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 32 of 42)
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cities . . . overthrown, namely, " Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other
cities which shared tiieir fate, and are thence called Al Mutikif&t, or
the subverted." Hale.

(73) Both men and women. See note on chap. iv. 123.

Gardens. " Lit. gardens of Eden ; but the commentators do not
take the word Eden in the sense which it bears in Hebrew, as has
been elsewhere observed." See Prelim. Disc, p. 1 55. Sate.

"In Hebrew it signifies a place of delight. In the Arabic it means
a place fit for the pasturing offloclu." Savary.

But good-will from God, d'C The commentators have very little to
say on this passage one of the few passages suggesting a higher joy
in heaven than the satisfaction of carnal appetites. The very excep-
tions of the Quran prove the rule that the heaven of Islam is one of
carnal joy. See notes on chaps, ii. 25 and iii. 15.

SIPARA X.] ( 30I ) [CHAP. DC.

good- will from God shall be their most excellent reward.
This will be great felicity.

|| (74) Prophet, wage war against the unbelievers K Te"

(74) Wage war against tlie unbelievers, &c. Mr. Bosworth Smith
in his Mohammed and Mohammedanism, pp. 137-142, admits a
change of practice on the part of Muhammad in respect to his
opponents : " The free toleration of the purer among the creeds
around him, which the Prophet had at first enjoined, gradually
changes into intolerance. Persecuted no longer, Mohammed be-
comes a persecutor himself ; with the Koran in one liand, the
scymiter in the other, he goes forth to offer to the nations the three-
fold alternative of conversion, tribute, death." This, however, along
with his being " guilty more than once of conniving at the assas-
sination of inveterate opponents, and the massacre of the Bani
Koraitza," is excused partly on the ground that, believing himself
to be inspired, he "found an ample precedent for the act in the
slaughter of the Midianites by Moses or the Canaanites by Joshua,"
and partly on the ground of his being an Oriental, who must there-
fore be judged by a lower standard of morality. In Mr. Smith's
estimation these are apparently but a few slight blemishes in an
otherwise estimable character. In opposition to Gibbon, he lauds
the magnanimity of Muhammad on his capture of Makkah. " If
ever he had worn a mask at all, he would now at all events have
thrown it off ; if lower aims had gradually sapped the higher, or his
moderation had been directed, as Gibbon supposes, by his selfish
interests, we should now have seen the effect ; now would have been
the moment to gratify his ambition, to satiate his lust, to glut his
revenge. Is there anything of the kind 1 Read the account of the
entry of Mohammed into Mecca, side by side with that of Marius or
Sulla into Rome. Compare all the attendant circumstances, the
outrages that preceded, and the use made by each of his recovered
power, and we shall then be in a position better to appreciate the
magnanimity and moderation of the Prophet of Arabia."

I have thus quoted at length, because this is perhaps the strongest
plea for Muhammad's sincerity and magnanimity to be found in the
English language. It is made to cover a multitude of Muhammad's
sins. And yet I am persuaded that Gibbon's estimate of his
character is the fairest. It must never be forgotten that this so-
called magnanimity was avowedly exceptional. It was contrary to
numerous threats made by the Prophet in previous years. It was
in striking contrast with the spirit shown at Badr and Ohod, and
yet was in equally striking accord with his treatment of the Bani
Hawazin after the battle of Hunain. There were indeed important
reasons for the clemency shown towards the people of Makkah. Not
to mention the fact that hundreds of the Muslims, like the Prophet
himself, were bound to the Makkans by ties of relationship, there
were many secret disciples in Makkah., Besides, there is very good
reason to believe that both Abbas and Abu Sufian were in collusion
with Muhammad, and that the city was really surrendered by them

CHAP. IX.] ( 302 ) [SIPARA X.

and the hypocrites, and be severe unto them; for their
dwelling shall be hell: an unhappy journey shall it be
thither! (75) They swear by God that they said not
what they are charged with : yet they spake the word of
infidelity, aud became unbelievers after they had embraced
Islam. And they designed that which they could not
effect; and they did not disapprove the design for any
other reason than because God and his Apostle had en-
riched them of his bounty. If they repent, it will be
better for them ; but if they relapse, God will punish
them with a grievous torment in this world and in the
next ; and they shall have no portion on earth, nor any

to Muhammad, with the express understanding that violence should
not be permitted. Then policy would dictate clemency, inasmuch
as the powerful tribes which, a few days later, well-nigh defeated
him at Huuain, would have gained much by any impolitic severity
towards the people of the holy city. Muhammad's treatment of the
inhabitants of Makkah, therefore, rather argues in favour of his
wisdom and prudence than of his forbearance and clemency. The
passage under consideration, written at least a year after the capture
of Makkah, testifies to the intolerant temper of Muhammad. He
had now secured the power to do what he always desired to do, and
there was no reason for concealing the real hatred with which he re-
garded every rival religion. Indeed, the mainspring of his whole pro-
phetic career w y as policy. He was as magnanimous as he was cruel
whenever the interest of his prophetico-political pretensions re-
quired it.

