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 7 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 7 of 42)
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There are a number of passages showing how Muhammad was
challenged to work miracles in attestation of his prophetic claim,
e.g., chap. ii. 118, 119, vi. 34-36 and 109-m, x. 21, xvii. 92-95,
xx. 134, &c. In every one of these passages the reply of Muhammad
clearly indicates that lie did not claim the power to work miracles.
This matter is very clearly set forth in Prideaux's Life of Mahomet,
8th edition, p. 25, to which the reader is referred. I would also refer
the reader to R. Bosworth Smith's Muhammad and Muhammadanism,
2d edition, pp. 185-191.

Why therefore have ye slain them, i.e., the former prophets wrought
miracles and ye slew them; wherefore should I gratify your desire
and cause fire to come down from heaven; would ye believe? Sale
says, "Among these the commentators reckon Zacharias and John
the Baptist ! "

(185) If they accuse thee of imposture. This passage, following
closely upon the apology of Muhammad for not giving the usual
signs of apostleship demanded by the Jews and others, seems to
give the ground of this accusation ; i.e., Muhammad's imposture
was evident, because he refused to perform miracles which would
prove that lie had been sent from God. Muhammad's reply to this
charge is not in accordance with facts " The apostles before thee
have been accounted impostors." It is not true that all apostles were
regarded as impostors. Certainly, sucli as were so accused were
enabled to work such miracles as proved even to their enemies that
"there was a prophet of God in Israel," 1 Kings xviii. 36, &c. Such
"evident demonstrations" were expected of Muhammad, but never
given. Even his own followers have been driven to invent a multi-
tude of stories detailing the miracles wrought by their prophet.
These have been recorded in their traditions. The following are
samples of the miracles thus invented: "A camel weeps, and is
calmed at the touch of Muhammad ; the hair grows upon a boy's
head when the prophet lays his hand upon it ; a horse is cured from
stumbling ; the eye of a soldier is healed and made better than the
other ; he marked his sheep on the ear, and the species retain the
mark to this day, &c." Arnold's Islam and Christianity, p. 352. See
Mishqdt-ul-Masdbih, Urdu edition, vol. iv. pp. 571-623.

(186) Every soul shall taste of death. Some Muslims understand
this as applying to all created things. At the first sound of the last



CHAP, m.] ( 58 ) [SIPARA IV.

day of resurrection ; and he who shall be far removed from
hell fire, and shall be admitted into paradise, shall be happy;
but the present life is only a deceitful provision. (187)
Ye shall surely be proved in your possessions, and in your
persons; and ye shall bear from those unto whom the
scripture was delivered before you, and from the idolaters,
much hurt ; but if ye be patient and fear God, this is a
matter that is absolutely determined. (188) And when
God accepted the covenant of those to whom the book of
the law was given, saying, Ye shall surely publish it unto
mankind, ye shall not hide it: yet they threw it behind
their backs, and sold it for a small price : but woful is the
price for which they have sold it. (189) Think not that
chey who rejoice at what they have done, and expect to



trump all angels will die, including Isralfl, who will blow the
trumpet. God will then raise Israffl, who will again sound the
trump, and all the dead will rise to judgment.

Shall be admitted into paradise, i.e., at the resurrection. For the
state of the dead between death and the resurrection, see Prelim.
Disc, pp. 127-138.

(187) Proved in your possessions, dec. The Tafsir-i- Ratifi refers this

fiassage to the loss of property at the fliuht from Makkah, and the
oss of life in the wars for the faith. It seems to me, however, the
Sassage better applies to the temporary ascendancy of the Jews and
ypocrites of Madina after the battle of Ohod.

(188) Ye shall surely publish it, i.e., the prophecies concerning
Muhammad contained in the Pentateuch. The claim set up here is
virtually this, that the great burden of prophecy was the advent of
Muhammad, just as Christians regard the spirit of prophecy to be
the testimony of God to Jesus as the Christ. It would appear from
this passage that Muhammad, consciously or unconsciously, being
deceived by designing converts from Judaism, had conceived that
the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the Coming One
related to him. Accordingly, those Jewish Babbies who denied
the existence of any prophecies relating to him are here stigmatised
as having sold themselves to the work of perverting their Scriptures
so as to oppose him.

Let it again be observed that the charge of corruption is not laid
upon the volume of Scriptures extant in the days of Muhammad, but
against the living interpreters of those Scriptures.

