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 36 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 36 of 42)
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of the city. See Jonah iii. 10.

(99) If thy Lord had pleased, dec. The Prophet was very desirous
all should believe on Islam, but God revealed this verse to show
that the question of faith depends on his wilL Tafsir-i-EauJL

Forcibly compel, <kc. Brincknian says this verse "distinctly forbids
Muhammad to use force for Islam, and contradicts at least thirty
other verses of the Koran." Notes on Itlam, p. 1 10. But the com-
mentators say this verse is abrogated by " the sword verse." See
chap. iv. 88 and chap. ix. 5. Both parties seem to have missed the
.sense of the verse. The meaning evidently is that the Prophet can
do nothing, since "none can believe but by the permission 01 Goil."

(100) No soul can believe, dec. . . . and he shall pour, dx. The
free agency of the unbeliever is not recognised here. The infidel is
such because God is not pleased he should believe (ver. 99), and
because he is an infidel, God will "pour out his indignation" on him.

(104-109) These verses contain Muhammad's confession of faith
at Makkah. They are at once a defence of his opposition to the
national idolatry and an exhortation to his countrymen to believe
in the true God. Muhammad is no guardian, but only a preacher
of the true religion. God is the judge, and will decide between the
Prophet and the unbelievers. Some, however, regard the last sen-
tence of ver. 108 as abrogated by the command to convert by the
sword. See Tafsir-i-Raufi in loco.

SIPARA XI.] ( 34I ) [CHAP. X.

cause you to die : and I am commanded to be one of the
true believers. (105) And it was said unto me, Set thy
face towards the true religion, and be orthodox ; and by no
means be one of those who attribute companions unto
God; (106) neither invoke, besides God, that which can
neither profit thee nor hurt thee : for if thou do, thou wilt
then certainly become one of the unjust. (107) If God
afflict thee with hurt, there is none who can relieve thee
from it except he ; and if he willeth thee any good, there
is none who can keep back his bounty : he will confer it
on such of his servants as he pleaseth ; and he is gracious
and merciful. (108) Say, men, now hath the truth
come unto you from your Lord. He therefore who shall
be directed, will be directed to the advantage of his own
soul ; but he who shall err, will err only against the same.
I am no guardian over you. (109) Do thou, O Prophet,
follow that which is revealed unto thee: and persevere
with patience until God shall judge ; for he is the best

( 342 )



Revealed at Mahkah.


I have not been able to find any better reason for tbe name of this
chapter tban that given by Sale : that the story of that prophet is
repeated in it.

There is much in this chapter of a like character with the seventh
chapter. Its several parts are closely connected together, and pre-
sent what may be called an elaborate vindication of Muhammad's
claim to be a prophet. The Quraish had rejected him as an
impostor, and had styled his Quran a forgery. Accordingly he falls
back upon the example of former prophets, and threatens the infidels
with that Divine wrath which had invariably destroyed the unbe-
lievers who had rejected his predecessors in this holy office.

In respect to the histories of the prophets given in this chapter,
there is one feature worthy of very special attention, as it bears
directly on the question of Muhammad's sincerity and honesty as a
religious teacher : it is the Muhammadan colouring of the history of
these prophets. They were all, like Muhammad, sent to reclaim their
people from idolatry. Like him, they were all rejected by the great
majority of the people, only a few poor, despised persons professing
faith in their prophet's message. Like him, they were all charged
with imposture, and their messages were characterised as forgeries.
This conduct was invariably followed by Divine retribution, the
prophets and their followers being miraculously delivered from
wicked hands.

The whole chapter marks a period of sharp and bitter opposition
on the part of Muhammad's townsmen. It is probable that this fact,
as well as the sharp epileptic paroxysms with which these revela-
tions are said to have been accompanied, caused Muhammad to
designate " Hud and its Sisters " as the " Terrific Suras." " The


( 343 )


'Sisters' are variously given as Suras xi., xxi., lvi., lxix., lxxviL,
lxxviii., lxxxi., and ci. ; all Meccan, and some of them very early
Suras." Mull's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 88.

Probable Bate of the Revelations.

As to the date of composition, little can be said that is satisfactory
beyond the fact that it belongs to a period of Muhammad's prophetic
career at Makkah when the opposition of the Quraish was very
fierce. A part of the chapter would seem to indicate the period
immediately preceding the Ban of the Hiishimites, say b.h. 4 (see
note on ver. 91), but the greater part must be referred to a period
succeeding that event (see notes on vers. 37 and 55).

