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 6 of 42)
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CHAP. III.] ( 48 ) [SIPARA IV.

part of you. Therefore God rewarded you with affliction
on affliction, that ye be not grieved hereafter for the spoils
which ye fail of, nor for that which befalleth you, for God
is well acquainted with whatever ye do. (155) Then he
sent down upon you after affliction security ; a soft sleep
which fell on some part of you; but other part were
troubled by their own souls ; falsely thinking of God, a
foolish imagination, saying, Will anything of the matter
happen unto us? Say, Verily, the matter belongeth wholly
unto God. They concealed in their minds what they de-
clared not unto thee ; saying, If anything of the matter had
happened unto us, we had not been slain here. Answer,
If ye had been in your houses, verily they would have
gone forth to fight, whose slaughter was decreed, to the
places where they died, and this came to pass that God
might try what was in your breasts, and might discern
what was in your hearts ; for God knoweth the innermost
parts of the breasts of men.

height, and took no heed of any one, while the prophet in your rear was
calling to the fight.

Therefore God rewarded, dec, i.e., " God punished your avarice and
disobedience by suffering you to be beaten by your enemies, and to
be discouraged by the report of your prophet's death, that ye might
be inured to patience under adverse fortune, and not repine at any
loss or disappointment for the future." Sale.

(155) He sent down . . . security. After the battle of Ohod the
Muslims fell asleep. Some slept soundly and were refreshed,
others were excited, indulging in wild imaginations, supposing
themselves to be on the verge of destruction. So the commentators

We had not been slain. The meaning is that they considered God
to be against them because they had not secured any gain in the
battle. They therefore said to themselves fir one to another, " If
God had assisted us according to his promise ; " or, as others interpret
the words, " If we had taken the advice of Abdullah Ibn Ubai Suldl,
and had kept within the town of Madina, our companions had not
lost their lives." Sale, Jaldluddin.

Answer, if ye hail been in your houses. See note on ver. 14c. The
teaching of this verse is decidedly fatalistic, and, taking it by it.<df.
the only conclusion one could logically draw would be that Muham-
mad was a fatalist. But there are many passages asserting the free-
dom of the will. We regard Muhammad as having been Btrongly
inclined to fatalism, owing to the emphasis which he laid upon the
doctrine of God's absolute sovereignty. But being a man, his own

SIPARA IV.] ( 49 ) [CHAP. III.

|| (156) Verily they among you who turned their backs nisf.
on the day whereon the two armies met each other at
Ohod, Satan caused them to slip for some crime which
they had committed : but now hath God forgiven them ;
for God is gracious and merciful.


|| (157) true believers, be not as they who believed R, ,
not, and said of their brethren when they had journeyed
in the land or had been at war, If they had been with us,
those had not died, nor had these been slain : whereas
what befell them was so ordained that God might take it
matter of sighing in their hearts. God giveth life and
causeth to die: and God seeth that which ye do. (158)
Moreover if ye be slain, or die in defence of the religion

consciousness of freedom asserted itself, and so he was saved from
that "belief in an absolute predestination, which turns men into
mere puppets, and all human life into a j, r rim game of chess, wherein
men are the pieces, moved by the invisible hand of but a single
player, and which is now so general in Muhammadan countries "
(R. B. Smith's Muhammad and Muhammadanism, pp. 191, 192.)
And yet, while believing Muhammad much less a fatalist than his
disciples, whose wild fanaticism is described so eloquently bv
Gibbon, yet we can by no means go the length of saying with
Mr. Smith, that "there is little doubt that Muhammad himself, if
the alternative had been clearly presented to him, would have had
more in common with Pelagius than with Augustine, with Anninius
than with Calvin." Muhammad was not a "consistent fatalist"
no man ever was. Yet, notwithstanding his having " made prayer
one of the four practical duties enjoined upon the faithful," and his
constant use of language freely asserting the freedom of the will,
there is such a multitude of passages in the Quran which clearly
make God the author of sin (chap. vii. 155, 179, 180; xv. 39-43;
xvi. 95 ; xvii. 14-16, &c), so many which assert the doctrine of
absolute predestination, and all this so constantly confirmed by
tradition, that the conclusion is irresistibly forced upon us that
Muhammad is responsible for the fatalism of Islam.

(156) Satan caused them to slip, i.e., by tempting them to dis-
obedience. For some crime, &c. " For their covetousness in quitting
their post to seize the plunder."

