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 37 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 37 of 42)
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ferred to that period of Muhammad's career at Makkah when he

CHAP. XI.] ( 352 ) [SIPAKA XII.

already believed ; be not therefore grieved for that which
they are doing. (38) But make an ark in our presence,
according to the form and dimensions which we have re-
vealed unto thee; and speak not unto me in behalf of
those who have acted unjustly, for they are doomed to be
drowned. (39) And he built the ark ; and so often as a
company of his people passed by him they derided him ;
but he said, Though ye scoff at us now, we will scoff' at you

despaired of his people believing on him, probably some time after
the ban against the Hashimites.

(39) They derided him. " For building a vessel in an inland
country, and so far from the sea ; and for that he was turned car-
penter, after he had set up for a prophet" Sale, Baidhdwi.

(40) Heaven poured forth. " Or, as the original literally signifies,
boiled over; which is consonant to what the Rabbins say, that the
waters of the deluge were boiling hot.

This oven was, as some say, at Kufa, in a spot whereon a mosque
now stands ; or, as others rather think, in a certain place in India,
or else at Afn Warda, in Mesopotamia ; and its exudation was the
sign by which Noah knew the flood was coming. Some pretend
that it was the same oven which Eve made use of to bake her bread
in, being of a form different from those we use, having the mouth in
the upper part, and that it descended from patriarch to patriarch, till
it came to Noah {vide D'Herbelot, Bibl. Orient, art. Noah). It is
remarkable that Muhammad, in all probability, borrowed this cir-
cumstance from the Persian Magi, who also fancied that the first
waters of the deluge gushed out of the oven of a certain old woman
named Zala Kufa [vide Hyde, De Rel. Vet. Persar., and Lord's Account
of the Relig. of the Per sees, p. 9).

" But the word tannur, which is here translated oven, also signify-
ing the superficies of the earth, or a place whence waters spring forth,
or where they are collected, some suppose it means no more in this
passage than the spot or fissure whence the first eruption of waters
brake forth." Sale, Baidhdwi, Jaldluddln.

One pair. " Or, as the words may also be rendered, and some
commentators think they ought, two pair, that is, two males and two
females of each species ; wherein they partly agree with divers
Jewish and Christian writers (Aben Ezra, Origen, &c). who from
the Hebrew expression, seven and seven, and two and two, the male and
his female (Gen. vii. 2), suppose there went into the ark fourteen
pair of every clean, and two pair of every unclean species. There
is a tradition that God gathered together unto Noah all sorts of
beasts, birds, and other animals (it being indeed difficult to conceive
how he should come by them all without some supernatural assist-
ance), and that, as he laid hold on them, his right hand constantly
fell on the male and his left on the female." Sale, Jaldluddln.

Except him, dec. " This was an unbelieving son of Noah, named
Canaan or Yam ; though others say he was not the son of Noah, but

sipara xii.] ( 353 ) [CHAP. XI.

hereafter as ye scoff at us ; (40) and ye shall surely know
on whom a punishment shall be inflicted, which shall
cover him with shame, and on whom a lasting punishment
shall fall. Thus were they employed until our sentence was
put in execution and the oven poured forth water. And
we said unto Noah, Carry into the ark of every species of
animals one pair ; and thy family (except him on whom a
previous sentence of destruction hath passed), and those
who believe. But there believed not with him except a
few. (41) And Noah said, Embark thereon, in the name
of God, while it moveth forward and while it standeth

his grandson by his son Ham, or his wife's son by another husband ;
nay, some pretend he was related to him no farther than by having
been educated and brought up in his house. The best commentators
add that Noah's wife, named Waila, who was an infidel, was also
comprehended in this exception, and perished with her son." Sale,
Baidhdwi, Jaldluddin, Zamakhshari.

Much of this is Muslim invention, a kind of improvement on the
Jewish tradition alluded to in the text. The whole passage is a
clear contradiction of the Bible, which the Quran professes to attest.

J'hose who believe. " Noah's family being mentioned before, it is
supposed that by these words are intended the other believers, who
were his proselytes, but not of his family ; whence the common opin-
ion among Muhammadans of a greater number than eight being
saved in the ark seems to have taken its rise." Sale, Baidhdui.

See also notes on chap. vii. 6o.

Except a few, viz., " his other wife, who was a true believer, his
three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japhet, and their wives, and seventy-
two persons more."

See note on chap. vii. 65.

