Page images

from out of their mouths; but what their breasts conceal is yet more inveterate. We have already shown you signs of their ill-will towards you, if ye understand. (119) Behold, ye love them, and they do not love you: ye believe in all the scriptures, and when they meet you, they say, We believe; but when they assemble privately together, they bite their fingers' ends out of wrath against you. Say unto them, Die in your wrath: verily GOD knoweth the innermost part of your breasts. (120) If good happen unto you, it grieveth them; and if evil befall you, they rejoice at it. But if ye be patient and fear God, their subtlety shall not hurt you at all; for GOD comprehendeth whatever they do. (121) Call to mind when thou wentest forth early from thy family, that thou

(119) Ye love them. The spirit of the prophet's love is shown in the last clause of this verse- Die in your wrath!" The evident purpose of the exhortation here is to eradicate every vestige of natural affection for unbelieving friends and neighbours from the hearts of his followers. Nothing was too heartless or cruel for Muhammad to counsel or perform, provided his interest or his revenge could thereby be satisfied-to wit, the assassination of Asma, Abu Afaq, and Káb Ibn Ashraf, the exile of the Jewish tribes of Nadhír and Qainuqáa, and the inhuman slaughter of eight hundred prisoners of the Bani Quraidha, and many other instances of a similar


Ye believe in all the Scriptures. This is no doubt what Muhammad intended they should do, but in the sense of simply acknowledging them to be the Word of God, and not in the sense that they should read them or hear them read (see note on ver. 93). This is the practice of Muslims still, showing how well they understand their prophet. They profess to accept the Pentateuch, Psalms, and Gospels as the Word of God, but the moment these are produced and made to testify against Islám, they declare they have been corrupted. All arguments are set aside by the claim that whatever is in accord with Islám is true, and whatever is not in accord therewith is either false, or, if true, abrogated.

(121) When thou wentest forth, &c. "This was at the battle of Ohiod, a mountain about four miles to the north of Madína. The Quraish, to revenge their loss at Badr (ver. 13, note), the next year, being the third of the Hijra, got together an army of 3000 men, among whom there were 200 horse and 700 armed with coats of mail. These forces marched under the conduct of Abu Sufián and sat down at Dhu'l Hulaifa, a village about six miles from Madína. Muhammad, being much inferior to his enemies in numbers, at first determined to keep himself within the town, and receive them there; but afterwards, the advice of some of his companions prevailing, he

mightest prepare the faithful a camp for war; and GOD heard and knew it; (122) when two companies of you were anxiously thoughtful, so that ye became faint-hearted,

marched out against them at the head of 1000 men (some say he had 1050 men, others but 900), of whom 100 were armed with coats of mail, but he had no more than one horse, besides his own, in his whole army. With these forces he formed a camp in a village near Ohod, which mountain he contrived to have on his back; and the better to secure his men from being surrounded, he placed fifty archers in the rear, with strict orders not to quit their post. When they came to engage, Muhammad had the better at first, but afterwards, by the fault of his archers, who left their ranks for the sake of the plunder, and suffered the enemy's horse to encompass the Muhammadans and attack them in the rear, he lost the day, and was very near losing his life, being struck down by a shower of stones, and wounded in the face with two arrows, on pulling out of which his two foreteeth dropped out. Of the Muslims seventy men were slain, and among them Hamza, the uncle of Muhammad, and of the infidels twenty-two. To excuse the ill success of this battle and to raise the drooping courage of his followers is Muhammad's drift in the remaining part of this chapter."-Sale.

Muir gives a wonderfully vivid description of the crisis through which Muhammad was called to pass after the defeat at Ohod. "The scoffs and taunts of infidels and Jews well-nigh overthrew the faith of the Muslims. 'How can Mahomet pretend now,' they asked, 'to be anything more than an aspirant to the kingly office? No true claimant of the prophetic dignity hath ever been beaten in the field, or suffered loss in his own person and that of his followers, as he hath.' Under these circumstances it required all the address of Mahomet to avert the dangerous imputation, sustain the credit of his cause, and reanimate his followers. This he did mainly by means of that portion of the Quran which appears in the latter half of the third Sura."-Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 189.

Students of the Qurán will not fail to notice here that every device of the Prophet to encourage his crestfallen people is clothed in the garb of inspiration. Every exhortation to steadfastness in the cause of Islám, every rebuke for unfaithfulness, every' plaudit bestowed upon the brave, is presented as coming from the mouth of God.

(122) Two companies. "These were some of the families of Baní Salma of the tribe of al Khazraj, and Bani ul Hárith of the tribe of al Aus, who composed the two wings of Muhammad's army. Some ill impression had been made on them by Abdullah Ibn Ubai Sulúl, then an infidel, who having drawn off 300 men, told them that they were going to certain death, and advised them to return back with him; but he could prevail on but a few, the others being kept firm by the divine influence, as the following words intimate." -Sale, Baidhawi.

Muir expresses the belief that "the two companies" were the

R 13.


but GOD was the supporter of them both; and in GoD let the faithful trust.

|| (123) And GOD had already given you the victory at Badr, when ye were inferior in number; therefore fear GOD, that ye may be thankful. (124) When thou saidst unto the faithful, Is it not enough for you that your LORD should assist you with three thousand angels sent down from heaven? (125) Verily if ye persevere and fear God, and your enemies come upon you suddenly, your LORD will assist you with five thousand angels, distinguished by their horses and attire.

|| (126) And this GOD designed only as good tidings for

refugees and citizens. The flight was caused by their losing heart in the midst of the battle (Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 191, note).

(123) Victory at Badr. See note on ver. 113. The word translated victory here means help. The angels, say the commentators, did not do the fighting, but rendered miraculous assistance by warding off the blows of the enemy and by appearing to them in human form, thus working dismay in their ranks by multiplying the number of Muslims in their sight.

