E. M. (Elwood Morris) Wherry.

A comprehensive commentary on the Qurán; comprising Sale's translation and preliminary discourse, with additional notes and emendations; together with a complete index to the text, preliminary discourse, and notes (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryE. M. (Elwood Morris) WherryA comprehensive commentary on the Qurán; comprising Sale's translation and preliminary discourse, with additional notes and emendations; together with a complete index to the text, preliminary discourse, and notes (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 42)
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view agrees very well with the sentiments of contempt for the
heathen attributed to these covenant-breakers in the latter portion
of this verse.

(75) Whoso keepeth Ids covenant, d:c. Muslims showing the spirit
attributed to Jews in the preceding verse cannot quote this precept
of Muhammad in justification of their conduct.

(77) Some . . . read the Scriptures perversely. The charge here is


what tliey read to be really in the scriptures, yet it is not
in the scripture ; and they say, This is from God ; but it
is not from God : and they speak that which is false con-
cerning God, against their own knowledge. (78) It is
not fit for a man that God should give him a book of
revelations, and wisdom, and prophecy ; and then he should
say unto men, Be ye worshippers of me, besides God ; but
he ought to say, Be ye perfect in knowledge and in works,
since ye know the scriptures, and exercise yourselves
therein. (79) God hath not commanded you to take the
angels and the prophets for your lords: Will he com-
mand you to become infidels after ye have been true
believers ?
p JL. || (80) And remember when God accepted the covenant
of the prophets, saying, This verily is the scripture and

that Jews and Christians misrepresent the teaching of their own
Scriptures. The author of the notes on the Roman Urdu Quran
thinks this passage and others like it show the eagerness of Muham-
mad to find a sanction for his prophetic claims in the Scriptures
of the Old and New Testament. When, however, the Jews frankly
told him what their Scriptures taught, he charged them with wicked
concealment of the prophecies concerning himself. It is possihle
that Muhammad was himself the victim of misrepresentation on
this subject by interested parties.

This passage, too, shows beyond dispute that Muhammad re-
garded the Scriptures in the hands of the Jews and Christians as
credible. No charge is ever brought against the Scriptures, but
invariably against the interpreters.

(78) It is not Jit, <Scc. This verse is evidently directed against
Christians, who worship Jesus.

Sale says, "This passage was revealed, say the commentators, in
answer to the Christians, who insisted that Jesus had commanded
them to worship him as God."

Worshippers of me besides God. Here again we see that Muham-
mad's conception of Christian theology was all wrong.

(79) The angels. The idolaters of Makkah worshipped angels.
The prophets for your lords, e.g., the Jews worship Ezra and the

Christians worship Jesus. Tafslr-i-Raufi.

(80) The covenant of the propliets. "Some commentators interpret
this of the children of Israel themselves, of whose race the prophets
were. But others say the souls of all the prophets, even of those
who were not then born, were present on Mount Sinai when God
gave the law to Moses, and that they entered into the covenant here
mentioned with him. A story borrowed by Muhammad from the


the wisdom which I have given you : hereafter shall an
apostle come unto you, confirming the truth of that scrip-
ture which is with you ; ye shall surely believe in him,
and ye shall assist him. God said, Are ye firmly resolved,
and do ye accept my covenant on this condition ? They
answered, We are firmly resolved : God said, Be ye there-
fore witnesses; and I also bear witness with you: (81)
and whosoever turneth back after this, they are surely
the transgressors. (82) Do they therefore seek any other
religion but God's? since to him is resigned whosoever
is in heaven or on earth, voluntarily or of force : and to
him shall they return. (83) Say, We believe in God,

Talniudists, and therefore most probably bis true meaning in this
place." Sale.

The prophecy alluded to here is probably the general promise of
the Messiah contained in such passages as Deut. xviii. 15-18, and
which constituted the spirit of prophecy. The only direct statement
in the Quran giving the very words of prophecy is found in chap.
lxi. 6, where the allusion is to the Paraclete. In either case the
prophet of Arabia made a serious mistake. The desperation of his
followers to find the prophecies of the Bible relating to him is
manifested at one time by their attempts to disprove the genuine-
ness of the same, at another time by their endeavours to show that
Deut. xviii. 15-18, John xiv. 16, 26, and xvi. 13, &c, really refer to
their prophet. For a specimen of the latter the reader is referred to
Assays on the Life of Mohammad by Savd Ahmad Khan, Bahadur
C.S. I.

(82) Resigned . . . voluntarily or of force. The idea of converting
men by force is here said to have belonged to the covenant of Sinai.
The verse, however, conveys a threat against unbelieving Arabs.

