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CHAPTER XXVI.

ENTITLED SURAT AL SHU'ARA (THE POETS).

Revealed at Makkah.

INTRODUCTION.


This chapter, like the seventh chapter, is taken up entirely with Muhammad's defence of his prophetic claims against the objections of the Quraish. The character of these objections may be learned from the words put into the mouths of those who rejected the former prophets. Those prophets were called impostors, liars, and madmen by those rejecting them, and we may certainly conclude that these same epithets were applied by the Quraish to Muhammad. Again, the replies attributed to the former prophets reflect the answer of Muhammad to his maligners: that he was a prophet of the true God; that he had no motive to deceive them, in as much as he took no reward from his people for his services; that God would visit dire punishment upon them unless they should repent.

In the concluding verses we find mention made of certain poets, to which the chapter owes its title. These poets seem to have been a special source of annoyance to Muhammad at this time. It is possible that they were the ringleaders of the opposition to his prophetic pretensions. It does not speak very highly of "the incomparable verses of the Quran" when it is said that several poets were employed by Muhammad to meet the satire of these "rovers through every valley." See note on ver. 228.

Probable Date of the Revelations.

Some writers, supposing that every reference to, Jews points necessarily to Madina, have thought this chapter to be Madinic. But this notion being Ill founded, there is nothing left to give countenance to such an opinion.

On the other hand, some have thought ver. 214 seq., or at least


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ver. 214, to be the first verse or portion of the Quran, but they need not be interpreted to mean more than that Muhammad had received a new command to preach to his near relatives.Verses 215-219 show that there was already a band of worshippers, who were no doubt true believers. Rodwell, following NoŽldeke, fixes the chapter in the seventh year of Muhammad's ministry at Makkah. Judging from the fulness of the stories taken from Old Testament history, the date could not be much earlier, while the absence of any reference to violent persecution precludes our making it later.

Some have thought that ver. 224 seq. belong to Madina, but without good reason: the style is decidedly Makkan.

Principle Subjects.

Muhammad is grieved at the unbelief of the Quraish.. . 1, 2
God will grant them no miracle save the Quran . . 3, 4
The Quraish regard the Quran as a forgery . . . 5
God will send a grim messenger whom they shall respect ... 5-8

The story of Moses:-

He is sent to Pharaoh and his people . . . . 9,10
Fearing that he will be called an impostor, Moses asks that Aaron be sent with him. . . 11,12
Moses being assured that he will not be put to death for murder, is sent to demand release of the Israelites . . . 13-16
Pharaoh charges Moses with ingratitude . . . 17, 18
Moses apologises to Pharaoh for killing the Egyptian.. . 19, 21
Moses is charged with being a madman . . . 22, 27
Pharaoh threatens Moses if he do not worship him . 28
Moses performs miracles before Pharaoh . . . 29-32
Egyptian magicians called to compete with Moses . ..33-41
Moses contests with the magicians, who are converted. .. 42-47
Pharaoh, enraged, threatens to crucify the magicians . .. 48, 49
The magician converts put their trust in God . . 50, 51
Moses commanded to take Israelites forth from Egypt...52
Pharaoh and his people pursue them . . . 53-60
The Red Sea is divided by Moses, ,and Israelites pass over . . . 61-65
The Egyptians are drowned, and become a warning to all unbelievers . . . 66-68

The story of Abraham:-

He preaches against idolatry . . . 69-82
Abraham prays for himself and his father ... 83-92


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He warns his people of the vain repentance of idolaters in hell . . . 93-102
Most of his people rejected him . . . 103, 104

The story of Noah:-

His people accused him of imposture . . . 105
Noah exhorts them to have faith in God . . . 106-110
Unbelievers desire Noah to reject his poor followers... 111-115
Refusing, they threaten him with violence . . . 116
Noah takes refuge in God, and is saved in the ark ... 117-119
The unbelievers are drowned . . . 120-122