Principal Subjects.


The Qurdn a revelation from God 1,2

Muhammad a warner and a preacher of goodness . . . 3-5

Infidels cannot hide their sin from God .... 6

God the Creator and Preserver of all creatures . . . 7, 8

The resurrection rejected by the infidels as sorcery . . 8

They scoff at threatened punishment 9

Mercy and judgment alike disregarded by infidels . . 10, 1 r

Those who persevere in good works shall be rewarded . . 12

The unbelievers demand a sign from heaven . . . 13

Muhammad charged with forging the Qur&n ... 14
He challenges the infidels to produce ten chapters like it, or

to become Muslims . 14. 15

The miserable fate of those who live for this present world . 16, 17

Moses and the Jews attest the truth of the Qurdn . . 18

The maligners of prophets shall be cursed .... 19-23

The blessed portion of believers 24

Similitudes of believers and unbelievers .... 25

The History of Noah :

He is sent as a public preacher 26, 27

The chiefs of his people reject him as a liar ... 28
Noah protests his integrity Ket'uses to drive away his

poor followers Deprecates being thought a seer or

an angel 29-32

His people challenge him to bring on the threatened

judgment 33

Noah declares that God destroys and saves whom he

pleaseth 34, 35

Noah's people declare his message a forgery ... 36


( 344 )


God tells Noah that no more of his people will believe

on him 37

He is commanded to moke an ark .... 38

Noah builds the ark and is derided by the people . 39
Embarks with his followers and one pair each of the

animals 40, 41

Noah in vain entreats his unbelieving son to embark . 42, 43

The waters abate and the ark rests on Al Jiidi . . 44

Noah pleads with God for his son 45

God reproves him for his intercession for his son . . 46

Noah repents and asks pardon for his fault ... 47

He descends from the ark 48

This history a secret revealed to Muhammad . . 49

The History of H&d :

He is sent to call Ad from idolatry .... 50-52

The Adites reject him as a liar 53

Hud protests his integrity, and declares his trust in

God to save him from their plots .... 54-57

God delivers Hud and his followers .... 58

The Adites reject their messenger and are destroyed . 59, 60

The History of Sdlik :

He is sent to call the Tbamudites from idolatry . . 61

They reject his message 62

Salih protests his integrity, and gives them a she-camel

as a sign from God 63, 64

They kill the camel, and are threatened with destruction 65

Salih and his followers are saved from destruction . 66

The Tbamudites are miserably destroyed . . . 67, 68

The History of Abraham and Lot :

God's messengers sent to Abraham He entertains them 69

He is filled with fear because they refuse to eat his meat 70
The angels quiet his fears and tell him they are sent to

the people of Lot 70, 7 1

Sarah receives the promise of Isaac and Jacob . . 71-73

Abraham intercedes for the people of Lot ... 74

The angels refuse his request 75

Lot is anxious for the safety of his angel visitors . . 76

The Sodomites attack his house 77~79

The angels warn Lot to leave the city and inform him

of the destruction impending over his people and

his wife 80

The cities are overthrown and the people killed by a

shower of bricks 81.82

SIPARA XL] ( 345 ) [CHAP. XI.


The History of Shuaib :

He is sent to call the Midianites from idolatry . . 83

He reproaches them for dishonestweights and measures 84-86

The people reject him, refusing to leave their idols . 87
Shuaib protests his integrity, and exhorts them to flee
the fate of the people of Noah, Hud, Salih, and

Lot 88-90

The people threaten to stone him .... 91

Shuaib threatens them with Divine judgment . . 92-94
God destroys the infidels, but saves Shuaib and his

followers 95, 96

The History of Moses :

He is sent with signs to Pharaoh and his princes . 97

They reject him, and are consigned to hell- fire . . 98-100

Exhortation and warning drawn from the fate of these

cities 101-105

The condition of the righteous and wicked in judgment . 106-109
Muhammad not to doubt about the religion of the Quarish 1 10
The Quarish doubt the Quran as the Jews did the Penta-
teuch in

God will punish their evil deeds 112

Muhammad exhorted to be steadfast 1 1 3, 1 14

An exhortation to prayer . 115

God just in destroying the unbelieving cities . . . 116-118

The unbelievers predestinated to damnation ... 119

The whole history of the prophets related to Muhammad 120

Unbelievers threatened . 121, 122

Muhammad exhorted to put his trust in God ... 123


|| (1) A. L. R. (2) This book, the verses whereof are K T
guarded against corruption, and are also distinctly ex-

