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 28 of 42)
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than they really were, to draw the enemy to an engagement; hut
that so soon as the armies were fully engaged, they appeared superior,
to terrify and dismay their adversaries. It is related that Abu Jahl
at first thought them so inconsiderable a handful, that he said one
camel would be as much as they could all eat."

The fact upon which this miracle is based is thus given by Mtiir :
"Mahomet had barely arrayed his line of battle when the advanced
column of the Coreish appeared over the rising san is in front Their
greatly superior numbers were concealed by the fall ol the ground
behind, and this imparted confidence to the Muslims." Life of
Mahomet,\o\. iii. p. 100. Yet all this is represented here as the ful-
filment of a prophetic vision, granted to the Prophet on the night
preceding the battle, "with which Muhammad had acquainted his
companions for their encouragement." Sale. But unfortunately for
this vision, we are credibly informed by the historians (Katiii-i-
Waqkidi, &c.) that on the day previous Muhammad, having captured
the water-carriers of the Quraish at the well of Badr, had learned
from them the approximate number of his enemies.

SIPARAX.] ( 263 ) [CHAP. VIII.

few in your eyes, and diminished your numbers in their
eyes; that God might accomplish the thing which was
decreed to be done ; and unto God shall all things return.

|| (47) true believers, when ye meet a party of the K
infidels, stand firm, and remember God frequently, that ye
may prosper : (48) and obey God and his Apostle, and be
not refractory, lest ye be discouraged, and your success
depart from you ; but persevere with patience, for God is
with those who persevere. (49) And be not as those who
went out of their houses in an insolent manner, and to
appear with ostentation unto men, and turned aside from
the way of God ; for God comprehendeth that which they
do. (50) And remember when Satan prepared their works
for them, and said, No man shall prevail against you to-

(47) Here begins a military harangue, characteristic of the prophet-
soldier of Madina. Obedience to " God and his Apostle" is urged
by every motive of piety and self-interest.

(48) Lest . . . your success depart. The quarrel over the distribu-
tion of the booty might well awaken fears for the future success of
his warfare. Hence the wisdom of his determination to divide the
spoils himself as the agent of God to whom they belonged (ver. 1).
Whilst admiring the wisdom of the general, will any one believe in
the sincerity of the prophet?

(49) Those who went out, &c. " These were the Makkans, who,
marching to the assistance of the caravan, and being come as far as
Juhfa, were there met by a messenger from Abu Sufian, to acquaint
ihem that he thought himself out of danger, and therefore they
might return home ; upon which Abu Jahl, to give the greater
opinion of the courage of himself and his comrades, and of their
readiness to assist their friends, swore that they would not return
till they had been at Badr, and had there drunk wine and enter-
tained those who should be present and diverted themselves with
singing-women. The event of which bravado was very fatal, several
of the principal Quraish, and Abu Jahl in particular, losing their
lives in the expedition." Sale, Baidh&wi.

" Jihad (crusading) is worship, but when done in pride and vain-
glory it is not acceptable to God." Abdul Qddir.

(50) Remember when Satan, etc. " Some understand this passage
figuratively of the private instigation of the devil, and of the defeat-
ing of his designs, and the hopes with which he had inspired the
idolaters. But others take the whole literally, and tell us that when
the Quraish on their march bethought themselves of the enmity
between them and the tribe of Kanana, who were masters of the
country about Badr, that consideration would have prevailed on
them to return, had not the devil appeared in the likeness of Suraqah

CHAP. VIII.] ( 264 ) [SIPARA X.

day ; and I will surely be near to assist you. But when
the two armies appeared in sight of each other, he turned
back on his heels, and said, Verily I am clear of you : I
certainly see that which ye see not ; I fear God, for God
is severe in punishing.
K h II (51) When the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts

there was an infirmity, said, Their religion hath deceived
these men: but whosoever confideth in God cannot be
deceived; for God is mighty and wise. (52) And if thou
didst behold when the angels caused the unbelievers to
die : they strike their faces and their backs, and say unto

Ibn Malik, a principal person of that tribe, and promised them that
they should not be molested, and that himself wuuld go with tliem.
But when they came to join battle, and the devil saw the angels
descending to the assistance of the Muslims, he retired ; and al
Harith Ibn Hdsham, who had him then by the hand, asking him
whither he was going, and if he intended to betray them at such a
juncture, he answered in the words of this passage, ' I am clear of you
all, for I see that which ye see not ;' meaning the celestial succours.
They say further, that when the Quraish, on their return, laid the
blame of their overthrow on Suraqah, he swore that he did not so
much as know of their march till he heard they were routed : and
afterwards, when they embraced Muhammadauism, they were satisfied
it was the devil." Sale, Baidlidwi, Jaldtuddin.