(83) This verse very well illustrates the kind of attestation borne
to the former Scriptures and to the prophetic character of the pro-
phets by whom they were revealed. An array of names and a
general statement declaring their truly prophetic character is given,
but everywhere their doctrine is ignored or rejected when conceived of
as in conflict with the Quran and the Arabian prophet. Now, Mu-
hammad must be regarded as either making a statement of fad as to
the oneness of his faith with that of the persons he mentions, or he
was ignorant of what he here states as a fact. In either case he
teems to me fairly chargeable with imposture. For even if he were
ignorant of what he pretends to know, his pretence is a deception,
and no reasonable apology can be offered for his putting a statement
of this character in the mouth of God. How, then, Mr. Smith
(Muhammad and Muhammadanism, p. 25) can so positively assert
the impossibility of any longer regarding Muhammad as an impostor.


and that which hath been sent down unto us, and that
which was sent down unto Abraham, and Ismail, and
Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which was de-
livered to Moses, and Jesus, and the prophets from their
Lord ; we make no distinction between any of them ; and
to him are we resigned. (84) Whoever followeth any
other religion than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him :
and in the next life he shall be of those who perish. (85)
How shall God direct men who have become infidels after
they had believed, and borne witness that the apostle was
true, and manifest declarations of the divine will had come
unto them ? for God directeth not the ungodly people. (86)
Their reward shall be, that on them shall fall the curse of
God, and of angels, and of all mankind : (87) they shall
remain under the same for ever ; their torment shall not
be mitigated, neither shall they be regarded ; (88) except
those who repent after this and amend ; for God - is
gracious and merciful. (89) Moreover they who become
infidels after they have believed, and yet increase in
infidelity, their repentance shall in nowise be accepted,
and they are those who go astray. (90) Verily they who

I can only understand by supposing him to be blinded to the faults
of his hero by the glory of his own ideal. See also notes on
chap. ii. 61.

Whosoever . . . any other religion. Islam is here contemplated by
the prophet as equivalent, or rather as identical with, tlie true
religion of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Were Islam so identified
with the one true religion of God, then all might assent to the state-
ment of the text ; but as a matter of fact there never was any such
recognition of Judaism or Christianity in practice among Muslim*.
They have never been the preservers of the Scriptures herein at-
tested as the Word of God ; and any man preferring either religion
to Islam is thereby stigmatised as an infidel.

(>5-89) How shall God direct . . . infidels, dec. This passage seems
to teaeh that apostasy from Islam can never be repented of. Such
a person is a reprobate. See Tafstr-i- Ilaufi in loco. God is merciful
to forgive those who repent in time, but for those who "yet increase
in infidelity," i.e., go on in an obstinate course of apostasy, there is
no forgiveness.

(90) For his ransom. The punishment of infidels is eternal ami
without remedy. The idea of a ransom for a tinner is recognised

SIPARA IV.] ( 31 ) [CHAP. III.

believe not, and die in their unbelief, the world full of
gold shall in nowise be accepted from any of them, even
though he should give it for his ransom ; they shall suffer
a grievous punishment, (91) and they shall have non'e to
help them.

|| (92) Ye will never attain unto righteousness until ye fwrth


give in alms of that which ye love : and whatever ye t\ 10.
give, God knoweth it. (93) All food was permitted unto 1

here only to be rejected. Yet this passage obscurely recognises the
infinite value of the soul.

(92) Alms. See notes on chap. ii. 42, and Prelim. Disc, p. 172.

(93) Except what Israel forbade, &c. Sale says : " This passage
was revealed on the Jews reproaching Muhammad and his followers
with their eating of the flesh and milk of camels (Lev. xi. 4,
Deut. xiv.), which they said was forbidden Abraham, whose
religion Muhammad pretended to follow. In answer to which he
tells them, that God ordained no distinction of meats before he
gave the law to Moses, though Jacob voluntarily abstained from
the flesh and milk of camels ; which some commentators say was
in consequence of a vow, made by that patriarch when afflicted
with the sciatica, that if he were cured he would eat no more of
that meat which he liked best, and that was camel's flesh ; but
others (Baidhawi, Jalaluddin) suppose he abstained from it by the
advice of physicians only.

" This exposition seems to be taken from the children of Israel's
not eating of the sinew on the hollow of the thigh, because the
angel with whom Jacob wrestled at Peniel touched the hollow of
his thigh in the sineiv that shrank (Gen. xxxii. 32)."