The story of Ad:-

They charge God's messengers with imposture .. . 123
Hud claims the prophetic office, and preaches to the Adites . . .124-135
They reject his warning and charge him with imposture... 136-139
The unbelieving Adites are destroyed . . .139-140

The story of the Thamudites:-

They charge the prophets with imposture . . . 141
Salih, declaring himself a prophet, preaches to them . ..142-152
The Thamudites reject Salih and call him a madman ... 153
They demand a sign, and a she-camel is given for a sign.. . 154-156
They slay the she-camel, and are destroyed for infidelity . .. 157-159

The story of Lot:-

The Sodomites accuse their prophets with imposture...160
Lot proclaims himself a prophet, and preaches to them... 161-166
The Sodomites threaten him with violence ...167
God saves Lot from Sodom, but Lot's wife is destroyed... 168-171
The unbelievers destroyed by a shower of stones.. . 172-174

The story of the Midianites:-

They call God's messengers impostors. . . 175
Shuaib proclaims himself a prophet, and preaches to them . ..176-184
They call him a madman and a liar, and challenge him to cause the heavens fall on them. . . 185-187
They are destroyed in their unbelief . . . 188-191
The Qunan given to Muhammad, through Gabriel, in the Arabic language . ..192-195
The Quran attested as God's Word by the former Scriptures... 196,197
The hearts of the Quraish are hardened by the Quran... 198-203
The Quraish scorn Muhammad's threatenings...204


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God's mercy deepens the condemnation of impenitent infidels... .205-207
God never destroys a people without first warning them .208-209
The Devil did not assist in revealing the Quran. . . 210-212
Muhammad warned against idolatry, and admonished to preach Islam to his relatives... 213, 214
True believers to be treated meekly, and unbelievers to be treated with forbearance ...215-220
Devils descend on the hearts of unbelievers . . . 221-223
Unbelieving poets are mad; believing poets commended ...224-228
The unjust will speedily be punished . . . 228

THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.

FIFTH MUNZIL.

RUBA.

R 1/5.

(1) T. S. M. THESE are the signs of the perspicuous book. (2) Peradventure thou afflictest thyself unto death, lest the Makkans become not believers. (3) If we pleased, we could send down unto them a convincing sign from heaven, unto which their necks would humbly submit. (4) But there cometh unto them no admonition from the Merciful, being newly revealed as occasions require, but they turn aside from the same; (5) and they have charged it with falsehood: but a message shall come unto them, which they shall not laugh to scorn. (6) Do they not behold the earth, how many vegetables we cause to spring up therein, of every noble species? (7) Verily herein is a sign: but the greater part of them do not believe. (8) Verily thy LORD is the mighty, the merciful God.

R 2/6.

(9) Remember when thy LORD called Moses, saying, Go to the unjust people, (10) the people of Pharaoh; will they not dread me? (11) Moses answered, O LORD, verily I fear lest they accuse me of falsehood, (12) and lest my breast become straitened, and my tongue be not ready in

(1) T. S. M. See Prelim. Disc., p.101.

(2-5) See notes on chap. xxv. 5-10.

(6) A sign, viz., that they should worship God alone.


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speaking: send therefore unto Aaron, to be my assistant. (13) Also they have a crime to object against me; and I fear they will put me to death. (14) God said, They shall by no means put thee to death: wherefore go ye with our signs; for we will be with you, and will hear what passes between you and them. (15) Go ye therefore unto Pharaoh, and say, Verily we are the apostle of the LORD of all creatures: (16) send away with us the children of Israel. (17) And when they had delivered their message, Pharaoh answered, Have we not brought thee up among us when a child; and hast thou not dwelt among us for several years of thy life? (18) Yet hast thou done thy deed which thou hast done, and thou art an ungrateful person. (19) Moses replied, I did it indeed, and I was one of those who erred, (20) wherefore I fled from you, because I feared you: but my LORD hath bestowed on me wisdom, and hath appointed me one of his apostles. (21) And this is the favour which thou hast bestowed on me, that thou hast enslaved the children of Israel. (22) Pharaoh said, And who is the LORD of all creatures? (23) Moses answered, The LORD of heaven and earth, and whatever is between them: if ye are men of sagacity. (24) Pharaoh said unto those who were about him, Do ye not hear? (25) Moses said, Your LORD, and the LORD of your fore-

(11-69) Compare this whole section with chap. xx. 8-98.