Waqkfdi gives the circumstantial evidence of a witness regarding
the devil's behaviour on this occasion, his jumping into the sea, what
he said, &c. See Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 125, note.

(51) Their religion hath deceived these men. This saying is ascribed
by some to the Madina hypocrites, who. seeing the fewness of the
Muslims, thought their purpose to attack so large an army a piece of
folly, attributable only to the madness of fanaticism. But the fact
that the Muslims went forth from Madina to plunder a comparatively
defenceless caravan, and not to attack the army of the Quraish. is
against this interpretation. Others therefore explain that there wire
among the Quraish certain persons who were partially persuaded of
the truth of Islam, but declined to flee to Madina with other refugees.
These went along with the Quraish, intending to go over to the
Muslims provided they should be more in number than they, but
seeing the Muslims to be few in number, they said their religion hath
deceived them. See the Tafsir-i- Raufi in loco.

(52) When the angels, dec. " This passage is generally understood
of the angels who slew the infidels at Badr, and who fought (as the
commentators pretend) with iron maces, which shot forth flames of
fire at every stroke (liaidhdioi, Jaldluddin). Some, however, imagine
that the words hint, ai least, at the examination of the sepulchre.
which the Muhammadans believe every man must undergo after

SIPARA X.] ( 265 ) [CHAP. VIII.

them, Taste ye the pain of burning: (53) this shall ye
suffer for that which your hands have set before you, and
because God is not unjust towards his servants. (54) These
have acted according to the wont of the people of Pharaoh,
and of those before them, who disbelieved in the signs of
God : therefore God took them away in their iniquity ; for
God is mighty and severe in punishing. (55) This hath
come to pass because God changeth not his grace, where-
with lie hath favoured any people, until they change that
which is in their souls ; and for that God both heareth
and seeth. (56) According to the wont of the people of
Pharaoh, and of those before them, who charged the signs
of their Lokd with imposture, have they acted : wherefore
we destroyed them in their sins, and we drowned the
people of Pharaoh; for they were all unjust persons.
(57) Verily the worst cattle in the sight of God are those
who are obstinate infidels, and will not believe. (58) As
to those who enter into a league with thee, and afterwards
violate their league at every convenient opportunity, and
fear not God ; (59) if thou take them in war, disperse, by
making them an example, those who shall come after them,
that they may be warned ; (60) or if thou apprehend
treachery from any people, throw back their league unto

death, and will be very terrible to the unbelievers" (Prelim. Disc,
p. 127). Sale.

(53) Which your hands, &c. See note on chap. ii. 94.

(54-56; See notes on chap. vii. 128-137.

God changeth not his grace. This passage recognises the freedom
of the will, and consequently man's responsibility for his sin. Comp.
chap. iii. 145, note.

(57) See note on ver. 22. The allusion here is probably to the
Jews, either the Bani Qainuqaa or the Baid Quraidha. See Muir's
Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 135.

(58) Afterwards violate their league, "as did the tribe of Quraidha."
Sale. So too the Taf&r-i-Raufi. See the story of the treachery of
this tribe in Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. chap. xvii.

(59) Making them an example, i.e., by slaying them. How well this
command was performed let the 800 gory heads of the Bani Quraidha
tell. Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 278.

(60) // thou apprehend treachery. The road to covenant-breaking
is here made easy. A suspicion of the Prophet or of his successors
that the Jews or Christians with whom covenant had been made were


CHAP. VIII.] ( 266 ) [SIPARA X.