Bring hither the Pentateuch and read it. This is a clear acknowledg-
ment that the Pentateuch, which the Quran attests as the Word of
God, was in the possession of the Jews in the time of Muhammad.
Yet, while the Prophet was ever ready to challenge Jews and
Christians to bring their Scriptures that he might therewith prove
to them his apostleship, it is a remarkable fact that he never per-
mitted his own followers to read or hear those Scriptures. The
Mishqat-ul-Masdbih (Book i. chap. vi. part 2, Matthews translation,
voL i. p. 53) contains the following tradition, on the authority of
J abie : " Jabir said, Verily Omar Ibn-al-Khattab brought a
copy of the Pentateuch to the Prophet, and said, 'This is a copy of
the Pentateuch.' Muhammad was silent, and Omar was very near
reading part of it, and the face of the Prophet changed ; when Abu
Baqr said : ' Your mother weeps for you. Do you not look on the
Prophet's face ? ' Then Omar looked and said, ' God protect me
from the anger of God and his Prophet. I am satisfied with this,
that God is my cherisher, and Islam my religion, and Muhammad
my prophet.' Then Muhammad said, 'If Moses were alive and
found my prophecy, he would follow me.'"

CHAP. III.] ( 32 ) [SIPARA IV.

the children of Israel, except what Israel forbade unto
himself before the Pentateuch was sent down. Say unto
the Jews, Bring hither the Pentateuch and read it, if ye
speak truth. (94) Whoever therefore contriveth a lie
against God after this, they will be evil-doers. (95) Say,
God is true : follow ye therefore the religion of Abraham
the orthodox ; for he was no idolater. (96) Verily the first
house appointed unto men to worship in was that which
was in Bakkah ; blessed, and a direction to all creatures.
(97) Therein are manifest signs : the place where Abraham

Matthews gives another tradition of similar import in vol. i. p. 50.
A remarkable tradition, on the authority of Abu Hurairah, states
that the Jews and Christians had translated the Scriptures from the
Hebrew, for the "benefit of " the people of Islam." It is as follows :
" Abu Hurairah said there were people of the book who read the
Bible in Hebrew and translated it into Arabic for the people of
Islani. And the Prophet said, 'Do not consider them liars or tellers
of truth ; but say to them, We believe in God and that which is sent
to us, and what was sent to Moses and Jesus.' " Mishq&t-ul-Mas&bih,
book i. chap. vi. part 1.

From these traditions it is quite clear that Muhammad was not
sincere in his claim that the former Scriptures testified concerning
his apostleship. Had he been sincere, how very easy it would have
been to confirm the faith of his own disciples as well as to convince
all sincere Jews and Christians that he was the prophet of God
foretold by Moses and Jesus ! Instead of this, however, he forbade
his disciples investigating this matter for themselves, even in his
presence; and when Jews and Christians declared what was written
in their Scriptures, he charged them with dishonesty in translation.
Controversy from the Jewish or Christian standpoint was, therefore,
quite out of the question.

(95) Abraham the orthodox. In Arabic, Hanif. There seems to
have been a sect of deistic Arabs before Muhammad declared him-
self a prophet, who called themselves by this title, and claimed to
be the followers of the religion of Abraham. Sprenger gives the
names of four of these, viz., Waraqa, Othman, Obaid, and Zaid
(R. B. Smith's Muhammad and Muliammadanism, pp. 108, 109).
This is one of Sprenger's arguments to prove that Muhammadanisni
existed prior to Muhammad, as the Reformation existed prior to

(96) The first house . . . in Bakkah, i.e., Makkah. Baidhawi says
m and b are frequently interchanged (Sale in loco). The first house
was the Kaabah. ee notes on chap. ii. 125, 142-146.

(97) Manifest signs. "Such as the stone wherein they show the
print of Abraham's feet, and the inviolable security of the place,
immediately mentioned ; that the birds light not on the roof of the

SIPARA IV.] ( 33 ) [CHAP. III.

stood; and whoever entereth therein shall be safe. And
it is a duty towards God, incumbent on those who are
able to go thither, to visit this house ; but whosoever
disbelieveth, verily God needeth not the service of any
creature. (98) Say, ye who have received the scriptures,
why do ye not believe in the signs of God ? (99) Say,
ye who have received the scriptures, why do ye keep
back from the way of God him who believeth ? Ye seek
to make it crooked, and yet are witnesses that it is the
right: but God will not be unmindful of what ye do.
(100) O.true believers, if ye obey some of those who have
received the scripture, they will render you infidels, after
ye have believed ; (101) and how can ye be infidels, when

Kaabah, and wild beasts put off their fierceness there ; that none
who came against it in a hostile manner ever prospered, as appeared
particularly in the unfortunate expedition of Abraha al Ashram
(chap, cv.) ; and other fables of the same stamp which the Muham-
madans are taught to believe."

