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 9 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 9 of 42)
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of Abu Qais, one of the companions, complaining to Muhammad
against a son, who wished to treat her in accordance with the old
custom.

Not hinder them. The allusion is to those who would hinder
their father's widows from marrying others, in order to retain the
property in the family. Some, however, think the allusion to be to
those who maltreated their wives, in order to make them relinquish
the dowry fixed upon them at marriage. The language will very
well bear this interpretation. Hindering would then mean im-
prisonment in some part of the house.

Unless they have been guilty, i.e., of disobedience or shameless con-
duct. This passage carefully guards the right of a husband to
punish his wife for whatever he may fancy a fault in her.

A wife for another wife. See notes on chap. ii. 229.

A talent. A large dowry.

Will ye take it by slandering her ? i.e., by giving out a false report
of infidelity, in order to escape the necessity of forfeiting the dowry.
See chap. ii. 229, note.

(20) Women wliom your fathers have had. The pie-Islamite religion



SIPARA V.] ( 77 ) [CHAP. IV.

past :) for this is uncleanness, and an abomination, and
an evil way.

|| (21) Ye are forbidden to marry your mothers, and Jj i
your daughters, and your sisters, and your aunts both on
the father's and on the mother's side, and your brothers'
daughters, and your sisters' daughters, and your mothers
who have given you suck, and your foster-sisters, and
your wives' mothers, and your daughters-in-law which
are under your tuition, lorn of your wives unto whom ye
have gone in, (but if ye have not gone in unto them, it
shall be no sin in you to marry them,) and the wives of
your sons who proceed out of your loins ; and ye are also
forbidden to take to wife two sisters, except what is already
past : for God is gracious and merciful.

|| (22) Ye are also forbidden to take to wife free women fifth
who are married, except those women whom your right
hands shall possess as slaves. This is ordained you from
God. Whatever is beside this is allowed you; that ye
may with your substance provide wives for yourselves,
acting that which is right, and avoiding whoredom. (23)



of Arabia not only allowed such marriages, but made such women
a lawful part of the son's inheritance. See Muir's Life of Mahomet,
vol. ii. p. 52. The reform of Muhammad had respect to the future
only. What was " already past " was allowed to remain unchanged.

(21) Ye are forbidden to marry, <&c. It is quite certain that these

Erohibited degrees were adapted from the Jewish law. Compare
iev. xviii. 6-18. Muhammad did not consider himself bound by
this law (see chap. xxx,iii. 49, 50).

(22) Free women, except, dbc. " According to this passage, it is not
lawful to marry a free woman that is already married, be she a
Muhammadan or not, unless she be legally parted from her hus-
band by divorce ; but it is lawful to marry those who are slaves or
taken in war, after they shall have goue through the proper purifi-
cations, though their husbands be living. Yet, according to the
decision of Abu Hanifah, it is not lawful to marry such whose hus-
bands shall be taken or be in actual slavery with them." Sale,
Baidh&wi.

Marriage, in the Muslim sense, is not required in the case of those
who are held as slaves. Sale has used the word marry rather freely
in his italicised phrases. It is not marriage that is here forbidden,
but certain women, marriage being predicated only where, according
to Muhaimnadan law, the ceremony is required.



CHAP. IV.] ( 78 ) [SIPARA V.

And for the advantage which ye receive from them, give
them their reward, according to what is ordained : but it
shall be no crime in you to make any other agreement
among yourselves, after the ordinance shall be complied
with ; for God is knowing and wise. (24) Whoso amoug
you hath not means sufficient that he may marry free
women, who are believers, let him marry with such of

(23) Their reward, i.e., their dowry, which is everywhere in the
Quran spoken of in this fashion. The allusion is very suggestive of
the character of the marriage bond. The power of the bond of that
pure and holy love which unites the Christian wife to her husband
is unknown to Islam. If ever found in a Muslim household, it is
there, not because of Islam, but in spite of it.

Any other arrangemet. The amount of dowry may be increased
or diminished at any time subsequent to marriage by the consent of
the parties. A wife may remit the whole amount.

(24) IVhoso . . . hath not means, i.e., he who is too poor to sup-
port a wife, who is free, and therefore does not possess slave girls of
nis own, may marry slave women with the consent of their masters.
In this case the dowry is fixed by the master. Tafslr-i-Ravfi.