(75) They spake the word of infidelity. " It is related that al Jal!4s
Ibn Suwaid, hearing some passages of this chapter which sharply
reprehended those who refused to go on the above-mentioned ex-
pedition of Tabuq, declared that if what Muhammad said of his
brethren was true, they were worse than asses. Which coming to
the Prophet's ear, he sent for him, and he denied the words upon
oath. But on the immediate revelation of this p;issage, he confessed
his fault, and his repentance was accepted." Sale, Baulhdwi.

They designed, <bc. "The commentators tell us that fifteen men
conspired to kill Muhammad on his return from Tabuq, by pushing
him from his camel into a precipice as he rode by night over the
highest part of al Aqabah. But when they were going to execute
their design, Hudhaifah, who followed and drove the Prophet's
camel, which was led by Ammar Ibn Yasir, hearing the tread of
camels and the clashing of arms, gave the alarm, upon which they
fled. Some however suppose the design here meant was a plot to
expel Muhammad from Madina." Sale, Baidhdtn.

Hud enriched them. u For Muhammad's residing at Madina was
of great advantage to the place, the inhabitants being generally poor,

SIPARA X.] ( 303 ) [CHAP. IX.

protector. (76) There are some of them who made a
covenant with God, saying, Verily if he give us of his
abundance., we will give alms, and become righteous
people. (77) Yet when they had given unto him of his
abundance, they became covetous thereof, and turned
back, and retired afar off. (78) Wherefore he hath caused
hypocrisy to succeed in their hearts, until the day whereon
they shall meet him ; for that they failed to perform unto
God that which they had promised him, and for that they
prevaricated. (79) Do they not know that God knoweth

and in want of most conveniences of life ; but on the Prophet's
coming among them, they became possessed of large herds of cattle,
and money also. Al Baidhawi says that the above-named al Jallas,
in particular, having a servant killed, received, by Muhammad's
order, no less than ten thousand dirkems, or about three hundred
pounds, as a fine for the redemption of his blood." Sale.

The predatory expeditions of the Muslims, the plunder of numer-
ous caravans, and the successful wars waged against the wealthy
Jewish tribes in the vicinity of Madina, must have resulted in
changing the condition of the people from poverty to wealth. Let
it be observed that the Quran here justifies all the means adopted by
" his Apostle" for the acquisition of this wealth. It was, in the strictest
and most direct sense of the words, a gift from God and Muhammad.

(76) If he give . . . we will give, &c. " An instance of this is given
in Thalabah Ibn Hatib, who came to Muhammad, and desired him to
beg of God that he would bestow riches on him. The Prophet at first
advised him rather to be thankful for the little he had than to covet
more, which might become a temptation to him ; but on Thalabah's
repeated request and solemn promise that he would make a good
use of his riches, he was at length prevailed on, and preferred the
petition to God. Thalabah in a short time grew vastly rich, which
Muhammad being acquainted with, sent two collectors to gather
the alms ; other people readily paid them, but when they came to
Thalabah, and read the injunction to him out of the Quran, he told
them that it was not alms, but tribute, or next kin to tribute, and
bid them go back till he had better considered of it. Upon which
this passage was revealed ; and when Thalabah came afterwards
and brought his alms, Muhammad told him that God had com-
manded him not to accept it, and threw dust on his head, saying,
'This is what thou hast deserved.' He then offered his alms to
Abu Baqr, who refused to accept them, as did Omar some years
after, when he was Khalifab." Sale.

I confess this story sounds exceedingly like an invention of the
commentators. Its spirit accords better with a later period in the
history of the Khalifahs. It is given, however, on the authority of

(79) This verse clearly teaches that God is omniscient that all
things are open to the gaze of his all-seeing eye.

