rest their rod became a serpent, and
guarded them while they slept And this was the first step towards
their conversion." Sale, Baidhdwi, Tafslr-i-Ilaufi.

SIPARA IX.] ( 229 ) [CHAP. VII.

said, Have ye believed on him before I have given you
permission ? Verily this is a plot which ye have con-
trived in the city, that ye might cast forth from thence
the inhabitants thereof. But ye shall surely know that I
am your master ; (125) for I will cause your hands and
your feet to be cut off on the opposite sides, then I will
cause you all to be crucified. (126) The magicians an-
swered, We shall certainly return unto our Lord in the
next life; (127) for thou takest vengeance on us only
because we have believed in the signs of our Lord when
they have come unto us. Lord, pour on us patience,
and cause us to die Muslims.

|| (128) And the chiefs of Pharaoh's people said, Wilt K 5
thou let Moses and his people go, that they may act cor-
ruptly in the earth, and leave thee and thy gods ? Pharaoh

(124) Permission. Abdul Qadir says Pharaoh professed to be a god,
and caused images of himself to be worshipped by the people.

A plot, i.e., " This is a confederacy between you and Moses, entered
into before ye left the city to go to the place of appointment, to turn
out the Copts, or native Egyptians, and establish the Israelites in
their stead." Sale, Baidhdwi.

(125) On the punishments said here to have been threatened by
Pharaoh, see chap. v. 37, 38, 42-44. There is undoubtedly an
anachronism in this passage.

(127) Cause us to die Muslims. "Some think these converted
magicians were executed accordingly ; but others deny it, and say
that the king was not able to put them to death ; insisting on these
words of the Quran (chap, xxviii. 35), You two, and then who follow
you, shall overcome." Sale, Baidhdwi.

This passage teaches that Islam is the one only true religion, the
religion of Moses, and therefore the religion of the Pentateuch. The
Quran here again points to the reasons for its own rejection. See note
on chap. ii. 136.

(128) Leave thee and thy gods. "Some of the commentators, from
certain impious expressions of this prince recorded in the Quran
(chap. xxvi. 28; xxviii. 38), whereby he sets up himself as the only god
of his subjects, suppose that he was the object of their worship, and
therefore instead of dlihatakd, thy gods, read ildhataka, thy worship."

See above, on ver. 1 24. Pharaoh, says the Tafsir-i-Raufi, worshipped
the stars, calling the images of himself, used by the people, little
yds, and himself the great god. Much of this kind of comment is
due to the manifest inconsistency of the Quran in representing
PI laraoh sometimes as an idolater (note the expression " thy gods,"
here and chap. x. 79), and at other times as claiming to be the only

CHAP. VII.] ( 230 ) [SIPARA IX

answered, We will cause their male children to be slain,
and we will suffer their females to live ; and by that means
we shall prevail over them. (129) Moses said unto his
people, Ask assistance of God and suffer patiently : for
the earth is God's ; he giveth it for an inheritance unto
such of his servants as he pleaseth ; and the prosperous
end shall be unto those who fear him. (130) They an-
swered, We have been afflicted by having our male children
slain before thou earnest unto us, and also since thou hast
come unto us. Moses said, Peradventure it may happen
that our Lord will destroy your enemy, and will cause
you to succeed him in the earth, that he may see how ye
will act therein.
JJ 1 B 6> II (131) And we formerly punished the people of Pharaoh
with dearth and scarcity of fruits, that they might be
warned. (132) Yet when good happened unto them,

God. This error may have arisen out of a mistaken apprehension
of the use of the word god. See Exod. vii. 1.

Male children to be slain. This is an anachronism, but the com-
mentators reconcile this statement with history by saying, as given
by Sale, " We will continue to make use of the same cruel policy to
keep the Israelites in subjection as we have hitherto done." But the
form of words in the original obliges us to regard this as a new order,
and there is not a word in the Quran to justify the statement of
of Abdul Qadir that " this practice, which had been ordered before
and afterwards discontinued, was here again inaugurated." Cer-
tainly there is nothing in history to substantiate such a statement.
It is simply a device to reconcile the Quran with history.

We sliall prevail. " The commentators say that Pharaoh came
to this resolution because he had either been admonished in a dream,
or by the astrologers or divines, that one of that nation should sub-
vert his kingdom." Sale, Baidhdici, Jaldluddin.

(129) The earth is God's. The Tafsir-i- Raufi says that Moses here

gredicts that the children of Israel should possess the land of Egypt,
ee below on ver. 137.

(130) Your enemy, i.e., Pharaoh.

(131) Death and famine. The allusion is to the seven years'
famine under the Pharaoh who domiciled the children of Israel in
Egypt. This Pharaoh is here identified witli the Pharaoh of Quranic
celebrity 1 This famine was inflicted as a warning, which, being
unheeded, was followed by the plagues of ver. 134.