(157) Who believed not, i.e., the hypocrites of Madina who declined
to fight at Ohod. Had journeyed, with a view to merchandise,
or been at war for the cause of religion {Tafsir-i-Raufi). The senti-
ment of this and the two following verses is like that of vers. 139-
143 ; the hour of death is fixed for every man in the eternal decree
of God, and those who die fighting for Islam shall be pardoned and
accepted of God, and b made partakers of the joys of paradise.


CHAP. III.] ( 50 ) [SIPAKA IV.

of God; verily pardon from God, and mercy, is better
than what they heap together of worldly riches. (159)
And if ye die or be slain, verily unto God shall ye be
gathered. (160) And as to the mercy granted unto tJie
disobedient from God, thou, Muhammad, hast been mild
towards them ; but if thou hadst been severe and hard-
hearted, they had surely separated themselves from about
thee. Therefore forgive them, and ask pardon for them :
and consult them in the affair of war ; and after thou
hast deliberated, trust in God ; for God loveth those who
trust in him. (161) If God help you, none shall conquer
you ; but if he desert you, who is it that will help you after
him? Therefore in God let the faithful trust. (162) It
is not the part of a prophet to defraud, for lie who

(160) If thou hadst been severe, dec. The policy of Muhammad in
dealing with his followers is here distinctly announced. They had
certainly merited severe punishment. But there were powerful
adversaries in Madina who would have taken advantage of any
attempt to enforce punishment of a severe nature. Besides, no
slight shock to the new faith had been felt owing to the defeat,
and it became a matter of the utmost importance to establish
that faith. Hence the mild words, and the forgiveness so freely

Let it be observed that all these mild words and expressions of
forgiveness are set forth as coming from the mouth of God, and yet
the same Divinity commends the mildness of the Prophet ! Surely
there is more of the politician than of the prophet here.

(162) It is not the part of a prophet to defraud. Sale says, on the
authority of Baidhawi and Jalaluddin, that "this passage was re-
vealed, as some say, on the division of the spoil at Badr, when
some of the soldiers suspected Muhammad of having privately taken
a scarlet carpet, made all of silk and very rich, which was missing.
Others suppose the archers, who occasioned the loss of the battle of
Ohod, left their station because they imagined Muhammad would
not give them their share of the plunder ; because, as it is related,
he once sent out a party as an advanced guard, and in the mean-
time attacking the enemy, took some spoils which he divided among
those who were with him in the action, and gave nothing to the
party that was absent on duty."

The Tafsir-i-Raufi says the passage was occasioned by certain of
the companions desiring a larger share of the booty than their
weaker brethren. God here signifies that all are to be treated
alike, and that partiality in the division of booty would be dis-
honest. This passage is regarded as vindicating the prophet from
every charge ol dishonesty.

SI PARA IV.] ( 51 ) [CHAP. III.

defraudeth shall bring with him what he hath defrauded
any one of, on the day of the resurrection. Then shall
every soul be paid what he hath gained ; and they shall
not be treated unjustly. (163) Shall he therefore who
followeth that which is well-pleasing unto God be as he
who bringeth on himself wrath from God, and whose
receptacle is hell ? an evil journey shall it be thitlier.
(164) There shall be degrees of rewards and punish-
ments with God, for God seeth what they do. (165)
Now hath God been gracious unto the believers when he
raised up among them an apostle of their own nation,
who should recite his signs unto them, and purify them,
and teach them the book of the Qurdn and wisdom :
whereas they were before in manifest error. (166) After
a misfortune had befallen you at Ohod (ye had already
obtained two equal advantages), do ye say, Whence

He who defraudeth shall bring, dec. "According to a tradition of
Muhammad, whoever cheateth another will, on the day of judg-
ment, carry his fraudulent purchase publicly on his neck." Sale.

(164) There shall be degrees, dec. This explains the purport of
ver. 163. God will reward his servants in accordance with their
works. The brave companions (note, ver. 162) need not be troubled
by an equal division of the booty. . God will reward, for " God
seeth what ye do." As indicated by Sale in his translation, this
principle applies to punishments as well as to rewards.