CHAP. IX.] ( 304 ) [SIPARA X.

whatever they conceal, and their private discourses ; and
that God is the knower of secrets? (80) They who
traduce such of the believers as are liberal in giving alms
beyond what they are obliged, and those who find nothing
to give but what they gain by their industry, and there-
fore scoff at them : God shall scoff at them, and they shall
suffer a grievous punishment. (81) Ask forgiveness for
them, or do not ask forgiveness for them ; it will be equal.
If thou ask forgiveness for them seventy times, God will
by no means forgive them. This is the divine pleasure, for

(80) They who traduce . . . believers. " Al Baidhawi relates that
Muhammad, exhorting his followers to voluntary alms, among
others, Abd-ur-Rahman Ibn Auf gave four thousand dirhems, which
was one-half of what he had ; Asim lbn Adila gave a hundred
beasts' loads of dates ; and Abu Ukail a sad, which is no more than
a sixtieth part of a load, of the same fruit, but was the half of wliat
he had earned by a night's hard work. This Muhammad accepted :
whereupon the hypocrites said that Abd-ur-Rahman and Asim gave
what they did out of ostentation, and that God and his Apostle
might well have excused Abu UkaiPs mite ; which occasioned this

"1 suppose this collection was made to defray the charge of the
expedition of Tabtiq, towards which, as another writer tells us, Abu
Baqr contributed all that he had, and Othman very largely, viz., as
it is said, three hundred camels for slaughter, and a thousand dindrs
of gold." Sale, Tafsir-i-Ravfi.

(81) God will by no means forgive them. "In the last sickness of
Abdullah Ibn Ubbai, the hypocrite (who died in the ninth year of
the Hijra), his son, named also Abdullah, came and asked Muham-
mad to beg pardon of God for him, which he did, and thereupon the
former part of this verse was revealed. But the Prophet, not taking
that for a repulse, said he would pray seventy times for him ; upon
which the latter part of the verse was revealed, declaring it would
be absolutely in vain. It may be observed that the numbers seven,
and seventy, and seven hundred, are frequently used by the Eastern
writers, to signify not so many precisely, but only an indefinite
number, either greater or lesser, several examples of which are to
be met with in the Scriptures." Sale, Baidhdin,

If we are to credit this story, as all Muslims do, it very well
illustrates Muhammad's character as an intercessor on behalf of
sinners. He may intercede, but there is no certainty he will be
heard. According to this story, he does not even know that he will
not be heard. Of course the reply of the Muslim is, that his ofhce
as intercessor only begins with the judgment-day, and that then it
will be effectual. But then it will only be of avail in the case of
Muslims who are now assured salvation on the ground of their

SIPARA X.] ( 305 ) [CHAP. IX.

that they believe not in God and his Apostle ; and God
directeth not the ungodly people.

|| (82) They who were left at home in the expedition ft it*
of Taolxq were glad of their staying behind the
Apostle of God, and were unwilling to employ their
substance and their persons for the advancement of
God's true religion ; and they said, Go not forth in the
heat. Say, The fire of hell will be hotter ; if they under-
stood this. (83) Wherefore let them laugh little and
weep much, as a reward for that which they have done.
(84) If God bring thee back unto some of them, and they
ask thee leave to go forth to war with thee, say, Ye shall
not go forth with me for the future, neither shall ye fight
an enemy with me ; ye were pleased with sitting at home

being Muslims. They therefore require no intercessor. There can
be no doubt that the doctrine of Muhammad's intercession is at
variance with the teaching of the Quran. Nevertheless, the faith of
Muslims is not only that Muhammad will intercede for them at the
judgment-day, but that a multitude of saints can intercede for them
even now. This faith testifies against the Quran, and, so far, attests
the doctrine of salvation by atonement and Christ's intercession as
taught in the Bible. Muslims feel their need of an intercessor.
The Quran gives them none, whereupon they constitute Muhammad
and a host of saints their intercessors.

It is probable that the story given by Sale misrepresents the feel-
ings of Muhammad toward Abdullah Ibn Ubbai at the time ot his
death. " Muhammad prayed over his corpse, thereby professing to
recognise Abdullah as having been a faithful Moslem ; he walked
behind the bier to the grave, and waited there till the ceremonies of
the funeral were ended." Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. p. 200.

(82) They who were left behind, i.e., the hypocrites, under the leader-
ship of Abdullah Ibn Ubbai.

