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 27 of 42)
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since they were cut off from the water, and besides suffering the incon-
veniency of thirst, must be obliged to pray without washing, though
they imagined themselves to be the favourites of God, and that they
had his Apostle among them. But in the night rain fell so plentifully,
that it formed a little brook, and not only supplied them with water
for all their uses, but made the sand between them and the infidel
army firm enough to bear them ; whereupon the diabolical sugges-
tions ceased."

Muir, however, assures us, on the authority of the K. Waqkidi,
that the Muslims had secured " the sole command of the water pre-
vious to the fall of rain and the night's comfortable rest. Most likely
the rain was interpreted by the ever-sagacious Prophet as a sign of
victory granted from heaven, inasmuch as three blessings had re-
sulted therefrom already (1) sound sleep, (2) water for ceremonial
purification instead of sand, and (3) the sand was made solid, and so
their " feet were established."

CHAP. VIII.] ( 234 ) [SIPARA IX.

might thereby purify you, and take from you the abomina-
tion of Satan, and that he might confirm your hearts, and
establish your feet thereby. (12) Also when thy Lord spake
unto the angels, saying, Verily I am with you ; wherefore
confirm those who believe. I will cast a dread into the
hearts of the unbelievers. Therefore strike off their heads,
and strike off all the ends of their fingers. (13) This shall
they suffer, because they have resisted God and his Apostle :
and whosoever shall oppose God and his Apostle, verily God
will be severe in punishing him. (14) This shall be your
punishment ; taste it therefore : and the infidels shall also
suffer the torment of hell-fire. (15) true believers, when
ye meet the unbelievers marching in great numbers against
you, turn not your backs unto them : (16) for whoso shall
turn his back unto them in that day, unless he turneth
aside to fight, or retreateth to another party of the faithful,

(12) Thy Lord spake. According to Rodwell, the address to the
angels ends at "unbelievers," making the following words, "there-
fore strike," &c, an exhortation to the Muslims. The Tafsir-i- liaaji
and Abdul Qddir understand these words also to have been addressed
to the angels. " The angels did not know," says the Tafslr-i-RauJi,
" where to strike a fatal blow ; " hence the words, " strike off their
heads" literally smite their necks and the allusion to the ends of
their fingers is understood to include all the members of the body.

Sale understands the exhortation to be addressed to the Muslims.
He says : "This is the punishment expressly assigned the enemies
of the Muhammadan religion, though the Muslims did not inflict it
on the prisoners they took at Badr, for which they are reprehended
in this chapter." The spirit of the passage is certainly very different
from that of chap. ii. 256.

(13) God will be severe. The punishment will be severe if taken
prisoner in the world, and afterwards in the final destruction of the
soul . Tafsir-i-Raufi.

(14, 15) The revelation is here plainly made Muhammad's vehicle
for a military harangue. Was Muhammad sincere in uttering such
exhortations as the very words of God? Muslims claim complete
inspiration for them, and accept Muhammad's claim to have been
simply the mouthpiece of Divinity. Are the apologists for Isldin
ready to do the same? If not, the only fair inference they can
draw is that he was an impostor. Self-deception cannot be pleaded
here. There is every sign of intelligent, deliberate policy. He de-
sires to incite his followers to bold, desperate warfare. They have
come to believe him to be inspired, and he never scruples to impose
on their credulity for the accomplishment of his ambitious purposes.

SIPARA IX.] ( 255 ) [CHAP. VIII.

shall draw on himself the indignation of God, and his abode
shall be in hell ; an ill journey shall it be thither ! (17) And
ye slew not those who tvere slain at Badr yourselves, but God
slew them. Neither didst thou, Muhammad, cast the gravel
into their eyes, when thou didst seem to cast it ; but God
cast it, that he might prove the true believers by a gracious
trial from himself, for God heareth and knoweth. (18) This
was done that God might also weaken the crafty devices of
the unbelievers. (19) If ye desire a decision of the matter
between us, now hath a decision come unto you : and if ye
desist from opposing the Apostle, it will be better for you. But
if ye return to attack him, we will also return to his assis-
tance ; and your forces shall not be of advantage unto you
at all, although they be numerous ; for God is with the

|| (20) O true believers, obey God and his Apostle, and R ^
turn not back from him, since ye hear the admonitions of

(17) God slew them. See note on chap. iii. 13.
God heareth. The commentators say the angelic help at Badr was
vouchsafed in answer to Muhammad's prayer.