(165) An apostle of their own nation. Sale, on the authority of
Baidhawi, says some manuscripts have min anfasihim instead of
min anfusihim, whence it would read, An apostle of the noblest
among them, meaning the Quraish, of which tribe Muhammad was
descended. 1 have not been able to find any copy of the Quran
containing this reading. It is not likely that the spirit of Muham-
mad's inspiration would have made, at this time, any such invidious
distinction between the tribes of Arabia, especially when as yet the
Quraish were the mortal enemies of Muhammad. The expression
is better understood as having reference to the Arabs in general.

Purify them, i.e., from idolatry and evil customs, such as infanti-
cide, &c.

Ami wisdom. Baidhawi understands this expression to refer to
the Sunnat, or Book of Traditions.

(166) Two equal advantages, "In the battle of Badr, where
he slew seventy of the enemy equalling the number of those who
lost their lives at Ohod, and also took as many prisoners." Sale.
See notes on vers. 13 and 152.

CHAP. III.] ( 52 ) [SIPARA IV.

cometh this ? Answer, This is from yourselves : for God
is almighty. (167) And what happened unto you, on the
day whereon the two armies met, was certainly by the
permission of God ; (168) and that he might know the
ungodly. It was said unto them, Come, fight for the re-
ligion of God, or drive back the enemy: they answered,
If we had known ye went out to fight, we had certainly
followed you. They were on that day nearer unto un-
belief than they were to faith ; they spake with their
mouths what was not in their hearts : but God perfectly
knew what they concealed ; (169) who said of their
brethren, while themselves stayed at home, If they had
obeyed us, they had not been slain. Say, Then keep
back death from yourselves, if ye say truth. (170) Thou
shalt in nowise reckon those who have been slain at Ohod,
in the cause of God, dead ; nay, they are sustained alive

God is almighty, i.e., he could not suffer defeat, wherefore your
reverse has been a punishment for your disobedience.

(168) That he might know the ungodly. See note on ver. 142.

If ice had known, dkc. "That is, if we had conceived the least
hope of success when ye marched out of Madina to encounter the
infidels, and had not known that ye went rather to certain destruc-
tion than to battle, we had gone with you. But this Muhammad
here tells them'was only a feigned excuse ; the true reason of their
staying behind being their want of faith and firmness in their re-
ligion. Sale, Baidhdwi.

Rodwell translates this phrase, Had we known how to fight. This
agrees with the various translations in Persian and Urdu. The
meaning is, that the hypocrites feigned not to have known the
Muslims were going out to fight. To this Muhammad replies in
the remainder of the verse by telling them plainly that they lied.

(169) This verse gives the reason for the charge against the hypo-
crites in the previous verse. They are judged out of their own

Keep back death. See notes on vers. 145 and 155.

(170) Thou shalt in nowise reckon, dec. See note on chap. ii. 155.
The crown of martyrdom was easily won. Even those slain because
of their disobedience and covetousness (vers. 3, 122, 152, and 153, &c.)
are now to be regarded as " alive with their God," and " rejoicing for
what God of his favour hath granted them " (next verse). There is
here a striking contrast between the teaching of the Qurdn and the
Word of God. It is the contrast between a counterfeit and the
genuine article.

SIPARA IV.] ( 53 ) [CHAP. III.

with their Lord, (171) rejoicing for what God of his favour
hath granted them ; and being glad for those who, coming
after them, have not as yet overtaken them ; because there
shall no fear come on them, neither shall they be grieved.
(172) They are filled with joy for the favour which they
have received from God and his bounty ; and for that God
suffereth not the reward of the faithful to perish.

|| (173) They who hearkened unto God and his apostle, K ~~9'
after a wound had befallen them at Ohod, such of them as
do good works, and fear God, shall have a great reward ;
(174) unto whom certain men said, Verily the men of Mak-
kah have already gathered/orces against you, be ye therefore
afraid of them : but this increased their faith, and they

(171) Those who, coming after them, i.e., who are yet destined to
suffer martyrdom.