Such . . . as are true believers. This is not the only pas>age an-
tagonistic to Mr. R. Bosworth Smith's statements (Muhammad and
Muhammadanism, p. 243) that Muhammad "laid down the piinciple
that the captive who embraced Islam should be ipso facto free."

The Quran provides not only for enslaving conquered infidels,
thus justifying the cruellest war ever waged by Arab slave-traders
in the heart of Africa, but it provides for their retention even when
converted, and, although masters are forbidden to maltreat them,
yet they are enjoined to sell them in case they are disjdeased with
them. See Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. p. 239. "As regards
female slaves." says the same author (vol. iii. p. 305) "under the
thraldom of Mahometan masters, it is difficult to conceive more
signal degradation of the human species ; they are treated as an
inferior class of beings. Equally restricted as if they had entered
the marriage state, they are expressly excluded from any title to
conjugal rights. They are purely at the disposal of their proprie-
tors." Here the learned author is compelled to stop, being unable
to say more without offence to morality, adding, that "the reader
must believe at second-hand that the whole system is vile and
revolting."

That system of slavery prevalent among the so-called Christian
nations was utterly opposed to the clearest precepts of the Bible, and
cannot be fairly compared with the system of slavery sanctioned by
the Quran, even granting the claim that the rigour, of the latter is legs
than that of the former. The abolition of slavery by Christian
nations was the natural result of obedience to the teaching of the
Bible, applying in practice the doctrine of man's common brother-
hood, and the duty of loving our neighbour as our.-elves. The



SIPARA V.J ( 79 ) [CHAP. IV.

your maid-servants whom your right hands possess, as are
true believers ; for God well knoweth your faith. Ye are
the one from the other : therefore marry them with the
consent of their masters ; and give them their dower ac-
cording to justice ; such as are modest, not guilty of
whoredom, nor entertaining lovers. And when they are
married, if they be guilty of adultery, they shall suffer
half the punishment which is appointed for the free
women. This is allowed unto him among you who
feareth to sin by marrying free women ; but if ye abstain
from marrying slaves, it will be better for you; God is
gracious and merciful.

|| (25) God is willing to declare these things unto Jti
you, and to direct you according to the ordinances
of those who have gone before you, and to be merciful

abolition of slavery in Muslim states would be equivalent to the
abrogation of a large part of the teaching of the Quran. As a matter
of fact, Muslim states never did anything voluntarily towards
abolishing slavery, and we may safely predict that they never will.
The social interest in slave women is too great, and too firmly rooted
in the Quran to permit it.

One from the other. "Being alike descended from Adam, and of
the same faith." Sale, Baidhdwi.

Such as are modest, dec These crimes would cause them to forfeit
their dowry.

Half the punishment. "The reason of this is because they are not
presumed to have had so good education. A slave, therefore, in
such a case, is to have fifty stripes, and to be banished for half a
year ; but she shall not be stoned, because it is a punishment which
cannot be inflicted by halves." Sale, Baidhdwi.

Who feareth to sin. Not merely by marrying free women when
unable to support them or pay the dowry, but also by remaining
unmarried. Tafsir-i-Ravfi.

If ye abstain, dec. " Because he could not marry a free woman
and a slave" (Abdul Q&dir), i.e., no free woman would consent to be
co-wife with a slave, but he could easily divorce the slave wife, and
so avoid the ditliculty.

The T<ifsir-i-Ravfi says the reason why abstaining from marrying
slaves is here recommended is because of the "stain of slavery which
would belong to the children."

(25) The ordinances, dec. The claim here made is that these laws
concerning marriage are in accord with the teaching of the former
prophets. 1 think we have here a declaration clearly indicating the
source from which Muhammad drew his inspiration on this point.
He does not, however, scruple to represent this new law as coming



CHAP. IV.] ( 80 ) [SI PARA V.

unto you. God is knowing and wise. (26) God desireth
to be gracious unto you; but they who follow their
lusts, desire that ye should turn aside from the truth
with great deviation. (27) God is minded to make
his religion light unto you; for man was created weak.
(28) O true believers, consume not your wealth among
yourselves in vanity, unless there be merchandising
among you by mutual consent : neither slay yourselves ;
for God is merciful towards you : (29) and whoever doth
this maliciously and wickedly, he w T ill surely cast him to
be broiled in hell fire ; and this is easy with God. (30)
If ye turn aside from the grievous sins of those which ye

from God and place himself in the position of a disciple learning
for the first time that this new revelation is in accord " with the
ordinances of those who have gone before."

