Revealed at Makkah.


ACCORDING to the Commentators, the title of this chapter is due to the mention of the Patriarch Abraham in ver. 38. Like most of the Makkan chapters, this one relates entirely to the controversy between Muhammad and the unbelieving Quraish. In it the infidels are warned by the example of those who rejected the former prophets, and they are threatened with the direst punishment of hell, where they shall be ever dying without being permitted to die.

The purpose of Muhammad in relating the stories of the former prophets and of the destruction of their enemies is to impress the Quraish with the dreadful consequences of their rejection of him.

Probable Date Of the Revelations.

All authorities agree that this chapter belongs to Makkah. The commentators, however, would make vers. 33 and 34 refer to the Quraish, who were disgraced at Badr, and thus relegate this passage to Madina. There is, however, no good reason for such an interpretation of this passage. See notes there.

Aside from the general spirit of the revelations in this chapter, we have as data for fixing their date the statements of vers. 16 and


47, which allude to the purpose of the Quraish to expel Muhammad and his followers from Makkah.

This would fix the date of the chapter very near the Hijra; with which the spirit of the Prophet's teaching here very well agrees.

Principal Subjects.

The Quran given to guide men out of darkness into light ...1
A grievous punishment awaits the infidels ... 2, 3
Apostles always use the language of their people... 4
Moses sent to Pharaoh and his people ... 5
His message to the children of Israel ... 68
Former prophets were rejected in spite of their miracles... 9- 13
Miracles only possible by the will of God ... 13, 14
The prophets suffer persecution with resignation... 15
The unbelievers determine to expel their prophets out of the land ...16
God reveals to them the overthrow of the wicked ... 17
Infidels fail of success through the prayers of the apostles ....18
The doom of the unbelievers ... 19-21
God able to destroy the infidels and to create others in their stead ... 22, 23
Idolatrous leaders will confess themselves unable to assist their deluded followers in the day of judgment ... 24, 25
Even Satan will desert idolaters in hell ... 26, 27
The reward of the righteous in Paradise ... 28
Parables of the good and evil tree ... 29-32
The idolaters threatened with hell-fire ... 33-35
True believers exhorted to steadfastness and prayer ... 35, 36
Manifold favours of God to mankind ... 37
Abraham prays for himself and children that they may be kept from idolatry ... 38-41
He asks pardon for himself and his parents ... 42
God is not regardless of what infidels do, and will certainly punish them ... 43-46
The subtle plotting of the unbelievers will be brought to confusion ... 47, 48
The earth and heavens to be changed at the resurrection ... 49
The dreadful doom of the wicked ... 50, 51
Warning intended to lead men to the true God ... 52



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(1) A. L. R. This book have we sent down unto thee, that thou mayest lead men forth from darkness into light, by the permission of their LORD, into the glorious and laudable way. (2) GOD is he unto whom belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth: and woe be to the infidels, because a grievous punishment waiteth them; (3) who love the present life above that which is to come, and turn men aside from the way of GOD, and seek to render it crooked: these are in an error far distant from the truth. (4) We have sent no apostle but with the language of his people, that he might declare their duty plainly unto them; for GOD causeth to err whom he pleaseth, and directeth whom he pleaseth; and he is mighty, the wise. (5) We formerly sent Moses with our signs, and commanded him, saying, Lead forth thy people from darkness into light, and remind them of the favours of God: verily therein are signs unto every patient and grateful person. (6) And call to mind when Moses said unto his people, Remember the favour of GOD towards you,

(1) A. L. R. See Prelim. Disc., pp. 102-102.

The glorious and laudable way. Rodwell's translation, "Into the path of the mighty, the glorious - of God," is better than that of the text.

(4) The language of his people. "That so they might not only perfectly and readily understand those revelations themselves, but might also be able to translate and interpret them unto others."- Sale Baidhawi.

The logical inference from statements like this is that Muhummad regarded himself as merely the prophet of the Arabs. This verse also justifies the translation of the Quran from the Arabic.

God causeth to err. God is here certainly made the author of sin. The Tafsir-i-Raufi says, "Causing to err and directing aright are load of his wisdom;" hence the clause, "and he is mighty and wise."

(5) Moses. See note in chap. vii. 104.