(12) My tongue, &c. See note on chap. xx. 28.

(13) A crime. Having killed an Egyptian. See chap. xx. 41.

(15) We are the Apostle. "The word is in the singular number in the original; for which the commentators give several reasons." - Sale.

The text is certainly defective. Rodwell translates, "We are the messengers."

(17) Several years. "It is said that Moses dwelt among the Egyptians thirty years, and then went to Midian, where he stayed ten years ; after which he returned to Egypt, and spent thirty years in endeavouring to convert them; and that he lived after the drowning of Pharaoh fifty years."- Sale, Baidhawi.

(19) One of those who erred. "Having killed the Egyptian undesignedly."- Sale. This interpretation, as well as the text, contradicts the former Scriptures. This text is a proof text against those Muslims who hold that the prophets were sinless from their birth.


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fathers. (26) Pharaoh said unto those who were present, Your apostle, who is sent unto you, is certainly distracted. (27) Moses said, The LORD of the east and of the west, and of whatever is between them; if ye are men of understanding. (28) Pharaoh said unto him, Verily if thou take any god besides me, I will make thee one of those who are imprisoned. (29) Moses answered, What! although I come unto you with a convincing miracle? (30) Pharaoh replied, Produce it therefore, if thou speakest truth. (31) And he cast down his rod, and behold, it became a visible serpent: (32) and he drew forth his hand out of his bosom; and behold, it appeared white unto the spectators.

R 3/7.

(33) Pharaoh said unto the princes who were about him, Verily this man is a skilled magician: (34) he seeketh to dispossess you of your land by his sorcery; what therefore do ye direct? (35) They answered, Delay him and his brother by good words for a time; and send through the cities men to assemble (36) and bring unto thee every skillful magician. (37) So the magicians were

(26) Your apostle . . . is distrated. Sale, on the authority of Baidhawi, says :-"Pharaoh, it seems, thought Moses had given but wild answers to his question; for he wanted to know the person and true nature of the God whose messenger Moses pretended to be; whereas he spoke of his works only. And because this answer gave so little satisfaction to the king, he is therefore supposed by some to have been a Dahrite, or one who believed the eternity of the world."

The true reason for this statement, so contrary to Scripture and tradition, was Muhammad's habit of representing all the prophets as undergoing the same kind of opposition and contumely he was called to endure himself. See Introd., chap. vii., and note on chap. xxiii. 35-43.

(28) Any god besides me. "From this and a parallel expression in chap. lxviii. 38, it is inferred that Pharaoh claimed the worship of his subjects as due to his supreme power."- Sale.

Imprisoned. "These words, says al Baidhawi, were a more terrible menace than if he had said, 'I will imprison thee;' an'1 gave Moses to understand that he must expect to keep company with those wretches whom the tyrant had thrown, as was his custom, into a deep dungeon, where they remained till they died."- Sale.

(30-47) See notes on chap. xx. 58-73, and chap. vii. 109-136.


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assembled at an appointed time on a solemn day. (38)And it was said unto the people, Are ye assembled together? (39) Perhaps we may follow the magicians, if they do get the victory. (40) And when the magicians were come, they said unto Pharaoh, Shall we certainly receive a reward if we do get the victory ? (41) He answered, Yea; and ye shall surely be of those who approach my person. (42) Moses said unto them, Cast down what ye are about to cast down. (43) Wherefore they cast down their ropes and their rods, and said, By the might of Pharaoh, verily we shall be the conquerors.(44) And Moses cast down his rod, and behold, it swallowed up that which they had called falsely to appear changed into serpents. (45) Whereupon the magicians prostrated themselves, worshipping, (46) and said, We believe in the LORD of all creatures, (47) the LORD of Moses and of Aaron. (48) Pharaoh said unto them, Have ye believed on him before I have given you permission? Verily he is your chief who hath taught you magic: but hereafter ye shall surely know my power. (49) I will cut off your hands and your feet on the opposite sides, and I will crucify you all. (50) They answered, It will be no harm unto us; for we shall return unto our LORD. (51) We hope that our LORD will forgive us our sins, since we are the first who have believed.

