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 31 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 31 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

present life to that which is to come ? But the provision
of this life, in respect of that which is to come, is but
slender. (39) Unless ye go forth when ye are summoned
to war, God will punish you with a grievous punishment ;
and he will place another people in your stead, and ye
shall not hurt him at all ; for God is almighty. (40) If

(37) An additional infidelity. " This was an invention or innova-
tion of the idolatrous Arabs, whereby they avoided keeping a sacred
month, when it suited not their conveniency, by keeping a profane
month in its stead, transferring, for example, the observance of
Muharram to the succeeding month Safar. The first man who put
this in practice, they say, was Jnnada Ibn Auf, of the tribe of
Kinana. These ordinances relating to the months were promul-
gated by Muhammad himself at the pilgrimage of valediction."

They . . . declare it sacred another year, &c. "As did Junada,
who made public proclamation at the assembly of pilgrims that
their gods had allowed Muharram to be profane, whereupon they
observed it not ; but the next year he told them that the gods had
ordered it to be kept sacred." Sale, Baidhawi.

(38) What ailed you, viz., " In the expedition of Tabiiq, a town
situate about half-way between Madina and Damascus, which
Muhammad undertook against the Greeks, with an army of thirty
thousand men, in the ninth year of the Hijra. On this expedition
the Muslims set out with great unwillingness, because it was under-
taken in the midst of the summer heats, and at a time of great
drought and scarcity, whereby the soldiers suffered so much, that
this army was called the distressed army; besides, their fruits were
just ripe, and they had much rather have stayed to have gathered
them." Sale, Jaldluddln, Baidh&vri.

(39) Another people in your stead. See chap. v. 59, and notes

CHAP. IX.] ( 292 ) [SIPARA X.

ye assist not the Prophet, verily God will assist him, as he
assisted him formerly, when the unbelievers drove him
out of Makkah, the second of two when they were both
in the cave : when he said unto his companion, Be not
grieved, for God is with us. And God sent down his
security upon him, and strengthened him with armies of
angels, whom ye saw not. And he made the word of
those who believed not to be abased, and the word of
God was exalted ; for God is mighty and wise. (41) Go
forth to battle, both light and heavy, and employ your sub-
stance and your persons for the advancement of God's
religion. This will be better for you, if ye know it. (42)
If it had been a near advantage, and a moderate journey,
they had surely followed thee ; but the way seemed tedious
unto them : and yet they will swear by God, saying, If we
had been able, we had surely gone forth with you. They

(40) The unbelievers, i.e., the people or chiefs of Makkah, who
compelled his flight to Madina.

The second of two. " That is, having only Abu Baqr with hiin."
Sale. See Prelim. Disc, pp. 86, 87.

His security. See note on ver. 26.

Armies of angels. The allusion is to the angelic hosts, whose help
he pretended to have received at the battle of Badr, at the Ditch,
and at Hunain. If these angels are here intended, then the state-
ment that they were not seen by the Muslims does not accord with
the statements of chap. iii. 13, 123, and chap. viii. 44, 45.

(41) Light and heavy. Savary translates young arid old. The
Tafsir-i-Raufi comments as follows : " Go forth on horseback and
on foot, in health or sickness, young and old, poor and rich, with-
out preparation and with preparation, the virgin and the married

The advancement of OooVs religion. The faithful are now to hold
their all in readiness to promote the cause of Islam by the sword.
The outlook is not now upon unbelieving Arabia, as in chap. ii. 190
and 244, but upon the unbelieving world. The expedition to Tabiiq
was the beginning of a struggle wnich was only accomplished in part
by the conquest of Constantinople ; and yet this was far from realis-
ing, the ambitious purpose of the Prophet of Arabia,

(42) A near advantage, dec. " That is, had there been no difficul-
ties to surmount in the expedition to Tabiiq, and the march thither
had been short and easy, so that the plunder might have cost them
little or no trouble, they would not have been so backward." Sale.