The place of Abraham. See note on chap. ii. 125 ; also Rod well
in loco.

Those who are able. "According to an exposition of this passage
attributed to Muhammad, he is supposed to be able to perform the
pilgrimage who can supply himself with provisions for the journey
and a beast to ride upon. Al Shdfa'i has decided that those who
have money enough, if they cannot go themselves, must hire some
other to go in their room. Malik Ibn Ans thinks he is to be
reckoned able who is strong and healthy, and can bear the fatigue
of the journey on foot, if he has no beast to ride, and can also earn
his living by the way. But Abu Hanif'ah is of opinion that both
money sufficient and health of body are requisite to make the
pilgrimage a duty." Sale, Baidhdwi.

(99) Him ivho believeth. The person alluded to here is said to be
Amar or Sari 1 an, whom the Jews endeavoured to pervert from the
way of Islam {Tafsir-i-Raufi}.

(100-109) If ye obey, <&c. "This passage was revealed on occasion
of a quarrel excited between the tribes of al Aus and al Khazraj
by one Shas Ibn Qais, a Jew, who, passing by some of both tribes
as they were sitting discoursing familiarly together, and being
inwardly vexed at the friendship and harmony which reigned among
them on their embracing Muhaminadanism, whereas they had been
for 120 years before most inveterate and mortal enemies, though
descendants of two brothers, in order to set them at variance sent
a young man to sit down by them, directing him to relate the story
of the battle of Buath (a place near Madina), wherein, after a bloody
fight, al Aus had the better of al Khazraj, and to repeat some verses


CHAP. III.] ( 34 ) [SIPARA IV.

the signs of God are read unto you, and his apostle is
among you ? But he who cleaveth firmly unto God is
already directed in the right way.
K 2 " || (102) believers, fear God with his true fear ; and

die not unless ye also be true believers. (103) And
cleave all of you unto the covenant of God, and depart
not from it, and remember the favour of God towards
you: since ye were enemies, and he reconciled your
hearts, and ye became companions and brethren by his
favour : and ye were on the brink of a pit of fire, and he
delivered you thence. Thus God declareth unto. you his
signs, that ye may be directed. (104) Let there be people
among you who invite to the best religion ; and command

on that subject. The young man executed his orders ; whereupon
those of each tribe began to magnify themselves, and to reflect on
and irritate the other, till at length they called to arms, and meat
numbers getting together on each side, a dangerous battle had
ensued if Muhammad had not stepped in and reconciled them by
representing to them how much they would be to blame if they
returned to paganism and revived those animosities which Islam
had composed, and telling them that what had happened was a
trick of the devil to disturb their present tranquillity." Hale.
Baidhdwi, Tafslr-i-RauJL

The incident here related shows the powerful influence Muhammad
had acquired over these fiery young men. Spirits aroused to a
frenzy of excitement are calmed in a moment by the presence of the
prophet and the voice of the oracle giving expression to the words
of this verse.

(102) Fear God with his true fear. The Tafsir-i- Raufi says most
commentators regard this verse as abrogated, on the ground that it
is impossible for man to fear God as he ought to be feared. It is
more likely that the passage was addressed to certain adlierent* of
the tribes of Aus and Khazraj at Madfna ; these are here exhorted to
remain steadfast in the faith even unto death.

(103) And cleave . . . unto the covenant. In Arabic, Holdfast by
the cord of God. The allusion may be either to the Quran, some-
times called by Muhammad Habl A III') al matdn, i.e., the sure
cord of God {Sale, on authority of Baidh&ici), or to Islam, as the
means of salvation.

Since ye were enemies. The tribes of Aus and Khazraj are here
reminded of what Islain had done for them.

(104) A people who invite, <c. Abdul Qadir thinks this verse
required that a body of nan should be kept for religious warfare
(Jihad), which should extirpate all heresy, as well as propagate the
true faith. This view certainly accords with the spirit of Islam.
The sword is its strong argument, and the end of all controversy.

