Page images
PDF
EPUB

adventure thou wilt omit to publish part of that which hath been revealed unto thee, and thy breast will become straitened, lest they say, Unless a treasure be sent down unto him, or an angel come with him, to bear witness unto him, we will not believe. Verily thou art a preacher only; and GOD is the governor of all things. (14) Will they say, He hath forged the Quran? Answer, Bring therefore ten chapters like unto it, forged by yourselves; and call on whomsoever ye may to assist you, except GOD, if ye speak truth. (15) But if they whom ye call to your assistance hear you not; know that this book hath been revealed by the knowledge of GOD only, and that there is no GOD but he. Will ye therefore become Muslims? (16) Whoso chooseth the present life and the pomp thereof, unto them will we give the recompense of their works therein, and the same shall not be diminished unto them. (17) These are they for whom no other reward is prepared in the next life except the fire of hell: that which they have done in this life shall perish, and that which they have wrought shall be vain. (18) Shall he therefore be compared with them who followeth the evident declaration of his LORD,

(13) That which hath been revealed unto thee. Godfrey Higgins, whom our Indian Mussalmáns are so fond of quoting, since his apology has become known through Sayad Ahmad's garbled translation, thinks Muhammad imagined himself to be inspired, as did "Johanna Southcote, Baron Swedenborg, &c."-Apology for Mohamed, p. 83.

Unless a treasure, &c. See notes on chap. vi. 34-36.

A preacher only. See notes on chaps. ii. 119, iii. 184, and vi. 109. (14) He hath forged. See chap. x. 39.

This was the number which he first challenged them to compose; but they not being able to do it, he made the matter still easier, challenging them to produce a single chapter only, comparable to the Qurán in doctrine and eloquence."-Sale.

See also on chap. ii. 23.

Rodwell thinks the challenge in such passages is not to produce a book which shall equal the Qurán in point of poetry or rhetoric, but "in the importance of its subject-matter, with reference to the Divine unity, the future retribution," &c. All Muslim authorities, so far as I know, include the rhetoric and poetry among the incomparable excellences.

and whom a witness from him attendeth, preceded by the book of Moses, which was revealed for a guide, and out of mercy to mankind? These believe in the Qurán; but whosoever of the confederate infidels believeth not therein, is threatened the fire of hell, which threat shall certainly be executed be not therefore in a doubt concerning it; for it is the truth from thy LORD: but the greater part of men will not believe. (19) Who is more unjust than he who imagineth a lie concerning GOD? They shall be set before the LORD at the day of judgment, and the witnesses shall say, These are they who devised lies against their LORD. Shall not the curse of GOD fall on the unjust; (20) who turn men aside from the way of GOD, and seek to render it crooked, and who believe not in the life to come? (21) These were not able to prevail against God on earth, so as to escape punishment; neither had they any protectors besides GOD: their punishment shall be doubled unto them. They could not hear, neither did they see. (22) These are they who have lost their souls; and the idols which they falsely imagined have abandoned them. (23) There is no doubt but they shall be most miserable in the world to come. (24) But as for those who believe and do good works, and humble themselves before their LORD,

(18) A witness. Various opinions obtain as to who this witness was. Some say the Qurán is meant. Others say Gabriel or an angel. Others will have it to be the Light of Muhammad, which impartial spectators always beheld in the countenance of the prophet. -Tafsir-i-Raufi.

The book of Moses. The Pentateuch is here again referred to in such a way as to show that Muhammad regarded the copies current in his day as genuine.

These believe, i.e., those who possess the book of Moses. No doubt Muhammad was confirmed in his prophetic claims by the flattery of some Jewish followers. His own doubts seem to be expressed in what follows: "Be not therefore in doubt concerning it;" and yet they are only expressed to be refuted by this testimony.

It is the truth from thy Lord. This passage with verse below, if it may be applied to Muhammad, assert his sincerity in his own claims as strongly as any in the Qurán.

(19) The witnesses. "That is, the angels and prophets, and their own members."-Sule.

R 3

they shall be the inhabitants of Paradise; they shall remain therein for ever. (25) The similitude of the two parties is as the blind and the deaf, and as he who seeth and heareth shall they be compared as equal? Will ye not therefore consider?

(26) We formerly sent Noah unto his people; and he said, Verily I am a public preacher unto you; (27) that ye worship GoD alone; verily I fear for you the punishment of the terrible day. (28) But the chiefs of the people, who believed not, answered, We see thee to be no other than a man, like unto us; and we do not see that any follow thee, except those who are the most abject among us, who have believed on thee by a rash judgment; neither do we perceive any excellence in you above us: but we esteem you to be liars. (29) Noah said, O my people, tell me; if I have received an evident declaration from my LORD, and he hath bestowed on me mercy from himself, which is hidden from you, do we compel you to receive the same, in case ye be averse thereto? (30) O my people, I ask not of you riches, for my preaching unto you my reward is with GOD alone. I will not drive away those who have believed: verily they shall meet their LORD at the resurrection; but I perceive that ye are

(25) The two parties. "Believers and unbelievers."-Sale. Muir thinks there is an allusion to the confederates of Makkah and the believers of Madína. See Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 225 note. (26) We sent Noah, &c. See notes on chap. vii. 60.