R 4/8.

11(52) And we spake by revelation unto Moses, saying, March forth with my servants by night; for ye will be pursued. (53) And Pharaoh sent officers through the cities to assemble forces, (54) saying, Verily these are a small company; (55) and they are enraged against us: (56) but we are a multitude well provided. (57) So we caused them to quit their gardens, and fountains, (58)and treasures, and fair dwellings: (59) thus did we do;

(48) Who hath taught you magic. "But has reserved the most efficacious secrets to himself. Sale, Baidhawi.

(49-58) See notes on chap. vii. 125-137, and xx. 74-83.


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and we made the children of Israel to inherit the same.(60) And they pursued them at sunrise. (61) And when the two armies were come in sight of each other, the companions of Moses said, We shall surely be overtaken. (62) Moses answered, By no means; for my LORD is with me, who will surely direct me. (63) And we commanded Moses by revelation, saying, Smite the sea with thy rod. And when he had smitten it, it became divided into twelve parts, between which were as many paths, and every part was like a vast mountain. (64) And we drew thither the others; (65) and we delivered Moses and all those who were with him; (66) then we drowned the others. (67) Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them did not believe. (68) Verily thy LORD is the mighty and the merciful.

R 5/9.

(69) And rehearse unto them the story of Abraham: (70) when he said unto his father and his people, What do ye worship? (71) They answered, We worship idols, and we constantly serve them all the day long. (72) Abraham said, Do they hear you when ye invoke them? (73) or do they either profit you or hurt you? (74) They answered, But we found our fathers do the same. (75) He said, What think ye? The Gods which ye worship, (76) and your forefathers worshipped, (77) are my enemy: except only the LORD of all creatures, (78) who hath created me and directeth me; (79) and who giveth me to eat and to drink, (80) and when I am sick healeth me; (81) and who will cause me to die, and will after-wards restore me to life; (82) and who, I hope, will

(59) We made the children of Israel to inherit. Sale says : -"Hence some suppose the Israelites, after the destruction of Pharaoh and his host, returned to Egypt, mud possessed themselves of the riches of that country." - Jalaluddin, Yahya. "But others are of opinion that the meaning is no more than that God gave them the like possesions and dwellings in another country."- Zamakhshari.

But compare notes on chap. vii. 137, where the anachronism is clearly established.

(69) The story of Abraham. See notes on chap. xxi. 52-71.


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forgive my sins on the day of judgment. (83) O LORD, grant me wisdom; and join me with the righteous: (84) and grant that I may be spoken of with honour among the latest posterity; (85) and make me an heir of the garden of delight: (86) and forgive my father, for that he hath been one of those who go astray. (87) And cover me not with shame on the day of resurrection; (88) on the day in which neither riches nor children shall avail, (89) unless unto him who shall come unto GOD with a sincere heart: (90) when Paradise shall be brought near to the view of the pious, (91) and hell shall appear plainly to those who shall have erred: (92) and it shall be said unto them, Where are your deities which ye served (93) besides GOD? will they deliver you from punishment, or will they deliver themselves? (94) And they shall be cast into the same, both they, and those who have been seduced to their worship; (95) and all the host of Eblis, (96) The seduced shall dispute therein with their false gods. (97) saying, By GOD, we were in a manifest error, (98) when we equalled you with the LORD of all creatures: (99) and none seduced us but the wicked. (100) We have now no intercessors, (101) nor any friend who careth for us. (102) If we were allowed to return once more into the world, we would certainly become true believers. (103) Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them believed not. (104) The LORD is the mighty, the

(82) Forgive my sins. Abraham was a sinner, though called to be a prophet. This is a proof text against the Muslim claim that all prophets were sinless after the prophetic call. Comp. ver. 19 above, and see note on chap. ii. 253 and vi. 147.