(41) While it standeth still. " That is, omit no opportunity of
getting on board. According to a different reading, the latter words
may be rendered, who shall cause it to move forward and to stop, as
there shall be occasion. The commentators tell us that the ark
moved forwards or stood still as Noah would have it, on his pro-
nouncing only the words, In the name of Ood

It is to be observed that the more judicious commentators make
the dimensions of the ark to be the same with those assigned by
Moses, notwithstanding others have enlarged them extravagantly,
as some Christian writers (Origen, Contr. Cels. lib. 4) have also done.
They likewise tell us that Noah was two years in building the ark,
which was framed of Indian plane-trees ; that it was divided into three
stories, of which the lower was designed for the beasts, the middle
one for the men and women, and the upper for the birds ; and that
the men were separated from the women by the body of Adam,
which Noah had taken into the Ark. This last is a tradition of the


CHAP. XI.] ( 354 ) [SIPARA XII.

still ; for my Lord is gracious and merciful. (42) And the
ark swam with them between waves like mountains ; and
Noah called unto his son, who was separated from him,
saying, Embark with us, my son, and stay not with the
unbelievers. (43) He answered, I will get on a mountain,
which will secure me from the water. Noah replied,
There is no security this day from the decree of God,
except for him on whom he shall have mercy. And a
wave passed between them, and he became one of those
who were drowned. (44) And it was said, earth,
swallow up thy waters, and thou, heaven, withhold thy
rain. And immediately the water abated, and the decree
was fulfilled, and the ark rested on the mountain Al Jiidi ;
and it was said, Away with the ungodly people !

Eastern Christians (Jacob. Edesseuus, apud Barcepham de Parad.,
part 1. chap. 14. Vide etiam Eliezer, pirke chap. 23), some of
whom pretended that the matrimonial duty was superseded and sus-
pended during the time Noah and his family were in the ark
(Ambros, De Noa et Area, chap. 21), though Ham has been accused
of not observing continency on that occasion, his wife, it seems,
bringing forth Canaan in the very ark (vide Heidegger, Hist.
Patriarchar., vol. i. p. 409V' Sale, liaidhmoi, Yahya.

(42) Noah called unto his son. See note above on ver. 40.

(44) Al Judi. " This mountain is one of those which divide
Armenia on the south from Mesopotamia and that part of Assyria
which is inhabited by the Kurds, from whom the mountains took
the name of Kardu, or Gardu, by the Greeks turned into Gordyaei,
and other names (see Bochart, Phaleg., 1. i. c. 3). Mount al Iiidi
(which name seems to be a corruption, though it be constantly so
written by the Arabs, for Jordi or Giordi) is also called Thamanin,
probably from a town at the foot of it (D'Herbelot, Dibl. Orient., pp.
404, 676), so named from the number of persons saved in the ark,
the word thamdnin signifying eighty, and overlooks the country of
Diyar Rabfah, near the cities of Mausal, Furda, and Jazirat Ibn
Omar, which last place one affirms to be but four miles from the
place of the ark, and says that a Muhammadan temple was built
there with the remains of that vessel by the Khalffah Omar lbn
Abdulaziz, whom he by mistake calls Omar Ibn al Khattab.

"The tradition which affirms the ark to have 'rested on these
mountains must have been very ancient, since it is the tradition 01
the Chaldeans themselves (Berosus, apud Joseph. Antiq., L xiv. p.
135) ; the Chaldee paraphrasts consent to their opinion (Onkelos et
Jonathan in Gen. viii. 4), which obtained very much formerly, espe-
cially among the Ea-tern Christians. To confirm it, we are told that
the remainders of the ark were to be seen on the Gordyasan moun-

SIPARA XII.] ( 355 ) [CHAP. XI.

|| (45) And Noah called upon his Lord, and said, Lord, ruba.
verily my son is of my family, and thy promise is true,
for thou art the most just of those who exercise judgment.
(46) God answered, Noah, verily he is not of thy family ;
this intercession of thine for him is not a righteous work.
Ask not of me therefore that wherein thou hast no know-
ledge ; I admonish thee that thou become not one of the
ignorant. (47) Noah said, Lord, I have recourse unto
thee for the assistance of thy grace, that I ask not of thee
that wherein I have no knowledge ; and unless thou for-

tains. Berosus and Abydenus both declare there was such a report
in their time, the first observing that several of the inhabitants
thereabouts scraped the pitch off the planks as a rarity, and carried
it about them for an amulet ; and the latter saying that they used
the wood of the vessel against many diseases with wonderful success.
The relics of the ark were also to be seen here in the time of Epi-
phanius, if we may believe him (Epiph., Hceres., 18) ; and we are
told the Emperor Heraclius went from the town of Thamanin up to
the mountain al Judi, and saw the place of the ark (Elmacin, 1. i.
c. i). There was also formerly a famous monastery, called the
Monastery of the Ark, upon some of these mountains, where the Nes-
torians used to celebrate a feast-day on the spot where they supposed
the ark rested ; but in the year of Christ 776 that monastery was
destroyed by lightning, with the church and a numerous congrega-
tion in.it. Since which time it seems the credit of this tradition
hath declined, and given place to another, which obtains at present,
and according to which the ark rested on Mount Masis in Armenia,
called by the Turks Aghir-dagh, or the heavy or great mountain, and
situate about twelve leagues south-east of Erivan." Sale.