(28) We see thee, &c. This is what the chiefs of the Quraish said to Muhammad. See note on chap. x. 77.

A rash judgment. "For want of mature consideration, and moved by the first impulse of their fancy."-Sale.

(29) Do we compel you, &c. Muhammad had not yet conceived the idea of using the force of the sword to make converts. Moral suasion is the instrument now used. If the infidels choose the fire of hell, it is no concern of the prophets. He is not responsible. He is only a preacher of good news and a warner.

(30) I will not drive away, &c. "For this they asked him to do, because they were poor mean people. The same thing the Quraish demanded of Muhammad, but he was forbidden to comply with their request" (see chap. vi. 51).-Sale.

ignorant men. (31) O my people, who shall assist me against GOD, if I drive them away? Will ye not therefore consider? (32) I say not unto you, The treasures of GOD are in my power; neither do I say, I know the secrets of God: neither do I say, Verily I am an angel; neither do I say of those whom your eyes do contemn, GOD will by no means bestow good on them: (GOD best knoweth that which is in their souls ;) for then should I certainly be one of the unjust. (33) They answered, O Noah, thou hast already disputed with us, and hast multiplied disputes with us; now therefore do thou bring that punishment upon us wherewith thou hast threatened us, if thou speakest truth. (34) Noah said, Verily GOD alone shall bring it upon you, if he pleaseth; and ye shall not prevail against him, so as to escape the same. (35) Neither shall my counsel profit you, although I endeavour to counsel you aright, if GOD shall please to lead you into error. He is your LORD, and unto him shall ye return. (36) Will the Makkans say, Muhammad hath forged the Qurán? Answer, If I have forged it, on me be my guilt; and let me be clear of that which ye are guilty of.

|| (37) And it was revealed unto Noah, saying, Verily R none of thy people shall believe, except he who hath

(31) See notes on chap. vi. 51.

(32) See notes on chap. vi. 49. A comparison of these two passages shows with what facility Muhammad placed the account of his own persecutions in the mouths of former prophets. Here Noah utters the very words Muhammad utters !

(35) If God shall please to lead you into error.

X. 99, 100.

See notes on chap.

(36) The italics of the text seem to me certainly to be misplaced. Rodwell and Palmer have fallen into the same error.

The passage

is identical in meaning with that of ver. 14 and x. 39. But here these words are put in the mouths of the chiefs of the people of Noah, and the reply protesting sincerity is that of Noah himself. Both the preceding and succeeding contexts require this interpretation.

Understood in this light, the passage is most damaging to the claims of Muhammad for sincerity.

(37) None... shall believe, &c.

If this statement reflects the

feeling of Muhammad, as I believe it does, the chapter must be referred to that period of Muhammad's career at Makkah when he

4

already believed; be not therefore grieved for that which they are doing. (38) But make an ark in our presence, according to the form and dimensions which we have revealed unto thee; and speak not unto me in behalf of those who have acted unjustly, for they are doomed to be drowned. (39) And he built the ark; and so often as a company of his people passed by him they derided him; but he said, Though ye scoff at us now, we will scoff at you

despaired of his people believing on him, probably some time after the ban against the Hashimites.

(39) They derided him. "For building a vessel in an inland country, and so far from the sea; and for that he was turned carpenter, after he had set up for a prophet."-Sale, Baidhawi.

66

(40) Heaven poured forth. Or, as the original literally signifies, boiled over, which is consonant to what the Rabbins say, that the waters of the deluge were boiling hot.

This oven was, as some say, at Kufa, in a spot whereon a mosque now stands; or, as others rather think, in a certain place in India, or else at Aín Warda, in Mesopotamia; and its exudation was the sign by which Noah knew the flood was coming. Some pretend that it was the same oven which Eve made use of to bake her bread' in, being of a form different from those we use, having the mouth in the upper part, and that it descended from patriarch to patriarch, till it came to Noah (vide D'Herbelot, Bibl. Orient. art. Ñoah). Ít is remarkable that Muhammad, in all probability, borrowed this circumstance from the Persian Magi, who also fancied that the first waters of the deluge gushed out of the oven of a certain old woman named Zala Kufa (vide Hyde, De Rel. Vet. Persar., and Lord's Account of the Relig. of the Persees, p. 9).

"But the word tannúr, which is here translated oven, also signifying the superficies of the earth, or a place whence waters spring forth, or where they are collected, some suppose it means no more in this passage than the spot or fissure whence the first eruption of waters brake forth."-Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.

One pair. "Or, as the words may also be rendered, and some commentators think they ought, two pair, that is, two males and two females of each species; wherein they partly agree with divers Jewish and Christian writers (Aben Ezra, Origen, &c.), who from the Hebrew expression, seven and seven, and two and two, the male and his female (Gen. vii. 2), suppose there went into the ark fourteen pair of every clean, and two pair of every unclean species. There is a tradition that God gathered together unto Noah all sorts of beasts, birds, and other animals (it being indeed difficult to conceive how he should come by them all without some supernatural assistance), and that, as he laid hold on them, his right hand constantly fell on the male and his left on the female."-Sale, Jalaluddin.

Except him, &c. "This was an unbelieving son of Noah, named Canaan or Yam; though others say he was not the son of Noah, but

« PreviousContinue »