They will swear, dec. This verse, with those following to ver. 48,
are said by the commentators to have been revealed during the

SIPARA X.] ( 293 ) [CHAP. IX.

destroy their own souls ; for God knoweth that they are

|| (43) God forgive thee ! why didst thou give them li HT
leave to stay at home, until they who speak the truth, when
they excuse themselves, had become manifested unto thee,
and thou hadst known the liars ? (44) They who believe
in God and the last day will not ask leave of thee to be
excused from employing their substance and their persons
for the advancement of God's true religion; and God
knoweth those who fear him. (45) Verily they only will
ask leave of thee to stay behind who believe not in God
and the last day, and whose hearts doubt concerning the
faith; wherefore they are tossed to and fro in their doubt-
ing. (46) If they had been willing to go forth with thee,

march to Tabuq, and the statement of the text is regarded as a pro-
phecy, which was, of course, fulfilled on the return of the army to
Madina. Granting the claim that the passage was revealed on the
way to Tabuq, the character of this prophecy may be determined
from the statement of ver. 48, where these same hypocrites are said
to have "sought to raise sedition" on a previous occasion. It is,
however, almost certain, from the statement of ver. 47, that the
passage was enunciated after the return, and delivered as a rebuke
to the hypocrites and others affected by their indifference.

(43) God, forgive thee. Muhammad is here " reprehended for having
excused some of his followers from going on this expedition, as
Abdullah Ibn Ubbai and his hypocritical adherents, and three of
the Ansars." Sale.

The Tafdr-i- Ituufi regards this as a benediction, which in no way
implies that the Prophet had sinned, and illustrates it by reference
to the Oriental custom of pronouncing a benediction on the water-
carrier, "The Lord pardon thee ;" to which he replies, "The Lord have
mercy on thee." Here, the commentators says, no charge of sinful-
ness is intended, and so when God speaks to the Prophet, saying,
" God forgive thee," no crime is laid to his charge ! The fact is
overlooked that the custom alluded to could only exist among sinful
men, ever needing God's mercy and pardon. The passage certainly
implies the sinfulness of Muhammad. The doctrine of Muslims
that the prophets were sinless cannot even bear the light of the
Quran, which clearly charges sin against all the great prophets
(nabi ul azim) excepting Jesus. See chap. ii. 253.

Until . . . thou hadst known. " Contrast to Christ, ' knowing
their thoughts,' and Peter discovering the lies of Ananias and his
wife." Brinckman s " Notes on Islam."

(44-46) These verses teach that all interests of private individuals
must yield to the interests of Islam. Failure here is a sure sign of

CHAP. IX.] ( 294 ) [SIPARA X.

they had certainly prepared for that purpose a provision of
arms and necessaries: but God was averse to their coins
forth ; wherefore he rendered them slothful, and it was
said unto them, Sit ye still with those who sit still. (47)
If they had gone forth with you, they had only been a
burden unto you, and had run to and fro between you,
stirring you up to sedition ; and there would have been some
among you who would have given ear unto them: and
God knoweth the wicked. (48) They formerly sought to
raise a sedition, and they disturbed thy affairs, until the
truth came, and the decree of God was made manifest ;
although they were adverse thereto. (49) There is of
them who saith unto tlice, Give me leave to stay behind,
and expose me not to temptation. Have they not fallen
into temptation at home ? But hell will surely encom-
pass the unbelievers. (50) If good happen unto thee, it
grieveth them : but if a misfortune befall thee, they say,
We ordered our business before, and they turn their backs,
and rejoice at thy mishap. (51) Say, Nothing shall befall
us but what God hath decreed for us ; he is our patron,

infidelity. Another point worthy of notice is that man's free agency
and God's sovereignty are botli clearly recognised in this passage.

Sit . . . with those who sit still, i.e., with those who are incapable
of active service, as the women and children, the aged and infirm.

(48) Formerly sought to raise a sedition. As at Ohod. See notes
on chap. iii. 156-160.

(49) Expose me not to temptation. "By obliging me to go, against
my will, on an expedition the hardships of which may tempt me to
rebel or to desert. It is related that one Jadd Ibn Qais said that
the Ansare well knew lie was much given to women, and he dared
not trust himself with the Greek girls ; wherefore he desired he
might be left behind, and he would assist them with his purse."
Sate, Baidhdwi.

Have they notfaUen, dec, i.e., by falling into the sin of cowardice
and infidelity.

(50) It grieveth them. For envy, or because they are unable to
share the booty.

We ordered our business before, i.e., " We took care to keep out of
harm's way by staying at home." Sale.

(51) What God hath decreed. Literally, What God hath written,
meaning what God hath determined from eternity, and recorded on
the Preserved Table. On the question of Muhammad's fatalism see
notes on chap. iii. 145 and 155.