Woful is the price. "Whoever concealeth the knowledge which
God has given him," says Muhammad, "God t-hall put on him a
bridle of lire on the day of resurrection." Sale.

(189) They who rejoice, dec, i.e., who think they have done a com-



sipara iv.] ( 59 ) [CHAP. III.

be praised for what they have not done ; think not,
prophet, that they shall escape from punishment, for they
shall suffer a painful punishment.

|| (190) And unto God belongeth the kingdom of heaven K rr
and earth : God is almighty. (191) Now in the creation of
heaven and earth, and the vicissitude of night and day, are
signs unto those who are endued with understanding ;
(192) who remember God standing, and sitting, and lying
on their sides; and meditate on the creation of heaven
and earth, saying, Lokd, thou hast not created this in
vain ; far be it from thee : therefore deliver us from the
torment of hell fire : (1 93) Lokd, surely whom thou
shalt throw into the fire, thou wilt also cover with shame:
nor shall the ungodly have any to help them. (194)
Lord, we have heard a preacher inviting 21s to the faith
and saying, Believe in your Lord : and we believed.
Lord, forgive us therefore our sins, and expiate our evil



mend able deed in concealing and perverting the testimonies in the
Pentateuch concerning Muhammad, and in disobeying God's com-
mands to the contrary. " It is said that Muhammad once asking
home Jews concerning a passage in their law, they gave him an
answer very different from the truth, and were mightily pleased that
they had, as they thought, deceived him. Others, however, think
this passage relates to some pretended Muhammad ans who rejoiced
in their hypocrisy and expected to be commended for their wicked-
ness.'"' Sale, Baidhdwi.

(191) This verse belongs to the Makkan revelations. Comp. chap,
ii. 165.

(192) Who remember God standing, dec, viz., " at all times and in all
postures. Al Baidhawi mentions a saying of Muhammad to one
Imran Ibn Husain, to this purpose : ' Pray standing, if thou art
able ; if not. sitting ; and if thou canst not sit up, then as thou liest
along.' Al Shafa'i directs that the sick should pray lying on their
right side." Sale.

This passage describes the character of those mentioned in the
previous verse.

(194) A preacher. This is the name which Muhammad con-
stantly assumed at Makkah. See chap. vii. 2, chap. xiii. 29, 40,
chap. xvi. 84, &c. Nought but the political power acquired at
Madina changed the preacher into a soldier.

And expiate. The word used here is htffara. which is the cog-
nate of the Hebrew "133 ; to cover, to expiate. While, however, the
language suggests atonement by sacrifice (and the idea was not



CHAP. III.] ( 60 ) [S1PARA IV.

deeds from us, and make us to die with the righteous.
(195) Lord, give us also the reward which thou hast
promised by thy apostles ; and cover us not with shame



foreign to Muhammad's mind, for lie offered sacrifices himself), yet
in his teaching lie everywhere as studiously denied the doctrine of
salvation hy atonement as he did the doctrine of the divinity of
Christ. And yet he had the daring to appeal to the Jewish and
Christian Scriptures as bearing witness to his prophetic pretensions,
and to claim lor his Quran the excellency that it attested the doc-
trines of all the prophets.

It cannot be claimed for Muhammad that he was ignorant of
Jewish belief and practice in respect to atoning sacrifices, for during
his first year's residence at Madina " Mahomet kept the great day
of atonement, with its sacrifices of victims, in conformity with the
practice of the Jews ; and had he continued on a friendly footing
with them, he would probably have maintained this rite. Muiri
Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 51. According to this author, Muham-
mad abandoned this Jewish rite in the second year of the Hijra.
owing to his failure to win the Jews over to his cause. He then
offered sacrifices himself. The following is the story of this transac-
tion: "After a service resembling that on the breaking of the
fast, two fatted sucking kids with budding horns were placed be-
fore the prophet. Seizing a knife, he sacrificed one with his own
hand, saying, ' Lord ! I sacrifice this for my whole people ; all
those that bear testimony to thy unity and to my mission. Then
he called for the other, and slaying it likewise, said, '0 Lord! this
is for Mahomet, and for the family of Mahomet.' Of the latter kid
both he and his family partook, and what, was over he gave to the
poor. The double sacrifice seems in its main features to have been
founded on the practice of the Jewish priest at the Feast of the
Atonement, when he sacrificed ' first for his own sins, and then for
the people's' (Heb. vii. 27). This ceremony was repeated by Ma-
homet every year of his residence at Medina, and it was kept up
there after his decease." Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. pp. 52, 53.