(19) Now hath a decision come. The word translated decision (al
fatah) means also victory. The Quraish had prayed for victory.
Taking hold of the curtains of the Kaabah, they said, " God, grant
the victory to the superior army, the party that is most rightly
directed, and the most honourable." Muhammad derisively plays
on the word rendered victory in their prayer, and says, "Now hath
a decision come unto you," &c. Se^ Baidhdwi in Sale's note here.

(20) God and liis Apostle. This joining of God and his Apostle, so
prevalent in this chapter, savours strongly of blasphemy. True, the
union intended is not organic or vital, but official, Muhammad being,
as he here pretends, the deputy of God. Nevertheless, the union is
of* such a character, that in the succeeding clause, in the exhortation
" turn not back from him," the pronoun may apply to either God or
Muhammad, and, to bring all the circumstances of the dispute about
spoils into consideration, I think it must be applied to the latter.
The assumption of Muslims that God is the speaker does not seem
to me to apply here, for, in the first place, the sin of identifying God
with a siniul man (shirk) would in that case be removed from the
Apostle only to be fastened on God ; and, secondly, if God were the
speaker, why invariably speak of himself' in the third person ? and
finally, the reason given for obedience is " since ye hear," i.e., since
ye are obedient unto God, being Muslims or submitters of yourselves
to God. Surely such an exhortation predicates the Apostle as the
exhorter. The commentators say that the expression signifies that

CHAP. VIII.l ( 256 ) [SIPARA IX.

the Quran. (21) And be not as those who say, We hear,
when they do not hear. (22) Verily the worst sort of beasts
in the sight of God are the deaf and the dumb, who under-
stand not. (23) If God had known any good in them, lie
would certainly have caused them to hear : and if he had
caused them to hear, they would surely have turned back
and have retired afar off. (24) true believers, answer
God and his Apostle when he inviteth you unto that which
giveth you life ; and know that God goeth between a
man and his heart, and that before him ye shall be as-
sembled. (25) Beware of sedition ; it will not affect those

obedience to the Prophet is obedience to God, and vice versa. Cer-
tainly this is what Muhammad intended when he thus associated
his name with that of God.

(22) Abdul Qadir says this verse means that men who hearken not
to God are worse than beasts.

(23) Caused them to hear. "That is, to hearken to the remon-
strances of the Quran. Some sav that the infidels demanded of
Muhammad that he should raise Kusai, one of his ancestors, to life,
to bear witness to the truth of his mission, saying he was a man of
honour and veracity, and they would believe his testimony : but they
are here told that it would have been in vain." Sale.

(24) That which giveth life, i.e., "The knowledge of religion or
orthodox doctrine, or crusade, or the declaration of faith in God and
his Prophet, or the Quran all of which have life-giving power 10
M usli ms." Tafslr-i-Raufi.

God goeth between, dec. " Not only knowing the innermost secrets
of his heart, but overruling a man's design, and disposing him either
to belief or infidelity." Sale.

(25) Sedition. " The original word signifies any epidemical crime,
which involves a number of people in its guilt ; and the commenta-
tors are divided as to its particular meaning in this place." S

The Tafslr-i-liaufi says by the word fitna is intended the heresy
and apostasy of the last times, when Muslims will be indifferent to
the commands and prohibitions of their religion, indolent in the
crusade for the faith, &c.

Others think the allusion is to the conduct of Abu Lubaba at
the siege of the Bani Quraidha referred to in note on ver. 27 (see
Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 272, note), which, however, is
improbable. The most probable allusion, to my mind, is the con-
duct of those who disputed about the spoils of Badr.

It will not affect, dec, i.e., the result of divisions and internal dis-
sensions must lead to common ruin. Muhammad well understood
the importance of unity among the faithful. The success of [shim
depended on it. Hence he strains every nerve to bring all classes
together by a common submission to himself.

SIPARA IX.] ( 257 ) [CHAP. VIII.

who are ungodly among you particularly, but all of you in
general; and know that God is severe in punishing. (26)
And remember when ye were few and reputed weak in
the land, ye feared lest men should snatch you away ;
but God provided you a place of refuge, and he strength-
ened you with his assistance, and bestowed on you good
things, that ye might give thanks. (27) true believers,
deceive not God and his apostle ; neither violate your faith
against your own knowledge. (28) And know that your
wealth and your children are a temptation unto you; and
that with God is a great reward.

|| (29) true believers, if ye fear God, he will grant K TI"
you a distinction, and will expiate your sins from you,
and will forgive you ; for God is endued with great
liberality. (30) And call to mind when the unbelievers

(26) This verse is addressed to the Muh&jjarin, or those who fled
with Muhammad from Makkah to Madina.

