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 38 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 38 of 42)
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(80) They shall by no means comt in unto thee. " Al Baidhawi says
that Lot shut his door, and argued the matter with the riotous
assembly from behind it ; but at length they endeavoured to get
over the wall ; whereupon Gabriel, seeing his distress, struck them
on the face with one of his wings and blinded them, so that they
moved off crying out for help, and saying that Lot had magicians
in his house." Sale.

As for thy wife. "This seems to be the true sense of the passage ;
but according to a different reading of the vowel, some interpret it,
Except thy wife; the meaning being that Lot is here commanded to
take his family with him except his wife. Wherefore the commen-
tators cannot agree whether Lot's wife went forth with him or not ;
some denying it, and pretending that she was left behind and
perished in the common destruction ; and others affirming it, and
saying that when she heard the noise of the storm and overthrow
of the cities, she turned back lamenting their fate, and w T as im-
mediately struck down and killed by one of the stones mentioned
a little lower. A punishment she justly merited for her infidelity
and disobedience to her husband." Sale.

For the name of Lot's wife, see note on Ixvi. 10. See also note on
chap. vii. 84.

(81) We turned those cities upside down. " For they tell us that
Gabriel thrust his wing under them, and lifted them up so high,
that the inhabitants of the lower heaven heard the barking of the
dogs and the crowing of the cocks ; and then, inverting them, threw
them down to the earth." Sale, Jaldluddin, Baidhdwi.

CHAP. XI.] ( 362 ) [SIPARA XII.

stones of baked clay, one following another, (82) and being
marked from thy Lord ; and they arc not far distant from
those who act unjustly.
nif. || (83) And unto Madian we sent their brother Shuail>:

|{ L he said, O my people, worship God: ye have no God but
him : and diminish not measure and weight. Verily I see
you to be in a happy condition ; but I fear for you the
punishment of the day which will encompass the ungodly.
(84) my people, give full measure and just weight ; and
diminish not unto men might of their matters ; neither
commit injustice in the earth, acting corruptly. (85) The
residue which shall remain unto you as the gift of God,
after ye shall have done justice to others, will be better for
you than wealth gotten by fraud, if ye be true believers.
(86) I am no guardian over you. (87) They answered,
Shuaib, do thy prayers enjoin thee that we should leave
the gods which our fathers worshipped, or that we should
not do what we please with our substance ? Thou only, it

Stones of baked clay. Some commentators say these bricks were
burned in hell. Sale.

(82) Being marked. "That is, as some suppose, streaked with
white and red, or having some other peculiar mark to distinguish
them from ordinary stones. But the common opinion is that each
stone had the name of the person who was to be killed by it written
thereon. The army of Abraha al Ashram was also destroyed by the
same kind of stones." Salt; Jaldluddin, Baidhdwi.

Who act unjustly. "Tliis is a kind of threat to other wicked per-
sons, and particularly to the infidels of Makkah, who deserved and
might justly apprehend the same punishment." Sale.

The story of the destruction of Sodom as here ;_ r iven is another
instance in which the Quran contradicts the Bible while professing
to attest its truth.

(83) Madian. See note on chap. vii. 86.

A happy condition. "That is, enjoying plenty of all things, and
therefore having the less occasion to defraud one another, and being
the more strongly bound to be thankful and obedient unto God."

(86} These are the very words used by Muhammad to the Quraish.
See chap. x. 108.

(87) That we should not do what we please, dec. " For this liberty,
they imagined, was taken from them by his prohibition of false
weights and measures, or to diminish or adulterate their coin. : '
Sale, Baidhdwi.

SIPARA XII.] ( 363 ) [CHAP. XI.

seems, art the wise person, and fit to direct. (88; He said,
my people, tell me : if I have received an evident de-
claration from my Lord, and he hath bestowed on me an
excellent provision, and I will not consent unto you in
that which I forbid you ; do I seek any other than your
reformation, to the utmost of my power ? My support is
from God alone : on him do I trust, and unto him do I
turn me. (89) my people, let not your opposing of me
draw on you a vengeance like unto that which fell on the
people of Noah, or the people of Hud, or the people of
Salih : neither was the people of Lot far distant from you.
(90) Ask pardon, therefore, of your Lord ; and be turned
unto him : for my Lord is merciful and loving. (91)
They answered, Shuaib, we understand not much of
what thou sayest, and we see thee to be a man of no
power among us : if it had not been for the sake of thy
family, we had surely stoned thee, neither couldst thou
have prevailed against us. (92) Shuaib said, my people,
is my family more worthy in your opinion than God ?
and do ye cast him behind you with neglect? Verily
my Lord comprehendeth that which ye do. (93) my
people, do ye work according to your condition ; I will

(89) Far distant from you. "For Sodom and Gomorrah were
situate not a great way from you, and their destruction happened
not many ages ago ; neither did they deserve it on account of their
obstinacy and wickedness much more than yourselves." Sale.

