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 41 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 41 of 42)
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value." Sale, Baidhdwi.

(89) Do ye know, &c. " The injury they did Benjamin was the
separating him from his brother ; after which they kept him in so
great subjection that he durst not speak to them but with the utmost
submission. Some say that these words were occasioned by a letter
which Joseph's brethren delivered to him from their father, request-
ing the releasement of Benjamin, and by the representing his extreme
affliction at the loss of him and his brother. The commentators
observe that Joseph, to excuse his brethren's behaviour towards him,
attributes it to their ignorance and the heat of youth." Sale, Bai-

(90) Art thou really Joseph ? " They say that this question was
not the effect of a bare suspicion that he was Joseph, but that they
actually knew him, either by his face and behaviour, or by his fore-
teeth, which he showed in smiling, or else by putting off his tiara*,
and discovering a whitish mole on his forehead." Sale, Baidhdwi.

It is quite in accordance with this whole chapter that this passage
should contradict Moses. And yet this is the " Perspicuous Book "
(ver. 1), a " confirmation of those Scriptures which have been revealed
before it" (ver. 1 1 1, the last verse).

(93) My inner garment. " Which the commentators generally
suppose to be the same garment with which Gabriel invested him
in the well ; which having originally come from Paradise, had pre-


shall recover his sight ; and then come unto me with all
your family.
ruba. || (94) And when the company of travellers was departed

ft 1 ] . from Egypt on their journey towards Canaan, their father
said unto those who were about him, Verily I perceive the
smell of Joseph, although ye think that I dote. (95) They
answered, By God thou art in thy old mistake. (96) But
when the messenger of good tidings was come with Joseph's
inner garment, he threw it over his face, and he recovered
his eyesight (97) And Jacob said, Did I not tell you that
I knew from God that which ye knew not? (98) They
answered, father, ask pardon of our sins for us, for we
have surely been sinners. (99) He replied, I will surely
ask pardon for you of my Lord, for he is gracious and
merciful. (100) And when Jacob and his family arrived
in Egypt, and were introduced unto Joseph, he received
his parents unto him, and said, Enter ye into Egypt, by

served the odour of that place, and was of so great virtue as to cure
any distemper in the person who was touched with it." Sale, Bat-

He shall recover his sight. " This is most likely derived from Gen.
xlvi. 4, God telling Jacob to go to Egypt, and 'Joseph shall put his
hands upon thine eyes.' Jacob's eyes were dim, but not quite blind."
Briiickman's Note* on Islam, p. 115.

(94) The smell of Joseph. " This was the oilour of the garment
above mentioned, brought by the wind to Jacob, who smelt it, as is
pretended, at the distance of eighty parasan^'S, or, as others will have,
three or eight days' journey off." Sale, BaidJuiici, Jaldluddln.

Compare Gen. xxvii. 27.

(95) Tliy old mistake. " Being led into this imagination by the
excessive love of Joseph." Sale.

(96) The messenger, viz., " Judah, who, as he had formerly grieved
his father by bringing him Joseph's coat stained with blood, now
rejoiced him as much by being the bearer of this vest and the news
of Joseph's prosperity." Sale, Jaldluddln.

(99) My Lord. " Deferring it, as some fancy, till he should see
Joseph and have his consent." Sale.

According to Muslim teaching, God cannot pardon a sin against a
man without that man's consent See note on chap. xiv. 1 1.

(100) His parents, viz., " his father and Leah his mother's sister,
whom lie looked on as his mother after Rachel's death." (See Gen.
xxxvii. 10. "Al Baidhawi tells us that Joseph sent carriages
and provisions for his father and family, and that he and the king

sipara xiii.J ( 393 ) [chap. XII.

God's favour, in full security. (101) And he raised his
parents to the seat of state, and they, together with his
brethren, fell down and did obeisance unto him. And he
said, my father, this is the interpretation of my vision
which I saw heretofore ; now hath my Lord rendered it
true. And he hath surely been gracious unto me, since
he took me forth from the prison, and hath brought you
hither from the desert, after that the devil had sown dis-
cord between me and my brethren ; for my Lord is
gracious unto whom he pleaseth, and he is the knowing,
the wise God. (102) Lord, thou hast given me a part
of the kingdom, and hast taught me the interpretation of
dark sayings. The Creator of heaven and earth ! thou art
my protector in this world, and in that which is to come ;
make me to die a Muslim, and join me with the righteous.
(103) This is a secret history which we reveal unto thee,

of Egypt went forth to meet them. He adds that the number
of the children of Israel who entered Egypt with him was seventy-
two, and that when they were led out thence by Moses they were
increased to six hundred thousand five hundred and seventy men
and upwards, besides the old people and children." Sale, Baidhdwi,

(101) He raised his parents, &c. The basis of this statement may
be Gen. xlvii. n.