The favours of God. "Literally, 'the days of GOD;' which may also be translated, the battles of God (the Arabs using the word day to signify a remarkable engagement, as the Italians do giornata, and the French journée, or his wonderful acts manifested in the various success of former nations in their wars."- Sale, Baidhawi.


when he delivered you from the people of Pharaoh: they grievously oppressed you; and they slew your male children, but let your females live therein was a great trial from your LORD.


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(7) And when your LORD declared by the mouth of Moses, saying, If ye be thankful, I will surely increase my favors towards you; but if ye be ungrateful, verily my punishment shall be severe. (8) And Moses said, If ye be ungrateful, and all who are in the earth likewise; verily GOD needeth not your thanks, though he deserveth the highest praise. (9) Hath not the history of the nations your predecessors reached you, namely, of the people of Noah, and of Ad, and of Thamud, (10) and of those who succeeded them; whose number none knoweth except GOD? Their apostles came unto them with evident miracles; but they clapped their hands to their mouths out of indignation, and said, We do not believe the message with which ye pretend to be sent; and we are in a doubt concerning the religion to which ye invite us, as justly to be suspected. (11) Their apostles answered, Is there any doubt concerning GOD, the creator of heaven and earth? He inviteth you to the true faith, that he may forgive you part of your sins, and may respite your punishment by granting

(6) Your females. See note on chap. vii. 128.

(7) In this and the following verses Moses is made to figure in Egypt as did Muhammad in Arabia. See notes on chaps. xi. 32, 36, and xii. 102.

(9) Noah, Ad, and Thamud. See notes on chap. vii. 60, 66, and 74.

(10) Whose number. The whole number of prophets, according to Muslim tradition, is 144,000 ; some say 244,000. They only know the names of half a hundred!

Evident miracles. This is what the Quraish and Jews demanded of Muhammad; but, saving the "signs of the Quran," none were ever given them. Note that all the prophets are declared to have been rejected for the same reason that Muhammad was.

We are in a doubt, &c. See note on chap. xi. 62.

(11) Part of your sins. "That is, such of them as were committed directly against God, which are immediately cancelled by faith or embracing Islam, but not the crimes of injustice and oppression, which were committed against man; for to obtain remission of these


you space to repent, until an appointed time. (12) They answered, Ye are but men, like unto us: ye seek to turn us aside from the gods which our fathers worshiped: wherefore bring us an evident demonstration by some miracle that ye speak truth. (13) Their apostles replied unto them, We are no other than men like unto you; but GOD is bountiful unto such of his servants as he pleaseth: and it is not in our power to give you a miraculous demonstration of our mission, (14) unless by the permission of GOD; in GOD therefore let the faithful trust. (15) And what excuse have we to allege, that we should not put our trust in GOD, since he hath directed us our paths? Wherefore we will certainly suffer with patience the persecutions wherewith ye shall afflict us : in GOD therefore let those put their confidence who seek in whom to put their trust.

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(16) And those who believed not said un to their apostles, We will surely expel you out of our land; or yeshall return unto our religion. And their LORD spake unto them by revelation, saying, We will surely destroy the wicked doers; (17) and we will cause you to dwell in the earth after them. This shall be granted unto him who shall dread the appearance at my tribunal, and shall fear my threatening. (18) And they asked assistance of

last, besides faith, repentance and restitution, according to a man's ability, are also necessary."- Sale, Baidhawi.

(13) It is not in our power, &c. Three things are noteworthy here: (1) Muhammad's picturing the former prophets in the colours in which he figured himself (see above on ver. 7); and (2) his inability to point to any miracle actually wrought by himself. The language here ascribed to other prophets was undoubtedly his own, but see on chap. xiii. 8 ; (3) the facts of Scripture are contradicted.

(16) We will surely expel, &c. This passage points to the persecution of Muhammad and his followers on the eve of the Hijra. This, however, was the experience of all other apostles.

(18) They asked assistance. "The commentators are uncertain whether these were the prophets who begged assistance against their enemies, or the infidels who called for God's decision between themselves and them or both. And some suppose this verse has no connection with the preceding, but is spoken of the people of Makkah, who begged rain in a great drought with which they were afflicted at the prayer of their Prophet, but could not obtain it."- Sale, Baidhawi.