In answer to the question why Muhammad should have ignored
the doctrine of salvation by atonement, there is available no defi-
nite reply. It was, however, probably due to a variety of reasons.
First, such a doctrine would contradict Muhammad's idea of a
sovereign God. Such being the case, his conformity to Jewish and
Arab practice was simply a matter of policy. Or again, we may well
believe that the opposition by the Jews estranged him from every-
thing distinctively Jewish. To accept the doctrine of the divinity
of Christ would not only have seemed to militate against his idea of
God's unity, but also would logically have led to a rejection of his
prophetic claim. In like manner, the adoption of the doctrine of
atoning sacrifices as necessary to salvation would not only have
contradicted Muhammad's notion of God's sovereignty, but would
logically have led to his adopting Judaism or Christianity as his



SIPARA IV.] ( 6l ) [CHAP. III.

on the day of resurrection : for thou art not contrary to
the promise.

|| (196) Their Lord therefore answered them, saying, I suls.
will not suffer the work of him among you who worketh
to be lost, whether he be male or female : the one of you
is from the other. They therefore who have left their
country, and have been turned out of their houses, and
have suffered for my sake, and have been slain in battle ;
verily I will expiate their evil deeds from them, and I
will surely bring them into gardens watered by rivers ; a
reward from God ; and with God is the most excellent



religion, either of which conclusions would have rendered him un-
popular with the Arabs, who, .-ince the break with the Jews, had
been constituted his chosen people. Either of these reasons would
satisfactorily account for the fact that the doctrine of atonement as
necessary to salvation is wanting in the teaching of Muhammad.
When, however, he represents his own doctrine as that of all former
prophets, and when, in all his allusions to the teaching of these
prophets, he uniformly ignores the doctrine of salvation by atone-
ment, we cannot but believe he did so deliberately. This is the
rock upon which the cause of Islam falls, only to be dashed in
pieces. The signal failure of the Quran to attest this central doc-
trine of both the Old and New Testament Scriptures proves the
Quran, on its own testimony, to be a forgery, and Muhammad to
be an impostor.

(196) Male or female. "These words were added, as some relate.
on Omm Salma, one of the prophet's wives, telling 1dm that she
had observed God often made mention of the men who fled their
country for the sake of their faith, but took no notice of the women."
Sale, Baidhdwi.

The one of you, &c, i.e., the one is born of the other. Rod well
translates " the one of you is the issue of the other." The teaching
of the passage is that all, whether male or female, will be rewarded
according to their works. Women are not by any means excluded
from the blessings of Islam, and they have formed by no means the
least devoted followers of Muhammad.

Verily I will expiate, <&c. The word used here for expiate is the
same as that used in ver. 194 (see note there). The idea attached to
it here is that of removal.

Gardens watered by rivers. The imagery of paradise is coloured by
Arab ideas of beauty and pleasure. Heaven is likened to a beau-
tiful oasis carpeted in green, with its sparkling fountains, limpid
streams, shady trees, and delicious fruits. On the question as to
whether these earthly surroundings are to be understood in a literal
or figurative sense, see note on ver. 15.



CHAP. III.] ( 62 ) [SIPARA IV.

reward. (197) Let not the prosperous dealing of the
unbelievers in the land deceive thee ; it is but a slender
provision; and then their receptacle shall be hell; an
unhappy couch shall it be. (198) But they who fear the
Lord shall have gardens through which rivers flow ; they
shall continue therein for ever: this is the gift of God;
for what is with God shall be better for the righteous
tlian short-lived worldly prosperity. (199) There are some
of those who have received the scriptures who believe in
God, and that which hath been sent down unto you, and
that which hath been sent down to them, submitting
themselves unto God ; they sell not the signs of God for
a small price : these shall have their reward with their



(197) An unliappy couch. This expression, used so frequently in
the Qur&n to describe the torment of nell, is probably used in con-
trast with the carnal and sensual delights of the Muslim heaven.
There " they shall repose themselves on most delicate beds, adorned
with gold and precious stones, under the shadow of the trees of para-
dise, which shall continually yield them all manner of delicious fruits;
and there they shall enjoy most beautiful women, pure and clean,
having black eyes, &e." But here, the couch shall be in the midst
of fire, and be surrounded by smoke as with a coverlid, with nothing
to eat " but the fruit of the tree Zaqdn, which should be in their
bellies like burning pitch," and nothing to drink "but boiling and
stinking water," nor should they breathe ought but "exceeding hot
winds," &c. (Prideaux, Life of Maliomet, p. 22).