This is the interpretation. That Joseph made this statement is
contrary to the Bible. The proud, self-satisfied spirit here attributed
to Joseph is in entire keeping with the morality of Islam, but a
travesty of the Bible account of Joseph.

(102) Make me to die a Muslim. " The Muhammadan authors
write that Jacob dwelt in Egypt twenty-four years, and at his death
ordered his body to be buried in Palestine by his father, which
Joseph took care to perform ; and then returning into Egypt, died
twenty-three years after. They add that such high disputes arose
among the Egyptians concerning his burial, that they had like to
have come to blows ; but at length they agreed to put his body into
a marble coffin, and to sink it in the Nile, out of a superstitious
imagination that it might help the regular increase of the river, and
deliver them from famine for the future ; but when Moses led the
Israelites out of Egypt, he took up the coffin, and carried Joseph's
bones with him into Canaan, where he buried them by his ancestors."
Sale, Baidhdwi.

^103) This u a secret history which we reveal unto thee, <fcc. I cannot
conceive of Muhammad's making this statement, except as a deli-


Muhammad, although thou wast not present with the
brethren of Joseph when they concerted their design and
contrived a plot against him. But the greater part of
men, although they earnestly desire it, will not believe.
(104) Thou shalt not demand of them any reward for thy
publishing the Qurdn ; it is no other than an admonition
unto all creatures.
K ^r- || (105) And how many signs soever there be of the being,

unity, and providence of God in the heavens and the earth,
they will pass by them, and will retire afar off from them.
(106) And the greater part of them believe not in God,
without being also guilty of idolatry. (107) Do they not
believe that some overwhelming affliction shall fall on
them as a punishment from God, or that the hour of judg-
ment shall overtake them suddenly, when they consider
not its approach? (108) Say unto those of Makkah, This
is my way ; I invite you unto God by an evident demon-
stration, both I and he who followeth me ; and praise be
unto God, I am not an idolater. (109) We sent not any
apostles before thee, except men, unto whom we revealed
our will, and whom we chose out of those who dwelt in
cities. Will they not go through the earth, and see what

berate assertion of what he knew to be false. See Arnold's view in
note on ver. 3 above.

Muir, in his Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 189, puts this matter
mildly as follows : " It is possible that the convictions of Mahomet
may have become so blended with his grand object and course of
action, that the very study of the Coran and effort to compose it
were regarded as his best season of devotion. But the stealthy and
disingenuous manner in which he now availed himself of Jewish
information, producing the result not only as original, but as evidence
of inspiration (see Sura xxxviii. 70, xxviii. 45-47, xii. 102, fcc.),
begins to furnish proof of an active, though it may have been uncon-
scious, course of dissimulation and falsehood, to be palliated only by
the miserable apology of a pious end."

(106) Idolatry. " For this crime Muhammad charges not only on
the idolatrous Makkans, but also on the Jews and Christians, as has
been already observed more than once." Sale.

It is not likely that Christians are referred to here, as there is
scarcely any allusion to them in the Makkan Suras. See Muir's Life
of Maliomet, vol. ii. p. 189.

(109) Who dwelt in cities. " And not of the inhabitants of the

SIPARA XIII.] ( 395 ) [chap. XII.

hath been the end of those who have preceded them ? But
the dwelling of the next life shall surely be better for
those who fear God. Will they not therefore understand ?
(110) Their predecessors were lorne with for a time, until,
when our apostles despaired of their conversion, and they
thought that they were liars, our help came unto them,
and we delivered whom we pleased; but our vengeance
was not turned away from the wicked people. (Ill)
Verily in the histories of the prophets and their people
there is an instructive example unto those who are endued
with understanding. The Qurdn is not a new invented
fiction, but a confirmation of those scriptures which have
been revealed before it, and a distinct explication of every-
thing necessary in respect either to faith or practice, and a
direction and mercy unto people who believe.

deserts ; because the former are more knowing and compassionate,
and the latter more ignorant and hard-hearted." Sale, Baidhavri.