(27) Deceive not God. " Al Baidhawi mentions an instance of such
treacherous dealing in Abu Lubaba, who was sent by Muhammad to
the tribe of the Quraidha, then besieged by that prophet, for having
broken their league with him, and perfidiously gone over to the
enemies at the war of the ditch, to persuade them to surrender at
the discretion of Saad Ibn Muadh, prince of the tribe of Aus, their
confederates, which proposal they had refused. But Abu Lubaba's
family and effects being in the hands of those of Quraidha, he acted
directly contrary to his commission, and instead of persuading them
to accept Saad as their judge, when they asked his advice about it,
drew his hand across his throat, signifying that he would put them
all to death. However, he had no sooner done this than he was
sensible of bis crime, and going into a mosque tied himself to a pillar,
and remained there seven days without meat or drink, till Muham-
mad forgave him." Sale.

(28; Abdul Qadir says the allusion here is to the children of the refu-
gees, still in Makkah, and to the wealth acquired by warring against
the unbelievers. The former tempted them to lukewarmness in the
struggle with the Makkans, and the latter tempted them to conceal-
ment and falsehood in reporting the spoil taken by them.

(29) A distinction, i.e., "A direction that you may distinguish
between truth and falsehood, or success in battle to distinguish the
believers from the infidels, or the like." Sale.

Will expiate your si?is. See note on chap. iii. 194.

(30) "When the Makkans heard of the league entered into by
Muhammad with those of Madina, being apprehensive of the conse-
quence, they held a council, whereat they say the devil assisted in



plotted against thee, that they might either detain thee in
bonds, or put to death, or expel thee the city ; and they
plotted against thee: but God laid a plot against tin m ;
and GOD is the best layer of plots. (31) Ami when our
signs are repeated unto them, they say, We have heard ;
if we pleased we could certainly pronounce a composition
like unto this : this is nothing but fables of the ancients.
(32) And when they said, God, if this be the truth from
thee, rain down stones upon us from heaven, or inflict on
us some other grievous punishment. (33) But God was

the likeness of an old man of Najd. The point under consideration
being what they should do with Muhammad, Abu'l Bakhtari was of
opinion that he should be imprisoned, and the room walled up,
except a little hole, through winch he should have necessaries given
him till he died. This the devil opposed, saying that he might
probably be released by some of his own party. Hadiam Ibn Amru
was for banishing him, but his advice also the devil rejected, insisting
that Muhammad might engage some other tribes in his interest, and
make war on them. At length Abu Jahl gave his opinion for putting
him to death, and proposed the manner, which was unanimously
approved." Sale, Baidh&vri.

God laid a plot. "Revealing their conspiracy to Muhammad, and
miraculously assisting him to deceive them and make his escape,
and afterwards drawing them to the battle of Badr." Sale.

See note on Prelim. Disc, p. 85.

(31) If we pleated, tee could, &c. This verse proves very clearly
that Muhammad's contemporaries were not convinced of the mira-
culous character of the Quran, as claimed by Muhammad. See
chap-, ii. 23 and xvii. 90, and notes there. Arnold in his hlitm
and Cliristianity, pp. 324-328, shows very conclusively that the
style of the Quran was not admitted to be of superior excellence by
many competent judges in the early days of Islam. The policy of
Muhammad's claim, and therefore of the only miracle or sign he
could ever point to as testimony to his claim to be a prophet, was
exposed a thousand years ago by al Kind!, an Arab Christian
scholar in the service of the Khalflah al Mamun, whose work lias
lately been discovered. He declares it "to be destitute of order,
style, elegance, or accuracy of composition or diction," ami claims
that the poetical works of al Qais and other contemporaries of
Muhammad were superior in every aspect to the Quran. Having
read the Quran of Musailama the false prophet, he declared it to be
superior in style to the work of Muhammad. See also chap. vi. 94,
and note there.

Fables of the ancients. See note on chaps, vi. 24 and vi i. 203.

(32) Rain down stones. Baidhawi a.-cribes this speech to al
Nudhar Ibn al Harith. Abdul Qadir says it was Abu Lahab.

