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 34 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 34 of 42)
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and 244, and notes there.

Such . . . as are near. "Either of your kindred or neighbours;
for these claim your pity and care in the first place, and their con-
version ought first to be endeavoured. The persons particularly
meant in this passage are supposed to have been the Jews of the
tribes of Quraidha and Nadhir, and those of Khaibar ; or else the
Greeks of Syria." Sale, Baidhdwi.

It seems best to apply this injunction to the infidels still to be

SIPARA XI.] ( 319 ) [CHAP. IX.

you: and know that God is with those who fear him.
(125) Whenever a Sura is sent down, there are some
of them who say, Which of you hath this caused to
increase in faith ? It will increase the faith of those who
believe, and they shall rejoice: (126) but unto those in
whose hearts there is an infirmity it will add further doubt
unto their present doubt ; and they shall die in their in-
fidelity. (127) Do they not see that they are tried every
year once or twice ? yet they repent not, neither are they
warned. (128) And whenever a Sura is sent down, they
look at one another, saying, Doth any one see you ? then
do they turn aside. God shall turn aside their hearts
from the truth; because they are a people who do not
understand. (129) Now hath an apostle come unto you
of our own nation, an excellent person : it is grievous unto
him that ye commit wickedness ; he is careful over you,
and compassionate and merciful towards the believers.

found in Arabia, and especially to the disaffected citizens of Madfna,
who were now to be dealt with in a different spirit from that shown
while Muhammad had reason to fear them.

Let them find severity. Compare this with chap. iii. 160, and see
notes there.

(125) The commentators say "the hypocrites were usually known
when a crusade was proclaimed," i.e., by their unwillingness to go to
the war. A readiness to fight in the cause of Islani had now become
the test of faith.

(127) Tried every year, i.e., " by various kinds of trials, or by being
called forth to war, and by being made witnesses of God's miraculous
protection of the faithful." Sale.

(128) Tliey look at one another. " They wink at one another to
rise and leave the Prophet's presence, if they think they can do it
without being observed, to avoid hearing the severe and deserved
reproofs which they apprehend in every new revelation. The per-
sons intended are the hypocritical Muslims." Sale.

(129) An apostle ... 0/ our own nation. See note on chap. iii.
165. This encomium, self-invented, and put into the mouth of God,
is hardly consistent with the character of Muhammad as described
by the apologists. Perhaps some one of them will undertake to
show us how this comports with a character for honest sincerity and
prophetic purity.

It is grievous to him that ye commit wickedness. The wickedness
grievous to the Arabian Prophet was indifference to his wishes and

CHAP. IX.] ( 320 ) [SIPARA XI.

(130) If they turn back, say, God is my support; there
is no God but he. On him do I trust; and he is the
Lord of the magnificent throne.

want of zeal in the crusade against the infidels. It is notable that
he was never grieved at the assassination of Kab and the plunder
of the Quraish at Naklila during the sacred months, or the slaughter
of eight hundred helpless prisoners in cold blood.

( 321 )



Revealed at Makkah.


This chapter is so called on account of the mention of the Prophet
Jonah in ver. 98. It is undoubtedly of Makkan origin. There are
some, however, who would assign vers. 41 and 94, or vers. 94-97, or
41-109, or even the whole Sura, to Madina. The only ground for
such an opinion seems to be the reference made to the Jews in various
parts of the chapter, which Jews are supposed to be of Madina. But,
granting that the Jews referred to belonged to Madiua, it does not
follow that the chapter belongs to Madina, for history proves that
for some time previous to the Hijra, Muhammad had intercourse
with many of the people of Madina, some of whom were no doubt
Jews. A tradition tells of Jews going to Makkah to question the
Prophet, which, though in great measure apocryphal, must have
had some foundation in fact. However this may be, Muhammad's
familiarity with Jewish history and tradition shows that he had
Jews among his friends and acquaintance. Certainly the matter of
this chapter, as well as the style and animus of discourse, points to

Date of the Revelations.

Little can be said as to the date of the revelations. The allusion
to the famine in ver. 22 points to a period not far removed from the
Hijra ; and if what has been said of Muhammad's intercourse with
the Jews of Madina be well founded, that fact points to the same

Principal Subjects.