(85) Forgive my father, &c. "By disposing him to repentance, and the receiving of the true faith. Some suppose Abraham pronounced this prayer after his father's death, thinking that possible he might have been inwardly a true believer, but have concealed his conversion for fear of Nimrod, and before he was forbidden to pray for him."- Sale.

See chap. ix. 115, and xiv. 38.

(94) They both. That is, the worshippers and the deities worshipped, which clearly contradicts chap. xxv. 18. That dumb idols are not meant is evident from what follows in the text.


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merciful. (105) The people of Noah accused God's messengers of imposture.

R 6/10.

(106) When their brother Noah said unto them, Will ye not fear God? Verily (107) I am a faithful messenger unto you; (108) wherefore fear GOD and obey me. (109) 1 ask no reward of you for my preaching unto you; I expect my reward from no other than the LORD of all creatures: (110) wherefore fear GOD and obey me. (111) They answered, Shall we believe on thee when only the most abject persons have followed thee? (112) Noah said, I have no knowledge of that which they did; (113) it appertaineth unto my LORD alone to bring them to account, if ye understand; (114) wherefore I will not drive away the believers: (115) I am no more than a public preacher. (116) They replied, Assuredly, unless thou desist, O Noah, thou shalt be stoned. (117) He said, O LORD, verily my people take me for a liar;

NISF.

(118) Wherefore judge publicly between me and them; and deliver me and the true believers who are with me. (119) Wherefore we delivered him, and those who were with him, in the ark filled with men and animals; (120) and afterwards we drowned the rest. (121) Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them believed not. (122) Thy LORD is the mighty, the merciful.

R 7/1.

(123) The tribe of Ad charged God's messengers with falsehood: (124) when their brother Hud said unto them, Will ye not fear God? (125) Verily I am a faithful messenger unto you; (126) wherefore fear GOD and obey me. (127) I demand not of you any reward for my preaching unto you: I expect my reward from no other than the LORD of all creatures. (128) Do ye build a landmark on

(105) Noah. See notes on chap vii. 61-65.

(106-109) Their brother, &c. This is another illustration of what is said under ver. 26 above.

(112) I have no knowledge, i.e., "whether they have embraced the faith which I have preached out of the sincerity of their hearts, or in prospect of some word1y advantage."- Sale.

(114) See note on chap. xi. 30.

(123-140) Ad. See notes on chap. vii. 66-73.


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every high place to divert yourselves? (129) And do ye erect magnificient works, hoping that ye may continue in their possession for ever? (130) And when ye exercise your power, do ye exercise it with cruelty and rigour? (131) Fear GOD, by leaving these things; and obey me. (132) And fear him who hath bestowed on you that which ye know: (133) he hath bestowed on you cattle, and children, (134) and gardens, and springs of water. (135) Verily I fear for you the punishment of a grievous day. (136) They answered, It is equal unto us whether thou admonish us or dost not admonish us: (137) this which thou preachest is only a device of the ancients; (138) neither shall we be punished for what we have done. (139) And they accused him of imposture: wherefore we destroyed them. Verily herein was a sign: but the greater part of them believed not. (140) Thy LORD is the mighty, the merciful.

R 8/12.

(141) The tribe of Thamud also charged the messengers of God with falsehood. (142) When their brother Salih said unto them, Will ye not fear God? (143) Verily I am a faithful messenger unto you: (144) wherefore fear GOD and obey me. (145) I demand no reward of you for my preaching unto you: I expect my reward from no other than the LORD of all creatures. (146) Shall ye be left for ever secure in the possession of the things which are here? (147) among gardens, and fountains, (148) and corn, and palm-trees, whose branches sheathe their flowers.