(91) A man of no power. "The Arabic word dhaif, icealc, signify-
ing also, in the Himyaritic dialect, blind, some suppose that Shuaib
was so, and that the Midianites objected that to him, as a defect
which disqualified him for the prophetic office." Sale.

Thy family, i.e., "For the respect we bear to thy family and rela-
tions, whom we honour as being of our religion, and not for any
apprehension we have of their power to assist you against us. The
original word, here translated family, signifies any number from three
to seven or ten, but not more." Sale, Baidhdwi, Jaldluddin.

Muliammad here again puts the words of the Quraish into the
mouths of the Midianites. He was under the protection of the
Hashimites, or of the household of Abu Talib. The revelation must
have been announced before the ban against the Hashimites.

(93) Compare with chap. vi. 135, to see how Muhammad's replies
to the Quraish are put into the mouths of other prophets. See note
on ver. 53 above.

CHAP. XL] ( 364 ) [SI PARA XIL

surely work according to my didy. And ye shall certainly
know on whom will be inflicted a punishment which
shall cover him with shame, and who is a liar. (94)
Wait, therefore, the event ; for I also will wait it with you.
(95) Wherefore, when our decree came to be executed, we
delivered Shuaib and those who believed with him, through
our mercy ; and 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, (96)
as though they had never dwelt therein. Was not Madian
removed from off the earth, as Thamud had been removed ?
J^ ^ || (97) And we formerly sent Moses with our signs and

manifest power unto Pharaoh and his princes ; (98) but
they followed the command of Pharaoh, although the
command of Pharaoh did not direct them aright. (99)
Pliaraoh shall precede his on the day of resurrection, and
he shall lead them into lull-fae, ; an unhappy way shall it
be which they shall be led. (100) They were followed in
this life by a curse, and on the day of resurrection miser-
able shall be the gift which shall be given them. (101)
This is a part of the histories of the cities, which we
rehearse unto thee. Of them there are some standing, and
others which arc utterly demolished. (102) And we treated
them not unjustly, but they dealt unjustly with their own
souls; and their gods which they invoked, besides God,
were of no advantage unto them at all when the decree
of thy Lord came to be executed on them, neither were
they any other than a detriment unto them. (103) And
thus was the punishment of my Lord inflicted, when
he punished the cities which were unjust ; for his punish-
ment is grievous and severe. (101) Verily herein is a
sign unto him who feareth the punishment of the last

(97) Pharaoh and his princes. See notes on chap. vii. 104-136.

(99) Compare with chap. x. 90.

(101) Utterly demolished. " Literally, mown down; the sentence
presenting the different images of corn stand in g and cut down,
which is also often used by the sacred writers." Sale.

SIPARA XII.] ( 365 ) [CHAP. XI.

day: that shall he a day, whereon all men shall be
assembled, and that shall he a day whereon witness shall
be borne ; (105) we defer it not, but to a determined time.
(106) When that day shall come, no soul shall speak to
excuse itself or to intercede for another but by the permis-
sion of God. Of them, one shall he miserable and another
shall he happy. (107) And they who shall be miserable
shall be thrown into hell-tire ; (108) there shall they wail
and bemoan themselves : they shall remain therein so long
as the heavens and the earth shall endure, except what
thy Lord shall please to remit of their sentence ; for thy
Lord effecteth that which he pleaseth. (109) But they
who shall be happy shall he admitted into Paradise ; they
shall remain therein so long as the heavens and the earth
endure : besides what thy Lord shall please to add unto
their hliss; a bounty which shall not be interrupted. (110)
Be not therefore in doubt concerning that which these
men worship : they worship no other than what their
fathers worshipped before them ; and we will surely give
them their full portion, not in the least diminished.

|| (111) We formerly gave unto Moses the book of the K 10
law, and disputes arose among his people concerning it :
and unless a previous decree had proceeded from thy

(108) Wail and bemoan. " The two words in the original signify,
properly, the vehement drawing in and expiration of one's breath,
which is usual to persons in great pain and anguish ; and particularly
the reciprocation of the voice of an ass when he brays." Sale.