(45) Thy promise is true. " Noah here challenges God's promise
that he w r ould save his family." Sale.

(46) He is not of thy family. " Being cut off on account of his
infidelity." Sale.

The Tafsir-i- Raufi expresses the opinion of some that Noah did not
know his son was an infidel, and that had he known it, he would not
have interceded for him.

This is quite in accordance with the intercession claimed for the
prophets ; they may intercede for their true followers only. Their
intercession is of no avail to save the unbelieving, as illustrated
by the case mentioned in the text.

This whole story is contrary to the teaching of the Bible.

A righteous work. " According to a different reading, this passage
may be rendered, for he hath acted unrighteously." Sale. The read-
ing of the text is certainly correct, as is evident from the succeeding

CHAP. XI.] ( 356 ) [S1PARA XII.

give me and be merciful unto me, I shall be one of those
who perish. (48) It was said unto him, Noah, come
down from the ark, with peace from us, and blessings upon
thee, and upon a part of those who are with thee ; but as
for a part of tliem, we will suffer them to enjoy the provi-
sion of this world, and afterwards shall a grievous punish-
ment from us be inflicted on them in the life to come.
(49) This is a secret history which we reveal unto thee ;
thou didst not know it, neither did thy people before this.
Wherefore persevere with patience, for the prosperous issue
shall attend the pious.
D 5 11(50) And unto the tribe of Ad we sent their brother Hud.

He said, my people, worship God ; ye have no God be-
sides him ; ye only imagine falsehood in setting up idols
and intercessors of your own making. (51) my people, I
ask not of you for this my preaching any recompense ; my
recompense do I expect from him only who hath created
me. Will ye not therefore understand ? (52) my
people, ask pardon of your Lord, and be turned unto him ;

(47) Unless thou forgive me. This is another passage proving that
the prophets are not sinless, as is claimed by Muslims.

(48) Come down from the ark. " The Muhammadans say that
Noah went into the ark on the tenth of Bajab, and came out of it
the tenth of al Muharram, which therefore became a fast. So that
the whole time of Noah's being in the ark according to them was
six months." Sale. Baidhdid.

A part . . . with thee, i.e. } those who continued in the faith of

A part of them. " That is, such of his posterity as should depart
from the true faitli and fall into idolatry." Sate. This is hardly
satisfactory. Those with Noah are here divided into two part8 one
of which is to receive a blessing, the other a curse. The allusion is no
doubt to Canaan. See Gen. ix. 20-25.

(49) A secret history. Of this passage Arnold (Islam and Chris-
tianity, p. 331) says : " The Koran, in describing the Flood, professes
to reveal an unheard-of secret." But the purport of the passage is
that this secret has been revealed to Muhammad and his people, the
Arabs. As yet Muhammad regards himself as the Anostle of God
to the Arabs, as Moses had been to the Egyptians. The idea of a
universal Islam had not yet been conceived.

(50) See notes on chap. vii. 66.

sipara xii.] ( 357 ) [CHAP. XI.

he will send the heaven to pour forth rain plentifully upon
you, and he will increase your strength by giving unto you
further strength ; therefore turn not aside to commit evil.
(53) They answered, Hud, thou hast brought us no
proof of what thou sayest ; therefore we will not leave our
gods for thy saying, neither do we believe thee. (54) We
say no other than that some of our gods have afflicted
thee with evil. He replied, Verily I call God to witness,
and do ye also bear witness that I am clear of that which
ye associate with God besides him. (55) Do ye all there-
fore join to devise a plot against me, and tarry not; (56)
for I put my confidence in God, my Lord and your Lord.
There is no beast but he holdeth it by its forelock ; verily
my Lord proceedeth in the right way. (57) But if ye turn
back, I have already declared unto you that with which I
was sent unto you ; and my Lord shall substitute another
nation in your stead, and ye shall not hurt him at all, for
my Lord is guardian over all things. (58) And when our
sentence came to be put in execution, we delivered Hud
and those who had believed with him through our mercy ;
and we delivered them from a grievous punishment. (59)

(52) He will send the heaven, dec. " For the Adites were grievously
distressed by a drouth, for three years." Sale. See chap. vii. 71,
and note there.