(132) Unto them. The context proves beyond doubt that the per-
sons referred to here are the Egyptians, but the murmurittgs described
belong to Israel in the desert.


they said, This is owing unto us ; but if evil befell them,
they attributed the same to the ill-luck of Moses, and those
who were with him. Was not their ill-luck with God ?
But most of them knew it not. (133) And they said unto
Moses, Whatever sign thou show unto us, to enchant us
therewith, we will not believe on thee. (134) Wherefore
we sent upon them a flood, and locusts, and lice, and frogs
and blood ; distinct miracles : but they behaved proudly,
and became a wicked people. (135) And when the plague

Ill-hick. " The original word properly signifies to take an ominous
and sinister presage of any future event, from the flight of birds, or
the like." Sale.

(133) We will not believe on thee. Muhammad undoubtedly thought,
that Moses was sent to the Egyptians to call them to repentance,
as well as to deliver Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. He thought
of him as a prophet of Egypt, as he thought of himself as the prophet
of Arabia. Moses is here rejected, and the Egyptians refuse to
become Muslims. The children of Israel, and all who believe in
Moses, he regards in the light of his own followers seeking an asylum
from persecution in Abyssinia, and perhaps Madina.

(134) A flood. Arnold thinks the allusion must be to the deluge,
inasmuch as the drowning in the Red Sea occurred after the plagues
(Islam and Christianity, p. 140). But the story of Noah, given in this
chapter, vers. 60-65, shows that Muhammad did not mean the deluge
in speaking of a flood here. We must therefore regard this statement
as either an addition to the Jewish story or as referring to the drown-
ing in the Red Sea. Historical accuracy is not one of the virtues of
the oracle of Islam, as this chapter abundantly illustrates. Muslim
commentators, as Baidhdwi, &c, understand a deluge to be meant,
and describe it as given in the following from Sale's notes on this
passage : " This inundation, they say, was occasioned by unusual
rains, which continued eight days together, and the overflowing of
the Nile ; and not only covered their lands, but came into their
houses, and rose as high as their backs and necks ; but the children
of Israel had no rain in their quarters. As there is no mention of
any buch miraculous inundation in the Mosaic writings, some have
imagined this plague to have been either a pestilence or the small-
pox, or some other epidemical distemper. For the word tufdn,
which is used in this place, and is generally rendered a deluge, may
also signify any other universal destruction or mortality."

Lice. " Some will have these insects to have been a larger sort
of tick; others, the young locusts before they have wings." Sale,

The order of the plagues, so far as mentioned here, is exactly the
reverse of that in Exodus, but the order here is recognised as the true
one by all Muslim authorities.

(135) Plague, i.e., any one of the plagues already mentioned.

CHAP. VII.] ( 232 ) [SIPARA IX.

fell on them, they said, Moses, entreat thy Lord for us,
according to that which he hath covenanted with thee ;
verily if thou take the plague from off us, we will surely
believe thee, and we will let the children of Israel go with
thee. But when he had taken the plague from off them
until the term which God had granted them was expired,
behold they broke their promise. (13G) Wherefore we
took vengeance on them, and drowned them in the Bed
Sea ; because they charged our signs with falsehood, and
neglected them. (137) And we caused the people who
had been rendered weak to inherit the eastern parts of the
earth and the western parts thereof, which we blessed
with fertility ; and the gracious word of thy Lord was
fulfilled on the children of Israel, for that they had endured
with patience : and we destroyed the structures which
Pharaoh and his people had made, and that which they
had erected.
roba. || (138) And we caused the children of Israel to pass
through the sea, and they came unto a people who gave

We will believe thee, i.e., we will acknowledge the true God, and
accept thee as his prophet ; in other words, we will be Muslims.
See notes above on vers. 104, 127, and 133.

We will let the children of Israel go with thee, i.e., to their own
country. But see on ver. 133.

They broke their promises. If the conjecture mentioned in note on
ver. 95 has any truth in it, there is in this and the following verse
an implied warning against unbelief.

(136) Drowned them. See notes on chap. x. 90-92, and xx. 79-81.

Because, dbc. This statement is a direct contradiction of the teach-
ing of Moses. The Egyptians did not deny the miracles of Moses,
but " Pharaoh hardened his heart."

(137) We caused . . . to inherit. The commentators say the re-
ference is to Syria. If so, eastern parts and western refer most pro-
bably to the lands on the eastern and western sides of the Jordan.
The passage in connection with what follows, however, raises the
suspicion that Muhammad here intended us to understand that God
gave the Israelites the victory over Pharaoh, and so made them
masters of the country on both sides of the Red Sea. See also chap,
xvii. 106.

The structures. Those mentioned in chap, xxviii. 38, and xl.
38, 39-

(138) A people. "These people some will have to be of the trilx;

SIPARA IX.] ( 233 ) [CHAP. VII.

themselves up to the worship of their idols, and they said,
Moses, make us a god, in like manner as these people
have gods. Moses answered, Verily ye are an ignorant
people : (139) for the religion which these follow will be
destroyed, and that which they do is vain. (140) He
said, Shall I seek for you any other god than God, since
he hath preferred you to the rest of the world ? (141) And
remember when we delivered you from the people of Pha-
raoh, who grievously oppressed you ; they slew your male
children, and let your females live : therein was a great
trial from your Lord.

|| (142) And we appointed unto Moses a fast of thirty R ^->
nights before we gave him the law, and we completed them
by adding of ten more; and the stated time of his Lord
was fulfilled in forty nights. And Moses said unto his

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 24 of 42)