232

CHAPTER LXXXV.

ENTITLED SURAT AL BURUJ (THE CELESTIAL SIGNS).

Revealed at Makkah.

INTRODUCTION.

THE first seven verses of this chapter are generally supposed to refer to the persecution of the Christians in Najran by the cruel king Dhu Nawas. Geiger, however, and after him NoŽldeke, adopts the opinion of al Boghawi that the three men in the furnace (Dan. iii.) are here alluded to.

Vers. 8 and 11, says NoŽldeke, "have probably been added later on by Muhammad himself, as they differ from the other verses, with which they are otherwise connected, by reason of a greater length, a more diffuse style, and a somewhat modified rhyme." The term muminat (female believers) does not occur in any but the latest chapters of the Quran.

Probable Date of the Revelations.

The chapter, excepting perhaps vers. 8-11, is of Makkan origin. NoŽldeke assigns it to the earlier half of his first period.

Principal Subjects.

Cursed were the persecutors of the believers burned with fire... 1-7
The believers persecuted for their faith in God . . . 8, 9
For the infidels is hell-fire, but for believers Paradise . . 10-12
God is Creator and Sovereign Ruler of the universe . . 13-16
Pharaoh and Thamud examples to warn those who reject the Quran ... 17-20
The glorious Quran is kept in the Preserved Table . .. 21


233

IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.

R 1/10.

(1) By the heaven adorned with signs ; (2) by the promised day of judgment; (3) by the witness and the witnessed; (4) cursed were the contrivers of the pit, (5) of fire supplied with fuel; (6) when they sat around the same, (7) and were witnesses of what they did against the true believers, (8) and they afflicted them for no other reason but because they believed in the mighty, the glorious GOD, (9) unto whom belongeth the kingdom of heaven and earth; and GOD is witness of all things. (10) Verily for those who persecute the true believers of either sex,

(1) Signs. "The original word properly signifies towers, which some interpret of real towers, wherein it is supposed the angels keep guard; and others, of the stars of the first magnitude: but the generality of expositors understand thereby the twelve signs of the zodiac, wherein the planets make their several stations."- Sale.

See notes on chap. xv. 17, 18.

(3) "The meaning of these words is very uncertain, and the explications of the commentators consequently vary. One thinks 'the witness' to be Muhammad, and that which is borne witness of' to be 'the resurrection' or 'the professors of the Muhammadan faith;' or else that these latter are 'the witness,' and the professors of every other religion those who will be 'witnessed against' by them. Another supposes 'the witness' to be the 'guardian angel,' and his charge the person 'witnessed against.' Another expounds the words' of the day of Arafat, the 9th of Dhul Hajja, and of the day of slaying the victims, which is the day following, or else of Friday, the day of the weekly assembling of the Muhammadans at their mosques, and of the people who are assembled on those days."- Sale, Jalaluddin, Baidhawi, Yahya.

(4) Contrivers of the pit. "Literally, 'the lords of the pit.' These were the ministers of the persecution raised by Dhu Nawas, king of Yaman, who was of the Jewish religion, against the inhabitants of Najran ; for they having embraced Christianity (at that time the true religion, by the confession of Muhammad himself), the bigoted tyrant commanded all those who would not renounce their faith to be cast into a pit or trench filled with fire, and there burnt to ashes. Others, however, tell the story with different circumstances."-Sale.

See, on this subject, Introduction to Muir's Life of Mahomet, p. clxii.

(6) And were witnesses, &c. Or, as some choose to understand the words, "And shall be witnesses against themselves at the day of judgment, of their unjust, treatment of the true believers."- Sale.


234

and afterwards repent not, is prepared the torment of hell; and they shall suffer the pain of burning. (11) But for those who believe, and do that which is right, are destined gardens beneath which rivers flow: this shall be great felicity. (12) Verily the vengeance of thy LORD is severe. (13) he createth, and he restoreth to life: (14) he is inclined to forgive, and gracious; (15) the possessor of the glorious throne, (16) who effecteth that which he pleaseth. (17) Hath not the story of the hosts (18) of Pharaoh and of Thamud reached thee? (19) Yet the unbelievers cease not to accuse the divine revelations of falsehood; (20) but GOD encompasseth them behind, that they cannot escape. (21) Verily that which they reject is a glorious Quran; (22) the original whereof is written in a table kept in heaven.

(10) The pain of burning. "Which pain, it is said, the persecutors of the 'Christian' martyrs above mentioned felt in this life; the fire bursting forth upon them from the pit, and consuming them "-Sale, Baidhawi.

(17, 18) See notes on chaps. vii. 104-136, and xi. 61-68.

(22) A table kept. "And preserved from the least charge or corruption. See the Prelim. Disc., p. 108."- Sale.


Table of Contents
Answering Islam Home Page