(53) The Adites present the same objections to their prophet that
the Quraish offered to Muhammad, and the answers of Hud are ver-
batim the answers of Muhammad. This remark applies to the whole
catalogue of prophets and peoples given in the Quran. It is hard to
believe that Muhammad was unconscious of manipulation here.

(54) With evil. " Or madness having deprived thee of thy reason,
for the indignities thou hast offered them." Sale.

(55) Do ye . . . devise aplot. Taking this language with that in ver.
57, My Lord shall substitute another nation in your stead, as expressive
of Muhammad's own saying to the Quraish (see note on ver. 53), it
would be a fair inference to fix the date of this revelation at the
period when Muhammad began to court the favour of the inhabi-
tants of Madina, i.e., about one year previous to the Hijra.

(56) By its forelock. " That is, he exerciseth an absolute power
over it, a creature held in this manner being supposed to be re-
duced to the lowest subjection." Sale.

(58) llwse icho believed. Baidhawi says, ' they were in number
four thousand." Sale.

CHAP. XI.] ( 358 ) [SIPARA XII.

And this tribe of Ad wittingly rejected the signs of their
Lord, and were disobedient unto his messengers, and they
followed the command of every rebellious perverse person.
(60) Wherefore they were followed in this world by a
curse, and they shall be followed by the same on the day of
resurrection. Did not Ad disbelieve in their Lord ? V
it not said, Away with Ad, the people of Hud ?
D || (61) And unto the tribe of Thaniud we sent their

brother Salih. He said unto them, my people, worship
God ; ye have no God besides him. It is he who hath
produced you out of the earth, and hath given you an
habitation therein. Ask pardon of him, therefore, and be
turned unto him; for my Lord is near and ready to
answer. (62) They answered, Salih, thou wast a person
on whom we placed our hopes before this. Dost thou
forbid us to worship that which our fathers worshipped ?
But we are certainly in doubt concerning the religion to
which thou dost invite us, as justly to be suspected. (63)
Sdlih said, my people, tell me ; if I have received an
evident declaration from my Lord, and he hath bestowed
on me mercy from himself ; who will protect me from the
vengeance of God if I be disobedient unto him ? For ye
shall not add unto me other than loss. (64) And he said,
O my people, this she-camel of God is a sign unto you ;
therefore dismiss her freely, that she may feed in God's
earth, and do her no harm, lest a swift punishment seize
you. (65) Yet they killed her; and Sdlih said, Enjoy
yourselves in your dwellings for three days, after which ye
shall be destroyed. This is an infallible prediction. (66)
And when our decree came to be executed, we delivered
Salih and those who believed with him, through our

(61) Tham&d. See note on chap. vii. 14.

(62) On whom we placed our hopes. " Designing to have made thee
our prince, because of the singular prudence and other good qualities
which we observed in thee ; but tiiy dissenting from us in point of
religious worship has frustrated those hopes." Sale, Baidh&wi.

((i5) Three days, viz., " Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday." Salt,
see also note on chap. vii. 79.

sipara xii.] ( 359 ) [CHAP. XI.

mercy, from, the disgrace of that day; for thy Lord is
the strong, the mighty God. (67) But a terrible noise
from heaven assailed those who had acted unjustly ; and
in the morning they were found in their houses lying
dead and prostrate, (68) as though they had never dwelt
therein. Did not Thamud disbelieve in their Lord ? Was
not Thannid cast far away ?

|| (69) Our messengers also came formerly unto Abraham
with good tidings : they said, Peace be upon thee. And he
answered, And on you be peace ! And he tarried not, but
brought a roasted calf. (70) And when he saw that their
hands did not touch the meat, he misliked them, and
entertained a fear of them. But they said, Fear not; for
we are sent unto the people of Lot. (71) And his wife
Sarah was standing by, and she laughed ; and we promised
her Isaac, and after Isaac, Jacob. (72) She said, Alas !

(69) Our mssengers. " These were the angels -who were sent to
acquaint Abraham with the promise of Isaac, and to destroy Sodom
and Gomorrah. Some of the commentators pretend they were twelve,
or nine, or ten in number ; but others, agreeable to Scripture, say
they were but three, viz., Gabriel, Michael, and Israffl." Sale,
Jaldluddln. See Gen. xviii.