(127-131) These verses are wanting in Savary's translation.

(128) A landmark, &c. "Or to mock the passengers, who direct themselves in their journeys by the stars, and have no need of such buildings."- Sale Baidhawi. The landmarks were pillars erected to show the way of travel through the desert. See chap. lxxxix. 6, and compare chap. vii. 75.

(141-159) Cruelty and rigour. Putting to death, and inflicting other corporal punishments without mercy, and rather for the satisfaction of your passion than the amendment of the sufferer." - Sale, Baidhawi.

(141-159) Thamud. See notes on chap. vii. 74-80.


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(149) And will ye continue to cut habitations for yourselves out of the mountains, behaving with insolence? (150) Fear GOD and obey me; (151) and obey not the command of the transgressors, (152) who act corruptly in the earth, and reform not the same. (153) They answered, Verily thou art distracted: (154) thou art no other than a man like unto us: produce now some sign, if thou speakest truth. (155) Salih said, This she-camel shall be a sign unto you: she shall have her portion of water, and ye shall have your portion of water alternately, on a several day appointed for you; (156) and do her no hurt, lest the punishment of a terrible day be inflicted on you. (157) But they slew her; and were made to repent of their impiety: (158) for the punishment which had been threatened overtook them. Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them did not believe. (159). Thy LORD is the mighty, the merciful.

R 9/13.

(160) The people of Lot likewise accused God's messengers of imposture. (161) When their brother Lot said unto them, Will ye not fear God? (162) Verily I am a faithful messenger unto you: (163) wherefore fear GOD and obey me. (164) I demand no reward of you for my preaching: I expect my reward from no other than the LORD of all creatures. (165) Do ye approach unto the males among mankind, (166) and leave your wives which your LORD hath created for you. Surely ye are people who transgress. (167) They answered, Unless thou desist, O Lot, thou shalt certainly be expelled our city. (168) He said, Verily I am one of those who abhor your doings:

(149) Behaving with insolence. Sale says the word may be rendered showing art and ingenuity.

(153) See note above on ver. 26.

(155) Her portion . . and . . your portion. "That is, they were to have the use of the water by turns, the camel drinking one day and the Thamudites drawing the other day ; for when this camel drank, she emptied the wells or brooks tor that day. See chap. vii. 74."- Sale.

(160-174) Lot. See notes on chap. vii. 81-85.


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(169) O LORD, deliver me and my family from that which they act. (170) Wherefore we delivered him and all his family, (171) except an old woman, his wife who perished among those who remained behind; (172) then we destroyed the rest; (173) and we rained on them a shower of stones; and terrible was the shower which fell on those who had been warned in vain. (174) Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them did not believe. (175) Thy LORD is the mighty, the merciful.

R 10/14.

(176) The inhabitants of the wood also accused GOD'S messengers of imposture. (177) When Shuaib said unto them, Will ye not fear God? (178) Verily I am a faithful messenger unto you: (179) wherefore fear GOD and obey me. (180) I ask no reward of you for my preaching: I except my reward from no other than the LORD of all creatures. (181) Give just measure, and be not defrauders; (182) and weigh with an equal balance; (183) and diminish not unto men aught of their matters; neither com[nit violence in the earth, acting corruptly. (184) And fear him who hath created you, and also the former generations. (185) They answered, Certainly thou art distracted; (186) thou art no more than a man, like unto us. and we do surely esteem thee to be a liar. (187) Cause now a part of the heaven to fall upon us, if thou speakest truth. (188) Shuaib said, My LORD best knoweth that which ye do. (189) And they charged him with falsehood: wherefore the punishment of the day of the shadowing cloud overtook them; and this was the punish-

(171) This verse contradicts the Bible statement in Gen. xix. 14.

(176-191) See notes on chap. vii. 86-94.

