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LORD; for GOD is swift in taking an account. (200) O 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 conclusion of the exhortation to the disheartened followers of Muhammad, beginning with ver. 121.

CHAPTER IV.

ENTITLED SURAT UN NISA (WOMEN).

Revealed at Madína.

INTRODUCTION.

THIS chapter contains revelations suited to the circumstances of the Muslim community at Madína and the interests of the new religion after the defeat of Ohod. Questions relating to inheritance, the treatment of widows and orphans, forbidden degrees, &c., naturally arose. These questions find an answer here. Besides these, there are numerous passages containing exhortations to fight for the faith of Islám, together with denunciations against the Jews and the disaffected 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 Sonship of Christ.

Probable Date 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 expulsion of the Bani Nadhír, and the expedition against the tribes of the Bani Ghatafán at Dzát al Riqá. It follows, therefore, that the revelations of this chapter belong in general to a period extending 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. 115-125 and 130-132 probably belong to the number of

the early Madína revelations. Nöeldeke 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 Madína, where, during the first year of the Hijra, Muhammad courted the favour of the Jews. Still, the form of address, "O 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. I.

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Principal Subjects.

VERSES

Man and his Creator

Orphans, the duty of guardians to such

The law of inheritance

The punishment of adulteresses

Repentance enjoined

Women's rights

Forbidden and lawful degrees in marriage

Gaming, rapine, and suicide forbidden

Man's superiority over woman recognised
Reconcilement of man and wife

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

Hypocrisy in almsgiving condemned

Prayer forbidden to the drunken and polluted.

I

2-5

6-13

14, 15

16, 17

18, 19

20-27

28-30

31-33

34

35, 36

37-41

42

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The reward of hypocrisy and belief compared
Presumptuous and disobedient Jews destroyed.
The Jews calumniate Mary and Jesus

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Certain kinds of food forbidden to Jews as punishment
Muhammad's inspiration like that of other prophets
Christians reproved for their faith in Jesus as the Son of
God and in the doctrine of the Trinity

The law of inheritance for distant relatives

VERSES

144-151

152-154

155-158

.

159, 160

161-168

IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.

169-174 175

|| (1) O 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) O men, &c. This chapter is entitled WOMEN because it contains, 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, "O ye people."

From them two, &c. The unity of the human race is here distinctly 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 wombs." Sale, however, expresses the meaning by inserting the word respect.

(2) Give the orphans, &c. These orphans were the children of those who lost their lives in the wars for the cause of Islám. Not only the children but their property was 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.g., by turning the good 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, &c. "The commentators understand this passage differently. The true meaning seems

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 well 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, Baidhawi.

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 word other, inserted by Sale and others before women, is not required. The Muslim may marry of women such as are pleasing to him, two, three, or four, whether his orphan wards or not.

Two, or three, or four. Literally, two and two, three and three, and four and four. The meaning is, that each might have two, or three, or four lawful wives. See Prelim. Disc., p. 206. Muhammad did not bind himself by this law. See chap. xxxiii. 49.

The statement of Mír Aulád Ali, professor of Oriental languages at Trinity College, Dublin, "that Muhammad had not enjoined polygamy," but only permitted it, quoted by Mr. R. Bosworth Smith (Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 144, note), is hardly borne out by this passage. Nor is such a statement borne out by the example of the Prophet. Nor is Mr. Smith's plea, that this permission may be placed in the same catagory as slavery not forbidden in the Bible, at all justified by the facts. Slavery is contrary to the whole spirit of the Bible, while polygamy is in accord with the whole spirit of the Qurán. Even the heaven of Islám is to witness the perpetuation of almost unlimited polygamy (see chaps. lv. and lvi.) The attempt to apologise for the polygamy of Islám, when made by

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