them with like treatment; for God loveth nut the

(61) And think not that the unbelievers have escaped
God's vengeance, for they shall not weaken the penoer of
God. (62) Therefore prepare against them what force
ye are able, and troops of horse, whereby ye may strike
a terror into the enemy of God, and your enemy, and
into other infidels besides them, whom ye know not, but
God knoweth them. And whatsoever ye shall expend in
the defence of the religion of God, it shall be repaid unto
you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly. (63) And if
they incline unto peace, do thou also incline thereto ; and
put thy confidence in God, for it is he who heareth and
knoweth. (64) But if they seek to deceive thee, verily
God will be thy support. It is he who hath strengthened

treacherous is made a sufficient "round for breaking that covenant.
As an illustration of this principle, see Muhammad's conduct toward
the Bani Nadhir, described in Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 209.
Like treatment. Lit render them the like. The drift of this pas-
sage is so plainly contrary to the principles of honourable dealing, as
to make even the Muslim commentators feel the need of softening
the tone of it as far as possible. Baidhawi seems to justify the course
here prescribed as fair. Abdul Qadir says the meaning is, that in
case of a suspicion of treachery, the correspondence should be con-
ducted with that caution which marked their dealings before condi-
tions of peace were made. He concludes his comment here by say-
ing, " There is no immoral teaching here." Yet notwithstanding the
pious sentiment which follows at the end of this verse, God loveth
not the treaclierous, we are left with the conviction that counter-
treachery is here justified as a means of self-defence. Of course it
is only justifiable when used by .Muslims.

(61) Think not. Sale says, " Some copies read it in the third per-
son, Let not the unbelievers think," dec.

Who have escaped, i.e., from Badr.

(62) Prepare . . . what force ye are able. Prepare for the holy war
against the infidels. Primarily the allusion was to the Quraish
and the treacherous Jews, but now it has a general application.
See Abdul Q&dir and Tafstr-i- llaufi.

Trooj/8 of horse. Muhammad here encourages the formation of
cavalry in his army. To all such he promises repayment Later
on he ordered that the spoil of a horseman should be three times
that of a footman. From chap. lix. ver. 6 we learn that Muhammad
claimed and appropriated all the spoil of the expedition against the
Bani Nadhir, because he alone rode on horseback.


thee with his help, and with that of the faithful, and hath
united their hearts. If thou hadst expended whatever
riches are in the earth, thou couldst not have united their
hearts, but God united them ; for he is mighty and wise.

|| (65) Prophet, God is thy support, and such of the R
true believers who followeth thee. (66) Prophet, stir
up the faithful to war : if twenty of you persevere with
constancy, they shall overcome two hundred, and if there
be one hundred of you, they shall overcome a thousand of
those who believe not ; because they are a people which
do not understand. (67) Now hath God eased you, for
he knew that ye were weak. If there be an hundred of
you who persevere with constancy, they shall overcome two
hundred ; and if there be a thousand of you, they shall
overcome two thousand, by the permission of God; for
God is with those who persevere. (68) It hath not been
granted unto any prophet that he should possess captives,

(64) Hath united their hearts. The Tafsir-i-Raufi thinks the allu-
sion here is to the union of the tribes of Aus and Khazraj, who had
been deadly enemies for more than a century before. It might, how-
ever, refer to union between other tribes as well.

God united them, i.e., by the bonds of Islam. The union of the
tribes of Arabia under the banner of Islam is regarded by Muslims
as a miracle, and therefore a proof of their Prophet's mission.

(65) "This passage, as some say, was revealed in a plain called al
Baida, between Makkah and Madina, during the expedition of Eadr ;
and, as others, in the sixth year of the Prophet's mission, on the occa-
sion of Omar's embracing Muhammadanism." Sale.

(66, 67) These verses Avere revealed at different times, but belong-
ing to the same subject, have been grouped together by the compilers.
Compare with Lev. xxvi. 8 and Josh, xxiii. 10. The Tafsir-i-Raufi
says both verses were intended to arouse a spirit of fortitude in
battle. As a result of the first injunction, that one Muslim should
stand against ten infidels, one of the faithful was slain ; whereupon
that command was abrogated, and the more moderate one given in
its place, which is introduced by the words Now hath God eased you
(from the rigour of the first command), for he knew that ye icere weak.

By the permission of God. One would naturally conclude that the
first command might have stood on this ground.

(68) Any prophet. This verse was given to justify the cruelty of
Muhammad towards the captives taken at Badr, many of whom
were put to death in cold blood. But for the merciful pleading of
Abu Baqr, all would have met a similar fate. The apology for this
cruelty here given is that all warrior-prophets had been obliged to

CHAP. VIII.] ( 268 ) [SIPARA X.

until he hath made a great slaughter of the infidels in the
earth. Ye seek the accidental goods of this world, but
God regardeth the life to come ; and God is mighty and
wise. (69) Unless a revelation had been previously deli-
make "a great slaughter of the infidels" before they could succeed.
Those who would paint the character of Muhammad in soft colours
are guilty of deliberate misrepresentation. See on this subject
Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. pp. 11 3-1 18.