(26) They who follow their lusts. " Some commentators suppose
that these words have a particular regard to the Magians, who for-
merly were frequently guilty of incestuous marriages, their prophet
Zerdusht having allowed them to take their mothers and sisters to
wife ; and also to the Jews, who likewise might marry within some
of the degrees here prohibited." Sale, Baidhdwi.

According to the Tafsir-i- Raufi, the allusion is to the Jews.

(27) God is minded, dec. The spirit of this verse, as well as the
opinions of the commentators, clearly shows that the legislation in
the preceding verses was intended to remove the temptation to forni-
cation and adultery by facilitating marriage and concubinage.

God created man weak. This sentence indicates a low conception
of morals, not to say of God's holiness. Man's immorality is excused
on the ground that God made him liable to sins of inconitinency.
This doctrine plainly makes God the author of sin.

(28) Consume not your wealth, dec, i.e., " employ it not in things
prohibited by God, Buch as usury, extortion, rapine, gaming, and
the like." Sale.

Unless there be merchandising. The merchant's calling receives
the imprimatur of the Quran. The faithful are encouraged to unite
together for purposes of trade.

Neither slay yourselves. This is understood to forbid suicide,
which the heathen were in the habit of committing in honour of
the idols {Tafsir-i- Raufi) ; or it may be understood in a spiritual
sense, as an exhortation to avoid all sin. The words may be trans-
lated slay not your souls (see Sale). Abdul Qadir understands the
command to be not to slay one another.

(29) And whosoever doeth this. This statement best agrees with
Abdul Qiidir's interpretation, and therefore teaches that those who
maliciously slay their brethren in the faith are doomed to hell fire.

(30) If ye turn aside, dec. Sins are divided by this and other pas-



SIPARA V.] ( 8 1 ) [CHAP. IV.

are forbidden to commit, we will cleanse you from your
smaller faults, and will introduce you into paradise with an
honourable entry. (31) Covet not that which God hath
bestowed on some of you preferably to others. Unto the
men shall he given a portion of what they shall have
gained, and unto the women shall be given a portion of
what they shall have gained : therefore ask God of his
bounty ; for God is omniscient. (32) We have appointed
unto every one kindred, to inherit part of what their
parents and relations shall leave at their deaths. And
unto those with whom your right hands have made an
alliance, give their part of the inheritance; for God is
witness of all things.

sages into two classes, kabira and saghira, or great and small. The
commentators differ as to which are great. Some say they are seven :
idolatry, murder, false charge of adultery against virtuous women,
wasting the substance of orphans, usury, desertion in time of a religi-
ous war, and disobedience to parents (Sale in loco). Others enumerate
seventeen (see Hughes's Notes, p. 139). Still others say there are as
many as seven hundred great sins. The majority regard only those
sins as kabira which are described in the Quran as meriting hell fire,
the chief of all great sins being idolatry, or the associating of any
thing with God so as to express or imply a participation in the
attributes of God.

Muhammad's teaching must lead his followers to carelessness in
regard to all sins except those regarded as kabira. As a matter of
fact, this is true. Lying, deception, anger, lust, &c. are all numbered
among the smaller and lighter offences. All such sins will be for-
given if men only keep clear of the great sins. Such passages exhibit
to the Christian the sad fact that Muhammad had no true conception
of the nature of sin. Great sins and small sins alike spring from an
evil heart. But Muhammad seems not to have ascribed any moral
character to simple states of the heart; the sins here described are
the doing of what is forbidden. The Christian regards all such sin
as rebellion against God, but Muhammad conceived of only a portion
of these as great, which, if forgiven, would predicate the forgiveness
of the smaller crimes also.

(31) Covet not, dec. "Such as honour, power, riches, and other
worldly advantages. Some, however, understand this of the dis-
tribution of inheritances according to the preceding determinations,
whereby some have a larger share than others." Sale.

What they shall have gained, i.e., " What is gained by men in their
warring for the faith and in other good works ; by u-omen, in their
chaste behaviour, and in submission to the will of their husbands."
Tafsir-i- Ravfi in loco.

(32) Those with uhom . . . an alliance. " A precept conformable
VOL. II. F



CHAP. IV.] ( 82 ) [SIPAKA V.