(Ill) The Quran ... a confirmation, efcc. This passage certainly
attests the former Scriptures then extant as credible, and claims to
explain more clearly than there revealed the meaning of them.
Surely this one chapter proves not only how untrue this statement
is, but how false that other that ' ; the Quran is not a new invented

( 396 )



Revealed at Makkdh.


The name of this chapter occurs in ver. 14. All of the best authori-
ties agree that this chapter originated at Makkah. Most of the
Muslim commentators make vers. 14, 29-31, to allude to events
which occurred at Madina late in the life of the Prophet, and a few
writers, says Noeldeke, have thought the whole chapter should be
referred to Madina. However, the interpretations given by these
commentators are based entirely upon the words of these passages,
and, in the absence of better evidence, must be regarded as widely

The internal evidence of the chapter is decidedly in favour of
referring the origin of the whole to Makkah, excepting perhaps
ver. 41.

The contents of the chapter relate entirely to Muhammad's dis-
putes with the infidel Quraish. A remarkable feature of it is its
many apologies for Muhammad's failure to perform the miracles
demanded by the unbelievers. On this account the author of the
Notes on the Roman Urdu Quran remarks that " this chapter should
have been entitled the Chapter of Apologies."

Probable date of the Revelations.

We have already shown that this chapter, excepting ver. 41, must
be referred to Makkah. As to the date of composition, the earlier
verses of the chapter might be assigned to almost any period in the
career of the Makkan preacher ; but the latter part of the chapter
must be referred to the latter part of his ministry at Makkah. This
is evident from the allusion to the "adversity" of the Makkans in
ver. 31, the belief of certain Jews in ver. 36, and the obstinate on-


( 397 )

[chap, xiil

belief and opposition of the Quraish.in vers. 30 and 42. If we take
the allusion in vers. 36 and 37 to be to the lapse of Muhammad in
his temporary compromise with idolatry about six years before the
Hijra, and if we refer the statements of ver. 42 to the persecutions
which arose on Muhammad's recovery from the lapse, and which
culminated in the ban against the Hashimites, this portion of the
chapter may be referred to the period intervening between the years
6 and 4 b.h.

in the

Principal Subjects.

The infidels reject the Quran

God manifests himself to man in his works .

The unbelievers deny the resurrection

Their punishment .....

Threatened judgments sure to come to pass .

Unbelievers demand a sign ....

God is omniscient .....

God's purposes are unchangeable .

Thunder and lightning manifest God as the true object of

Idolaters invoke their gods in vain

All nature worships the Creator ....

The separation of infidels from true believers typefied
flowing stream and the melting metal .

True believers described

Their reward

The end of the infidels

Abundance of wealth no sign of God's favour
The infidels demand a sign from heaven

God directs true believers

Muhammad sent to an unbelieving people .
Signs unavailing to make infidels true believers .
God will punish the unbelievers ....

Idolaters are reprobate

Paradise described

Certain Jews acknowledge Muhammad to be a prophet
Muhammad exhorted to make no compromise with idolatry
Wives and children no hindrance to the prophetic office
God is lord of his own book ....

Muhammad a preacher only ....

God's judgments sure to come to pass .
The plots of God's enemies not hidden from him .
God attests the claims of his Prophet .








16, 17















"D 1 . || (1) A. L. M. R These are the signs of the book of the
Qurdn; and that which hath been sent down unto thee
from thy Lord is the truth ; but the greater part of men
will not believe. (2) It is God who hath raised the
heavens without visible pillars; and then ascended his
throne, and compelled the sun and the moon to perform
their services: every of the heavenly bodies runneth an
appointed course. He ordereth all things. He showeth
his signs distinctly, that ye may be assured ye must meet
your Lord at the last day. (3) It is he who hath stretched
forth the earth, and placed therein steadfast mountains and
rivers ; and hath ordained therein of every fruit two diffe-
rent kinds. He causeth the night to cover the day. Herein
are certain signs upon people who consider. (4) And in
the earth are tracts of land of different natures, though
bordering on each other ; and also vineyards, and seeds,
and palm-trees springing several from the same root, and
singly from distinct roots. They are watered with the
same water, yet we render some of them more excellent
than others to eat. Herein are surely signs upon people
who understand. (5) If thou dost wonder at the infidels
denying the resurrection, surely wonderful is their saying,
After we shall have been reduced to dust, shall we be restored
in a new creature ? (6) These are they who believe not in

(] ^ " The meaning of these letters is unknown. Of several con-
jectural explications which are given of them, the following is one :
' I am the most wise and knowing God.'" Sale.