(124) Three thousand angels. Muhammadan tradition gives numerous instances of similar interference of angels on behalf of the Muslims. See references at p. lxiv., Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. i., Introduction.

(125) Angels, distinguished. The word musawwamina is the same as that translated excellent horses in ver. 14. The primary reference is to horses distinguished by white feet and a streak of white on the face, a sign of special excellence in horses. The passage may therefore mean that the angels rode on horses distinguished by the marks of excellence.

"The angels who assisted the Muhammadans at Badr rode, say the commentators, on black and white horses, and had on their heads white and yellow sashes, the ends of which hung down between their shoulders."-Sale, Baidhawi.

(126) Good tidings. Muhammad very adroitly argues that the question of victory or defeat does not rest with the Muslims. It is God's war against the infidels, and he cannot be defeated. If Muslims suffer defeat, it is for their discipline, to teach them to trust God and his prophet.

The commentators tell a story to the effect that when at the battle of Badr seventy Quraish fell into the hands of the Muslims as prisoners, Muhammad advised their summary execution, but the Muslims preferred to let them go on condition of a ransom price being paid. Muhammad yielded, but at the same time foretold that seventy Muslims would lose their lives in lieu of the seventy ransomed infidels. This prophecy was fulfilled in the defeat of Ohod.

you, that your hearts might rest secure; from GOD alone, the mighty, the wise.

for victory is

(127) That he

should cut off the uttermost part of the unbelievers, or cast them down, or that they should be overthrown and uusuccessful, is nothing to thee. (128) It is no business of thine; whether God be turned unto them, or whether he punish them; they are surely unjust doers. (129) To GOD belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth; he spareth whom he pleaseth, and he punisheth whom he pleaseth; for GOD is merciful.


(130) O true believers, devour not usury, doubling it R 14. twofold, but fear GOD, that ye may prosper: (131) and fear the fire which is prepared for the unbelievers; (132) and obey GOD and his apostle, that ye may obtain mercy. (133) And run with emulation to obtain remission from your LORD, and paradise, whose breadth equalleth the

This story was invented in order to cover up the disgrace of the ignominious defeat of the Muslims. This defeat was due to the disobedience of the followers of Muhammad (see note on ver. 122). This fact the prophet keeps in the background. The interests of Islám require that the Muslims should rather be encouraged than rebuked. They are therefore exhorted to trust God, and to look for certain victory in the future.

(127) This verse should be connected with the one preceding, and should depend upon the words "And this God designed." To connect it with the following verse, as Sale does, destroys the main point of the exhortation, which promises certain victory over the unbelievers.

(128) They are surely unjust doers. "This passage was revealed when Muhammad received the wounds above mentioned at the battle of Ohod, and cried out, 'How shall that people prosper who have stained their prophet's face with blood, while he called them to their Lord?' The person who wounded him was Otha the son of Abbu Wakkás."-Sale, Baidháwi.

(129) He spareth. In original he pardoneth. He is merciful. The original would better be rendered He is forgiving, kind. Every exhortation of the Prophet ends with a doxology of this sort, the sentiment being in accord with the character of the revelation preceding.

(130) Devour not usury. See note on chap. ii. 275. Abdul Qádir conjectures that the subject of usury is here spoken of because of the previous mention of cowardice, which is usually produced by habits of extortion. The passage seems to be misplaced, the sentiment having no perceptible connection with that of ver. 129, which is closely connected with ver. 139.

heavens and the earth, which is prepared for the godly; (134) who give alms in prosperity and adversity; who bridle their anger and forgive men; for GOD loveth the beneficent. (135) And who, after they have committed a crime, or dealt unjustly with their own souls, remember GOD, and ask pardon for their sins (for who forgiveth sins except GOD?), and persevere not in what they have done knowingly; (136) their reward shall be pardon from their LORD, and gardens wherein rivers flow; they shall remain therein forever: and how excellent is the reward of those who labour (137) There have already been before you examples of punishment of infidels, therefore go through the earth, and behold what hath been the end of those who accuse God's apostles of imposture. (138) This book

(134) "It is related of Hasan the son of Ali, that a slave having once thrown a dish on him boiling hot as he sat at table, and fearing his master's resentment, fell on his knees and repeated these words, 'Paradise is for those who bridle their anger: Hasan answered, 'I am not angry.' The slave proceeded-and for those who forgive men.' 'I forgive you,' said Hasan. The slave, however, finished the verse, adding, for God loveth the beneficent.' 'Since it is so," replied Hasan, I give you your liberty, and four hundred pieces of silver.' A noble instance of moderation and generosity."-Sale, Tafsir-i-Raufi.

Forgive men. "The best kind of forgiveness is to pardon those who have injured you."-Tafsir-i-Raufi.

(135) What they have done knowingly, i.e., the pious do not sin deliberately. The duty of repentance for known sin is here clearly enjoined, and the test of true repentance is also given.

(136) Their reward. This statement contradicts the teaching of the former Scriptures. However sincere repentance, its reward cannot be pardon. Repentance can affect the conduct of the future, but it has no power to atone for the crimes of the past (see note on ver. 31).

(137) Those who accuse of imposture. This passage gives another illustration of the constant and strained effort of Muhammad to refute the charge of imposture. In reply to his accusers, he says others were accused of like imposture, and the end of their accusers was dreadful. But the author of the notes on the Roman Urdú Qurán points out the fact that no true prophet ever showed the anxiety of Muhammad to establish his claim to the prophetic office. We may therefore fairly conclude that Muhammad's imposture was not, in the first instance at least, unconscious.

(138) See note, chap. ii. 2.

« PreviousContinue »