SIPARA IX.] ( 259 ) [CHAP. VIII.

not disposed to punish them, while thou wast with them ;
nor was God disposed to punish them when they asked
pardon. (34) But they have nothing to offer in excuse
why God should not punish them, since they hindered
the believers from visiting the holy temple, although they
are not the guardians thereof. The guardians thereof are
those only who fear God; but the greater part of them
know it not. (35) And their prayer at the house of God
is no other than whistling and clapping of the hands.
Taste therefore the punishment, for that ye have been
unbelievers. (36) They who believe not expend their

(33) While thou wast with them. The commentators here annotate
as follows : "Judgment receded before the footsteps of Muhammad
while at Makkah, but now had judgment overtaken them (the
Makkans). In like manner, while the sinner remains contrite and
repents, he escapes the punishment of his sin, be it ever so great.
The prophet said, ' Sinners have refuge in two things : in my person
and in repentance."' Tafsir-i-Raufi.

Nor . . . when they asked pardon. " Saying, God forgive us I Some
of the commentators, however, suppose the persons who asked pardon
were certain believers who stayed among the infidels ; and others
think the meaning to be that God would not punish them provided
they asked pardon." Sale.

(34) They hindered, &c. As at Hudaibaya, see Prelim. Disc, p. 89.
The guardians . . . are those . . . who fear God. This was said to justify
the claim that the Quraish were not the guardians of the Kaabah.
They had the hereditary right to the guardianship of the temple,
that right having been conceded to the great progenitor of Muham-
mad himself, Kusai, nearly two centuries before. See Muir's Life
of Mahomet, vol. i. p. ccii. Muhammad's claim must have been
grounded on this rejection on account of idolatry, and therefore
could only apply to those of his fellow-tribesmen who still persisted
in their adherence to the old idolatry. For we find this same tribe
confirmed in the guardianship of the Kaabah after the conquest of
Makkah. See note on chap. iv. 56. Even the Quraish might not
guard the temple unless they had within them the fear of God.

(35) Whistling and clapping. "It is said that they used to dig
round the Kaabah naked (see notes on chap. vii. 28-34), both men
and women, whistling at the same time through their fingers and
clapping their hands. Or, as others say, they made this noise on
purpose to disturb Muhammad when at his prayers, pretending to
be at prayers also themselves." Sale, Baidhdwi.

Taste therefore, now, defeat at Badr and afterwards suffering an
exile and imprisonment, and at last at the judgment-day taste the
fire. Tafsir-i-Raufi.

(36) " The persons particularly meant in this passage were twelve


CHAP. VIII.] ( 260 ) [SIPARA IX.

wealth to obstruct the way of God : they shall expend it,
but afterwards it shall become matter of sighiug and regret
unto them, and at length they shall be overcome ; (37) and
the unbelievers shall be gathered together into hell ; (38)
that God may distinguish the wicked from the good, and
may throw the wicked one upon the other, and may
gather them all in a heap, and cast them into hell. These
are they who shall perish.

|| (39) Say unto the unbelievers, that if they desist
from opiposing thee, what is already past shall be forgiven
them ; but if they return to attack thee, the exemplary
punishment of the former opposcrs of the prophets is already-
past, and the like shall be inflicted on them. (40) There-
fore fight against them until there be no opposition in
favour of idolatry, and the religion be wholly God's. If

of the Quraish, who gave each of them ten camels every day to be
killed for provisions for their army in the expedition of Badr ; or,
according to others, the owners of the effects brought by the caravan,
who gave great part of them to the support of the succours from
Makkah. It is also said that Abu Sufian, in the expedition of Ohod,
hired two thousand Arabs, who cost him a considerable sum, besides
the auxiliaries which he had obtained gratis." Sale, Baiiihdxci.

They shall be overcome. The Tafsir-i-Raufi regards this as a
prophecy of the conquest of Makkah. The verses following, how-
ever, clearly show this statement to be based upon the as.-urance
that God will cause the righteous to triumph. The victory at
Badr was looked upon as clearly indicating the Divine favour. It
therefore portended the eventual triumph of the Muslims. Such
prophecies are of daily occurrence.

(39) If they return. This probably refers to the declaration of the
Quraish that they would return to avenge the defeat of Badr.

The exemplury punishment, dec. Abdul Qadir translates, " The
custom of the former (peoples) has passed before ihem." There is
in the saying a subtle allusion to the defeat of the Quraish at Badr,
in accordance with the doom of infidels in former times.