(198) See notes on ver. 196.

For wliat is with God, <kc. This passage, vers. 196-198, is said to
have been revealed to comfort the Muslims, who, being in poverty
and want, were surrounded by prosperous enemies.

(199) Some . . . who believe. "The persons here meant some will
have to be Abdullah Ibn Saldm and his companions; others suppose
they were forty Arabs of Najran, or thirty-two Ethiopians, or else
eight Greeks, who were converted from Christianity to Muhammad-
anism ; and others say this passage was revealed in the ninth year of
the Hijra, when Muhammad, on Gabriel's bringing him the news of
the death of Ashainah, king of Ethiopia, who had embraced the Mu-
hammadan religion some years before, prayed for the soul of the
departed, at which some of his hypocritical followers were displeased,
and wondered that he should pray for a Christian proselyte whom he
had never seen." Sale, Jaldluddin. Baidh&wi.

See also verse 113, and note there.



SIPARA IV.] ( 63 ) [CHAP. III.

Lord; for God is swift in taking an account. (200)
true believers, be patient and strive to excel in patience,
and be constant-minded, and fear God, that ye may be
happy.

God is swift, &c. See chap. ii. 201.

(200) Be patient, i.e., in fighting for religion. This is the conclu-
sion of the exhortation to the disheartened followers of Muhammad,
beginning with ver. 121.



( 64 )



CHAPTER IV.

ENTITLED SURAT UN NISA (WOMEN).
Revealed at Madina.



INTRODUCTION.

This chapter contains revelations suited to the circumstances of the
Muslim community at Madina and the interests of the new religion
after the defeat of Ohod. Questions relating to inheritance, the
treatment of widows and orphans, forhidden degrees, &c, naturally
arose. These questions find an answer here. Besides these, there
are numerous passages containing exhortations to fight for the faith
of Islam, together with denunciations against the Jews and the dis-
affected tribes of Madina and its vicinity. The various expeditions
sent against these during the year following the battle at Ohod
called for certain regulations, which are the subject of a portion of
this chapter. And, finally, the Christians are referred to in the
latter part of the chapter, where they are reproved, partly under
cover of the Jews, for their faith in the crucifixion and death of
Jesus, and their belief in the doctrine of the Trinity and the Son-
ship of Christ.

Probable Bate of the Revelations.

Nearly all the stories told by the commentators to illustrate this
chapter point to a period following the battle of Ohod, the expul-
sion of the Bani Nadhir, and the expedition against the tribes of
the Bani Ghatafan at Dzat al Riqa. It follows, therefore, that the
revelations of this chapter belong in general to a period extend-
ing from the beginning of a.h. 4 to the middle or latter part of
a.h. 5. The following passages may, however, belong to a different
period, viz., ver. 42, which probably belongs to a.h. 3, and vers.
104-114 and 134, which may belong to a date later than a.h. 5, but
earlier than the subjugation of Makkah (see note on ver. 186).

Vers. 1 1 5125 and 130-132 probably belong to the number of



SIPARA IV.]



( 6 5 )



[CHAP. IV.



the early Madina revelations. Nbeldeke inclines to place them
among the later Makkan revelations, because the Jews are referred
to in a friendly spirit. But this circumstance would rather point to
Madina, where, during the first year of the Hijra, Muhammad
courted the favour of the Jews. Still, the form of address, "0 men "
(ver. 132), points to Makkah. The question may therefore still be
regarded as open, though we think the evidence, thus far, to be in
favour of the early part of a.h. 1.



Principal Subjects.