So long as the heavens and the earth shall endure. " This is not to
be strictly understood, as if either the punishment of the damned
should have an end or the heavens and the earth should endure for
ever, the expression being only used by way of image or compari-
son, which needs not agree in every point with the thing signified.
Some, however, think the future heavens and earth, into which
the present shall be changed, are here meant." Sale, Baidhdwi.

Except what thy Lord shall please to remit. See Prelim. Disc, pp.
149, 150.

(110) We will surely give them their full portion. The logical
inference from all that is taught in this chapter, and especially in
the examples given, is that the Quraish would reject Muhammad,
and be ignominiously destroyed. This verse sets the seal to this
threat Muslims are, however, obliged to admit that, with a few
exceptions, the "people of Muhammad" are reckoned true believers.


CHAP. XI.] ( 366 ) [SIPARA XII.

Lord to bear with them during this life, the matter had
been surely decided between them. And thy people are
also jealous and in doubt concerning the Qurdn. (112)
But unto every one of them will thy Lord render the
reward of their works ; for he well knoweth that which
they do. (113) Be thou steadfast, therefore, as thou hast
been commanded ; and let him also be steadfast who shall
be converted with thee ; and transgress not, for he seeth
that which ye do. (114) And incline not unto those who
act unjustly, lest the fire of hell touch you : for ye have
no protectors except God ; neither shall ye be assisted
against him. (115) Pray regularly morning and evening ;
and in the former part of the night, for good works drive
away evil. This is an admonition unto those who con-
sider : (116) wherefore persevere with patience ; for God
suffereth not the reward of the righteous to perish. (117)
Were such of the generations before you endued with
understanding and virtue who forbade the acting cor-
ruptly in the earth, any more than a few only of those
whom we delivered ; but they who were unjust followed
the delights which they enjoyed in this world, and were

(111) Thy people are . . . in doubt, dkc. This verse " disproves the
miracle of the Quran. A miracle requires to be so convincing that
none who see it can doubt that it is a miracle. Christ did miracles ;
the fact of them was not doubted by those who saw them done,
though the unbelievers and jealous said Satan was the doer of them.
If the doubts here referred to are regarding the meaning of tin-
Koran, then it is not an easy, light-giving book, as it is said to be. : '
Brinckman's " Notes on Isldm."

(115) Morninj and evening. "Literally in the extremities of the
day." Sale.

The former part of the night. "That is, after sunset and before
supper, when the Muhammadans say their fourth prayer, called by
them i>aldt al maghrab, or the evening praver." Sale, Bavlhdwi.

(117) Which they enjoyed. "Making it their sole business to please
their luxurious desires and appetites, and placing their whole feli-
city therein." Sale.

Were wicked doers. " Al Baidhawi says that this pasture gives the
reason why the nations were destroyed of old, viz., for their violence
and injustice, their following their own lusts, and for their idolatry
and unbelief." Sale.

SIPARA XII.] ( 367 ) [CHAP. XI.

wicked doers : (118) and thy Loed was not of such a dispo-
sition as to destroy the cities unjustly, while their inha-
bitants behaved themselves uprightly. (119) And if thy
Loed pleased, he would have made all men of one reli-
gion ; but they shall not cease to differ among themselves,
unless those on whom thy Loed shall have mercy : and
unto this hath he created them ; for the word of thy Loed
shall be fulfilled when he said, Verily I will fill hell alto-
gether with genii and men. (120) The whole which we
have related of the histories of our apostles do we relate
unto thee, that we may confirm thy heart thereby ; and
herein is the truth come unto thee, and an admonition
and a warning unto the true believers. (121) Say unto
those who believe not, Act ye according to your condi-
tion ; we surely will act according to our duty : (122) and
wait the issue; for we certainly wait it also. (123) Unto
God is known that which is secret in heaven and earth ;
and unto him shall the whole matter be referred. There-
fore worship him and put thy trust in him ; for thy Loed
is not regardless of that which ye do.

(118) Unjustly. "Or, as Baidhawi explains it, for their idolatry
only, when they observed justice in other respects." Sale. The
meaning, however, is that God never destroys a people without a good
reason and such a good reason is idolatry, as is evident from all the
examples given in this chapter.

