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 3 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 3 of 42)
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of lots ; whereupon twenty-seven of them went to the river Jordan,
and threw in their rods (or arrows without heads or feathers, such
as the Arabs used fur the same purpose), on which they had
written some passages of the law, but they all sunk except that
of Zacharias, which floated on the water ; and he had thereupon
the care of the child committed to him." Sale, Jalaluddin.

The casting of lots, attributed here to the Jewish priests, is the
same in spirit as that forbidden in chap. ii. 218.


neither wast thou with them when they strove among
themselves. (45) When the angels said : Mary, verily
God sendeth thee good tidings, that thou shalt bear the
Word . proceeding from himself; (46) his name shall be
Christ Jesus the son of Mary, honourable in this world
and in the world to come, and one of those who approach
near to the presence of God ; and he shall speak unto men in
the cradle, and when he is grown up ; and he shall be one
of the righteous : (47) she answered, Lord, how shall I
have a son, since a man hath not touched me ? the angel
said, So God createth that which he pleaseth : when he
decreeth a thing, he only saith unto it, Be, and it is:
(48) God shall teach him the scripture, and wisdom,
and the law, and the gospel ; and shall appoint him his

(45) The son of Mary. See note on ver. 39. The phrase "Jesus,
son of Mary," had become so stereotyped in Muhammad's mind,
that he here puts it in the mouth of the angels when addressing
Mary herself.

Christ Jesus. The Messiah Jesus. He is honourable in this
world as a prophet, and in the next as an intercessor. Muslims,
however, only regard him as the intercessor of his own followers,
i.e., of those who lived during the period intervening between the
times of Jesus and Muhammad.

(46) He shall speak . . . in the cradle. For his words see chap.
xix. 28-34. The commentators tell many stories to illustrate this
text. In regard to these Sale says : " These seem all to have been
taken from some fabulous traditions of the Eastern Christians, one
of which is preserved to us in the spurious Gospel of the Infancy
of Christ, where we read that Jesus spoke while yet in the cradle,
and said to his mother, ' Verily I am Jesus the Son of God, the
Word which thou hast brought forth, as the Angel Gabriel did
declare unto thee ; and my Father hath sent me to save the

When he is grown up. The original word (kdhlari) describes a
person of between thirty and fifty years of age.

(47) Compare with Luke i. 34, &c, to see how far this comes
short of attesting the former Scriptures.

(48) Scripture . . . wisdom . . . law . . . gospel. The last two
expressions describe more clearly the meaning of the first two.
Jesus is said to have acquired a perfect knowledge of the law
without any course of human instruction (Abdul Qddir).

A bird. " Some say it was a bat (Jaldluddiri), though others
suppose Jesus made several birds of different sorts (Al Thdlabi).

" This circumstance is also taken from the following fabulous
tradition, which may be found in the spurious Gospel above men-


apostle to the children of Israel ; and he shall say, Verily
I come unto you with a sign from your Lord; for I
will make before you, of clay, as it were the figure of
a bird ; then I will breathe thereon, and it shall become
a bird, by the permission of God ; and I will heal him
that hath been blind from his birth ; and the leper : and
I will raise the dead by the permission of God: and I
will prophesy unto you what ye eat, and what ye lay
up for store in your houses. Verily herein will be a
sign unto you, if ye believe. And (49) i" come to confirm
the law which was revealed before me, and to allow unto
you as lawful part of that which hath been forbidden
you : and I come unto you with a sign from your Lord ;
therefore fear God, and obey me. (50) Verily God is
my Lord, and your Lord ; therefore serve him. This is

tioned. Jesus being seven years old, and at play with several
children of his age, they made several figures of birds and beasts,
for their diversion, of clay ; aud each preferring his own workman-
ship, Jesus told them that he would male his walk and leap ; which
accordingly, at his command, they did. He made also several
figures of sparrows and other birds, which flew about or stood on
his hands as he ordered them, and also ate and drank when he
offered them meat and drink. The children telling this to their

Earents, were forbidden to play any more with Jesus, whom they
eld to he a sorcerer" (Evang. Infant.) Sale.
By the permission of God. See note on ver. 39. The commenta-
tors, Baidhawi, &c, understand this phrase to have been added lest
any one should suppose Jesus to be divine. See Sale.

