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CHAPTER LIII.

ENTITLED SURAT AL NAJM (THE STAR).

Revealed at Makkah.

INTRODUCTION.


THIS chapter receives its title from the object by which Muhammad is commanded to swear, mentioned in the first verse. Like chapters li. and lii., this one consists of an earlier and a later portion, or may be, as NoŽldeke suggests, fragments of one or two lost Suras have been added to the original revelation of this one by the compilers.

The earlier portion of this chapter presents two items of special interest. The first is the declaration of the Quran itself that Muhammad was merely a passive instrument of revelation (ver. 6), and that, therefore, the words of the Quran are in no sense whatever the words of Muhammad himself. The second item of special interest is the description of the angelic vision vouchsafed to Muhammad, and which was to him the proof of his apostleship. See the subject discussed in note on ver. II.

The latter portion of the chapter contains the passage which records, in its amended form, a revelation said to have been suggested by Satan at the time of the lapse of the Prophet. The question of the lapse will be found discussed in notes on chap. lxii. 53.

Probable Date of the Revelations.

Guided by the traditions relating to the lapse alluded to in vers. 19-23, the date of this portion of the chapter would be the months of Ramadhan and Shawwal of the fifth year of the Call. Vers. 32-33 are probably of a somewhat later origin, while vers. 58-62 seem to form a little Sura by themselves. This portion, with the first eighteen verses, were the earliest revelations of this chapter.


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Principal Subjects.

Oath that Muhammad received the Quran from the Angel Gabriel...1-5
Description of the angelic visions vouchsafed to Muhammad... 6-18
The revelation concerning Al Lat, Al Uzzah, and Manah, &c...19-23
The vanity of trusting to the intercession of female deities... 24-31
God almighty and omniscient ... 32, 33
Rebuke of a man who employed another to bear his punishment on the judgment-day ...34-56
Muhammad a preacher like other prophets . . . 57
The judgment-day approacheth, therefore prepare for it ... 58-62

IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.

R 1/5.


(1) By the star when it setteth, (2) your companion Muhammad erreth not, nor is he led astray, (3) neither doth he speak of his own will. (4) It is no other than a revelation, (5) which hath been revealed unto him. (6) One mighty in power, endued with understanding, taught it him: (7) and he appeared in the highest part of the horizon. (8) Afterwards he approached the Prophet,

(1) By the star. "Some suppose the stars in general, and others the Pleiades in particular, to be meant in this place."- Sale.

When it setteth. "Or according to a contrary signification of the verb here used, when it riseth."- Sale.

(6) One mighty in power. " The Angel Gabriel."- Sale. " The commentators say that the terms Ruh-ul-Amin (Faithful Spirit) and Shadid-ul-Qua (Mighty in Power) refer to no other angel or spirit."-Sell's Faith of Islam, p.4.

Taught it him. "The use of the word 'taught' and the following expression in Sura lxxv. 18, 'when we have recited it, then follow thou the recital,' shows that the Quran is entirely an objective revelation, and that Muhammad was only a passive medium of communication."- Sell's Faith of Islam, p.4.

(7) he appeared, &C "In his natural form, in which God created him, and in the eastern part of the sky. It is said that this angel appeared in his proper shape to most of the prophets except Muhammad and to him only twice once when he received the first revelation of the Quran, and a second time when he took his night journey to heaven; as it follows in the text."- Sale.

(8) He approached. "In a human shape."- Sale.


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and near unto him, (9) until he was at the distance of two bows' length from him, or yet nearer; (10) and he revealed unto his servant that which he revealed. (11) The heart of Muhammad did not falsely represent that which he saw. (12) Will ye therefore dispute with him concerning that which he saw? (13) He also saw him another time, (14) by the lote-tree beyond which there is no passing: (15) near it is the garden of eternal abode.

(9) Two bows' length. "Or, as the word also signifies, two cubits length."-Sale.

(11) The heart . . . did not falsely represent, &c. That is, Muhammad was not the subject of any illusion, but saw it in reality. He was not mistaken as to what he saw.

We have here then the distinct and positive assertion on the part of Muhammad that he had persona1 intercourse with the Angel Gabriel. Now was he sincere and truthful in this statement? Did he see something, or did he see nothing? Did he report what he saw in truth, or did he utter a deliberate falsehood? It seems to me clear that the theory of deliberate falsehood is in this case untenable. That he was the subject of some kind of vision must be admitted, whether due to Divine or Satanic influence must be determined by the result. Judged by its fruits, Islam cannot have had God for its author. It is the most powerful of all the opposing influences to the religion of Jesus which have arisen in the world since the day of Pentecost.

Believing that Muhammad had intercourse with some being whom he believed to be Gabriel, and seeing that the effect of these revelations, vouchsafed to Muhammad through this being, or due to the influence which this being wrought upon his mind, was, and still is, to overthrow the faith of the Bible, I, as a Christian, must there-fore hold that these visions were due to Satanic influence - Satan, however, revealing himself as an angel of light. This view is not only consistent with what the Bible teaches concerning the character of Satan's policy in this dispensation (Matt. iv. 1-11, xxiv. 24 2 Thess. ii. 8-12, and Revelation throughout), but it is the theory which best accounts for the strange history and character of Muhammad himself. See note on chap. iv. 116. See the whole question the belief of Muhammad in his own inspiration discussed at length in Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii., CHAPTER THIRD.

(13) Another time. Comp. chap. vi. 8, where there is an apparently contradictory statement.

(14) The lote-tree, &c. "This tree, say the commentators, stands the seventh heaven, on the right hand of the throne of God, and is the utmost hounds beyond which the angels themselves must not pass; or, as some rather imagine, beyond which no creature's knowledge can extend."- Sale.