The Makkans charge their Prophet with sorcery because he

is a man from among them . . . . . . 1,2

The Creator and Ruler of the universe the only true God . 3

Believers rewarded at death for tiood deeds .... 4



( 322 )



Unbelievers punished after death 4

God's works are signs to all men 5, 6

Rewards and punishments of the faithful and the un-
believing 7 -11

God's purpose in prospering the wicked . . . 12
Men pray to God in affliction, but forget Him with the return

of prosperity 13

The people of Makkah warned by the example of former

generations I4 *5

The Quraish desire a different Quran Muhammad protests

his inability to alter it 16-18

Idolaters trust intercessors who can neither profit nor harm

them 19

All men originally professed one religion .... 20

The people demand of Muhammad a sign . . . . 21
When men despise the judgments of God he threatens

greater suffering . 22

Unbelievers remember God in distress by land and sea, but

forget Him when delivered 23, 24

Life likened to water which sustains vegetable life . . 25

Paradise for Muslims and hell for the infidels . . . 26-28

Idolaters will be deserted by their gods in the judgment-day 29-31
Idolaters exhorted to worship him whom they recognise as

their Creator, Preserver, and Governor .... 32-37

The Quran no forgery ; it confirms the former Scriptures . 38
Those who charge Muhammad with imposture challenged

to produce a chapter like it 39, 40

Some believe in the Quran, others reject it ... 41

The unbelieving Quraish declared to be reprobate . . 42-47

An apostle is sent to every nation 48

Unbelievers mock at the threatenings of their prophet . 49

Every nation has its fixed period of existence ... 50

Infidels will believe when their punishment comes upon them 5 1-55

God is the Author of life and death 56, 57

The Quran an admonition and direction to the unbelievers 58, 59

Lawful food not to be prohibited 60, 61

Muhammad ever under Divine guidance .... 62

The blessedness of those who believe and fear God . . 63-65

Unbelievers cannot harm the Prophet .... 66-68

Those rebuked who say that God hath begotten children . 69-7 1

Muhammad likened to Noah and other prophets . . . 72-75

Moses and Aaron sent to Pharaoh and his princes . . 76
They are rejected as sorcerers and perverters of the national

religion 77-82

INTROD.] ( 323 ) [CHAP. X.


A few of the people only believe on them .... 83

Moses and Aaron with the believers put their trust in God . 84-86

The Israelites commanded to be constant in prayer to God . 87
Moses's prayer, that God would destroy the Egyptians, is

heard 88,89

Pharaoh and his people drowned in the sea .... 90
He repents and is raised out of the sea for a sign to the

people 90-92

The Israelites are provided with a habitation and blessing . 93
Jews and Christians appealed to in confirmation of the state-
ments of the Quran 94, 95

No kind of miracle will suffice to make the reprobate believe 96-98
Infidels do not believe on Muhammad because God does not

permit them to do so 99- io 3

The people of Makkah exhorted to accept the true ortho-
dox faith 104-107

Muhammad not responsible for the faith or unbelief of the

people 108

The Prophet exhorted to be patient 109


II (1) Al. K. These are the signs of the wise book. HIRD

11 v / <-' AluNzir

(2) Is it a strange thing unto the men of Makkah, that we t> 1
have revealed our will unto a man from among them,
saying, Denounce threats unto men if they believe not ;
and bear good tidings unto those who believe, that on the
merit of their sincerity they have an interest with their
Lord ? The unbelievers say, This is manifest sorcery.

(3) Verily your Lord is God, who hath created the
heavens and the earth in six days; and then ascended

(1) A. L. R. See Prelim Disc, pp. 100-102.

(2) A man from among them. "And not one of the most powerful
among them neither ; so that the Quraish said it was a wonder God
could find out no other messenger than the orphan pupil of Abu
Talib." Sale, Baidh&ici.

Tlxis is manifest sorcery. " Meaning the Quran. According to the
reading of some copies, the words may be rendered, 'This man (i.e.,
Muhammad) is no other than a manifest sorcerer.' " Sale.

(3) In six days. See note on chap. vii. 55.

CHAP. X.] ( 324 ) [SIPARA XI.

his throne, to take on himself the government of all
things. There is no intercessor, but by his permission.
This is God, your Lord ; therefore serve him. Will ye
not consider ? (4) Unto him shall ye all return according
to the certain promise of God ; for he produceth a creature
and then causeth it to return again : that he may reward
those who believe and do that which is right, with equity.
But as for the unbelievers, they shall drink boiling water,
and they shall suffer a grievous punishment for that they
have disbelieved. (5) It is he who hath ordained the
sun to shine by day, and the moon for a light by night ;
and had appointed her stations, that ye might know the
number of years, and the computation of time. God hath
not created this, but with truth. He explaineth his signs
unto people who understand. (6) Moreover in the vicissi-
tudes of night and day, and whatever God hath created in
heaven and earth, are surely signs unto men who fear him.
(7) Verily they who hope not to meet us at the last day,
and delight in this present life, and rest securely in the
same, and who are negligent of our signs : (8) their dwell-
ing shall be hell-Uxe, for that which they have deserved.