God, and every rebellious perverse person failed of success. (19) Hell lieth unseen before him, and he shall have filthy water given him to drink: (20) he shall sup it up by little and little, and he shall not easily let it pass his throat because of its nauseousness; death also shall come upon him from every quarter, yet he shall not die; and before him shall there stand prepared a grievous torment. (21) This is the likeness of those who believe not in their LORD. Their works are as ashes, which the wind violently scattereth in a stormy day: they shall not be able to obtain any solid advantage from that which they have wrought. This is an error most distant from truth. (22) Dost thou not see that GOD hath created the heavens and the earth in wisdom ? If he please he can destroy you, and produce a new creature in your stead: (23) neither will this be difficult with GOD. (24) And they shall all come forth into the presence of GOD at the last day: and the weak among them shall say unto those who behaved themselves arrogantly, Verily we were your followers on earth; will ye not therefore avert from us some part of the divine vengeance? (25) They shall answer, If GOD had directed us aright, we had certainly directed you. It is

(19) Filthy water. "Which will issue from the bodies of the damned, mixed with purulent matter and blood."- Sale.

(20) He shall not die. Tafsir-i-Raufi, on the authority of the Ain-ul-Maani, says the souls of the damned will stick in their throats ; they will neither come out, that they may die, nor will they return into their bodies, that they may live.

It would seem that the ordinary opinion among Muslims is that suffering must be corporeal. The soul can only suffer in the body, hence the suffering of the grave and changing of the skins of the damned in hell in or perpetuate their torment. See chap. iv.54. As with the sufferings of the lost, so with the joys of the saved they are all carnal. See note on chap. iii. 15.

(24) The weak . . . shall say, etc., i.e., "the more simple and inferior people shall say to their teachers and princes, who seduced them to idolatry and confirmed them in their obstinate infidelity."- Sale.

(25) If God had directed, &c. "That is, we made the same choice for you as we did for ourselves; and had not God permitted us to fall into error, we had not seduced you."- Sale.

See above on ver. 4.


equal unto us whether we bear our torments impatiently, or whether we endure them with patience: for we have no way to escape.

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(26) And Satan shall say after judgment shall have been given, Verily God promised you a promise of truth: and I also made you a promise; but I deceived you. Yet I had not any power over you to compel you; (27) but I called you only, and ye answered me: wherefore accuse not me, but accuse yourselves. I cannot assist you; neither can ye assist me. Verily I do now renounce your having associated me with God heretofore. A grievous punishment is prepared for the unjust. (28) But they who shall have believed and wrought righteousness shall be introduced into gardens, wherein rivers flow; they shall remain therein for ever by the permission of their LORD; and their salutation therein shall be, Peace! (29) Dost thou not see how GOD putteth forth a parable; representing a good word as a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed in the earth, and whose branches reach unto heaven;

(26) I had not any power, &c. Here the sin of unbelievers is ascribed to their own free-will, which hardly agrees with vers. 4 and 25 above.

(27) Accuse me not, &c. "Lay not the blame on my temptations, but blame your own folly in obeying and trusting to me, who had openly professed myself your irreconcilable enemy."- Sale.

Having associated me with God. "Or I do now declare myself clear of your having obeyed me preferably to God, and worshiped idols at my instigation. Or the words may be tratislated I believed not heretofore in that Being with whom ye did associate me; intimating his first disobedience in refusing to worship Adam at God's command."- Sale, Baidhawi.

(28) Peace. See note on chap. x. 10.

(29) A parable. The parables of Muhammad are in very striking contrast with those of our Lord. Nothing points more decidedly to the human authorship of the Quran than the imperfection and common place of its parables.

A good word. "What is particularly intended in this passage by the good word and the evil word, the expositors differ about. But the first seems to mean the profession of God's unity, the inviting others to the true religion, or the Quran itself; and the latter, the acknowledging a plurality of gods, the seducing of others to idolatry, or the obstinate opposition to God's prophets."- Sale, Baidhawi, Jalaluddin.


(30) which bringeth forth its fruit in all seasons, by the will of its LORD ? GOD propoundeth parables unto men that they may be instructed. (31) And the likeness of an evil word is as an evil tree, which is torn up from the face of the earth, and hath no stability. (32) GOD shall confirm them who believe by the steadfast word of faith, both in this life and in that which is to come but GOD shall lead the wicked into error; for GOD doth that which he pleaseth.

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(33) Hast thou not considered those who have changed the grace of GOD to infidelity, and cause their people to descend into the house of perdition, namely, into hell? (34) They shall be thrown to burn therein; and an unhappy dwelling shall it be. (35) They also set up idols as copartners with GOD, that they might cause men to

(31) An evil word. See on ver. 29.

