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CHAPTER LXXXVIII.

ENTITLED SURAT AL GHASHIYA (THE OVERWHELMING).

Revealed at Makkah.

INTRODUCTION.


THE object of the revelations of this chapter seems to have been to inspire reverence for the Prophet and his teachings by describing the tortures of the wicked in hell. The joys of Paradise are described for the comfort of the poor and as yet despised Muslims of Makkah. Muhammad is only a warner, but the very exhortations to use no force against the unbelievers show that the idea of compulsory conversion of the people was now present in his mind.

Probable Date of the Revelations.

The hint that force might have been used to convert the Quraish (ver. 22) implies strong opposition to Muhammad. This, with the somewhat detailed description of the joys of Paradise, points to a period of Muhammad's ministry near to and yet preceding the earliest persecutions of the Muslims. This would be, as NoŽldeke has it, about the fourth year of the ministry at Makkah.

Principal Subjects.

The terrible day of judgment . . . 1-3
Description of the torments of hell . . . 4-7
The joyful state of the Muslims on the judgment-day . .. 8-16
God manifests himself in his works . . . 17-20
Muhammad only to warn, not to rule over, the infidels ... 21, 22
God will himself punish the unbelievers . . . 23-26


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IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.

R 1/13.

(1) Hath the news of the overwhelming day of judgment reached thee? (2) The countenances of some, on that day, shall be cast down; (3) labouring and toiling, (4) they shall be cast into scorching fire to be broiled: (5) they shall be given to drink of a boiling fountain: (6) they shall have no food, but of dry thorns and thistles: (7) which shall not fatten, neither shall they satisfy hunger. (8) But the countenances of others, on that day, shall be joyful; (9) well pleased with their past endeavor: (10) they shall be placed in a lofty garden, (11) wherein thou shalt hear no vain discourse : (12) therein shall be a running fountain; (13) therein shall be raised beds, (14) and goblets placed before them, (15) and cushions laid in order, (16) and carpets ready spread. (17) Do they not consider the camels, how they are created? (18) and the heaven, how it is raised? (19) and the mountains, how they are fixed? (20) and the earth, how it is extended? (21) Wherefore warn thy people; for thou art a warner only: (22) thou art not empowered to act with authority over them. (23) But whoever shall turn back, and dis-

(3) Labouring and toiling, i.e., "dragging their chains, and labouring through hell-fire, as camels labour through mud, &c. Or, Employing and fatiguing themselves in what shall not avail them." -Sale.

(6) Dry thorns and thistles. " Such as the camels eat when green and tender. Some take the original word al Dhari for the name of a thorny tree."-Sale.

(8-16) Compare with these verses chaps. lxxviii. 31-37, iii. 15, and see notes there.

(17) The camels. "These animals are of such use, or rather necessity, in the East, that the creation of a species so wonderfully adapted to those countries is a very proper instance, to an Arabian, of the power and wisdom of God. Some, however, think the 'clouds' (which the original word ibl also signifies) are here intended, 'the heaven' being mentioned immediately after."-Sale.

(21, 22) See note on chap. ii. 119.

(23) Whoever shall turn back. "Or 'except him who shall turn back and be an infidel; and God shall punish him,' &c. By which


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believe, (24) GOD shall punish him with the greater punishment of the life to come. (25) Verily unto us shall they return: (26) then shall it be our part to bring them to account.

exception some suppose that power is here given to Muhammad to chastise obstinate infidels and apostates."-Sale.

See note on chap. V.59.


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