Revealed at Makkah.


This chapter is regarded by some writers as one of the earliest revelations of the Quran. I can find for this opinion no other reason than that the words with which it begins, and from which it receives its title, have a somewhat striking similarity to those which are found in the first verse of chapter lxxiv., which, on all hands, is admitted to be one of the earliest parts of the Quran. This theory, however, is disproved by the following facts :-(1) Ver. 10 speaks of enemies of the Prophet, contumelies, and opposition, which did not exist at so early a period ; (2) vers. 10 and 11 exhort the Prophet to withdraw from the infidels and to leave them in the hands of God; moreover, (3), the statements concerning the punishment of hell and the destruction of Pharaoh point to a later date.

The object of the chapter seems to have been the stirring up of the Muslims to more earnest devotion to God in prayer. This was due to the trials they were now called upon to endure. In later times, when the stress of business in the camp at Madina left no time for sleep in the daytime, this law was found to be inconvenient. For this reason ver. 20 was added to abrogate the obnoxious sections of the law in vers. 1-4.

Probable Date of the Revelations.

NoŽldeke fixes the date of this chapter at about the middle of the first period, while Muir, with more reason, fixes it at the begin-fling of the sixth year of Muhammad's mission.

Principal Subjects.

Muhammad and the Muslims bidden to pray during the night ... 1-4
The Quran to be pronounced with a distinct sonorous tone... 5-9
Muhammad exhorted to bear patiently the contumelies of the infidels ... 10, 11


God will visit the infidels with dire calamities . . . 11-14
The punishment of Pharaoh a warning to the people of Makkah ...15-19
Modification of the law given in vers. 1-4 ... 20


R 1/13.

(1) O thou wrapped up, (2) arise to prayer, and continue therein during the night, except a small part; (3) that is to say, during one half thereof: or do thou lessen the same a little (4) or add thereto. And repeat the Quran with a distinct and sonorous voice: (5) for we will lay on thee a weighty word. (6) Verily the rising by night

(1) Thou wrapped up. "When this revelation was brought to Muhammad, he was wrapped up in his garments, being affrighted at the appearance of Gabriel; or, as some say, he lay sleeping unconcernedly, or, according to others, praying, wrapped up in one part of a large mantle or rug with the other part of which Ayes had covered herself to sleep.

"This epithet of ' wrapped up' and another of the same im port given to Muhammad in the next chapter, have been imagined by several learned men pretty plainly to intimate his being subject to the falling sickness; a malady generally attributed to him by the Christians, but mentioned by no Muhammadan writer. Though such an inference may be made, yet I think it scarce probable, much less necessary."-Sale.

(2) Except a small part. " For a half is such with respect to the whole. Or, as the sentence may be rendered, 'Pray half the night, within a small matter,' &c. Some expound these words as an exception to nights in general; according to whom the sense will be, 'Spend one-half of every night in prayer, except some few nights in the year,' &c."-Sale, Baidhawi.

See on this passage Rodwell in loco and Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 188. See also note on chap. xvi. 105.

(3,4) Lesson . . . a little or add, i.e., "set apart either less than half the night, as one-third, for example, or more, as two-thirds. Or the meaning may be, 'Either take a small matter from a lesser part of the night than one-half, e.g., from one third, and so reduce it to a fourth; or add to such lesser part, and make it a full half.'"-Sale, Baidhawi.

(5) A weighty word, viz., "the precepts contained in the Quran, which are heavy and difficult to those who are obliged to observe them, and especially to the Prophet, whose care it was to see that his people observed them also."-Sale, Baidhawi, Jalaluddin.

(6.) The rising by night. "Or, 'the person who rises by night,' or 'the hours,' or particularly 'the first hours of night,'" &c.-Sale


is more efficacious for steadfast continuance in devotion, and more conducive to decent pronunciation: (7) for in the daytime thou hast long employment. (8) And commemorate the name of thy LORD; and separate thyself unto him, renouncing worldly vanities. (9)He is the LORD of the east and of the west; there is no GOD but he. Wherefore take him for thy patron: (10) and patiently suffer the contumelies which the infidels utter against thee; and depart from them with a decent departure. (11) And let me alone with those who charge the Quran with falsehood, who enjoy the blessings of this life; and bear with them for a while: (12) verily with us are heavy fetters and a burning fire, (13) and food ready to choke him who swalloweth it, and painful torment. (14) On a certain day the earth shall be shaken, and the mountains also, and the mountains shall become a heap of sand poured forth. (15) Verily we have sent unto you an Apostle, to bear witness against you; as we sent an apostle unto Pharaoh; (16) but Pharaoh was disobedient unto the apostle; wherefore we chastised him with a heavy chastisement. (17) How, therefore, will ye escape, if ye believe not, the day which shall make children become grey-headed through terror? (18) The heavens shall be rent in sunder thereby : the promise thereof shall surely be performed. (19) Verily this is an admonition: and whoever is willing to be admonished will take the way unto his LORD.

R 2/14

(20) Thy LORD knoweth that thou continuest in prayer and mediation sometimes near two third parts of

Conducive to decent pronunciation. " For the night-time is most proper for meditation and prayer, and also for reading God's word distinctly aud with attention, by reason of the absence of every noise and object which may distract the mind."-Sale.

(13) Food ready to choke, &c. "As thorns and thistles, the fruit of the infernal tree al Zaqqum, and the corruption flowing from the bodies of the damned."-Sale.

(15, 16) See notes on chap. vii. 104-136.

(20) Thy Lord knoweth, &c. These hours of the night "were spent by Muhammad in devotion and in the labour of working up


the night, and sometimes one half thereof, and at other times one third part thereof; and a part of thy companions, who are with thee, do the same. But GOD measureth the night and the day; he knoweth that ye cannot exactly compute the same: wherefore he turneth favourably unto you. Read, therefore, so much of the Quran as may be easy unto you. He knoweth that there will be some infirm among you; and others travel through the earth, that they may obtain a competency of the bounty of GOD; and others fight in the defence of GOD'S faith. Read, therefore, so much of the same as may be easy. And observe the stated times of prayer, and pay the legal alms; and lend unto GOD an acceptable loan: for whatever good ye send before your souls, ye shall find the same with GOD. This will be better, and will merit a greater reward. And ask GOD forgiveness; for GOD is ready to forgive and merciful.

his materials in rhythmical and rhyming Suras, and in preparation for the public assumption of the prophetic office." - Rodwell.

See Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 188.

A part of thy companions. Some of the commentators say the command to spend so much of the night in prayer lasted for one year, when it was abrogated by the milder requirements of the latter portion of this verse. Under cover of this requirement Muhammad and a "part of his companions" might have wrought out the revelations enunciated with so much zeal in the daytime (ver. 7); and a suspicion of this certainly did exist among the unbelieving (chap. xvi. 105), and would account for the "contumelies" noted in vers. 10, 11, above.

Wherefore he turneth favourably unto you. "By making the matter easy to you, and dispensing with your scrupulous counting of the hours of the night which ye are directed to spend in reading and praying; for some of the Muslims, not knowing how the time passed, used to watch the whole night, standing and walking about till their legs and feet swelled in a sad manner. The commentators add that this precept of dedicating a part of the night to devotion is abrogated by the institution of the five hours of prayer."-Sale, Baidhawi.

Others fight, &c. Observe. . . prayer . . . alms, &c. This portion of this chapter is certainly Madinic, and probably added on by Muhammad himself.

A greater reward, i.e., "the good which ye shall do in your life-time will be much more meritorious in the sight of God than what ye shall defer till death and order by will."-Sale, Baidhawi.

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