(40) Fight against them. See notes on chap. ii. 190-193. Mr.
Bosworth Smith (Mohammed and Mo!iammedanism y 2d ed. p. 201)
thinks that Muhammad was constrained to draw the sw>rd by force
of circumstances and the hatred of his enemies. The " perfect model
of the saintly virtues" found in the Makkan prophet is thus suddenly
and "by accident" converted into a general, and so we have "the
mixed and sullied character of the prophet-soldier Muhammad.''
It is certain that all the exhortations of the later chapters of the
Qui an, like that of the text, are entirely inconsistent with the spiiit

SIPARA X.] ( 26l ) [CHAP. VIII.

they desist, verily God seeth that which they do; (41)
but if tbey turn back, know that God is your patron; he
is the best patron, and the best helper.


II (42) And know that whenever ye gain any spoils, a sipara.
fifth part thereof belongeth unto God, and to the Apostle,
and his kindred, and the orphans, and the poor, and the
traveller ; if ye believe in God, and that which we have
sent down unto our servant on the day of distinction, on
the day whereon the two armies met : and God is almighty.
(43) When ye were encamped on the hithermost side of
the valley, and they were encamped on the farther side,
and the caravan was below you ; and if ye had mutually

of the teaching of the earlier chapters. They are not, however, incon-
sistent -with the spirit of the Arabian Prophet. His savage cruelty
and cold-hearted revenge, exhibited in the very beginning of his
soldier career, are in too strong contrast with saintly virtues to
permit us to believe in the reality of the saint. It was policy
rather than saintliness which withheld the command to fight, and
when the time came to fight, we find Muhammad leading the fray
not carried along with it bv force. See on this point Prelim. Disc,

Until there be no opposition, i.e., "Until the infidels cease to
oppose." Abdul Qddir. The original reference was to the opposition
of the Quraish, but the spirit of the passage makes it apply to all
opposers of Islam.

(42) A fifth part. " According to this law, a fifth part of the spoils
is appropriated to the particular uses here mentioned, and the other
four-fifths are to be equally divided among those who were present
at the action ; but in what manner or to whom the first fifth is to
be distributed, the Muhammadan doctors differ, as we have elsewhere
observed (Prelim. Disc, pp. 224-226). Though it be the general
opinion that this verse was revealed at Badr, yet there are some who
suppose it was revealed in the expedition against the Jewish tribe
of Qainuqda, which happened a little above a month after." Sale,

Sent down . . . on the day of distinction, i.e., " of the battle of
Badr, which is so called because it distinguished the true believers from
the infidels." Sale. The plain import of the passage is that the
law of spoils was given to Muhammad at Badr, and therefore the
"general opinion" as to the date of revelation is certainly correct.

(43) Tlie caravan was below you, i.e., " by the seaside, making the
best of their way to Makkah." Sale.

Ye would certainly have declined, dbc. Owing to the superior num-
ber of the Quraish. Eodwell translates the clause thus : " Ye would
have failed the engagement ;" but this may mean that the Muslims

CHAP. VIII.] ( 262 ) [SIPAKA X.

appointed to come to a battle, ye would certainly have
declined the appointment ; but ye were brought to an
engagement icitlwut any previous appointment, that God
might accomplish the thing which was decreed to be done ;

(44) that he who perisheth hereafter may perish after
demonstrative evidence, and that he who liveth may live
by the same evidence ; God both heareth and knoweth.

(45) When thy Lord caused the enemy to appear unto
thee in thy sleep few in number ; and if he had caused
them to appear numerous unto thee, ye would have been
disheartened, and would have disputed concerning the
matter : but God preserved you from this ; for he knoweth
the innermost parts of the breasts of men. (46) And when
he caused them to appear unto you when ye met to be

would have been defeated, whereas the meaning intended is that they
would have been afraid to fight at all.

The thing . . . decreed. Lit. the thing to be done, i.e., "By granting a
miraculous victory to the faithful, and overwhelming their enemies
for the conviction of the latter and the confirmation of the former."
Sale, Baidlulwi.

(45, 46) On the question of discrepancy between this passage and
chap. iii. 13, Sale, on the authority of Baidhawi, Jalaluddin, and
Yahya, says

"This seeming contradictory to a passage in the third chapter,
where it is said that the Muslims appeared to the infidels to be twice
their own numher, the commentators reconcile the matter by telling
us that just before the battle began the Prophet's party seemed fewer

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 27 of 42)