Go forth in the heat. "This they spoke in a scoffing manner to
one another, because, as has been observed, the expedition of Tabiiq
was undertaken in a very hot and dry season." Sale.

(84) And they ask thee. "That is, if thou return in safety to
Madfna to the hypocrites, who are here called some of them who
stayed behind, because they were not all hypocrites. The whole
number is said to have been twelve." Sale, Baidhdwi.

A careful perusal of this whole passage will convince almost any
one but a Muslim that this revelation was delivered after the return
from Tabiiq to Madina. Note the passive forms in the verses pre-
ceding this. Here, however, the revelation purports to have
emanated while still absent on the expedition. The resolution of


CHAP. IX.] ( 306 ) [S1PARA X.

the first time ; sit ye at home therefore with those who
stay behind. (85) Neither do thou ever pray over any of
them who shall die, neither stand at his grave, for that
they believed not in God and his Apostle, and die in their
wickedness. (86) Let not their riches or their children
cause thee to marvel ; for God intendeth only to punish
them therewith in this world, and that their souls may
depart while they are infidels. (87) When a Sura is sent
down, wherein it is said, Believe in God, and go forth to

the Prophet concerning the disaffected is here presented as a revela-
tion from God.

With those who stay behind, viz., the women and children, the
sick and infirm.

(85) Neither do thou ever pray over any of them. "This passage
was also revealed on account of Abdullah Ibn Ubbai. In his \.\>l
illness he desired to see Muhammad, and, when he was come, asked
him to beg forgiveness of God for him, and requested that his corpse
might be wrapped up in the garment that was next his body (which
might have the same efficacy with the habit of a Franciscan), and
that he would pray over him when dead. Accordingly, when he
was dead, the Prophet sent his shirt, or inner vestment, to shroud
the corpse, and was going to pray over it, but was forbidden by these
words. Some say they were not revealed till he had actually prayed
for him." Sale, Baidhdwi.

But see note above on ver. 81. This command is rigidly observed
by all Muslims. All who profess belief "in God and his Apostle"
are regarded as orthodox, notwithstanding their immoral character.
But those who reject Islam, however holy their lives, are so wicked
that even the vilest Muslim may not sully his character for piety by
being present at his burial. The words "neither stand at his
grave " are understood to prohibit all attendance at the funerals of

Observe that Muhammad practised the old heathen Arab custom of

{(raying for the dead, a practice still current among Muslims, but
united by this verse to prayers for the faithful. The practice is
utterly at variance with the teaching of the Quran and the principles
of Islam, but having the example of the Prophet, Muslims feel
justified in the practice, as they do in kissing the black stone at
Makkah. See note on chap. ii. 196.

(86) To punish them therewith, i.e., by inflicting upon them the
care and anxiety which their riches and children bring with them.
Tafslr-i- Ravfi.

A better interpretation would be that by these very blessings the
infidels are wedded to their infidelity, and their final condemnation
thereby ensured.

(87) A Sura. See introduction to chap, i., and note above on ver.
65. The word here is used as equivalent to any portion of the
Quran containing a message or revelation for the peo2>le.


SIPARA X.] ( 307 ) [CHAP. IX.

war with his Apostle ; those who are in plentiful circum-
stances among them ask leave of thee to stay behind, and
say, Suffer us to be of the number of those who sit at home.
(88) They are well pleased to be with those who stay
behind, and their hearts are sealed up ; wherefore they do
not understand. (89) But the Apostle, and those who
have believed with him, expose their fortunes and their
lives for God's service; they shall enjoy the good things
of either life, and they shall be happy. (90) God hath
prepared for them gardens through which rivers flow;
they shall remain therein for ever. This will be great

|| (91) And certain Arabs of the desert came to excuse K 1
themselves, praying that they might be permitted to stay
behind; and they sat at home who had renounced God
and his Apostle. But a painful punishment shall be
inflicted on such of them as believe not. (92) In those
who are weak, or are afflicted with sickness, or in those
who find not wherewith to contribute to the war, it shall
be no crime if they stay at home, provided they behave
themselves faithfully towards God and his Apostle.
There is no room to lay blame on the righteous ; for God
is gracious and merciful : (93) nor on those unto whom,

Suffer us, &c. See above on vers. 82-84.