(119) / will Jill hell, &c. See notes on chap. vii. 179-183.
(121) See above on ver. 93.

(123) Thy Lord is not regardless of that which ye do. Muhammad
attributed his grey hairs to this chapter and its sisters. See Muir's
Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. p. 255.

( 368 )



Revealed at Makkah.


This chapter purports to give an inspired account of the life of the
patriarch Joseph. It differs from every other chapter of the Quran,
in that it deals with only one subject. Baidhawi, says Sale, tells us-
that it was occasioned in the following manner :

"The Quraish, thinking to puzzle Muhammad, at the instigation
and by the direction of certain Jewish Rabbins, demanded of him
how Jacob's family happened to go down into Egypt, and that he
would relate to them the history of Joseph, with all its circum-
stances ; " whereupon he pretended to have received this chapter
from heaven.

Jalaluddfn-us-Syuti, in his Itqdn, says this chapter was given by
Muhammad to those Madinese converted at Makkah before the
Hijra. Weil conjectures that it was especially prepared with re-
ference to the Hijra. This conjecture has, however, but little in
its favour. Certain it is that the chapter belongs to Makkah. Much
intercourse with the Jews at Madfna would have improved the
general historical character of the record.

The story related here bears every mark of having been received
at second hand from persons themselves ignorant of the history of
Joseph, except as recounted from hearsay among ignorant people.
Muhammad's informants had probably learned the story from
popular Jewish tradition, which seems to have been garbled and
improved upon by the Prophet himself. Certainly no part of the
Quran more clearly reveals the hand of the forger. The whole
chapter is a miserable travesty of the Mosaic account of Joseph. In
almost every instance the facts of the original story are misrepre-
sented, misplaced, and garbled, while the additions are often wanting


( 369 )


the poor authority of the Rabbins. Nevertheless, this story is not
only related as coming from God, but also as attesting the Divine
character of the Quran. It is significant that this chapter was re-
jected by the Ajaredites and Maimunians as apocryphal and spurious.

Probable Date of the Revelations.

There are those (as Jalaluddin-us-Sayuti) who would assign vers.
1-3 to Madfna, but the generally received opinion, as stated above,
is that the whole chapter belongs to Makkah. The spirit shown in
vers. 105, no, towards the unbelieving Quraish, along with the
general character of the chapter, based as it is upon information
drawn from Jewish sources, point to the years immediately preced-
ing the Hijra as the period to which it belongs. Muir, in his
Chronological List of Suras, places it just before chap. xi. See Life
of Mahomet^ vol. ii. Appendix.

Principal Subjects.

The Prophet acquainted by inspiration with the history of

Joseph . .......

Joseph tells his father of his vision of the stars

Jacob warns Joseph against the jealousy of his brethren

Jacob understands the dream to signify Joseph's future pro

phetic character

Joseph's story a sign of God's providence

Joseph's brethren are jealous of him and of Benjamin .

They counsel together to kill or to expatriate him

One of them advises their putting him into a well

They beg their father to send Joseph with them .

Jacob hesitates through fear that Joseph may be devoured

by a wolf

Joseph's brethren, receiving their father's consent, take him

with them and put him in a well ....
God sends a revelation to Joseph in the well
The brethren bring to Jacob the report that Joseph had been

devoured by a wolf

Jacob does not believe the story of his sons .

Certain travellers finding Joseph carry him into bondage

An Egyptian purchases Joseph and proposes to adopt him

God bestows on him wisdom and knowledge

The Egyptian's wife endeavours to seduce Joseph

By God's grace he was preserved from her enticements

She accuses Joseph of an attempt to dishonour her

VOL. II. 2







11, 12



16, 17

19, 20




( 370 )


The rent in his garment testifies Joseph's innocence
Potipher believes Joseph and condemns his wife .
The sin of Potiplicr's wife becomes known in the city .
The wives of other noblemen, seeing Joseph's beauty, call

him an angel

Potipher's wife declares her purpose to imprison Joseph un

less he yield to her solicitations ....
Joseph seeks protection from God ....