See Rodwell's note in loco.


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(16) When the lote-tree covered that which it covered, (17) his eyesight turned not aside, neither did it wander: (18) and he really beheld some of the greatest signs of his LORD. (19) What think ye of Al Lat, and Al Uzza, (20) and Manah, that other third goddess? (21) Have ye male children, and God female? (22) This, therefore, is an unjust partition. (23) They are no other than empty names, which ye and your fathers have named goddesses. GOD hath not revealed concerning them anything to authorise their worship. They follow no other than a vain opinion, and what their souls desire: yet hath the true direction come unto them from their LORD. (24) Shall man have whatever he wisheth for? (25) The life to come and the present life are GOD'S.

R 2/6.

(26) And how many angels soever there be in the heavens, their intercession shall be of no avail, (27) until after GOD shall have granted permission unto whom he shall please and shall accept. (28) Verily they who believe not in the life to come give unto the angels a female appellation. (29) But they have no knowledge herein: they follow no other than a bare opinion; and a bare

(16) That which is covered. "The words seem to signify that what was under this tree exceeded all description and number. Some suppose the whole host of angels worshipping beneath it are intended, and others, the birds which sit on its branches."- Sa1e, Baidhawi, Jalaluddin.

(18) He really beheld, &c. "Seeing the wonders both of the sensible and the intellectual world."- Sale, Baidhawi.

(19, 20) Al Lat, and Al Uzza, and Manah "Those were three idols of the ancient Arabs, of which we have spoken in the Preliminary Discourse, pp.38-41.

"As to the blasphemy which some pretend Muhammad once uttered, through inadvertence, as he was reading this passage, See chap. xxii. 53, notes."- Sale.

See also notes on chaps. iv. 116, and xxii. 74-76.

(21) See chap. xvi. 59, notes.

(24) "That is, shall he dictate to God, and name whom he pleases for his intercessors or for his prophet; or shall he choose a religion according to his own fancy, and prescribe the terms on which he may claim the reward of this life and the next?"- Sale, Baidhawi, Jalaluddin.

(26) Their intercession. See chap. xxi. 28, 29.


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opinion attaineth not anything of truth. (30) Wherefore withdraw from him who turneth away from our admonition and seeketh only the present life. (31) This is their highest pitch of knowledge. Verily thy LORD well knoweth him who erreth from his way; and he well knoweth him who is rightly directed.

RUBA.

(32) Unto GOD belongeth whatever is in heaven and earth, that he may reward those who do evil according to that which they shall have wrought, and may reward those who do well with the most excellent reward. (33) As to those who avoid great crimes and heinous sins, and are guilty only of lighter faults, verily thy LORD will be extensive in mercy towards them. He well knew you when he produced you out of the earth, and when ye were embryos in your mothers' wombs: wherefore justify not yourselves: he best knoweth, the man who feareth him.

R 3/7.

(34) What thinkest thou of him who turneth aside from following the truth, (35) and giveth little, and covetously stoppeth his hand? (36) Is the knowledge of futurity with him, so that he seeth the same? (37) Hath lie not been informed of that which is contained in the books of Moses, (38) and of Abraham, who faithfully performed his engagements. (39) To wit, that a burdened soul shall not bear the burden of another; (40) and than nothing shall be imputed to a man for righteousness except

(33) Heinous sins . . . lighter faults. See note on chap. lv. 30.

(35) Stoppeth his hand. "This passage, it is said, was revealed on account of Al Walid Ibn al Mughaira, who, following the Prophet one day, was reviled by an idolater for leaving the religion of the Quraish and giving occasion of scandal; to which he answered, that what he did was out of apprehension of the Divine vengeance: whereupon the man offered, for a certain sum, to take the guilt of is apostasy on himself; and the bargain being made, Al Walid returned to his idolatry, and paid the man part of what bad been agreed on; but afterwards on further consideration, he thought it too much, and kept back the remainder."- Sale Baidhawi.

(36) Is the knowledge of futurity with him. "That is, is he assured that the person with whom he made the above-mentioned agreement will be a owed to suffer in his stead hereafter? "-Sale, Baidhawi.


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his own labour; (41) and that his labour shall surely be made manifest hereafter, (42) and that he shall be rewarded for the same with a most abundant reward; (43) and that unto thy LORD will be the end of all things; (44) and that he causeth to laugh, and causeth to weep; (45) and that he putteth to death, and giveth life; (46) and that he createth the two sexes, the male and the female, (47) of seed when it is emitted; (48) and that unto him appertaineth another production, namely, the raising of the dead again to life hereafter; (49) and that he enricheth, and causeth to acquire possessions; (50) and that he is the LORD of the dog-star; (51) and that he destroyed the ancient tribe of Ad, (52) and Thamud, and left not any of them alive; (53) and also the people of Noah before them; for they were most unjust and wicked (54) and he overthrew the cities which were turned upside down ; (55) and that which covered them, covered them. (56) Which, therefore, of thy Lord's benefits, O man wilt thou call in question ? (57) This our Apostle is a preacher like the preachers who preceded him (58) The approaching day of judgment draweth near there is none who can reveal the exact time of the same, besides GOD. (59) Do ye, therefore, wonder at this new revelation, (60) and do ye laugh and not weep, (61) spending your time in idle diversions? (62) but rather worship GOD, and serve him.

(50) The dog-star. "Sirius, or the greater dog-star, was worshipped by some of the old Arabs. See Prelim. Disc., p. 38.- Sale.

(54) Cities . . . turned upsicle down. "Sodom and the other cities involved in her ruin."- Sale. See chap. xi. 81, note.

(57) Like the preachers who preceded him. Sec introduction to chaps. vii., xi., and xxi.


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