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

(2) Guarded against corruption. "According to the various senses
which the verb uhkimat in the original may bear, the commentators
suggest as many different interpretations. Some suppose the mean-
ing to be, according to our version, that the Quran is not liable to be
corrupted, as the law and the gospel have been in the opinion of the
Muhammadan8 : others, that every verse in this particular chapter

CHAP. XI.] ( 346 ) [SIPARA XI.

plained, is a revelation from the wise, the knowing God:
(3) that ye serve not any other God (verily I am a de-
nouncer of threats, and a bearer of good tidings unto you
from him) ; (4) and that ye ask pardon of your Lord, and
then be turned unto him. He will cause you to enjoy a
plentiful provision, until a prefixed time ; and unto every
one that hath merit by good works will he give his abun-
dant reward. But if ye turn back, verily I fear for you
the punishment of the great day : (5) unto God shall ye
return ; and he is almighty. (6) Do they not double the
folds of their breasts, that they may conceal their designs
from him ? When they cover themselves with their gar-
ments, doth not he know that which they conceal and
that which they discover ? For he knoweth the inner-
most parts of the breasts of men.

is in full force, and not one of them abrogated ; others, that the
verses of the Quran are disposed in a clear and perspicuous method,
or contain evident and demonstrative arguments ; and others, that
they comprise judicial declarations to regulate both faith and prac-
tice." Sale, Baidh/iwi, Jaldludclin, Zamakhshari. See also Prelim.
Disc, sect. iii.

Distinctly explained. " The signification of the verb fussilat, which
is here used, being also ambiguous, the meaning of this passage is
supposed to be, either that the verses are distinctly proposed or ex-
pressed in a clear manner ; or that the subject-matter of the whole
may be distinguished or divided into laws, monitions, and examples ;
or else th;it the verses were revealed by parcels." Sale.

(3) A denouncer, dec. The usual title claimed at Makkah, and pro-
bably assumed along with the prophetic office.

(4) The condition of salvation is here declared to be repentance
and good works. See notes on chap. iii. 31.

(6) Double . . . their breasts. " Or, as it may be translated, ' Do
they not turn away their breasts?'" Sale. Rodwell has it, ''Do
they not doubly fold up their breasts 1 "

He knoweth the innermost parts. " This passage was occasioned by
the words of the idolaters, who said to one another, 4 When we let
down our curtains (such as the women use in the East to screen
themselves from the sight of the men, when they happen to be in
the room), and wrap ourselves up in our garments, and fold up our
breasts, to conceal our malice against Muhammad, how should he
come to the knowledge of it ? ' Some suppose this passage relates to
certain hypocritical Muslims ; but this opinion is generally rejected,
because this verse was revealed at Makkah. and the liirth of hyj>o-
crisy among the Muhammadans happened not till after the Hijra."

SIPARA XII.] ( 347 ) [CHAP. XI.

|| (7) There is no creature which creepeth on the earth tweuth
but God provideth its food ; and he knoweth the place of
its retreat, and where it is laid up. The whole is written
in the perspicuous book of his decrees. (8) It is he who
hath created the heavens and the earth in six days (but
his throne was above the waters before the creation thereof),
that he might prove you, and see which of you would
excel in works. If thou say, Ye shall surely be raised
again after death ; the unbelievers will say, This is nothing
but manifest sorcery. (9) And verily if we defer their
punishment unto a determined season, they will say, What
hindereth it from falling on us ? Will it not come upon
them on a day, wherein there shall be none to avert it
from them ; and that which they scoffed at shall encom-
pass them ?

|| (10) Verily, if we cause man to taste mercy from us, and R f*
afterwards take it away from him, he will surely become
desperate and ungrateful. (11) And if we cause him to
taste favour after an affliction had befallen him, he will
surely say, The evils which I suffered are passed from me,
and he will become joyful and insolent : (12) except those
who persevere with patience and do that which is right ;
they shall receive pardon and a great reward. (13) Per-

(7) This passage also teaches the omniscience of God, and also the
doctrine of a particular providence. Everything is a matter of
eternal decree.

(8) Six days. See chaps, vii. 55, and x. 3.

His throne was, &c. " For the Muhammadans suppose this throne,
and the waters whereon it stands, which waters they imagine are
supported by a spirit or wind, were, with some other things, created
before the heavens and earth. This fancy they borrowed from the
Jews, who alsp say that the throne of glory then stood in the air,
and was borne on the face of the waters by the breath of God's
mouth " (Rashi ad Gen. i. 2). Sale.