176) The inhabitants of the wood. "See chap. xv. 38. Shuaib being not called the brother of these people, which would have preserved the conformity between this passage and the preceding, it has been thought they were not Midianites, but of another race: however, we find the prophet taxes them with the same crimes as lie did those of Midian."- Sale.

(189) The shadowing cloud. "God first plagued them with such intolerable heat for seven days that all their waters were dried up and then brought a cloud over them, under whose shade they ran,


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ment of a grievous day. (190) Verily herein was a sign; but the greater part of them did not believe. (191) Thy LORD is the mighty, the merciful.

R 11/15.

(192) This book is certainly a revelation from the LORD of all creatures, (193) which the faithful spirit hath caused to descend (194) upon thy heart, that thou mightest be a preacher to thy people, (195) in the perspicuous Arabic tongue, (196) and it is borne witness to in the scriptures of former ages. (197) Was it not a sign unto them that the wise men among the children of Israel knew it? (198) Had we revealed it unto any of the foreigners, (199) and he had read the same unto them, yet they would not have believed therein. (200) Thus have we caused obstinate infidelity to enter the hearts of the wicked; (201) They shall not believe therein until they see a painful punishment. (202) It shall come suddenly upon them, and they shall not foresee it, (203) and they shall say, Shall we be respited? (204) Do they therefore desire our punishment to be hastened? (205) What thinkest thou? If we suffer them to enjoy the advantage of this life for several years, (206) and afterwards that with which they are

and were all destroyed by a hot wind and fire which proceeded from it."- Sale, Baidhawi.

(193) The faithful spirit, i.e., "Gabriel, who is intrusted with tie divine secrets and revelations."- Sale.

The original word, Ruh-ul-Amin, and the word Shadid-ul-Qua, or "one terrible in power," are, in the opinion of the commentator: always to be applied to the Angel Gabriel, who, according to chap ii. 96, is the medium through which Muhammad received the revelations of the Quran. The Quran is therefore purely an objective revelation, and Muhammad merely a passing medium of communication. See Sell's Faith of Islam, p. 41.

(197) This verse is said by Jalaluddin as Syuti (Itqan, 34) to be Madinic. The allusion here is to Jewish converts to Islam, who no doubt applied the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament to Muhammad, and thus confirmed Muhammad's claim to be a prophet bringing a new revelation. See notes on chaps. ii. 40, 90, iii. 80, and v.72.

(204) Do they therefore desire, &c. "The infidels were continually defying Muhammad to bring some signal and miraculous destruction on them, as a shower of stones," &c.- Sale.


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threatened come upon them, (207) what will that which they have enjoyed profit them? (208) We have destroyed no city, but preachers were first sent unto it (209) to admonish the inhabitants thereof; neither did we treat them unjustly. (210) The devils did not descend with the Quran, as the infidels give out; (211) it is not for their purpose, neither are they able to produce such a book, (212) for they are far removed from hearing the discourse of the angels in heaven. (213) Invoke no other god with the true GOD, lest thou become one of those who are doomed to punishment. (214) And admonish thy more near relations. (215) And behave thyself with meekness towards the true believers who follow thee, (216) and if they be disobedient unto thee, say, Verily I am clear of that which ye do. (217) And trust in the most mighty, the merciful God, (218) who seeth thee when thou risest up, (219) and thy behaviour among those who worship, (220) for he both

(212) Fear removed from hearing, &c. See chap. xv. 17.

(214) Admonish, &c. "The commentators suppose the same command to have been virtually contained in the seventy-fourth chapter, which is prior to this in point of time (Prelim. Disc., p.76). It is said that Muhammad, on receiving the passage before us, went up immediately to Mount Safa, and having called the several families to him, one by one, when they were all assembled asked them whether if he should tell them that mountain would bring forth a smaller mountain they would believe him, to which they answering in the affirmative, 'Verily,' says he, 'I am a warner sent unto you before a severe chastisement.' "-Sale, Baidhawi.