A great slaughter. " Because severity ought to be used where cir-
cumstances require it, though clemency be more preferable where it
may be exercised with safety. While the Muhammadans therefore
were weak, and their religion in its infancy, God's pleasure was that
the opposers of it should be cut off, as is particularly directed in this
chapter. For which reason they are here upbraided with their pre-
ferring the lucre of the ransom to their duty." Sale.

Ye seek the . . . goods. It would seem that in the Prophet's
opinion the Muslims were not so much actuated by feelings of
mercy in pleading for the lives of their Makkan captives as by a
desire for the ransom- money.

(69) Unless a revelation, dec. Lit. a writing kitdb. Abdul Qadir
translates thus : " Had this not been written in God's decrees," viz.,
that many of the captives would be converted to Islam. Mail .-ays,
" It may simply mean, ' Had there not been a previous decree to
the contrary, a grievous punishment had overtaken you.'" Life of
Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 1 1 8, note.

This was u message, leaving it with Muhammad to decide whether
the prisoners taken at Badr should be slain, or whether they should
be ransomed, on condition that there should be an equal numljer of
the Muslims slain at Ohod. Tradition tells us that Muhammad
decided to receive the ransoms on the ground that when the Muslims
should be slain, they would inherit Paradise and the crown of mar-
tyrdom. Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. pp. 117, 1 18.

Sale gives the following, taken from Muslim authorities, who felt
constrained to place the responsibility of the vindictive spirit shown
by their Prophet towards his enemies to the credit of others :

" Among the seventy prisoners whom the Muslims took in this
battle were al Abbas, one of Muhammad's uncles, and Okail, the son
of Abu Talib and brother of Ali. When they were brought before
Muhammad, he asking the advice of his companions what should be
done with them, Abu Baqr was for releasing them on their paying
ransom, saying that they were near relations to the Prophet, and
God might possibly forgive them on their repentance ; but Omar
was for striking off their heads, as professed patrons of infidelity.
Muhammad did not approve of the latter advice, but observed that
Abu Baqr resembled Abraham, who interceded for offenders, ami
that Omar was like Noah, who prayed for the utter extirpation of
the wicked antediluvians ; and thereupon it was agreed to accept a
ransom from them and their fellow-captives. Soon after which,
Omar, going into the Prophet's tent, tound him and Abu Baqr

SIPARA X.] ( 269 ) [CHAP. VIII.

vered from God, verily a severe punishment had been
inflicted on you for the ransom which ye took from the
captives at Badr. (70) Eat therefore of what ye have
acquired, that which is lawful and good ; for God is gracious
and merciful.

|| (71) Prophet, say unto the captives who are in your K, ~e"
hands, If God shall know any good to be in your hearts,

weeping, and asking them the reason of their tears, Muhammad ac-
quainted hirn that this verse had been revealed condemning their
ill-timed lenity towards their prisoners, and that they had narrowly
escaped the Divine vengeance for it, adding, that if God had not
passed the matter over, they had certainly been destroyed to a man,
excepting only Omar and Saad Ibn Muadh, a person of as great
severity, and who was also for putting the prisoners to death."
See also note on chap. iii. 140.

It seems that the tierce vindictive spirit apparent in the Quran at
this period was due in some measure at least to the defeat at Ohod.
Yet, excepting a few personal enemies of the Prophet, who were
summarily executed, all the prisoners were ransomed with the hearty
consent of Muhammad himself, who not only needed the ransom
price as a compensation to his followers, who were sorely grieved
and disappointed at the loss of the caravan they had hoped to cap-
ture, but he also hoped for the conversion of some of the captive
Quraish. See below on ver. 71. But the battle at Ohod, resulting
in the defeat of Muhammad and the slaughter of many of the faith-
ful, not only aroused among the Muslims a bitter desire for ven-
geance, but required an explanation. Why this defeat ? Why were
the favourites of Heaven smitten before the infidels ? These ques-
tions are answered in the latter part of chapter iii. Now, as the
number of infidels killed at Badr was raised by the Quran itself from
forty-nine to seventy (chap. iii. 140), in order to correspond with the
seventy Muslims killed at Ohod, it is almost certain that the spirit of
the Prophet after Ohod has been, so to speak, forced back upon Badr.