K II (33) Men shall have the pre-eminence above women,

because of those advantages wherein God hath caused the
one of them to excel the other, and for that which they
expend of their substance in maintaining their wives.
The honest women are obedient, careful in the absence
of tlieir husbands, for that God preserveth them, by com-
mitting them to the care and protection of the men. But
those whose perverseness ye shall be apprehensive of,
rebuke ; and remove them into separate apartments, and
chastise them. But if they shall be obedient unto you,
seek not an occasion of quarrel against them: for God

to an old custom of the Arabs, that where persons mutually entered
into a strict friendship or confederacy, the surviving friend should
have a sixth part of the deceased's estate. But this was afterwards
abrogated, according to Jalaluddfn and al Zamakhshari, at least as to
inhdels. The passage may likewise be understood of a private con-
tract, whereby the survivor is to inherit a certain part of the sub-
stance of him that dies first." Sale, Baidhdwi.

Abdul Qadir says this law had relation to the circumstances which
grew out of the u brotherhood " established by Muhammad soon afier
his arrival in Madfna, whereby " each of the refugees selected one
of the citizens as his brother. The bond was of the closest descrip-
tion, and involved not only a peculiar devotion to each other's
interests in the persons thus associated, but in case of the death it
superseded the claims of blood, the 'brother' becoming exclusive
heir to all the property of the deceased." Muir's Life of Maliomet,
vol. iii. p. 17.

The custom was abolished after the lapse of eighteen months. It
ha-, therefore, no present application to Muslims.

(33) Men shall have the pre-eminence. The ground of the pre-
eminence of man over woman is here said to be man's natural
superiority over woman. Women are an inferior class of human
beings. "The advantages wherein God hath caused the one of them
to excel the other" are said by the commentators to be "superior
understanding and strength, and the other privileges of the male
sex," e.g., ruling in church and state, warring for the faith, and
receiving double portions of the estates of deceased ancestors (see
Sale in loco). Men are the lords of the women, and women become
the virtual slaves of the men. The holy, happy estate of Eve in
Eden can never be even approximately secured for her daughters
under Islam.

Careful to preserve their husband's proj)erty and their own chastity.
Sale, Baidhdwi.

Those whose perverseness, <bc. Recreant wives are to be punished
in three degrees : (1) They are to be rebuked, (2) if they remain
rebellious, they are to be assigned separate apartments, and so be



SIPARA V.] ( 83 ) [CHAP. IV.

is high and great. (34) And if ye fear a breach between
the husband and wife, send a judge out of his family, and
a judge out of her family : if they shall desire a recon-
ciliation, God will cause them to agree ; for God is know-
ing and wise. (35) Serve God, and associate no creature
with him ; and show kindness unto parents, and relations,
and orphans, and the poor, and your neighbour who is of
kin to you, and also your neighbour who is a stranger,
and to your familiar companion, and the traveller, and the
captives whom your right hands shall possess; for God
loveth not the proud or vainglorious, (36) who are cove-
tous, and recommend covetousness unto men, and conceal
that which God of his bounty hath given them ; (we have
prepared a shameful punishment for the unbelievers;) (37)
and who bestow their wealth in charity to be observed
of men, and believe not in God, nor in the last day ; and
whoever hath Satan for a companion, an evil companion

banished from the bed ; and (3) they are to be beaten, but not so as
to cause any permanent injury. Abdul Qddir.

Seek not an occasion. Muslims are here warned not to use the
authority here granted to the men to beat their wives as a means of
tyrannising over them and of abusing them, being reminded that
"God is high and great" above them. The difference between the
home-life of the Christian and that of the Muslim cannot be more
clearly indicated than by a comparison of this verse with Gen. ii. 24,
Eph. v. 28, and 1 Pet. iii. 7.

(34) If ye fear a breach, dec. This arrangement was intended to
prevent divorce. The verse is closely connected with the one pre-
ceding. When beating should prove unsuccessful, arbitration might
be resorted to, each party being represented by a friend.

(35) Serve God . . . and show kindness, dec. This passage gives the
sum of the decalogue for a Muslim : God to be served his unity
to be preserved intact relatives and neighbours, &c, to be kindly
treated. It must he remembered that a Muslim's friend or neigh-
bour is a Muslim. They are expressly forbidden to have friendships
with Jews, Christians, or unbelievers. See chap. v. 56.

(36) That which God . . . hath given them, i.e., " wealth, know-
ledge, or any other talent whereby they may help their neighbour."
Sale.