Muir says the tradition that this passage was' the first call to preach appears entirely erroneous, being contained in a late sura, in which there is evidence of persecutor and numerous disciples. He also says the stories related above by Sale are apocryphal, and owe their origin to this or other similar passages of the Quran which it was desired to illustrate. See Life of Mohamet, vol. ii. pp.113 and 114, note.

(215) Behave thyself with meekness, &c. "Literally, 'lower thy wings' "- Sale. See the same expression in chap. xv. 88. The passage belongs to the time when Muhammad was shut up with his followers in the Sheb. See Muir's Life of Mohamet, vol. ii. p.180.

(219) Thy behaviour, &c., i.e., "who seeth thee when thou risest up to watch and spend the night in religious exercises, and observeth thy anxious care or the Muslims' exact performance of their duty. It is said that the night on which the precept of watching was abrogated Muhammad went privately from one house to another to see


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heareth and knoweth. (221) Shall I declare unto you upon whom the devils descend? (222) They descend upon every lying and wicked person; (223) they learn what is heard, but the greater part of them are liars. (224) And those who err follow the steps of the poets; (225) dost thou not see that they rove as bereft of their senses through every valley, (226) and that they say that which they do not? (227) except those who believe, and do good works, and remember GOD frequently, (228) and who defend themselves after they have been unjustly

how his companions spent the time, and that he found them so intent in reading the Quran and repeating their prayers that their houses, by reason of the humming noise they made, seemed to be so many nests of hornets. Some commentators, however, suppose that by the Prophet's behaviour in this place is meant the various postures he used in praying at the head of his companions, as standing, bowing, prostration, and sitting."- Sale, Baidhawi, Jalaluddin.

(222) Every lying and wicked person. "The Prophet, having vindicated himself from the charge of having communication with the devils, by the opposition between his doctrine and their designs, and their inability to compose so consistent a book as the Quran, proceeds to show that the persons most likely to a correspondence with those evil spirits were liars and slanderers, that is, his enemies and opposes." Sale.

But Muhammad confessed that Satan could suggest errors to him, and declared that all prophets were open to this influence. See chap. xxii. 53 and notes there.

(223) Learn what is heard, i.e., "they are taught by the secret inspiration of the devils, and receive their idle and inconsistent suggestions for truth. It being uncertain whether the slanderers or the devils be the nominative case to the verb, the words may also be rendered, 'They impart what they hear;' that is, the devils acquaint their correspondents on earth with such incoherent scraps of the angels' discourse as they can hear by stealth."- Sale, Baidhawi, &c.

(224, 225) The poets . . . rove, &c. "Their compositions being as wild as the actions of a distracted man, for most of the ancient poetry was full of vain imaginations, as fabulous stories and descriptions, love verses, flattery ,excessive commendations of their patrons, and as excessive reproaches of their enemies, incitements to vicious actions, vainglorious vauntings, and the like."- Sale, Baidhawi, &c.

(228) Who defend themselves, &c. "That is such poets as had embraced Muhammadism, whose works, free from the profaneness of the former, run chiefly on the praises of God and the establishing his unity, and contain exhortations to obedience and other religious and moral virtues, without any satirical invectives, unless against such as have given just provocations, by having first attacked them


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treated. And they who act unjustly shall know hereafter with what treatment they shall be treated.

or some others of the true believers with the same weapons. In this last case Muhammad saw it was necessary for him to borrow assistance from the poets of his party to defend himself and religion from the insults and ridicule of the others, for which purpose he employed the pens of Labid Ibn Rabia, Abdullah Ibn Rawha, Hassan Ibn Thabit and the two Qabs. It is related that Muhammad once said to Qab Ibn Malik, 'Ply them with satires, for. by him in whose hand my soul is, they wound more deeply than arrows.' "- Sale, Baidhawi.

In Muhammad's mind the poets who wrote satires against him were mad, while those who defended him by their satire were not only in their right mind but eminently pious Muslims. It is worthy of notice that one of the most common charges brought against Muhammad was that he was a poet and a madman. See chap. xxi. 5, and ver. 26 above.


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