The truth. See note on chap. iii. 3.

(2) The popular Arab notions as to astronomy are represented
here. The Creator of the heavens, with the luminaries thereof, is
the true God. His works testify of his eternal power and godhead.

(3) To different kinds, e.g., " sweet and sour, black and white,
small and large." Sale, Jaldluudin.

The original word is zaujain, meaning pairs.

(4) Tracts of land, dec. " Some being fruitful and others barren,
*ome plain and other mountainous, &c." Sale, Jal&luddin.

sipara xiii.] ( 399 ) [chap. XIII.

their Lord ; these shall have collars on their necks, and
these shall be the inhabitants of AcZ/-fire : therein shall
they abide for ever. (7) They will ask of thee to hasten
evil rather than good : although there have already been
examples of the divine vengeance before them. Thy Lord
is surely endued with indulgence towards men, notwith-
standing their iniquity ; but thy Lord is also severe in
punishing. (8) The infidels say, Unless a sign be sent
down unto him from his Lord, vje will not believe. Thou
art commissioned to be a preacher only, and not a worker of
miracles ; and unto every people hath a director been ap-

(6) Collars. " The ' collar ' here mentioned is an engine some-
thing like a pillory, but light enough for the criminal to walk about
with. Besides the hole to fix it on the neck, there is another for
one of the hands, which is thereby fastened to the neck. And in
this manner the Muhammadans suppose the reprobates will appear
at the day of judgment. Some understand this passage figuratively,
of the infidels being bound in the chains of error and obstinacy."
Sale, Baidhdwi.

See also chap. v. 69, and note there.

(7) To hasten evil. " Provoking and daring thee to call down the
Divine vengeance on them for their impenitency." Sale. Rather
daring Muhammad to bring down the wrath threatened against
them for rejecting his prophetic claims.

(8) It is a fair inference from this verse that Muhammad wrought
no miracles, not only because they were asked for, but because he
here disclaims being a worker of miracles. " Thou art a preacher

The explanation of the commentators (see Tafslr-i-Hussaini) that
God gave his prophets miracles suited to the age in which they
lived, e.g., to Moses it was given to excel in jugglery, to Jesus to
excel in the curing art, &c, is very puerile indeed, and predicates
excessive ignorance as to the nature of the miracles wrought by
these prophets. The author of the Notes on the Roman Urdu Quran
may well ask what the plagues of Egypt had to do with jugglery, or
what Christ's walking on the waves, or his raising the dead, or his
feeding the five thousand, had to do with the art of medicine ; or
what evidence is there that the age of Muhammad was marked by
anything peculiar in the style or beauty of its literary productions,
that the beauty and style of the Quran should be regarded as a
miracle peculiarly suited to that time 1 The fact is, the passage be-
fore us clearly proves that the miracle of the Quran was never recog-
nised by any of Muhammad's contemporaries outside the pale of


K "ff- || (9) God knoweth what every female beareth in her

womb, and what the wombs want or exceed of their due
time or number of young. With him is everything regu-
lated according to a determined measure. (10) He knoweth
that which is hidden and that which is revealed. He is
the great, the most high. (11) He among you who con-
cealeth his words, and he who proclaimeth them in public ;
he also who seeketh to hide himself in the night, and he
who goeth forth openly in the day, is equal in respect to
the knowledge of God. (12) Each of them hath angels
mutually succeeding each other, before him and behind
him ; they watch him by the command of God. Verily
God will not change his grace which is in men until they
change the disposition in their souls by sin. When God
willeth evil on a people there shall be none to avert it,
neither shall they have any protector beside him. (13)
It is he who causeth the lightning to appear unto you, to
strike fear, and to raise hope, and who formeth the preg-
nant clouds. (14) The thunder celebrateth his praise, and
the angels also, for fear of him. He sendeth his thunder-

(12) They watch him, dec. See Prelim. Disc, p. 119.