(70) When he saw that their hands, &c. Their refusal to eat was
regarded by Abraham as a declaration of want of friendship, custom
requiring guests to eat in token of friendship. Tafsir-i- Ravfi.

Entertained a fear, <&c. "Apprehending that they had some ill
design against him because they would not eat with him." Sale.

Fear not. "Being angels, whose nature needs not the support of
food." This passage is a direct contradiction of Gen. xviii. 8. The
Rabbins say the angels pretended to eat. See Rodwell in loco.

(71) And she laughed. " The commentators are so little acquainted
with Scripture, that, not knowing the true occasion of Sarah's
laughter, they strain their inventions to give some reason for it.
One says that she laughed at the angels discovering themselves, and
ridding Abraham and herself of their apprehensions ; and another,
that it was at the approaching destruction of the Sodomites (a very
probable motive in one of her sex). Some, however, interpret the
original word differently, and will have it that she did not laugh,
but that her courses, which had stopped for several years, came upon
her at this time, as a previous sign of her future conception."
Sale, Baidhdwi, Jaldluddin, &c.

Isaac and Jacob. The references to this promised child are fre-
quently connected with Jacob in such a way as to leave the im-
pression that iu Muhammad's mind Isaac and Jacob were brothers,


CHAP. XI.] ( 360 ) [SIPARA XII.

shall I bear a son, who am old ; this my husband also
being advanced in years ? Verily this would be a wonder-
ful thing. (73) The angels answered, Dost thou wonder
at the effect of the command of God ? The mercy of God
and his blessings be upon you, the family of the house :
for he is praiseworthy, and to be glorified. (74) And
when his apprehension had departed from Abraham, and
the good tidings of Isaac's birth had come unto him, he
disputed with us concerning the people of Lot ; for Abra-
ham was a pitiful, compassionate, and devout person. (75)
The angels said unto him, Abraham, abstain from this ;
for now is the command of thy Lord come to put their
sentence in execution, and an inevitable punishment is
ready to fall upon them. (76) And when our messengers
came unto Lot, he was troubled for them, and his arm was
straightened concerning them ; and he said, This is a
grievous day. (77) And his people came unto him, rush-

born of Sarah. See chaps, xix. 50, and xxi. 72. Ishmael is nowhere
mentioned as the child of promise. Every reference to him in the
Quran speaks of him as simply a prophet. The explanation doubt-
less is that these references, occurring in Makkan or very early
Madlna Suras, the spirit of inspiration derived its knowledge mostly
from Jewish tradition. The Jews had not yet been rejected. The
Arabs were not vet regarded as the chosen people of God.

(72) Advanced in years. " Al Baidhawi writes that Sarah was
then ninety or ninety-nine years old, and Abraham a hundred and
twenty." Sale.

(73) The house. "Or the stock whence all the prophets were to
proceed for the future. Or the expression may perhaps refer to
Abraham and Ishmael's building the Kaabah, which is often called
by way of excellence the house." Sale.

(74) He disputed with us. "That is, he interceded with us for
them. Jalaluddin, instead of the numbers mentioned by Moses,
says that Abraham first asked whether God would destroy those
cities if three hundred righteous persons were found therein, and so
fell successively to two hundred, forty, fourteen, and at last came to
one ; but there was not one righteous person to be found among
them, except only Lot and his family." Sale.

( f. Gen. xviii. 23-33.

(76) He was troubled for them. "Because they appeared in the
shape of beautiful young men. which must needs tempt those of
Sodom to abuse them. He knew himself unable to protect them
against the insults of his townsmen." Sale, Jaldluddtn, Baidh/iwi.

SIPARA XII.] (361 ) [CHAP. XI.

ing upon him, and they had formerly been guilty of
wickedness. Lot said unto them, my people, these my
daughters are more lawful for you: therefore fear God,
and put me not to shame by wronging my guests. Is
there not a man of prudence among you ? (78) They
answered, Thou knowest that we have no need of thy
daughters ; and thou well knowest what we would have.
(79) He said, If I had strength sufficient to oppose you, or
I could have recourse unto a powerful support, 7" would
certainly do it. (80) The angels said, Lot, verily we are
the messengers of thy Lord ; they shall by no means come
in unto thee. Go forth, therefore, with thy family, in
some part of the night, and let not any of you turn back ;
but as for thy wife, that shall happen unto her which
shall happen unto them. Verily the prediction of their
punishment shall be fulfilled in the morning : is not the
morning near ? (81) And when our command came, we
turned those cities upside down, and we rained upon them

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 37 of 42)