VERSES

Man and his Creator I

Orphans, the duty of guardians to such .... 2-5

The law of inheritance ....... 6-13

The punishment of adulteresses 14,15

Repentance enjoined 16, 17

Women's rights 18, 19

Forbidden and lawful degrees in marriage . . . 20-27

Gaming, rapine, and suicide forbidden .... 28-30-

Man's superiority over woman recognised . . . 31-33

Reconcilement of man and wife ...... 34

Parents, orphans, the poor, &c, to be kindly treated . 35, 36

Hypocrisy in almsgiving condemned . . . . 37-41

Prayer forbidden to the drunken and polluted ... 42

Jewish mockers denounced . . . . . 43 - 45

Idolatry the unpardonable sin 46-53

The rewards of faith and unbelief 54? 55

Trusts to be faithfully paid back 56

Disputes to be settled by God and his Apostle . . 57-68

Precaution*, &c, in warring for the faith .... 69-74

The disobedient and cowardly reproved .... 75-84

Salutations to be returned 85

Treatment of hypocrites and apostates .... 86-90

Believers not to be slain or plundered .... 91-93-

Believers in heathen countries to fly to Muslim lands . 94~99

Special order for prayer in time of war .... 100-102

Exhortation to zeal for IsHm 103

Fraud denounced 104-114,133

Idolatry and Islam compared 1 15-125

Equity in dealing with women and orphans enjoined . 126

Wives to be subject to the will of husbands . . . 127-129

God to be feared 130-132

Muslims exhorted to steadfastness 134-138

Hypocrites to be shunned 139-143

VOL. II. E



CHAP. IV.] ( 66 ) [SIPARA IV.

VBR8E8

The reward of hypocrisy and belief compared . . 1 44-1 51

Presumptuous and disobedient Jews destroyed. . . 152-154

The Jews calumniate Mary and Jesus .... 155-158

Certain kinds of food forbidden to Jews as punishment . 159, 160

Muhammad's inspiration like that of other prophets . 161-168
Christians reproved for their faith in Jesus as the Son of

God and in the doctrine of the Trinity . . . 169-174
The law of inheritance for distant relatives . . . 175

IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.

R 12' II (1) men, fear your Lord, who hath created you
out of one man, and out of him created his wife, and from
them two hath multiplied many men and women: and
fear God by whom ye beseech one another; and respect
women who have borne you, for God is watching over you.
(2) And give the orphans when they come to age their
substance; and render them, not in exchange bad for
good: and devour not their substance, by adding it to
your own substance ; for this is a great sin. (3) And if
ye fear that ye shall not act with equity towards orphans

(1) men, dec. This chapter is entitled women because it con-
tains, for the most part, laws and precepts relating to them. The
men are specially addressed, but the instruction is intended for
both men and women. They are addressed in the original, " ye
people."

From them two, dec. The unity of the human race is here dis-
tinctly declared. All men are of " one blood."

And respect women. The word translated women (in the Arabic,
wombs) is the object of the verb fear. Palmer translates, "Fear
God, in whose name ye beg of one another, and the u-ombs." Sale,
however, expresses the meaning by inserting the void respect.

(2) Oive the orphans, dec. These orphans were the children of
those who lost their lives in the wars for the cause of Islam. Not
only the children but their property waa intrusted to those who
agreed to become guardians. These orphans were defrauded in
various ways. Sometimes their property was appropriated by the
guardians; others " exchanged bad for good," e.y.,h\ turning the
Kood goats or camels of the orphan ward along with their own
herds, and then selecting the bad ones as the orphan's share.
This law was instituted by Muhammad to prevent this kind of
abuse.

(3) If ye fear that ye cannot act equitably, dc. "The commenta-
tors understand this passage differently. The true meaning seems



SIPARA IV.] ( 67 ) [CHAP. IV.

of the female sex, take in marriage of such other women
as please you, two, or three, or four, and not more. But

to be as it is here translated ; Muhammad advising his followers
that if they found they should wrong the female orphans under
their care, either by marrying them against their inclinations, for
the sake of their riches or beauty, or by not using or maintaining
them so w r ell as they ought, by reason of their having already
several wives, they should rather choose to marry other women, to
avoid all occasion of sin. Others say that when this passage was
revealed, many of the Arabians, fearing trouble and temptation,
refused to take upon them the charge of orphans, and yet multiplied
wives to a great excess, and used them ill ; or, as others write, gave
themselves up to fornication ; which occasioned the passage. And
according to these, its meaning must be either that if they feared
they could not act justly towards orphans, they had as great reason
to apprehend they could not deal equitably with so many wives,
and therefore are commanded to marry but a certain number ; or
else, that since fornication was a crime as well as wronging of
orphans, they ought to avoid that also, by marrying according to
their abilities." Sale, Baidhdwi.

The connection of this verse with the preceding is undoubted, and
that connection is close. How the explanation of the commentators
would remove the fear of acting unjustly with orphans of the female
sex, I cannot see. Surely marrying two, or three, or four other
women would hardly produce a moral change in a man who feared
he could not act justly in the matter of a sacred trust. I therefore
venture to suggest that Muhammad here advises his followers to
marry their orphan wards, and so, by fixing upon them a lawful
dowry and exalting them to the position of lawful wives, avoid the
evil of committing a breach of trust or an act of immorality. This
view seems to me to be required by the preceding context. 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 7 of 42)