SIPARA X.] ( 295 ) [CHAP. IX.

and on God let the faithful trust. (52) Say, Do ye expect
any other should befall us than one of the two most excel-
lent things, either victory or martyrdom ? But we expect
concerning you that God inflict a punishment on you,
either from himself or by our hands. "Wait, therefore, to
see what will be the end of both ; for we will wait for you.
(53) Say, Expend your money in pious uses, either volun-
tarily or by constraint, it shall not be accepted of you,
because ye are wicked people. (54) And nothing hindereth
their contributions from being accepted of them, but that
they believe not in God and his Apostle, and perform not
the duty of prayer otherwise than sluggishly, and expend
not their money for God's service otherwise than unwill-

T) 8

|| (55) Let not therefore their riches or their children K fj*
cause thee to marvel. Verily God intendeth only to
punish them by these things in this world, and that their
souls may depart while they are unbelievers. (56) They

(52) The two most excellent things. This passage illustrates the
confidence Muhammad had in the success of Islam, whilst it shows
the strong spirit of fanaticism already fixed in the minds of the
Muslims. To fight for Islam was to conquer or to gain admission to
Paradise. An army made up of men holding such a faith could
hardly fail of success. War and bloodshed thus sanctified are the
very antipodes of the peace and benevolence of the Gospel.

We will wait for you. The threat contained in this verse shows the
changed attitude of Muhammad towards the disaffected. Compare
chap. ii. 108. Either God would punish them by a judgment from
heaven, as he had punished Ad and Thamud (Prelim. Disc, pp.
20-22), or they would be punished by the faithful by Divine com-
mand. The facility with which Muhammad could produce such
commands was, no doubt, well understood by the hypocrites, so that
these words would convey to their minds a very distinct threat of

(53, 54) The distinction between true Muslims and merely nomi-
nal adherents is here clearly defined. The former were those who
had consecrated all to Islam, and held themselves ready to obey
every command of the Prophet with unquestioning obedience.
Their bodies, souls, time, strength, property, all was devoted to their
religion. The unpardonable sin was want of devotion to Muhammad
and his cause. The property of hypocrites could not be accepted
except as the lawful booty of the faithful.

(55) Comp. with chap. iii. 179.

CHAP. IX.] ( 296 ) [SIPARA X.

swear by God that they are of you ; yet they are not of
you, but are people who stand in fear. (57) If they find
a place of refuge, or caves, or a retreating hole, they surely
turn towards the same, and in a headstrong manner haste
thereto. (58) There is of them also who spreadeth ill
reports of thee, in relation to thy distribution of the alms :
yet if they receive part thereof they are well pleased ; but
if they receive not a part thereof, behold they are angry.
(59) But if they had been pleased with that which God
and his Apostle had given them, and had said, God is our
support ; God will give unto us of his abundance, and his
Prophet also ; verily unto God do we make our supplica-
tions : it would have been more decent. (60) Alms are to be
distributed only unto the poor and the needy, and those

(56) People who stan>! in fear. " Hypocritically concealing their
infidelity, lest ye should chastise them, as ye have done the professed
infidels and apostates ; and yet ready to avow their infidelity when
they think they may do it with safety." Sale.

(58, 59) Them also who spread ill reports of thee, dbc. " This person
was Abu'l Jawadh, the hypocrite, who said Muhammad gave them
away among the keepers of sheep only ; or, as others suppose, Ibn
Dhu'l Khuwaisarah, who found fault with the Prophet's distribution
of the spoils taken at Hunain, because he gave them all among the
Makkans, to reconcile and gain them over to his religion and inte-
rest." Sale, Abdul Qddir.

Complaints among the Muslims frequently grew out of the claim
of Muhammad that the booty was God's (see chap. viii. 1), and that
the distribution of it depended upon His will as revealed by the
Apostle. So long as the division was equal, no objection, so far as we
know, was ever raised. Dissatisfaction on this point arose out of
Muhammad's purpose to gain influence by means of rich presents
bestowed out of the common heap, as at Hunain, alluded to above.
Yet we find the Prophet deliberately associating God with himself
in carrying out this very worldly policy by appealing to one of the
lowest passions of depraved human nature.

If, as seems certain, the allusion is to the trouble at Hunain, God
is here also made a partner in appeasing the covetous Muslim
Bedouins by a promise of increased booty in future expeditions (see
above in ver. 27). This is styled in the next verse (59) the abund-
ance of God and his Prophet, which the faithful receive in answer to
their prayers. Was there no consciousness of deception and impos-
ture in this affair ?