(32) That which is to come. "Jalaluddin supposes the sepulchre to be here understood ; in which place, when the true believers come to be examined by the two angels concerning their faith, they will answer properly and without hesitation ; which the infidels will not be able to do."- Sale.

See also Prelim. Disc., p. 127.

(33) Those who have changed, &c. "That is, who requite his favours with disobedience and incredulity ; or whose ingratitude obliged God to deprive them of the blessings he had bestowed on them, as he did the Makkans, who, though God had placed them in the sacred territory, and given them the custody of the Kaabah, and abundant provision of all necessaries and conveniences of life, and had also honored them by the mission of Muhammad, yet in return for all this, became obstinate unbelievers and persecuted his apostles ; for which they were not only punished by a famine of seven years, but also by the loss and disgrace they sustained at Badr ; so that they who had before been celebrated for their prosperity were how stripped of that, and become conspicuous only for their infidelity. If this be the drift of the passage, it could not have been revealed at Makkah, as the rest of the chapter is agreed to be ; wherefore some suppose this verse and the next to have been revealed at Madina.- Sale.

This interpretation, however, is merely an application of the verse to the people of Makkah by the commentators, and therefore predicates nothing as to its Madina origin. The persons intended in the text were the followers of former prophets, and the passage contains a threat of judgment against the Quraish. Comp. vers. 7 and 8 above.


stray from his path. Say unto them, Enjoy the pleasures of this life for a time; but your departure hence shall be into hell-fire. Speak unto my servants who have believed, that they may be assiduous at prayer, and give alms out of that which we have bestowed on them, both privately and in public; (36) before the day cometh, wherein there shall be no buying nor selling, neither any friendship. (37) It is GOD who hath created the heavens and the earth; and causeth water to descend from heaven, and by means thereof produceth fruits for your sustenance: and by his command he obligeth the ships to sail in the sea for your service; and he also forceth the rivers to supply your uses: he likewise compelleth the sun and the moon, which diligently perform their courses, to serve you; and hath subjected the day and the night to your service. He giveth you of everything which ye ask him; and if ye attempt to reckon up the favours of GOD, ye shall not be able to compute the same. Surely man is unjust and ungrateful.

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(38) Remember when Abraham said, O LORD, make this land a place of security; and grant that I and my children may avoid the worship of idols ; (39) for they, O LORD, have seduced a great number of men. Whoever therefore shall follow me, he shall be of me; and whosoever shall disobey me, verily thou wilt be gracious and

(37) Obligeth. "The word used here and in the following passages sakhkhara, which signifies forcibly to press into any service."-Sale.

See note on chap. ii 165.

(38) This land, viz., Makkah and its territory. See Prelim. Disc., p. 42.

Grant that I and my children, &c. "This prayer, it seems, was not heard as to all his posterity, particularly as to the descendants of Ismail; though some pretend that these latter did not worship images, but only paid a superstitious veneration to certain stones. which they set up and compassed, as representations of the Kaabah." - Sale, Baidhawi.

See also Prelim. Disc., p.43.

(39) Thou wilt be gracious. "That is, by disposing him to repentance. But Jalaluddin supposes these words were spoken by Abraham before he knew that God would not pardon idolatry.


merciful. (40) O LORD, I have caused some of my offspring to settle in an unfruitful valley, near thy holy house, O LORD, that they niay be constant at prayer. Grant, therefore, that the hearts of some men may be affected with kindness toward them; and do thou bestow on them all sorts of fruits, that they may give thanks. (41) O LORD, thou knowest whatsoever we conceal, and whatsoever we publish ; for nothing is hidden from GOD, either on earth or in heaven. Praise be unto GOD, who hath given me in my old age Ismail and Isaac; for my LORD is the hearer of supplication. (42) O LORD ,grant that I may be an observer of prayer, and a part of my posterity also, O LORD, and receive my supplication. O

The Tafsir-i-Raufi excepts idolatry as a sin which would not be pardoned, paraphrasing thus:-" Whosoever shall disobey me, excepting in the matter of idolatry, verily thou," &c. To such straits are the commentators carried by their idea as to the sin of idolatry. The sin alluded to here is idolatry, or that in particular if others be alluded to.