(13) And to raise hope. " Thunder and lightning being the sign
of approaching rain, a great blessing in the Eastern countries more
especially." Sale.

(14) Thunder celebrateth his praise. " Or causeth those who hear
it to praise him. Some commentators tell us that by the word
thunder in this place is meant the angel who presides over the clouds,
and drives them forward with twisted sheets of fire." Sale, Bai-

While they dispute concerning Ood. " This passage was revealed on
the following occasion. Amar Ibn al Tufail and Arbad Urn Rabiah
the brother of Labid, went to Muhammad with an intent to kill
him ; and Amar began to dispute with him concerning the chief
points of his doctrine, while Arbad, taking a compass, went behind
nim to despatch him with his sword ; but the Prophet perceiving his
design, implored God's protection ; whereupon Arbad was imme-
diately 6truck dead by thunder, and Amar was struck with a pesti-
lential boil, of which he died in a short time in a miserable con-

Jalaluddin, however, tells another story, saying that Muhammad
having sent one to invite a certain man to embrace his religion, the
person but this question to the missionary, ' Who is this apostle, and


bolts, and striketh therewith whom he pleaseth, while they
dispute concerning God; for he is mighty in power. (15)
It is he who ought of right to be invoked ; and the idols
which they invoke besides him, shall not hear them at
all, otherwise than as he is heard who stretcheth forth
his hands to the water that it may ascend to his mouth
when it cannot ascend thither: the supplication of the un-
believers is utterly erroneous. (16) Whatsoever is in heaven
and on earth worshippeth God, voluntarily or of force ;
and their shadows also, morning and evening. (17) Say,
Who is the Loed of heaven and earth ? Answer, God.
Say, Have ye, therefore, taken unto yourselves protectors
beside him, who are unable either to help or to defend them-
selves from hurt ? Say, Shall the blind and the seeing be
esteemed equal ? or shall darkness and light be accounted
the same ? or have they attributed companions unto God.
who have created as he hath created, so that their creation
bear any resemblance unto his ? Say, God is the creator
of all things ; he is the one, the victorious God. (18) He
causeth water to descend from heaven, and the brooks flow
according to their respective measure, and the floods bear
the floating froth : and from the metals which they melt in
the fire, seeking to cast ornaments or vessels for use, there
ariseth a scum like unto it. Thus God setteth forth truth
and vanity. But the scum is thrown off, and that which
is useful to mankind remaineth on the earth. Thus doth

what is God 1 Is he of gold, or of silver, or of brass 1 ' Upon which
a thunderbolt struck off his skull and killed him." Sale.

This story is manifestly a pure fiction, constructed by the com-
mentators out of the materials found in this passage. If true, the
passage would have to be assigned to the year a.h. 9 or 10 at Madina,
whereas the internal evidence fixes it, beyond all reasonable dispute,
at Makkah before the Hijra.

(16) Voluntarily or of force. " The infidels and devils themselves
being constrained to humble themselves before him, though against
their will, when they are delivered up to punishment." Sale.

Morning and evening. When the shadows are longest, and appear
prostrate in the posture of adoration.

(17-22) This is one of the best passages of the Quran, and points
to the best days of the preacher of Makkah.

VOL. II. 2 C



CHAP. XIII.] ( 402 ) [siI'ARA XIII.

God put forth parables. Unto those who obey their Lord
sliall be given the most excellent reward; but those who
obey him not, although they were possessed of whatever is
in the whole earth and as much more, they would give it
all for their ransom. These will be brought to a terrible
account : their abode shall be hell ; an unhappy couch shall
it be!

|| (19) Shall he, therefore, who knoweth that what hath
been sent down unto thee from thy Lord is truth be re-
warded as he who is blind ? The prudent only will con-
sider ; (20) who fulfil the covenant of God, and break not
their contract; (21) and who join that which God hath
commanded to be joined, and who fear their Lord, and
dread an ill account; (22) and who persevere out of a
sincere desire to please their Lord, and observe the stated
times of prayer, and give alms out of what we have
bestowed on them, in secret and openly, and who turn
away evil with good : the reward of these shall be para-
dise, (23) gardens of eternal abode, which they shall enter,
and also whoever shall have acted uprightly, of their
fathers, and their wives, and their posterity: and the

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 41 of 42)