God hears his prayer and turns aside their snares .
Joseph imprisoned notwithstanding his innocence
He undertakes to interpret the dreams of two of the king's

servants who were also imprisoned with him
Joseph preaches the Divine unity to his fellow-prisoners
He interprets the dreams of the two servants
Joseph asks to be remembered to the king, but is forgotten

The dreams of the king of Egypt

The king's interpreters fail to interpret the king's dream
Joseph remembers and interprets the king's dream
The king calls Joseph out of prison ....
The women of the palace acknowledge their sin in endeavour

ing to entice Joseph to unlawful love
Joseph vindicated, yet professes his proneness to sin

The king restores Joseph

Joseph made king's treasurer at his own request .
His brethren come to him, but do not recognise him .
Joseph requires his brethren to bring to him their brother


Their money returned in their sacks to induce their return
Jacob reluctantly permits Benjamin to go to Egypt with his


Jacob counsels their entering the city by several gates
This counsel of no avail against God's decree
Joseph, receiving Benjamin, makes himself known to him
He, by guile, brings his brethren under charge of theft
He insists on retaining Benjamin instead of a substitute
Alter consultation, Benjamin's brethren all return to Jacob

but one

Jacob refuses to credit their story, yet puts his trust in God

Jacob grieves for Joseph, and yet tells of his hope

Jacob sends his sons to inquire after Joseph .

Joseph makes himself known to his brethren

He pardons his brethren and sends his inner garment to his

father to restore his sight

Jacob foretells the finding of Joseph, and receives his sight

INTROD.] (371 ) [CHAP. XII.


He asks pardon for his wicked sons ..... 98, 99

Joseph receives his parents unto him in Egypt . . . 100

Jacob and his sons and wife all do obeisance to Joseph . 10 1
Joseph praises God for his mercies and professes the

Muslim faith 102

The infidels will not believe the signs of the Quran . . 103-107
The Makkan idolaters invited to the true faith . . . 108
God's apostles in all ages have been but men . . . 109
Unbelievers invariably punished for rejecting the messen-
gers of God 109,110

The Quran no forgery, but a confirmation of the writings

of former prophets . 1 1 1


|| (1) A. L. E. (2) These are the signs of the perspicuous K 11 '
book, which we have sent down in the Arabic tongue,
that, peradventure, ye might understand. (3) We relate
unto thee a most excellent history, by revealing unto thee
this Quran, whereas thou wast before one of the negligent.

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

(2) Arabic tongue. The Tafsir-i-Raufi informs us that the reason
why the Quran was revealed in Arabic was because the Arabs would
not have understood its meaning had it been revealed in any other.
This is certainly a very natural reason. One would think that for
a similar reason a translation of the Quran might be used by nations
not understanding Arabic, and that Muslims would not object to the
translations of the former Scriptures.

(3) A most excellent history. "One of the best methods of con-
vincing a Moslem of the inferiority of the Koran to the Bible would
be to read the story of Joseph to him out of each book. In the
Koran a beautiful and touching tale is mangled and spoiled."
Brinckman's "Notes on Islam" p. 112.

This Quran. "Or this particular chapter; for the word Quran,
as has been' elsewhere observed (Prelim. Disc, p. 96), probably sig-
nifying no more than a ' reading ' or ' lecture,' is often used to denote,
not onlv the whole volume, but any distinct chapter or section of
it." Safe.

It is better to understand the word here to be applied to the whole
sum of revelation enunciated by Muhammad. The idea seems to be
that Muhammad would not have known this "excellent history " but
for the Quran, which contained it.

Thou wast before . . . negligent, i.e., "so far from being acquainted
with the story, that it never so much as entered into thy thoughts :

CHAP. XII.] ( 372 ) [SIPARA XII.

(4) When Joseph said unto his father, O my father, verily
I saw in my dream eleven stars, and the sun and the
moon; I saw them make obeisance unto me: (0) Jacob
said, my child, tell not thy vision to thy brethren, lest
they devise some plot against thee ; for the devil is a pro-
fessed enemy unto man ; (6) and thus, according to thy
dream, shall thy Lord choose thee, and teach thee the in-
terpretation of dark sayings, and he shall accomplish his
favour upon thee and upon the family of Jacob, as he
hath formerly accomplished it upon thy fathers Abraham
and Isaac; for thy Lord is knowing and wise. (7) Surely
in the history of Joseph and his brethren there are signs of
God's providence to the inquisitive ; (8) when they said to

a certain argument, says al Baidhawi, that it must have been revealed
to him from heaven." Sale.

Arnold says, " The ' Sura of Joseph,' composed hy Mohammed in

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 38 of 42)