Page images

(89) God said, Your petition is heard; be ye upright, therefore, and follow not the way of those who are ignorant. (90) And we caused the children of Israel to pass through the sea and Pharaoh and his army followed them in a violent and hostile manner; until, when he was drowning, he said, I believe that there is no GOD but he on whom the children of Israel believe; and I am one of the resigned. (91) Now dost thou believe, when thou hast been hitherto rebellious, and one of the wicked doers? (92) This day will we raise thy body from the bottom of the sea, that thou mayest be a sign unto those who shall be after thee; and verily a great number of men are negligent of our signs.

il (93) And we prepared for the children of Israel an Restablished dwelling in the land of Canaan, and we provided good things for their sustenance; and they differed not in point of religion until knowledge had come unto them; verily thy LORD will judge between them on the

Be ye upright. "Or, as al Baidhawi interprets it, Be ye constant and steady in preaching to the people. The Muhammadans pretend that Moses continued in Egypt no less than forty years after he had first published his mission, which cannot be reconciled to Scripture." -Sale.

But his

(90) I am one of the resigned. "These words, it is said, Pharaoh repeated often in his extremity that he might be heard." repentance came too late; for Gabriel soon stopped his mouth with mud lest he should obtain mercy, reproaching him at the same time in the words which follow."-Sale.

This is a vague rendering of the Jewish legend that Pharaoh repented and was forgiven, and that he was raised from the dead, in accordance with Exod. ix. 15, 16. See Rodwell in loco, and Arnold's Islam and Christianity, p. 140.

(92) We will raise thy body. "Some of the children of Israel doubting whether Pharaoh was really drowned, Gabriel, by God's command, caused his naked corpse to swim to shore that they might see it (cf. Exod. xiv. 30). The word here translated body, signifying also a coat of mail, some imagine the meaning to be that his corpse floated armed with his coat of mail, which they tell us was of gold, by which they knew that it was he.”—Sale.

(93) Until knowledge, &c., i.e., "until the law had been revealed and published by Moses."-Sale. It seems to me the knowledge intended here is that of the Qurán, and the allusion is to the rejection of Muhammad by the Jews, though some were questioning whether he were not a prophet, and perhaps even believing him to be such. See Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 183.

day of resurrection concerning that wherein they disagreed. (94) If thou art in doubt concerning any part of that which we have set down unto thee, ask them who have read the book of the law before thee. Now hath the truth come unto thee from thy LORD; be not therefore one of those who doubt; (95) neither be thou one of those who charge the signs of GOD with falsehood, lest thou become one of those who perish. (96) Verily those against whom the word of thy LORD is decreed shall not believe, (97) although there come unto them every kind of miracle, until they see the grievous punishment prepared for them. (98) And if it were not so, some city, among the many which have been destroyed, would have believed; and the faith of its inhabitants would have been of advantage unto them; but none of them believed, before the execution of their sentence, except the people of Jonas. When they believed, we delivered them from the punishment of shame in this world, and suffered them to enjoy

(94) If thou art in doubt. . . ask, &c. "That is, concerning the truth of the histories which are here related. The commentators doubt whether the person here spoken be Muhammad himself, or his auditor."-Sale.

This passage clearly confirms the Scriptures current in the days of Muhammad. See note on chap. vi. 93.

(98) Except the people of Jonas, viz., "the inhabitants of Ninive, which stood on or near the place where al Mausal now stands. This people having corrupted themselves with idolatry, Jonas, the son of Mattai (or Amittai, which the Muhammadans suppose to be the name of his mother), an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin, was sent by God to preach to and reclaim them. When he first began to exhort them to repentance, instead of hearkening to him, they used him very ill, so that he was obliged to leave the city, threatening them, at his departure, that they should be destroyed within three days, or, as others say, within forty. But when the time drew near, and they saw the heavens overcast with a black cloud, which shot forth fire and filled the air with smoke, and hung directly over their city, they were in a terrible consternation, and getting into the fields with their families and cattle, they put on sackcloth and humbled themselves before God, calling aloud for pardon, and sincerely repenting of their past wickedness. Whereupon God was pleased to forgive them, and the storm blew over."-Sale, Baidhawi, Jaláluddín.

their lives and possessions for a time. (99) But if thy
LORD had pleased, verily all who are in the earth would
have believed in general. Wilt thou therefore forcibly
compel men to be true believers? (100) No soul can
believe but by the permission of GOD; and he shall pour
out his indignation on those who will not understand.
(101) Say, Consider whatever is in heaven and on earth:
but signs are of no avail, neither preachers unto people
who will not believe. (102) Do they therefore expect
any other than some terrible judgment, like unto the judg-
ments which have fallen on those who have gone before
them? Say, Wait ye the issue; and I also will wait with
you; (103) then will we deliver our apostles and those
who believe. Thus is it a
Thus is it a justice due from us that we

should deliver the true believers.