Manifest sorcery. See note on chap. x. 77.

(11) After an affliction. The allusion is to the famine which befell
Makkah, see chap. x. 22 and note. The effect of the withdrawal of
mercy is to make the unbeliever "cast aside all hope of Divine
favour, for want of patience and God " (Sale) ; but the restoration
of Divine favour has no other effect than to make them "joyful and

CHAP. XI.] ( 348 ) [SIPARA XII.

adventure thou wilt omit to publish part of that which
hath been revealed unto thee, and thy breast will become
straitened, lest they say, Unless a treasure be sent down
unto him, or an angel come with him, to bear witness unto
him, we will not believe. Verily thou art a preacher only ;
and God is the governor of all things. (14) Will they
say, He hath forged the Qurdn ? Answer, Bring therefore
ten chapters like unto it, forged by yourselves; and call
on whomsoever ye may to assist you, except God, if ye
speak truth. (15) But if they whom ye call to your assist-
ance hear you not ; know that this book hath been revealed
by the knowledge of God only, and that there is no God
but he. Will ye therefore become Muslims ? (16) Whoso
chooseth the present life and the pomp thereof, unto them
will we give the recompense of their works therein, and the
same shall not be diminished unto them. (17) These are
they for whom no other reward is prepared in the next
life except the fire of hell : that which they have done in
this life shall perish, and that which they have wrought
shall be vain. (18) Shall he therefore be compared with
tliem who followeth the evident declaration of his Lord,

(13) That which hath been revealed unto thee. Godfrey Higgins,
whom our Indian Mussalmans are so fond of quoting, since his
apology has become known through Sayad Ahmad s garbled transla-
tion, thinks Muhammad imagined himself to be inspired, as did
"Johanna Southcote, Baron Swedenborg, &c." Apology for Mo-
hamed, p. 83.

Unless a treasure, dbc. See notes on chap. vi. 34-36.

A preacher only. See notes on chaps, ii. 119, iii. 1S4, and vi. 109.

(14) He hath forged. See chap. x. 39.

" This was the number which he first challenged them to compose;
but they not being able to do it, he made the matter still easier,
challenging them to produce a single chapter only, comparable to
the Quran in doctrine and eloquence." Sale.

See also on chap. ii. 23.

Rod well thinks the challenge in such passages is not to produce a
book which shall equal the Qurdn in point of poetry or rhetoric, but
" in the importance of its subject-matter, with reference to the Divine
unity, the future retribution," &c. All Muslim authorities, so far
as I know, include the rhetoric and poetry among the incomparable

S1PARA XII.] ( 349 ) [CHAP. XI.

and whom a witness from him attendeth, preceded by the
book of Moses, which was revealed for a guide, and out of
mercy to mankind? These believe in the Qurdn ; but
whosoever of the confederate infidels believeth not therein,
is threatened the fire of hell, which threat shall certainly be
executed : be not therefore in a doubt concerning it ; for it
is the truth from thy Lord : but the greater part of men
will not believe. (19) Who is more unjust than he who
imagineth a lie concerning God ? They shall be set before
the Lord at the day of judgment, and the witnesses shall
say, These are they who devised lies against their Lord.
Shall not the curse of God fall on the unjust ; (20) who
turn men aside from the way of God, and seek to render
it crooked, and who believe not in the life to come ? (21)
These were not able to prevail against God on earth, so as
to escape punishment; neither had they any protectors
besides God : their punishment shall be doubled unto
them. They could not hear, neither did they see. (22)
These are they who have lost their souls ; and the idols
which they falsely imagined have abandoned them. (23)
There is no doubt but they shall be most miserable in the
world to come. (24) But as for those who believe and do
good works, and humble themselves before their Lord,

(18) A witness. Various opinions obtain as to who this witness
was. Some say the Qurdn is meant. Others say Gabriel or an
angel. Others will have it to be the Light of Muhammad, which
impartial spectators always beheld in the countenance of the prophet.

The book of Moses. The Pentateuch is here again referred to in
such a way as to show that Muhammad regarded the copies current
in his day as genuine.

These believe, i.e., those who possess the book of Moses. No doubt
Muhammad was confirmed in his prophetic claims by the flattery of
some Jewish followers. His own doubts seem to be expressed in
what follows : " Be not therefore in doubt concerning it; " and yet
they are only expressed to be refuted by this testimony.