(9) But as to those who believe, and work righteousness,
their Lokd will direct them because of their faith ; they
shall have rivers flowing through gardens of pleasure.

(10) Their prayer therein shall be Praise be unto thee, O
God! and their salutation therein shall be Peace! (11)

No intercessor, but dec. " These words were revealed to refute the
foolish opinion of the idolatrous Makkans, who imagined their idols
were intercessors with God for them." Sale. See notes on chap. ii.
47, 123, 254 ; vi 50.

(4) Boiling water. See chap. ii. 38.

(5) But with truth, i.e., to manifest the truth of the Divine unity.
The Makkan preacher here sets forth God the Creator as the true
object of worship.

(7) Who hope not to meet us, i.e., the Quraish, who strenuously
denied the doctrine of bodily resurrection.

(9) Believe and work righteousness. See note on chap. ii. 25, 223 ;
and chap. iii. 15.

(10) Their salutation. ''Either the mutual salutation of the
blessed to one another, or that of the angels to the blessed." Sale.

SI PARA XI.] ( 325 ) [CHAP. X.

and the end of their prayer shall be, Praise be unto God,
the Lord of all creatures !

|| (12) If God should cause evil to hasten unto men, JK T
according to their desire of hastening good, verily their
end had been decreed. Wherefore we suffer those we
hope not to meet us at the resurrection to wander
amazedly in their error. (13) When evil befalleth a
man, he prayeth unto us lying on his side, or sitting, or
standing; but when we deliver him from his affliction,
he continueth his former course of life, as though he had
not called upon us to defend him against the evil which
had befallen him. Thus was that which the transgressors
committed prepared for them. (14) We have formerly
destroyed the generations who were before you, men of
Makkah, when they had acted unjustly, and our apostles
had come unto them with evident miracles and they would
not believe. Thus do we reward the wicked people. (15)
Afterwards did we cause you to succeed them in the earth,
that we might see how ye would act. (16) When our
evident signs are recited unto them, they who hope not
to meet us at the resurrection, say, Bring a different Quran
from this ; or make some change therein. Answer, It is
not fit for me that I should change it at my pleasure : I
follow that only which is revealed unto me. Verily I fear,
if I should be disobedient unto my Lord, the punishment
of the great day. (17) Say, if God had so pleased, I had
not read it unto you, neither had I taught you the same.

(11) Compare the Eevelation, chap. iv. 8, and v. n-13.

(13) See notes on chap. ii. 15, 16.

(13) Prayeth . . . on his side or sitting, &c, i.e., "in all postures
and at all times." Sale. The Tafsir-i- liaufi informs us that allu-
sion is here made to the great famine which visited Makkah
shortly before the Hijra. See below on ver. 23.

vl5) The allusion is to the prosperity succeeding the famine re-
ferred to in note on preceding verse.

(16) Bring a different Quran, i.e., instead of denouncing threaten-
ings against us, bring us a message of mercy. Tajsir-i-Raufi.

Not fit that 1 should change it. "The changes or abrogations of
the Koran do not contradict this verse, as Muhammad says God is
the Author of them." Brinckman's " Notes on Islam."

CHAP. X.] ( 326 ) [SIPARA XI.

I have already dwelt among you to the age of forty years,
before 1 received it. Do ye not therefore understand?
(18) And who is more unjust than he who deviaeth a lie
against God, or accuseth his signs of falsehood ? Surely
the wicked shall not prosper. (19) They worship besides
God that which can neither hurt them or profit them, and
they say, These are our intercessors with God. Answer,
Will ye tell God that which he knoweth not, neither in

(17) To the age. Rod well translates literally "for years." Sale's
addition "of forty years" is, however, correct. "For so old was
Muhammad before lie took upon him to be a prophet ; during which
time his fellow-citizens well knew that he had not applied himself
to learning of any sort, nor frequented learned men, nor had ever
exercised himself in composing verses or orations, whereby he might
acquire the art of rhetoric or elegance of speech (Prelim. Disc., p.
73). A flagrant proof, says al Baidhawi, that this book could be
taught him by none but God."