(173) They who hearkened. "The commentators differ a little as
to the occasion of this passage. When news was brought to Muham-
mad, after the battle of Ohod, that the enemy, repenting of their
retreat, were returning towards Madina, lie called about him those
who had stood by him in the battle, and marched out to meet the
enemy as far as Humara al Asad, about eight miles from that town,
notwithstanding that several of his men were so ill of their wounds
that they were forced to be carried ; but a panic fear having seized
the army of the Quraish, they changed their resolution, and continued
their march home ; of which Muhammad having received intelli-
gence, he also went back to Madina : and according to some com-
mentators the Quran here approves the faith and courage of those
who attended the prophet on this occasion. Others say the persons
intended in this passage were those who went with Muhammad the
next year to meet Abu Sufidn and the Quraish, according to their
challenge, at Badr, where they waited some time for the enemy, and
then returned home ; for the Quraish, though they set out from
Makkah, yet never came so far as the place of appointment, their
hearts failing them on their march; which Muhammad attributed
to their being struck with a terror from God. This expedition the
Arabian histories call the second or lesser expedition of Badr." Sale,

Muir, in his Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 222, refers this passage
to Muhammad's advance against Abu Sufidn as far as Badr. The
first story of the commentators given by Sale seems to be borne out
by the statement, "They who hearkened unto God and his apostle
after a wound had befallen them." The following verse applies better
to the second story. It is possible that two distinct revelations have
been here blended together by the compilers of the Qurdn.

(174) Be ye afraid of them. "The persons who thus endeavoured

CHAP. III.] ( 54 ) [S1PAKA IV.

said, God is our support, and the most excellent patron.
(175) Wherefore they returned with favour from God,
and advantage : no evil befell them : and they followed
what was well-pleasing unto God : for God is endowed
with great liberality. (176) Verily that devil would cause
you to fear his friends : but be ye not afraid of them : but
fear me, if ye be true believers. (177) They shall not
grieve thee who emulously hasten unto infidelity ; for
they shall never hurt God at all. God will not give them
a part in the next life, and they shall suffer a great punish-
ment. (178) Surely those who purchase infidelity with
faith shall by no means hurt God at all, but they shall
suffer a grievous punishment. (179) And let not the
unbelievers think, because we grant them lives long and
prosperous, that it is better for their souls : we grant them

to discourage the Muhammadans were, according to one tradition,
some of the tribe of Al>d Qais, who going to Madina, were bribed by
Abu Sufian with a camel's load of dried raisins; and according to
another tradition, it was Nuaim Ibn Masud al Aslijai, who was also
bribed with a she-camel ten months gone with young (a valuable
present in Arabia). This Nuaim, they say, finding Muhammad and
his men preparing for the expedition, told them that Abu Sufian, to
spare them the pains of coming so far as Badr, would seek them in
their own houses, and that none of them could possibly escape other-
wise than by timely flight. Upon which Muhammad, seeing his
followers a little dispirited, swore that he would go himself, though
not one of them went with him. And accordingly he set out with
seventy horsemen, every one of them crying out Nashua Allah, i.e.,
God is our support." Sale, Baidhdwi.

Muir says Muhammad went forth with a force of 1500 men {Life
of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 221).

(175) And advantage. They had taken with them merchandise,
and had held a fair at Badr for several days, disposing of their goods
to great advantage. So Baidhdwi, see Sale. From this fact Muir
conjectures that Muhammad had knowledge of tlie change of pur
pose among the Quraish before he >et out so boldly for Badr. See
Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 221, note.

(176) That devil. This probably refers to Abu Sufirin. Some refer
it to Nuaim, an emissary of the Quraish sent to Madina to excite
fear among the Muslims. See note above on 174.

(177) Who . . . hasten unto infidelity, i.e.. the hypocrites of Madina,
wh professing themselves Muslims, talked like infidels {Abdul

(179) See note on chap. ii. 21 1.

SIPARA IV.] ( 55 ) [CHAP. III.

long and prosperous lives only that their iniquity may be
increased ; and they shall suffer an ignominious punish-
ment. (180) God is not disposed to leave the faithful in
the condition which ye are now in, until he sever the
wicked from the good ; nor is God disposed to make you
acquainted with what is a hidden secret, but God chooseth
such of his apostles as he pleaseth, to reveal Ms mind unto :
believe therefore in God and his apostles ; and if ye believe
and fear God, ye shall receive a great reward. (181) And
let not those who are covetous of what God of his bounty
hath granted them imagine that their avarice is better for
them : nay, rather it is worse for them. That which they
have covetously reserved shall be bound as a collar about
their neck on the day of the resurrection: unto God oe-
longeth the inheritance of heaven and earth : and God is
well acquainted with what ye do.

(180) God is not disposed, <&c, i.e., he will not suffer the good and
sincere among you to continue indiscriminately mixed with the
wicked and hypocritical.