(40) Some of my offspring, i.e., "Ismail and his posterity. The Muhammandans say that Hagar, his mother, belonged to Sarah, who gave her to Abraham ; and that, on her bearing him this son, Sarah became so jealous of her that she prevailed on her husband to turn them both out of doors ; whereupon he sent them to the territory of Makkah, where God caused the mountain of Zamzam to, spring forth for their relief, in consideration of which the Jorhamites, who were the masters of the country, permitted them to settle among them." - Sale, Jalaluddin, &c.

The hearts of some. "Had he said the hearts of men absolutely, the Persians and the Romans would also have treated them as friends, and both the Jews and Christians would have made their pilgrimages to Makkah."- Sale, Baidhawi, Jalaluddin.

All sorts of fruits. "This part of the prayer was granted ; Makkah being so plentifully supplied, that the fruits of spring, summer, and autumn are to be found there at one and the same time."- Sale, Baidhawi, &c.

(41) Ismail and Isaac. I have taken the liberty to correct the text of Sale here, which had "Israel and Isaac," the error having evidently crept in through the printers. Muhammad does not seem to have known of the sons of Keturah.

(42) My posterity. The italics inserted in the text here, in accordance with Muslim interpretation, are certainly not wanted, as is evident by comparing ver. 38.


LORD, forgive me, and my parents, and the faithful, on the day whereon an account shall be taken.

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(43) Think not, O Prophet, that GOD is regardless of what the ungodly do. He only deferreth their punishment unto the day whereon men's eyes shall be fixed: (44) they shall hasten forward, at the voice of the angel calling to judgment, and shall lift up their heads; they shall not be able to turn their sight from the object whereon it shall be fixed, and their hearts shall be void of sense through excessive terror. Wherefore do thou threaten men with the day whereon their punishment shall be inflicted on them, (45) and whereon those who have acted unjustly shall say, O LORD, give us respite unto a term near at hand, (46) and we will obey thy call, and we will follow thy apostles? But it shall be answered unto them, Did you not swear heretofore that no reverse should befall you? (47) yet ye dwelt in the dwellings of those who had treated their own souls unjustly; and it appeared plainly unto you how we had dealt with them; and we propounded their destruction as examples unto you. They employ their utmost subtlety to oppose the truth; but their subtlety

Forgive me. This passage proves that Abraham was a sinner as well as his parents, and furnishes an argument from the Quran itself against the claim of Muslims that all the prophets were sinless.

And my parents. "Abraham put up this petition to God before he knew that his parents were the enemies of God. Some suppose his mother was a true believer, and therefore read it in the singular, and my father. Others fancy that by his parents the Patriarch here means Adam and Eve.- Sale, Baidhawi, and Jalaluddin.

See also notes on chap. ix. 114.

(46) That no reverse, &c. "That is, that ye should not taste of death, but continue in this world for ever; or that ye should not after death - Sale, Jalaluddin, Zamakhshari.

(47) The dwellings of those, &c., i.e., of Noah, Ad, and Thamud, &c.

It appeared plainly, &c. "Not only by the histories of those people revealed in the Quran, but also by the monuments remaining of them (as the houses of the Thamadites), and the traditions preserved among you of the terrible judgments which befell them."

They employ . . . subtlety. Rodwell translates, "plotted their plots." The passage probably refers to the plotting of the Quraish


is apparent unto GOD, who is able to frustrate their designs; although their subtlety were so great that the mountains might be moved thereby. (48) Think not, therefore, O prophet, that GOD will be contrary to his promise of assistance made unto his apostles; for GOD is mighty, able to avenge. (49) The day will come when the earth shall be changed into another earth, and the heavens into other heavens; and men shall come forth from their graves to appear before the only, the mighty GOD. (50) And thou shalt see the wicked on that day bound together in fetters: (51) their inner garments shall be of pitch, and fire shall cover their faces; that GOD may reward every soul according to what it shall have deserved; for GOD is swift ill taking an account. (52) This is a sufficient admonition unto men, that they may be warned thereby, and that they may know that there is but one GOD; and that those who are endued with understanding may consider.

to expel Muhammad and his followers from Makkah. See note on chap. xiii. 42.

(49) Another earth, &c. "This the Muhammadans suppose will come to pass at the last day; the earth becoming white and even, or, as some will have it, of silver, and the heavens of gold." Sale, Baidhawi, Jalauddin, &c.

See also Prelim. Disc., p. 140.

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