What ye eat, dec. This would furnish evidence of the power of
Jesus to reveal secrets. These miracles were the seal of prophecy to
Je-us, us were the verses (aydt = signs) of the Quran to the prophetic
claim of Muhammad.

(49) To confirm the law, i.e., Jesus attested the genuineness and
credibility of the Jewish Scriptures. The language implies the

{>resence of these Scriptures in the time of Jesus, as does similar
anguage imply that the Christian Scriptures were present in the
days of Muhammad.

Part of that . . . forbidden you. "Such as the eating of fish that
have neither fins nor scales, the caul and fat of animals, and camels'
flesh, and to work on the Sabbath. These things, say the com-
mentators, being arbitrary institutions in the law of Moses, were
abrogated by Jesus, as several of the same kind instituted by
the latter have been since abrogated by Muhammad." Sale, Jaldl-


the right way. (51) But when Jesus perceived their
unbelief, he said, Who will he my helpers towards God ?
The apostles answered, We will he the helpers of God;
we believe in God, and do thou bear witness that we
are true believers. (52) Lord, we believe in that
which thou hast sent down, and we have followed thy
apostle; write us down therefore with those who bear
witness of him. (53) And the Jews devised a stratagem

As intimated in note on ver. 39, we here see that Muhammad's
endeavour is to make Christ appear to be a prophet like himself.
The mission, character, authority, and experience of all the prophets
were none other than those assumed by Muhammad for himself.

(51) ITie apostles. The twelve disciples of Jesus are here likened
to the companions and helpers of Muhammad.

" In Arabic al Hawdriy&n, which word they derive from Bdra,
to be white, and suppose the apostles were so called either from the
candour and sincerity of their minds, or because they were princes
and wore white garments, or else because they were by trade fullers
(Jal&luddin) According to which last opinion, their vocation is
thus related : That as Jesus passed by the seaside, he saw some
fullers at work, and accosting them, said, 'Ye cleanse these cloths,
but cleanse not your hearts ; ' upon which they believed on him.
But the true etymology seems to be from the Ethiopic verb Hawyra,
to go; whence Hawdrya signifies one that is sent, a messenger or
apostle." Sale.

The Tafslr-i-Raufi relates a story current among Muslims as to
the calling of these disciples, to the effect that Jesus, being perse-
cuted by the Jews, fled to Egypt. On the banks of the river Nile
he found some fishermen, whom he invited to accept Islam and to
become his followers, which they did.

(52) We believe on the gospel. We have followed the apostle, i.e.,

(53) Stratagem. This is better translated by Rodwell, plot. The
plotting of the Jews was to kill Jesus ; God plotted for his delivery.
Sale remarks on this as follows : " This stratagem of God's was the
taking of Jesus up into heaven, and stamping his likeness on another
person, who was apprehended and crucified in his stead. For it is
the constant doctrine of the Muhammadans that it was not Jesus
himself who underwent that ignominious death, but somebody else
in his shape and resemblance (chap. iv. 156, 157). The person
crucified some will have to be a spy that was sent to entrap him ;
others that it was one Titian, who by the direction of Judas entered
in at a window of the house where Jesus was, to kill him ; and
others that it was Judas himself, who agreed with the rulers of the
Jews to betray him for thirty pieces of silver, and led those who
were sent to take him.

" They add, that Jesus, after his crucifixion in effigy, was sent


against him; but God devised a stratagem against them ;
and God is the best deviser of stratagems.

down again to the earth to comfort his mother and disciples, and
acquaint them how the Jews were deceived ; and was then taken up
a second time into heaven.

" It is supposed by several that this story was an original inven-
tion of Muhammad's ; but they are certainly mistaken ; for several
sectaries held the same opinion long before his time. The Basilidians.
in the very beginning of Christianity, denied that Christ himself
suffered, but that Simon the Cyrenean wa3 crucified in his place.
The Ceriuthians before them, and the Carpocratians next (to name
no more of those who affirmed Jesus to have been a mere man), did
believe the same thing ; that it was not himself, but one of his
followers very like him that was crucified. Photius tells us that
he read a book entitled, The Journeys of the Apostles, relating the
acts of Peter, John, Andrew, Thomas, and Paul ; and among other
things contained therein, this was one, that Christ was not crucified,
but another in his stead, and that therefore he laughed at his cruci-
jiers, or those who thought they had crucified him.