This view, however, does not agree with what is recorded of his
previous career. Is it likely that he should have been trained in the
same household with Ali, who knew botli how to read and write, and
not have received similar instruction ? Could he have conducted an
important mercantile business for years without some knowledge of
letters? That he could read and write in later years is certain.
Tradition tells us he said to Muawia, one of his secretaries, " Draw

the < -> straight, divide the U" properly," &c., and that in his last
moments he called for writing materials. The question arises, "When
did he acquire this art ? The commentators say that God gave him
the power, as he did his inspiration, and they quote chap. xcvi. 4, one
of the earliest verses of the Quran, in proof. Certainly that verse
seems to teach clearly that he could write as well as read, though it
l>y no means teaches that he had not received the knowledge of both
beforehand, or that he did not receive it in the ordinary way. His
use of amanuenses does not militate against his knowledge of the
art of writing, for such use of amanuenses was common in that age,
even among the most learned. But still there remains the testimony
of many traditions and the almost univer.-al belief of Muhammadaus.
How account for this? I am inclined to think it originated with a
misunderstanding of Muhammad's repeated claim that he was the
" Illiterate Prophet," or rather the "Prophet of the Illiterate," the
term "illiterate" being generally applied by the Jews to the Alalia
See notes on chap. v. 85, 86. This misunderstanding turned out to
the furtherance of Muhammad's claims, inasmuch as the miracle of
the matchless style of the Quran was enhanced by the consideration
that the Prophet was illiterate. On the whole, we think there is very
good reason for believing Muhammad to have been acquainted with
the art of both reading and writing from an early period in his life.
(19) Tliese are our intercessors. See Prelim. Disc, p. 36.

SIPARA XI.] ( 327 ) [CHAP. X.

heaven nor in earth? Praise be unto him! and far be
that from him which they associate with him ! (20) Men
were professors of one religion only, but they dissented
therefrom ; and if a decree had not previously issued from
thy Lord deferring their punishment, verily the matter had
been decided between them, concerning which they dis-
agreed. (21) They say, Unless a sign be sent down unto
him from his Lord we will not believe. Answer, Verily that
which is hidden is known only unto God : wait, therefore,
the pleasure of God ; and I also will wait with you.

|| (22) And when we caused the men of Makkah to taste i
mercy, after an affliction which had befallen them, be-
hold, they devised a stratagem against our signs. Say
unto them, God is more swift in executing a stratagem
than ye. Verily our messengers write down that which

That which he knoweth not, viz., "That he hath equals or com-
panions either in heaven or on earth, since he acknowledge th
none." Sale.

(20) One religion only. " That is to say, the true religion, or Islam,
which was generally professed, as some say, till Abel was murdered,
or, as others, till the days of Noah. Some suppose the first ages
after the Flood are here intended ; others, the state of religion in
Arabia from the time of Abraham to that of Amru Ibn Luhai, the
great introducer of idolatry into that country." Sale.

(21) Unless a sign be sent, &c. This verse shows that as yet Mu-
hammad wrought no miracle ; but he seems to have expected to
receive the power to do so. At least this seems to be the best
interpretation of the following sentence : "Wait, therefore, and I
also will wait with you."

(22) After an affliction. This affliction is described by the com-
mentators as a famine, yet there is no tradition giving any satisfactory
account of it. The repeated references to it in the Quran prove that
some kind of affliction did occur, which Muhammad declared to be
due to the Divine vengeance against the wickedness of the Quraish.
See chaps, vii. 95, and xxiii. 77-79. See Muir's Life of Mahomet,
vol. ii. p. 227. Sale, on the authority of Baidhawi says, "That
they were afflicted with a dearth for seven years, so that they were
very near perishing ; but no sooner relieved by God's sending them
plenty, than they began again to charge Muhammad with imposture,
and to ridicule his revelations."

Vur messengers, i.e., " guardian angels." Sale. " The two recording
angels called tiie Jhia'qqibdt, or the angels who continually succeed
each other, who record the good and evil actions of a man, one stand-
ing at his right hand and another on his left." Hughes, Notes on
Jfuhammadanism, p. 82.