(60) This verse abrogates chap. ii. 214 on the subject of alms-
giving. See Prelim. Disc, pp. 172-175.

The poor and the needy. " The commentators make a distinction

SI PARA X.] ( 297 ) [CHAP. IX.

who are employed in collecting and distributing the same,
and unto those whose hearts are reconciled, and for the
redemption of captives, and unto those who are in debt
and insolvent, and for the advancement of God's religion,
and unto the traveller. This is an ordinance from God ;
and God is knowing and wise. (61) There are some of
them who injure the Prophet, and say, He is an ear.
Answer, He is an ear of good unto you ; he believeth in
God, and giveth credit to the faithful, (62) and is a mercy

between these two words in the original, fakir and miskinj one, they
say, signifies him who is utterly destitute both of money and means
of livelihood ; the other, one who is in want indeed, but is able to
get something towards his own support. But to which of the two
words either of these different significations properly belongs the
critics differ." Sale.

Those whose hearts are reconciled. These were the Arab chiefs
upon whom Muhammad lavished expensive presents in order to
pecure their allegiance to Islam. See the matter fully described in
Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. pp. 152-155.

Sale's note here is as follows : "Those who were lately enemies
to the faithful, but have now embraced Muhammadanism and entered
into amity with them. For Muhammad, to gain their hearts and
confirm them in his religion, made large presents to the chief of ihe
Quraish out of the spoils at fiunain, as has been just now mentioned.
But this law, they say, became of no obligation when the Muham-
madan faith was established, and stood not in need of such methods
for its support."

(fil) He is an ear. Rodwell translates " He is all ear." Sale
paraphrases thus : " He hears everything that we say, and gives
credit to all the stories that are carried to him." This seems to ex-
press blameworthiness on the part of the Prophet The Tafslr-i-Raufi
understands these words to express the feelings of the Prophet's
enemies, who, taking advantage of his simplicity, spoke evil of him
behind his back, in the assurance that, if reported, he would credit
their hypocritical professions of friendship. This view accords with
the verses following.

An ear of good, i.e., " Giving credit to nothing that may do you
hurt." Sale.

Giveth credit to the faithful. It is here intimated that the Prophet
Mas aware of the evil-speaking of his enemies, and that he did not
credit the declarations of loyalty made by the unbelievers.

That Muhammad deserved the title here given him is abundantly
exhibited by the numerous passages of the Quran specially written
to refute the sayings of bis foes, or to record the lessons in Jewish
history and tradition he had learned from friends. To use a modern
expression, " he was thoroughly wide-awake." He understood his fol-
lowers and divined the purposes of his enemies, because he heard them

CHAP. IX.] ( 298 ) [SIPARA X.

unto such of you who believe. But they who injure the
Apostle of God shall suffer a painful punishment. (63)
They swear unto you by God, that they may please you ;
but it is more just that they should please God and his
Apostle, if they are true believers. (64) Do they not know
that he who opposeth God and his Apostle shall without
doubt be punished with the fire of hell, and shall remain
therein for ever ? This will be great ignominy. (65) The
hypocrites are apprehensive lest a Sura should be revealed
concerning them, to declare unto them that which is in

express their feelings, carefully treasuring all in his memory until
such time as he had determined on to reveal his knowledge, while
assuming the outward garb of one inspired, and pretending to have
received his knowledge by revelation, declaring it as coming from
God himself. Comp. note on chap. ii. 145.

(63, 64) God and his Apostle. The chief duty of a Muslim is
here declared to be to please God and his Apostle, for to oppose God,
and his Apostle is sure to end in the punishment of the fire of hell. A
Muslim sees nothing in this passage derogatory to Muhammad's
character, because he believes that he was truly a prophet of God,
and therefore judges that to oppose the Prophet is to oppose God.
How our Christian apologists for Muhammad can exonerate their
hero here we cannot imagine. Was he a prophet ? Did he originate
the language of this passage in his own mind, or did he receive it,
as he pretended, directly from God, so that he was merely the
mouthpiece of God ? We are not aware that any of these admirers
of Muhammad hold opinions consistent with such a claim. But if
he be the author of the Quran, and if he be not a prophet, how can
he be exonerated from blasphemy and imposture in the use of such
language as this? We should indeed like to hear what they have to
say in defence of this very characteristic feature of the revelations
of the Quran. See also chap. viii. 20.