"I have in another place mentioned an apocryphal Gospel of
Barnabas, a forgery originally of some nominal Christians, but
interpolated since by Muhamniadans, which gives this part of the
history of Jesus with circumstances too curious to be omitted. It is
therein related, that the moment the Jews were going to apprehend
Jesus in the garden, he was snatched up into the third heaven by
the ministry of four angels, Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel ;
that he will not die till the end of the world, and that it was Judas
who was crucified in his stead, God having permitted that traitor
to appear so like his master in the eyes of the Jews that they took
and delivered him to Pilate ; that this resemblance was so great
that it deceived the Virgin Mary and the apostles themselves ; but
that Jesus Christ afterwards obtained leave of God to go and com-
fort them ; that Barnabas having then asked him why the Divine
Goodness had suffered the mother and disciples of so holy a prophet
to believe even for one moment that he had died in so ignominious
a manner, Jesus returned the following answer : ' O Barnabas,
believe me that every sin, how small soever, is punished by God
with great torment, because God is offended with sin. My mother
therefore and faithful disciples, having loved me with a mixture of
earthly love, the just God has been pleased to punish this love with
their present grief, that they might not be punished for it hereafter in
the flames of hell. And as for me, though I have myself been blame-
leas in the world, yet other men having wiled me God and the son
of God, therefore God, that I might not be mocked by the devils at
the day of judgment, has been pleased that in this world I should
be mocked by men with the death of Judas, making everybody
believe that I died upon the cross. And hence it is that this
mocking is still to continue till the coming of Muhammad, the
messenger of God, who, coming into the world, will undeceive
every one who shall believe in the law of God from this mistake.'"


|| (54) When God said, Jesus, verily I will cause suls
thee to die, and I will take thee up unto me, and I will R f'
deliver thee from the unbelievers ; and I will place those
who follow thee above the unbelievers, until the day of
resurrection : then unto me shall ye return, and I will
judge between you of that concerning which ye disagree.

(55) Moreover, as for the infidels, I will punish them
with a grievous punishment in this world, and in that
which is to come ; and there shall be none to help them.

(56) But they who believe, and do that which is right, he
shall give them their reward: for God loveth not the
wicked doers. (57) These signs and this prudent admoni-
tion do we rehearse unto thee. (58) Verily the likeness
of Jesus in the sight of God is as the likeness of Adam;
he created him out of the dust, and then said unto him,
Be ; and he was. (59) This is the truth from thy Lord ;

(54) I will cause thee to die, dec. These words are a source of great
difficulty to the commentators, as they seem clearly to contradict the
statement of chap. iv. 1 56. All Muslims agree that Jesus was taken
up to heaven. This verse, however, taken as a chronological state-
ment of events, would make it necessary to believe he had died before
lie " was taken up" into heaven. The same is true of chap. v. 117.
To evade this, some deny the chronological arrangement demanded
by the copulative and. Others admit the order, and either claim
that Jesus did die a natural death remaining under its power for
three hours or explain the death spoken of here in a figurative
manner, regarding it as a promise that God would cause him " to
die a spiritual death to all worldly desires." (See notes by Rodwell
and Sale in, loco.) Others refer the passage to the time when Jesus
will come to destroy Dajjdl; when, say the commentators, Jesus
will die and be buried in the empty tomb prepared for him at
Madina, and afterwards arise at the judgment day.

These interpretations are manifestly mere attempts at evasion.
But for chap. iv. 156, no Muslim would have any difficulty in
accepting the plain common-sense import of this verse.

/ will place those . . . above unbelievers. By unbelievers Muslims
understand the Jews to be meant. This is, however, a limitation no
way justified by the Qurdn. The term is general, and fairly indi-
cates all who reject the gospel of Jesus " until the judgment day."
The allusion is, therefore, to the final and constant victory of Islam,
and the followers of Jesus are here regarded as true Muslims.