(90) They shall remain, dec. Warring for the faith is here made
the reason and ground of salvation, being the test of faith and

(91) Certain Arabs of the desert. " These were the tribes of Asad
and Ghatfan, who excused themselves on account of the necessities
of their families, which their industry only maintained. But some
write they were the family of Amar Ibn al Tufail, who said that if
they went with the army, the tribe of Tay would take advantage of
their absence, and fall upon their wives and children, and their
cattle." Sale, BaidMwi.

(92) This verse defines the classes of Muslims exempt from mili-
tary service in a holy war or crusade.

Weak, by reason of age or health.

Who find not wherewith to contribute, on account of "their extreme
poverty," as those of Juhaina, Muzaina, and Banu Udhra." Sale.

Provided they behave themselves, &c, i.e., do not show contempt for
their undertakings, and thus s.vmpathise with their enemies.

CHAP. IX.] ( 308 ) [SIPARA XI.

when they came unto thee requesting that thou wouldest
supply them with necessaries for travelling, thou didst
answer, I find not wherewith to supply you, returned,
their eyes shedding tears for grief that they found not
wherewith to contribute to the expedition. (94) But there
is reason to blame those who ask leave of thee to sit at
home, when they are rich. They are pleased to be with
those who stay behind, and God hath sealed up their
hearts, wherefore they do not understand.
ELrvKNTH || (95) They will excuse themselves unto you when ye
are returned unto them. Say, Excuse not yourselves ; we
will by no means believe you : God hath acquainted us
with your behaviour ; and God will observe his actions,
and his Apostle also: and hereafter shall ye be brought
before him who knoweth that which is hidden and that
which is manifest, and he will declare unto you that
which ye have done. (96) They will swear unto you by

(93) Eyes shedding tears, dke. " The persons here intended were
seven men of the Ansars, who came to Muhammad and begged he
would give them some patched boots and soled shoes, it being
impossible for them to march so far barefoot in such a season l>ut
he told them he could not supply them ; whereupon they went
away weeping. Some however say these were the Banu Mukran,
and others Abu Musa and his companions." Sale, Baidhdwi.

These are honoured in Muslim tradition as The Weepers (Al
Bakkaim). Compare Judges ii. 1, 5.

(95) God hath acquainted us. We are here informed by the author
of the Quran that this revelation was delivered during the ex-
pedition to Tabuq, or at least before its return to Madina. Now
granting that Muhammad was a prophet indeed, as Muslims do,
there is nothing in the statement <>f the text derogatory to such a
character. But those who claim that Muhammad was not an
impostor, while denying his prophetic claims, find themselves in
trouble here. For if he had no revelation, as is here claimed, how-
vindicate his honesty and truthfulness? Could he be deluded into
a belief like this without being a madman? We think not. Such
a plea of madness, if set up in any court of justice, would un-
doubtedly be set aside as simply incredible. The position of Chris-
tian apologists for Islam is unreasonable. If Muhammad were
a prophet and if sincere and honest, as is claimed, he must have
been a prophet the apologists should profess Islam without delay.
But if lie were not a prophet, he must have been an impostor of
no ordinary character.

(96) They icill swear, dec. The statements of this and the follow-

SIPARA XI.] ( 309 ) [CHAP. IX.

God, when ye are returned unto them, that ye may let
them alone. Let them alone, therefore, for they are an
abomination, and their dwelling shall be hell, a reward for
that which they have deserved. (97) They will swear
unto you, that ye may be well pleased with them ; but if
ye be well pleased with them, verily God will not be well
pleased with people who prevaricate. (98) The Arabs
of the desert are more obstinate in their unbelief and
hypocrisy, and it is easier for them to be ignorant of the
ordinances of that which God hath sent down unto his
Apostle; and God is knowing and wise. (99) Of the
Arabs of the desert there is who reckoneth that which
he expendeth for the service of God to be as tribute, and
waiteth that some change of fortune may befall you. A
change for evil shall happen unto them; for God both
heareth and knoweth. (100) And of the Arabs of the

ing verses purport to be prophecies, which were literally fulfilled
shortly after their enunciation. From a Muslim standpoint they
are prophecies, but from a Christian standpoint, and from the stand-
point of the Christian apologists of Muhammad, they must be
regarded as deliberate forgeries, perpetrated by Muhammad on his
return from Tabuq or thereabout. As to the matter of the pro-
phecies, there is nothing in them which Muhammad could not have
devised or foreseen, even before his return from Tabuq.

(98) Tlie Arabs of the desert are more obstinate, &c. "Because of
their wild way of life, the hardness of their hearts, their not fre-

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 32 of 42)