(65) The hypocrites are apprehensive lest a Sura. This passage
illustrates Muhammad's method of procedure. The hypocrites had
already abundant experience as to the correspondence between the
wishes and designs of the Prophet and the Suras of his Quran. They
had seen this fact illustrated in bloody characters in the case of their
Jewish neighbours, in characters of a different hue in the matter of
the distribution of the spoils, and the numerous interferences of the
inspiring angel in settlement of grave matters pertaining to the
Prophets harem. No wonder they should be " apprehensive lest a
Sura should be revealed concerning them." No wonder that, as a
result of such apprehension, hypocrisy soon became lost in zeal tor
the cause of the Prophet. On the word sura, see introduction to
chap. i.

SIPARA X.] ( 299 ) [CHAP. IX.

their hearts. Say unto them, Scoff ye ; hut God will surely
bring to light that which ye fear should he discovered.

|| (66) And if thou ask them the reason of this scoffing, suls
they say, Verily we were only engaged in discourse, and
jesting among ourselves. Say, Do ye scoff at God and his
signs, and at his Apostle? (67) Offer not an excuse : now
are ye become infidels, after your faith. If we forgive a
part of you, we will punish a part, for that they have been
wicked doers.

|| (68) Hypocritical men and women are the one of K TE
them of the other: they command that which is evil,
and forbid that which is just, and shut their hands
from giving alms. They have forgotten God, wherefore
he hath forgotten them : verily the hypocrites are those
who act wickedly. (69) God denounceth unto the hypo-
crites, both men and women, and to the unbelievers, the
fire of hell ; they shall remain therein^or ever : this will be
their sufficient reward; God hath cursed them, and they
shall endure a lasting torment. (70) As they who have

(66) Jesting. "It is related that in the expedition of Tabiiq, a
company of hypocrites, passing near Muhammad, said to one
another, 'Behold that man! he would take the strongholds of
Syria : away ! away ! ' which being told the Prophet, he called them
to him, and asked them why they had said so ; whereto they replied
with an oatli, that they were not talking of what related to him or
his companions, but were only diverting themselves with indifferent
discourse, to beguile the tediousness of the way." Sale, Baidhdici.

Such stories have every appearance of being invented to account
for the text. Hypocrites were not in the habit of going on distant
expeditions ; and, at this date in the career of the Prophet, they
would not have ventured to jest at his expense, and that in his
hearing. The passage must be assigned to an earlier date.

(68) One of them from the other. Rodwell translates this idiom,
and renders it "imitate one another." JIVio act wickedly, i.e., they
opposed Muhammad's pretensions, and declined to spend money for
his wars. As to moral conduct, we have every reason to believe
them to have been better than the Muslims. But with these
morality had already become identical with adhesion to Islam.

(69) God denounceth . . . the fire of hell. Of the seven apartments
of hell, the lowest is assigned to the hypocrites. See Prelim. Disc,
p. 148.

(70) This description of the hypocrites points to the days of their
prosperity and power, and confirms what was said under ver. 66.

CHAP. IX.] ( 300 ) [SIPARA X.

been before you, so are ye. They were superior to you
in strength, and had more abundance of wealth and of
children, and they enjoyed their portion in this world;
and ye also enjoy your portion here, as they who have
preceded you enjoyed their portion. And ye engage
yourselves in vain discourses, like unto those wherein
they engaged themselves. The works of these are vain
both in this world and in that which is to come ; and these
are they who perish. (71) Have they not been acquainted
with the history of those who have been before them ? of
the people of Noah, and of Ad, and of Thamiid, and of
the people of Abraham, and of the inhabitants of Madian,
and of the cities which were overthrown. Their apostles
came unto them with evident demonstrations, and God
was not disposed to treat them unjustly ; but they dealt
unjustly with their own souls. (72) And the faithful
men and the faithful women are friends one to another:
they command that which is just, and they forbid that
which is evil ; and thp.y are constant at prayer, and pay
their appointed alms ; and they obey God and his
Apostle : unto these will God be merciful ; for he is
mighty and wise. (73) God promiseth unto the true
believers, both men and women, gardens through which
rivers flow, wherein they shall remain for ever ; and deli-
cious dwellings in the gardens of perpetual abode: but

(71) 77k people of Noah, dec. See notes on chap. vii. 60-86. The

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 31 of 42)