(58) The likeness of Jesus, &c, i.e., both were brought into being
miraculously, neither having a human father. ''Jal&luddm says
the resemblance consists in this both were created by the word of




be not therefore one of those who doubt ; (60) and who-
ever shall dispute with thee concerning him, after the
knowledge which hath been given thee, say unto them,
Come, let us call together our sons and your sons and
our wives and your wives, and ourselves and yourselves;
then let us make imprecations, and lay the curse of God
on those who lie. (61) Verily this is a true history : and
there is no God but God ; and God is most mighty and
wise. (62) If they turn back, God well knoweth the

|| (63) Say, ye who have received the scripture, come
to a just determination between us and you ; that we wor-

God (compare the verses in 1 Cor. xv.) Adam made from the
dust, Christ took flesh from the Virgin ; Adam sinned, Christ
sinned not ; Adam a man, Christ a spirit proceeding from God,
according to Muhammad." Brinckman in Notes on Isldm.

(60) Come let us call together our sons, dec. This passage refers to
a visit paid to Muhammad at Madina by Abu Harith, bishop of
Najran, with other Christians, who came to make a treaty of peace
with the prophet of Arabia, now rapidly growing in political power.
A controversy having arisen between them and Muhammad, the
latter proposed to settle it in the strange manner proposed in the
text. The Christians very consistently declined the test proposed.
The spirit of the two religions is well illustrated by the conduct of
Muhammad and Jesus under similar circumstances. See also notes
of Rodwell in loco, and of Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. pp. 302,


Sale gives the story of the commentators Jalaluddin and Bai-

dhawi as follows : "Some Christians, with.their bishop, named Abu

Harith, coming to Muhammad as ambassadors from the inhabitants

of Najran, and entering into some disputes with him touching religion

and the history of Jesus Christ, they agreed the next morning to

abide the trial here mentioned, as a quick way of deciding which

of them were in the wrong. Muhammad met them accordingly,

accompanied by his daughter I-Yttinia, Ids son-in-law Ali, and his

two grandsons, Hasan and Husain, and desired them to wait till he

had said his prayers. Bttt when they saw him kneel down, their

resolution failed them, and they durst not venture to curse him, but

submitted to pay him tribute.

(63) Ye who have received the Scriptures, i.e., Jews and Christians.

A just detei-mination. The proposal here, though carrying great
pretension of liberality and reason, really means out-and-out accept-
ance of Islam.

Lords. This expression has special reference to the dignity ac-
corded by Jews and Christians to their religious guides. None are


ship not any except God, and associate no creature with
him ; and that the one of us take not the other for lords,
beside God. But if they turn back, say, Bear witness that
we are true believers. (64) ye to whom the scriptures
have been given, why do ye dispute concerning Abraham,
since the Law and the Gospel were not sent down until
after him ? (65) Do ye not therefore understand ? Be-
hold ye are they who dispute concerning that which ye
have some knowledge in ; why therefore do you dispute
concerning that which ye have no knowledge of ? God
knoweth, but ye know not. (66) Abraham was neither a
Jew nor a Christian ; but he was of the true religion, one
resigned unto God, and was not of the number of the idola-
ters. (67) Verily the men who are the nearest of kin

more addicted to the practice here condemned than the Muslims
themselves. The worship of Walls and Plrs is of a kind with the
worship of saints among certain sects of Christians.

(64) Why do ye dispute? The commentators say hoth Jews and
Christians claimed that Abraham belonged to their religion; Mu-
hammad here decides that he belongs to neither. He, however,
thereby contradicts his oft-repeated claim that every new revelation
confirmed that which had preceded it; that the prophets belonged
to a common "race" or class (ver. 34, and note); and that all true
believers in every dispensation were true Muslims, professing the
"religion of Abraham the orthodox." See also notes on chap, ii

This passage implies that the Jews and Christians were in posses-
sion of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament current in his
day. The same is implied in Baidhawi's note on the next verse, quoted
by Sale: "Ye perversely dispute even concerning those things
which ye find in the Law and the Gospel, whereby it appears that
they were both sent down long after Abraham's time : why then
will ye offer to dispute concerning such points of Abraham's religion
of which your Scriptures say nothing, and of which ye consequently
can have no knowledge 1 "

(66) See notes on chap. ii. 135-140. It would seem that Muham-
mad was ignorant of the national relationship existing between
Abraham and the Jews. The terra Jew was probably understood by
him in an ecclesiastical sense only. Yet this is the teaching of God
and his prophet ! See also Rodwell's note on chap. xvi. 121.