It is the truth from thy Lord. This passage with verse below, if it
may be applied to Muhammad, assert his sincerity in his own claims
as strongly as any in the Quran.

(19) The witnesses. " That is, the angels and prophets, and their
own members." Sale.

CHAP. XI.] ( 350 ) [S1PARA XII.

they shall be the inhabitants of Paradise ; they shall re-
main therein for ever. (25) The similitude of the two
parties is as the blind and the deaf, and as he who seeth
and heareth : shall they be compared as equal ? Will ye
not therefore consider ?
R 3* || (26) We formerly sent Noah unto his people ; and he

said, Verily I am a public preacher unto you ; (27) that
ye worship God alone ; verily I fear for you the punish-
ment of the terrible day. (28) But the chiefs of the
people, who believed not, answered, We see thee to be no
other than a man, like unto us ; and we do not see that
any follow thee, except those who are the most abject
among us, who have believed on thee by a rash judgment ;
neither do we perceive any excellence in you above us :
but we esteem you to be liars. (29) Noah said, O my
people, tell me ; if I have received an evident declaration
from my Lohd, and he hath bestowed on me mercy from
himself, which is hidden from you, do we compel you to
receive the same, in case ye be averse thereto ? (30)
my people, I ask not of you riches, for my preaching unto
you: my reward is with God alone. I will not drive
away those who have believed : verily they shall meet
their Lord at the resurrection ; but I perceive that ye are

(25) The two parties. " Believers and unbelievers." Sale. Muir
thinks there is an allusiou to the confederates of Makkah and the
believers of Madina. See Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 225 note.

(26) We sent Noah, dec. See notes on chap. vif. 60.

(28) We see thee, dec. This is what the chiefs of the Quraish said
to Muhammad. See note on chap. x. 77.

A rash judgment. " For want of mature consideration, and moved
by the first impulse of their fancy." Sale.

(29) Do we compel you, dec. Muhammad had not yet conceived
the idea of using the force of the sword to make converts. Mural
suasion is the instrument now used. If the infidels choose the lire
of hell, it is no concern of the prophets. He is not responsible.
He is only a preacher of good news and a Warner.

(30) J will not drive away, djc. " For this they asked him to do,
because they were poor mean people. The same thing the Quraish
demanded of Muhammad, but he was forbidden to comply with their
request" (see chap. vi. 51). Sale.

SIPARA XII.] ( 351 ) [CHAP. XI.

ignorant men. (31) my people, who shall assist me
against God, if I drive them away ? Will ye not there-
fore consider ? (32) I say not unto you, The treasures of
God are in my power ; neither do I say, I know the secrets
of God : neither do I say, Verily I am an angel ; neither
do I say of those whom your eyes do contemn, God will
by no means bestow good on them : (God best knoweth
that which is in their souls ;) for then should I certainly
be one of the unjust. (33) They answered, Noah, thou
hast already disputed with us, and hast multiplied dis-
putes with us ; now therefore do thou bring that punish-
ment upon us wherewith thou hast threatened us, if thou
speakest truth. (34) Noah said, Verily God alone shall
bring it upon you, if he pleaseth ; and ye shall not prevail
against him, so as to escape the same. (35) Neither shall
my counsel profit you, although I endeavour to counsel
you aright, if God shall please to lead you into error. He
is your Loed, and unto him shall ye return. (36) Will
the Makkans say, Muhammad hath forged the Qurdn ?
Answer, If I have forged it, on me be my guilt; and let
me be clear of that which ye are guilty of. _

|| (37) And it was revealed unto Noah, saying, Verily ^ **
none of thy people shall believe, except he who hath

(31) See notes on chap. vi. 51.

(32) See notes on chap. vi. 49. A comparison of these two
passages shows with what facility Muhammad placed the account of
his own persecutions in the mouths of former prophets. Here Noah
utters the very words Muhammad utters !

(35) If God shall please to lead you into error. See notes on chap.
x. 99, 100.

(36) The italics of the text seem to me certainly to be misplaced.
Rodwell and Palmer have fallen into the same error. The passage
is identical in meaning with that of ver. 14 and x. 39. But here
these words are put in the mouths of the chiefs of the people of Noah,
and the reply protesting sincerity is that of JS'oah himself. Both the
preceding and succeeding contexts require this interpretation.

Understood in this light, the passage is most damaging to the
claims of Muhammad for sincerity.

(37) None . . . shall believe, dec. If this statement reflects the
feeling of Muhammad, as I believe it does, the chapter must be re-

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 36 of 42)