(37) To be observed of men. The duty of giving alms from a high
motive is here enjoined. One is reminded of Matt. vi. 1-4. Abdul
Qadir says : The miser who refuses to give in charity, and the man
who gives to make a show of giving, are equally hateful in the sight
of God.



CHAP. 1V.J ( 84 ) [SIPARA V.

hath he ! (38) And what harm would befall them if they
should believe in God and the last day, and give alms
out of that which God hath bestowed on them? since
God knoweth them who do this. (39) Verily God will
not wrong any one even the weight of an ant : and if it be
a good action, he will double it, and will recompense it in
his sight with a great reward. (40) How will it be with
the unbelievers when we shall bring a witness out of each
nation ayainst itself, and shall bring thee, MuJiammad,
a witness against these people 1 (41) In that day they
who have not believed, and have rebelled against the
R \ apostle of God, shall wish the earth was levelled with
them ; and they shall not be able to hide any matter from
God.

|| (42) true believers, come not to prayers when ye
are drunk, until ye understand what ye say ; nor when ye
are polluted by emission of seed, unless ye be travelling

(38, 39) These verses teach the truth that no man is a loser by
performing his duty toward God and man.

God will not wrong, dec., i.e., "either by diminishing the recom-
pense due to his good actions, or too severely punishing his sins.
On the contrary, he will reward the former in the next life far above
their deserts. The Arabic word dharra, which is translated an ant,
signifies a very small sort of that insect, and is used to denote a thing
that is exceeding small, as a mite" Sale.

(40) A witness out of each nation. This verse seems to clearly
teach the doctrine that God sends a prophet to every distinct nation,
and that Muhammad was sent to the Arabs. If so, this passage
shows that Muhammad's idea of a universal Islam, though logically
connected with the teaching of the Makkan Suras, yet only took
a practical form at Madina, after military and political triumphs had
cleared the way to foreign conquest See also chap. ii. 143.

(42) Come not to prayers when ye ore drunk. "It is related, that
before the prohibition of wine, Abd'ur-Rahman Urn Auf made an
entertainment, to which he invited several of the Apostle's com-
panions ; and after they had ate and drunk plentifully, the hour
of evening prayer being come, one of the company rose up to pray,
but being overcome with liquor, made a shameful blunder in reciting
a ]>a>s ige of the Quran ; whereupon, to prevent the danger of any
such indecency for the future, this passage was revealed." Sale,
Baidhdwi.

See note on chap. ii. 218.

When polluted. Ordinarily ceremonial purity can only be had
by performing ablutions in water. This verse provides for those



S1PARA V.] ( 85 ) [CHAP. IV.

on the road, until ye wash yourselves. But if ye be sick,
or on a journey, or any of you come from easing nature,
or have touched women, and find no water; take fine
clean sand and rub your faces and your hands therewith;
for God is merciful and inclined to forgive. (43) Hast
thou not observed those unto whom part of the Scripture
was delivered ? they sell error, and desire that ye may
wander from the right way ; but God well knoweth your
enemies. God is a sufficient patron, and God is a sufficient
helper. (44) Of the Jews there are some who pervert
words from their places, and say, We have heard, and

who are so situated as to be unable to secure water. See Prelim.
Disc, p. 167.

(43) Those unto whom part, &c. The Jews. They are said to sell
error because they misrepresented the teachings of their sacred books
from sordid motives.

(44) Who pervert words from their places. On the general subject
of the corruption charged by Muslims against the Christians and
Jews, much lias already been said. I cannot, however, omit a some-
what lengthy quotation from Hair's Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. pp.
249 and 295, which affords a decided answer to this unfounded
imputation of Muslims. The learned author says : " I pass over the
passages in which the Jews are accused of ' hiding the signs of God,'
or 'selling them for a small price.' For the meaning is evidently
that the Jews merely refused to bring forward those texts which
Mahomet believed to contain evidence in his favour. The renegade
Jews applied the prophecies of the Messiah to Mahomet ; the staunch
Jews denied such application, and herein lay the whole dispute.
There is no imputation or hint that any passages were removed from
the sacred record. The Jews 'concealed the testimony of God'
simply because they declined to bring it forward. The expression
'to sell a thing for a small price' is metaphorical, and signifies
abandoning a duty for a worldly and sordid motive ; it is used also



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 9 of 42)