(104) Say, O men of Makkah, if ye be in doubt conR 1 cerning my religion, verily I worship not the idols which ye worship, besides GOD; but I worship GOD, who will

For a time. Sale says, "Until they died in the ordinary course of nature." It is better to understand it of the continued duration

of the city. See Jonah iii. 10.

(99) If thy Lord had pleased, &c. The Prophet was very desirous all should believe on Islám, but God revealed this verse to show that the question of faith depends on his will.-Tafsir-i-Raufi.



Forcibly compel, &c. Brinckman says this verse "distinctly forbids Muhammad to use force for Islám, and contradicts at least thirty other verses of the Korán."-Notes on Islám, p. 110. But the commentators say this verse is abrogated by "the sword verse." chap. iv. 88 and chap. ix. 5. Both parties seem to have missed the sense of the verse. The meaning evidently is that the Prophet can do nothing, since "none can believe but by the permission of God." (100) No soul can believe, &c. . . . and he shall pour, &c. free agency of the unbeliever is not recognised here. The infidel is such because God is not pleased he should believe (ver. 99), and because he is an infidel, God will "pour out his indignation" on him. (104-109) These verses contain Muhammad's confession of faith at Makkah. They are at once a defence of his opposition to the national idolatry and an exhortation to his countrymen to believe in the true God. Muhammad is no guardian, but only a preacher of the true religion. God is the judge, and will decide between the Prophet and the unbelievers. Some, however, regard the last sentence of ver. 108 as abrogated by the command to convert by the sword. See Tafsir-i-Raufi in loco.

cause you to die: and I am commanded to be one of the true believers. (105) And it was said unto me, Set thy face towards the true religion, and be orthodox; and by no means be one of those who attribute companions unto God; (106) neither invoke, besides GOD, that which can neither profit thee nor hurt thee: for if thou do, thou wilt then certainly become one of the unjust. (107) If God afflict thee with hurt, there is none who can relieve thee from it except he; and if he willeth thee any good, there is none who can keep back his bounty: he will confer it on such of his servants as he pleaseth; and he is gracious and merciful. (108) Say, O men, now hath the truth come unto you from your LORD. He therefore who shall be directed, will be directed to the advantage of his own soul; but he who shall err, will err only against the same. I am no guardian over you. (109) Do thou, O Prophet, follow that which is revealed unto thee: and persevere with patience until GOD shall judge; for he is the best. judge.



Revealed at Makkah.


I HAVE not been able to find any better reason for the name of this chapter than that given by Sale: that the story of that prophet is repeated in it.

There is much in this chapter of a like character with the seventh chapter. Its several parts are closely connected together, and present what may be called an elaborate vindication of Muhammad's claim to be a prophet. The Quraish had rejected him as an impostor, and had styled his Qurán a forgery. Accordingly he falls back upon the example of former prophets, and threatens the infidels with that Divine wrath which had invariably destroyed the unbelievers who had rejected his predecessors in this holy office.

In respect to the histories of the prophets given in this chapter, there is one feature worthy of very special attention, as it bears directly on the question of Muhammad's sincerity and honesty as a religious teacher: it is the Muhammadan colouring of the history of these prophets. They were all, like Muhammad, sent to reclaim their people from idolatry. Like him, they were all rejected by the great majority of the people, only a few poor, despised persons professing faith in their prophet's message. Like him, they were all charged with imposture, and their messages were characterised as forgeries. This conduct was invariably followed by Divine retribution, the prophets and their followers being miraculously delivered from wicked hands.

The whole chapter marks a period of sharp and bitter opposition on the part of Muhammad's townsmen. It is probable that this fact, as well as the sharp epileptic paroxysms with which these revelations are said to have been accompanied, caused Muhammad to designate "Húd and its Sisters" as the "Terrific Suras." "The

« PreviousContinue »