SIPARA IV.] ( 35 ) [CHAP. III.

that which is just, and forbid that which is evil; and they
shall be happy. (105) And be not as they who are
divided, and disagree in matters of religion, after mani-
fest proofs have been brought unto them : they shall suffer
a great torment. (106) On the day of resurrection some
faces shall become white, and other faces shall become
black. And unto them whose faces shall become black
God will say, Have you returned unto your unbelief
after ye had believed ? therefore taste the punishment
for that ye have been unbelievers : (107) but they
whose faces shall become white shall be in the mercy of
God, therein shall they remain for ever. (108) These are
the signs of God : we recite them unto thee with truth.
God will not deal unjustly with his creatures. (109) And
to God belongeth whatever is in heaven and on earth ; and
to God shall all things return.

T) 12

|| (110) Ye are the best nation that hath been raised up it "jT*
unto mankind: ye command that which is just, and ye
forbid that which is unjust, and ye believe in God. And
if they who have received the scriptures had believed, it
had surely been the better for them : there are believers

(105) They who are divided, i.e., Jews and Christians. Neverthe-
less Muslims are as thoroughly divided in matters of religion as ever
Christians were.

(106) Faces . . . white . . . and black. See Prelim. Disc, pp. 149, 150.

(109) This verse ends the passage said to have been revealed on
the occasion of the threatened outbreak between the tribes of Aus
and Khazraj. See note on ver. 101.

(110) Ye are the best nation. The Muslims are now regarded as
the chosen people of God. The word ummat is here translated " na-
tion," and by Kodwell "folk." It is, however, used to describe the
followers of the prophets, e.g., the ummat of Moses (Jews), the ummat
of Jesus (Christians), the ummat of Muhammad (Muslims). This
statement is hardly reconcilable with the claim that the ummat of
every true prophet belongs to Islam. The comparison is probably
drawn between the Jews, Christians, and Muslims of Muhammad's
day. It must be observed that the reason given for their superi-
ority is not very convincing, and the high claim set up here for
Muslim integrity is not borne out by historical evidence.

There are believers. "As Abdullah Ibn Salam and his companions,
and those of the tribes of al Aus and al Khazraj, who had embraced
Muhammadanism." Sale.

CHAP. III.] ( 36 ) [SIPARA IV.

among them, but the greater part of them are trans-
gressors. (Ill) They shall not hurt you, unless with a
slight hurt ; and if they fight against you, they shall turn
their backs to you ; and they shall not be helped. (112)
They are smitten with vileness wheresoever they are
found ; unless they obtain security by entering into a treaty
with God, and a treaty with men: and they draw on
themselves indignation from God, and they are afflicted
with poverty. This they suffer because they disbelieved
the signs of God and slew the prophets unjustly; this,
because they were rebellious and transgressed. (113) Yet
they are not all alike : there are of those who have re-
ceived the scriptures, upright people; they meditate on
the signs of God in the night season, and worship; (114)
they believe in God, and the last day ; and command that
which is just, and forbid that which is unjust, and zeal-
ously strive to excel in good works; these are of the
righteous. (115) And ye shall not be denied the reward

(111) They shall not be helped. "This verse, al Baidhawi says, is
one of those whose meaning is mysterious, and relates to something
future ; intimating the low condition to which the Jewish tribes of
Quraidha, Nadir, Bani Qainuqda, and those who dwelt at Khaibar,
were afterwards reduced by Muhammad." Sale.

(112) They are smitten. The past tense used for the future, mean-
ing that they shall certainly be smitten, &c. The passage indi-
cates the change of policy in respect to the Jews of Madina and the
vicinity. They are now to submit to be plundered and exiled as
the Bani Nadhir, or be slaughtered as the Bani Quraidha, as the
only alternative to their accepting Islam. The fate of these tribes
at the hands of Muhammad sadly illustrates Matt, xxvii. 25. It is
remarkable that the reason given here for the punishment of the
Jews accords with the denunciations of the Bible, and this notwith
standing the selfish and cruel designs of the Arabian prophet " They
slew the prophets, . . . were rebellious and transgressed."

(113) They are not all alike. Some had become Muslims. These
meditate on the " signs of God," i.e., the Quran. "Whether any were
good or had, just or unjust, depended now upon their being Muslims
or unbelievers. Compare our Lord's words, Matt. vii. 22, 23.

Night-season. Night devotions, especially those performed be-
tween midnight and morning, are regarded as peculiarly meritorious.
See Mishqdt ul Masdblh, book iv. chap, xxxvi.

(115) And ye shall not be denied, <&c. Kodwell also translates " ye
shall not be denied," &c. Sale says, "Some copies have a different

SIPARA IV.] ( 39 ) [CHAP. III.

mightest prepare the faithful a camp for war ; and God
heard and knew it; (122) when two companies of you
were anxiously thoughtful, so that ye became faint-hearted,

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 4 of 42)