A hidden secret. The author of the notes on the Roman Urdu
Quran thinks that Muhammad here disclaims all knowledge of the
'"hidden" tilings revealed to the chosen apostles of God. But the
Tafsir-i-Raufi says the very reverse is the meaning of this passage.
Muhammad here numbers himself among the chosen apostles, to
whom God is pleased to make known the "hidden secrets" of his
purpose. God does not, however, reveal secret things to hypo-

Believe . . . in God and his apostles. The use of the plural here
shows that the revelations of God's hidden purposes made to apostles
other than Muhammad were to be accepted by the Muslims. There
were then genuine and credible scriptures, containing these revelations,
in the hands of the contemporaries of Muhammad.

(181) Those who are covetous. The following tradition is given on
the authority of Abu Hurairah : "To whosoever God gives wealth,
and he does not perform the charity due from it, his wealth will be
made into the shape of a serpent on the day of resurrection, which
shall not have any hair upon its head ; and this is a sign of its poison
and long life, and it has two black spots upon its eyes, and it will be
twisted round his neck like a chain on the day of resurrection ;
then the serpent will seize the man's jawbone, and will say, ' I am
thy wealth, the charity for which thou didst not give ; and I am
thy treasure, from which thou didst not separate any alms.'"
Mishqdt-al-Masdbih, book vi. chap. i. pt. i.


j u " || (182) God hath already heard the saying of those who
said, Verily God is poor, and we are rich : we will surely
write down what they have said, and the slaughter which
they have made of the prophets without a cause ; and we
will say unto them, Taste ye the pain of burning. (183)
This shall they suffer for the evil which their hands have
sent before them, and because God is not unjust towards
mankind ; (184) who also say, Surely God hath commanded
us, that we should not give credit to any apostle, until one
should come unto us with a sacrifice, which should be con-
sumed by fire. Say, Apostles have already come unto you

(182) Verily Ood is poor. " It is related that Muhammad, writing
to the Jews of the tribe of Qainuqiia to invite them to Islam, and
exhorting them, among other things, in the words of the Quran,
(chap. ii. 245), to lend unto God on good usury, Phineas Ibn Aziira,
on hearing that expression, said, 'Surely God is poor, since they ask
to borrow for him.' Whereupon Abu Baqr, who was the bearer of that
letter, struck him on the face, and told him that if it had not been
for the truce between them, lie would have struck off his head ; and
on Pliineas's complaining to Muhammad of Abu Baqr's ill usage,
this passage was revealed." Sale, Baidhdwi.

Ti 1 e slaughter . . . of the prophets. See note on ver. 112.

(184) A sacrifice . . . consumed by fire. "The Jews, say the com-
mentators, insisted that it was a peculiar proof of the mission of all
the prophets sent to them that they could, by their prayers, bring
down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice, and therefore they
expected Muhammad should do the like. And some Muhammadan
doctors agree that God appointed this miracle as the test of all their
prophets, except only Jesus and Muhammad {Jal&luddln): though
others say any other miracle was a proof full as sufficient as the
bringing down fire from heaven {Baidhdwi).

"The Arabian Jews seem to have drawn a general consequence
from some particular instances of this miracle in the Old Testament
(Lev. ix. 24, &c), and the Jews at this day say that first the fire
which fell from heaven on the altar of the tabernacle (Lev. ix. 24),
after the consecration of Aaron and his eons, and afterwards that
which descended on the altar of Solomon's Temple at the dedication
of that structure (2 Chron. vii. 1), was fed and constantly maintained
there by the priests, both day and night, without being suffered once
to go out, till it was extinguished, as some think, in the reign of
Manas-es (Talmud Zebachim, chap, vi.), but, according to the more
received opinion, when the Temple was destroyed by the Chaldeans.
Several Christians have given credit to this assertion of the Jews,
with what reason I shall not here inquire : and the Jews, in conse-
quence of this notion, might probably expect that a prophet who
came to restore God's true religion should rekindle for them this

sipara iv.] ( 57 ) [CHAP. III.

before me, with plain proofs, and with the miracle which
ye mention : why therefore have ye slain them, if ye speak
truth? (185) If they accuse thee of imposture, the apostles
before thee have also been accounted impostors, who brought
evident demonstrations, and the scriptures, and the book
which enlighteneth the understanding. (186) Every soul
shall taste of death, and ye shall have your reward on the

heavenly fire, which they have not been favoured with since the
Babylonish captivity." Sale.

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 6 of 42)