A severe punishment. " That is, had not the ransom been, in strict-
ness, lawful for you to accept, by God's having in general terms
allowed you the spoil and the captives, ye had been severely pun-
ished. . . . Yet did not this crime go absolutely unpunished neither ;
for in the battle of Ohod the Muslims lost seventy men, equal to the
number of prisoners taken at Badr ; which was so ordered by God,
as a retaliation or atonement for the same." Sale.

(70) Eat therefore, i.e., " Of the ransom which ye have received of
your prisoners. For it seems, on this rebuke, they had some scruple
of conscience whether they might convert it to their own use or not."
Sale, Badhavri.

(71) Say uuto the captives. This was said in the hope that the
captive Quraish might yet be induced to profess Islam, and this hope
was in some measure realised.

CHAP. VIII.] ( 270 ) [SIPARA X.

he will give you better than what hath been taken from
you; and he will forgive you, for God is gracious and
merciful. (72) But if they seek to deceive thee, verily
they have deceived God; wherefore he hath given tlcee
power over them : and God is knowing and wise. (73)
Moreover, they who have believed, and have fled their
country, and employed their substance and their persons
in fighting for the religion of God, and they who have
given the Prophet a refuge among them, and have assisted
him, these shall be deemed the one nearest of kin to the

He will give you better, dec. " That is, if ye repent and believe,
God will make you abundant retribution for the ransom ye have
now paid. It is said that this passage was revealed on the particular
account of al Abbas, who being obliged by Muhammad, though his
uncle, to ransom both himself and his two nephews, Okail and
Naufal Ibn al Harith, complained that he should be reduced to beg
alms of the Quraish as long as he lived. Whereupon Muhammad
asked him what was become of the gold which he delivered to Omni
al Fadhl when he left Makkah, telling her that he knew not what
might befall him in the expedition, and therefore, if he lost his life.
she might keep it herself for the use of her and her children. Al
Abbas demanded who told him this ; to which Muhammad replied
that God had revealed it to him. And upon this al Abbas imme-
diately professed Islam, declaring that none could know of that
affair except God, because he gave her the money at midnight.
Some years after, al Abbas reflecting on this passage, confessed it to
be fulfilled ; for he was then not only possessed of a large substance,
but had the custody of the well Zamzam, which, he said, he preferred
to all the riches of Makkah." Sale, Baidhdwi.

(72) If they seek to deceive thee. Of this passage Muir says :
" This is explained to mean ' deceit in not paying the ransom agreed
upon ;' but it seems an unlikely interpretation, as the ransom was
ordinarily paid down on the spot. It may be a significant intima-
tion that those who came over to Islam would be released without.

ransom ; the deceit contemplated being a treacherous confession of
faith followed by desertion to Makkah. Life of Mahomet, vol iii.
p. 1 1 9, note.

The same thing is probably intended by the statement of the
previous verse, " Ue will forgive you," &c

He hath given thee power over (h/jm. The prophet-general of
Madina speaks in different terms from those of the ''warner" of
Makkah. Comp. chap, lxxxviii. 21, 22.

(73) Who . . . have fled, dec. The Muhajjirin, or refugees, a term
at first applicable only to those who fled from Makkah, but afterwards
to all who fled to the Prophet's standard.

They wlio have assisted, i.e., the Ansars, or Helpers. This term at

SIPARA X.] ( 271 ) [CHAP. VIII.

other. But they who have believed, but have not fled
their country, shall have no right of kindred at all with
you, until they also fly. Yet if they ask assistance of you
on account of religion, it bclongeth unto you to give them,
assistance; except against a people between whom and
yourselves there shall be a league subsisting: and God
seeth that which ye do. (74) And as to the infidels, let
them be deemed of kin the one to the other. Unless ye do
this, there will be a sedition in the earth, and grievous
corruption. (75) But as for them who have believed, and
left their country, and have fought for God's true religion,
and who have allowed the Prophet a retreat among them,
and have assisted him, these are really believers; they
shall receive mercy and an honourable provision. (76)
And they who have believed since, and have fled their

first applied only to those of Madina who identified themselves with
Islam, but other people from the neighbouring tribes having put
themselves under the leadership of Muhammad, and having helped

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 28 of 42)