(67) Nearest of kin. The relationship here spoken of is not neces-
sarily one of kindred; the words of kin do not belong to the original
Arabic. The nearness spoken of here should rather refer to nearness
in point of religious faith and practice. See vers. 64-66, and Tafsir-i-
Itaufi in loco.


unto Abraham are they who follow him : and this prophet,
and they who believed on him: God is the patron of the
faithful. (68) Some of those who have received the scrip-
tures desire to seduce you ; but they seduce themselves
only, and they perceive it not. (69) ye who have re-
ceived the scriptures, why do ye not believe in the signs
of God, since ye are witnesses of Hum ?
R 16 II (70) O ye who have received the scriptures, why do

you clothe truth with vanity, and knowingly hide the
truth ? (71) And some of those to whom the scriptures
were given say, Believe in that which hath been sent
down unto those who believe, in the beginning of the day ;
and deny it in the end thereof ; that they may go back
from their faith; (72) and believe him only who followeth
your religion. Say, Verily the true direction is the direc-

And this prophet, i.e., Muhammad. The meaning is that Muhammad,
and those who believe on him, are most nearly related to Abraham.

(68) Some . . . desire to seduce you. Sale, on the authority of Bai-
dhawi, refers this passage to the time when certain Jews endeavoured
to pervert Hudhaifa, Amar, and Mtnidh to their religion. So too
Tafdr-i- Ravfi.

(69) Why not believe ? The sions to be believed were the incom-
parable verses of the Quran. The argument of the prophet was
certainly not convincing.

(70) C'othe truth with vanity, dec. See note on chap. ii. 41.

(71) Deny it in the end thereof. "The commentators, to explain
this passage, say that Qab Ibn al Ashraf and Malik Ibn al Saif
(two Jews of Madfna) advised their companions, when the Qibla
was changed (chap. ii. 142), to make as if they believed it was done
by the divine direction, and to pray towards the Kaabah in the
morning, but that in the evening they should pray as formerly
towards the Temple of Jerusalem, that Muhammad's followers,
imagining that the Jews were better judges of this matter than
themselves, might imitate their example. But others say these
were certain Jewish priests of Khaibar, who directed some of their
people to pretend in the morning that they had embraced Muhain-
madanism, but in the close of the day to say that they had looked
into their books of Scripture and consulted their Rabbins, and could
not find that Muhammad was the person described and intended in
the law ; by which trick they hoped to raise doubts in the minds of
the Muhamm adans." Sale, Baidhdwi.

(72) J 'our religion, i.e., Judaism.

Tliat tliere may be given, dbc. This passage is very obscure, but
the idea seems to be that if the Jews are directed by God, they
should bring forth verses like unto those of the Quran.


tion of God, that there may be given unto some other a
revelation like unto what hath been given unto you. Will
they dispute with you before your Lord ? Say, Surely
excellence is in the hand of God, he giveth it unto whom
he pleaseth ; God is bounteous and wise : (73) he will
confer peculiar mercy on whom he pleaseth ; for God is
endued with great beneficence. (74) There is of those
who have received the scriptures, unto whom if thou trust
a talent he will restore it unto thee ; and there is also of
them, unto whom if thou trust a dinar, he will not restore
it unto thee, unless thou stand over him continually with
great urgency. This they do, because they say, We are not
obliged to observe justice with the heathen : but they utter
a lie against God, knowingly. (75) Yea, whoso keepeth
his covenant, and feareth God, God surely loveth those
who fear him. (76) But they who make merchandise of
God's covenant, and of their oaths, for a small price, shall
have no portion in the next life, neither shall God speak
to them or regard them on the day of resurrection, nor
shall he cleanse them; but they shall suffer a grievous
punishment. (77) And there are certainly some of them
who read the scriptures perversely, that ye may think

(74) A talent . . . a dinar. As usual, the commentators have a story
to illustrate the text. A Jew, by name Abdullah Ibn Salam, having
borrowed twelve hundred ounces of gold from a Quraishite, paid it
back punctually at the time appointed. Another Jew, Phineaa Ibn
Aziira, borrowed a dinar, and afterwards denied having received it !
The followers of the Arabian prophet must have been very simple-
minded indeed to make this revelation necessary.

Sale thinks the person especially intended was Qab Ibn Ashraf, a
Jew, who finally became so inimical that Muhammad proscribed him
and caused him to be slain.

Some commentators (Baidhawi, &c.) think the trustworthy persons
referred to here are Christians and the dishonest ones Jews. This

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 3 of 42)