CHAP. X.] ( 328 ) [SIPARA XL

ye deceitfully devise. (23) It is he who hath given you
conveniences for travelling by land and by sea ; so that
ye be in ships, which sail with them, with a favourable
wind, and they rejoice therein. And when a tempestuous
wind overtaketh them, and waves come upon them from
every side, and they think themselves encompassed with
inevitable dangers, they call upon God, exhibiting the
pure religion unto him, and saying, Verily if thou deliver
us from this peril, we will be of those who give thanks.
(24) But when he hath delivered them, behold, they
behave themselves insolently in the earth, without justice.
men, verily the violence which ye commit against your
own souls is for the enjoyment of this present life only ;
afterwards unto us shall ye return, and we will declare
unto you that which ye have done. (25) Verily the like-
ness of this present life is no other than as water, which
we send down from heaven, and wherewith the produc-
tions of the earth are mixed, of which men eat, and cattle
also, until the earth receive its vesture, and be adorned
with various -plants : the inhabitants thereof imagine that
they have power over the same ; but our command cometh
unto it by night or by day, and we render it as though it
had been mowen, as though it had not yesterday abounded
with fruits. Thus do we explain our signs unto people
who consider. (26) God inviteth unto the dwelling of
peace, and directeth whom he pleaseth into the right way.
(27) They who do right shall receive a most excellent
reward, and a superabundant addition ; neither blackness

(23) Exhibiting the pure religion. u That is, applying themselves
to God only, and neglecting their idols ; their fears directing them in
such an extremity to ask help of him only who could give it." Sale.

Compare with this verse Psalm cvii. 23-31.

(26) Dwelling of peace = Paradise ; and right way = Islam. See
chap. vi. 126, 127.

(27) Superabundant addition. " For their reward will vastly
exceed the merit of their good works. Al Ghazali supposes this
additional recompense will be the beatific vision." Sale. Prelim.
Disc, p. 159.

Neither blackness. See Prelim. Disc, p. 149.

SIPARA XI.] ( 329 ) [CHAP. X.

nor shame shall cover their faces. These shall be the
inhabitants of Paradise ; they shall continue therein for
ever. (28) But they who commit evil shall receive the
reward of evil, equal thereunto, and they shall be covered
with shame {for they shall have no protector against
God) ; as though their faces were covered with the pro-
found darkness of the night. These shall be the in-
habitants of hell-fire : they shall remain therein for ever.
(29) On the day of the resurrection we will gather them
altogether ; then will we say unto the idolaters, Get ye to
your place, ye and your companions : and we will separate
them from one another; and their companions will say
unto them, Ye do not worship us ; (30) and God is a
sufficient witness between us and you; neither did we
mind your worshipping of us. (31) There shall every
soul experience that which it shall have sent before it;
and they shall be brought before God their true Lord ;
and the false deities which they vainly imagined shall
disappear from before them. Nl s F -

|| (32) Say, Who provideth you food from heaven and R f

(28) Equal thereunto, " i.e., though the blessed will he rewarded
beyond their deserts, yet God will not punish any beyond their
demerits, but treat them with the exactest justice." Sale.

But what kind of justice is that which rewards beyond merit ? See
ver. 27. Is not this view of God's justice accountable for the per-
verted ideas of justice prevalent in Muslim countries, where the
most trifling services are reckoned as deserving munificent rewards?

(29) Companions, i.e., idols or inferior deities worshipped by the

Ye do not worship us. " But ye really worshipped your own lusts,
and were seduced to idolatry, not by us, but by your own supersti-
tious fancies. It is pretended that God will, at the last day, enable
the idols to speak, and that they will thus reproach their worshippers,
instead of interceding for them, as they hoped. Some suppose the
angels, who were also objects of the worship of the pagan Arabs, are
particularly intended in this place." Sale.

(31) Every soul shall experience. " Some copies, instead of tablu,
read tatlu, i.e., shall follow or meditate upon." Sale.

That xvhich it shall have sent before it. See note on chap. ii. 94.

(32-37) This passage contains very cogent reasoning against the
idolaters, and very justly represents their folly in worshipping in-
ferior deities, while regarding God as the source of all their blessings,

CHAP. X.] ( 330 ) [SIPARA XI

earth ? or who hath the absolute power over the hearing
and the sight? and who briugeth forth the living from
the dead, and bringeth forth the dead from the living?
and who governeth all things ? They will surely answer,
God. Say, Will ye not therefore fear him ? (33) This is
therefore God your true Lord : and what remaineth tliere
after truth except error ? How therefore are ye turned

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 34 of 42)