Revealed at Makkah.


THIS chapter is regarded by some writers as the very first which was revealed (Sale's note on ver. i), but the preponderance of evidence is in favour of chapter xcvi. It is, therefore, given the second place by NoŽldeke, Rodwell, and Palmer. This place is not, however, accorded to any but the first seven verses. The interval between the revelation of chapter xcvi. and that of these verses is called by Muslims the Fatrah or Intermission, the duration of which "is variously held to have lasted from six months to three years" (Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. pp. 85, 86). The remaining portion of the chapter belongs to a later Makkan period, excepting vers. 31-34, which undoubtedly belong to Madina. We find in these verses allusion to all the parties prominent in Madina Suras; the Jews, or "they to whom the Scriptures have been given;" the Muslims or "the true believers;" the hypocrites, or "those in whose hearts there is an infirmity;" and the idolaters or "the unbelievers." Muir gives this chapter the twentieth place in his chronological list of Suras.

Probable Date of the Revelations.

From what has been said above we may safely assign vers. 1-7 to the earliest period of Muhammad's ministry. Vers. 8-30 and 35-55 probably mark the period of early opposition to Muhammad by the Quraish in the third year of his public ministry (see Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. pp. 79, 80). The Madinic section, vers. 31-34, NoŽldeke thinks should be assigned to a period soon after the Hijra, owing to the kindly mention of the Jews, whom Muhammad, soon after his arrival at Madina, found to be his most inveterate enemies.


Principal Subjects.

Muhammad commanded to rise and preach Islam ... 1-7
The judgment-day shall be a sad day for the unbelievers... 8-10
God exhorts Muhammad to leave his enemy in his bands ... 11-26
The pains of hell described . . .27-29
Nineteen angels set as a guard over hell, and why nineteen are mentioned ...30-34
Oath to attest the horrible calamities of hell-fire .. . 35-40
The wicked shall in hell confess their sins to the righteous... 41-49
Infidels shall receive no other warning than that of the Quran.. . 50-55


R 1/15.

(1) O thou covered, arise (2) and preach, (3) and magnify thy Lord. (4) And cleanse thy garments: (5) And fly every abomination: (6) And be not liberal, in hopes to receive more in return: (7) And patiently wait for thy Lord. (8) When the trumpet shall sound, (9) verily that day shall be a day of distress, (10) and uneasiness unto the unbelievers. (11) Let me alone with him whom I have

(1) Thou covered. " It is related, from Muhammad's own mouth, that being on Mount Hira, and hearing himself called, he looked on each hand and saw nobody; but looking upwards, he saw the Angel Gabriel on a throne between heaven and earth: at which sight, being much terrified, he returned to his wife Khadijah and bid her cover him up; and that then the angel descended and addressed him in the words of the text. From hence, some think this chapter to have been the first which was revealed; but the more received opinion is that it was the 96th. Others say that the Prophet, having been reviled by certain of the Quraishm was sitting in a melancholy and pensive posture, wrapped up in his mantle, when Gabriel accosted him; and some say he was sleeping." - Sale. See note to the preceding chapter on ver. I.

See Rodwell in loco.

(2) Preach. "It is generally supposed that Muhammad is here commanded more especially to warn his near relations, the Quraish, as he is expressly ordered to do in a subsequent revelations."-Sale.

See note on chap. xxvi. 214, and Prelim. Disc., p.76.

(5) Abomination. "By the word 'abomination' the commentators generally agree idolatry to be principally intended."Sale.

(11) Let me alone with him, &c. "The person here meant is gene-


created, (12) on whom I have bestowed abundant riches, (13) and children dwelling in his presence, (14) and for whom I have disposed affairs in a smooth and easy manner, (15) and who desireth that I will yet add other blessings unto him. (16) By no means: Because he is an adversary to our signs. (17) I will afflict him with grievous calamities: (18) For he hath devised and prepared contumelious expressions to ridicule the Koran. (19) May he be cursed: How maliciously hath he prepared the same! (20) And again, may he be cursed: How maliciously hath he prepared the same! (21) Then he looked, (22) and frowned, and put on an austere countenance: (23) Then he turned back, and was elated with pride; (24) and he said, this is no other than a piece of magic, borrowed from others: (25) These are only the words of a man. (26) I will cast him to be burned in hell. (27) And what shall make thee to understand what hell is? (28) It leaveth not any thing unconsumed, neither doth it suffer any thing to escape: (29) It scorcheth mens flesh: (30) Over the same are nineteen angels appointed. (31) We

rally supposed to have been al Walid Ibn al Mughaira, a principal man among the Quraish."-Sale, Baidhawi, &c.

(12 13) Riches and children, &c. "Being well provided for, and being not obliged to go abroad to seek their livings, as most others of the Makkans were."- Sale.

(14) A smooth and easy manner. "By facilitating his advancement to power and dignity, which were so considerable that he was surnamed Rihana Quraish, i.e., 'The sweet oder of the Quraish and Al Walid i.e. , 'The only one,' or 'The incomparable". - Sale, Baidhawi.

(16) By no means, &c. "On the revelation of this passage it is said that Walid's prosperity began to decay, and continued daily so to do to the time of his death."-Sale, Baidhawi.

(17) Calamities. "Or, as the words may be strictly rendered, 'I will drive him up the crag of a mountain ;' which some understand of a mountain of fire, agreeably to a tradition of their Prophet importing that al Walid will be condemned to ascend this mountain, and then to be cast down from thence alternately for ever; and that he will be seventy years in climbing up and as many in falling down."-Sale, Baidhawi, &c.

(24, 25) See note on chaps. vi. 24, xvi. 105.


have appointed none but angels to preside over hell-fire; and we have expressed the number of them only for an occasion of discord to the unbelievers; that they to whom the Scriptures have been given may be certain of the veracity of this book, and the true believers may increase in faith; (32) and that those to whom the Scriptures have been given, and the true believers, may not doubt hereafter; (33) and that those in whose hearts there is an infirmity, and the unbelievers, may say, What mystery doth GOD intend by this number? (34) Thus doth God cause to err whom he pleaseth; and he directeth whom he pleaseth. None knoweth the armies of thy LORD besides him; and this is no other than a memento unto mankind.

R 2/16.

(35) Assuredly. By the moon, (36) and the night when it retreateth, (37) and the morning when it reddeneth, (38) I swear that this is one of the most terrible calamities, (39) giving warning unto men, (40) as well as unto him among you who desireth to go forward, as unto

(31) None but angels. "The reason of which is said to be, that they might be of a different nature and species from those who are to be tormented, lest they should have a fellow-feeling of, and compassionate their sufferings; or else because of their great strength and severity of temper."-Sale, Baidhawi.

This passage up to ver. 35, "evidently produced many years after" the above, is interposed "in reply to certain objections raised, as it would appear, by the Jews respecting the number of the infernal guard."- Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p.78, note.

For an occasion of discord. "Or,' for a trial of them ;' because they might say this was a particular borrowed by Muhammad of the Jews."-Sale.

(32) Those to whom the Scriptures, &c. "And especially the Jews this being conformable to what is contained in their books."-Sale, Jalaluddin.

(34) Armies of the Lord, i.e., "all his creatures; or particularly the number and strength of the guards of hell."-Sale.

The allusion is probably to the armies of angels said to have assisted the Muslims at Badr and Hunain, of whom the "nineteen are but a "memento unto mankind."

And this. "The antecedent seems to be 'hell.' "-Sale. I should say it was "number," the same being supplied by Sale himself in ver. 33.


him who chooseth to remain behind. (41) Every soul is given in pledge for that which it shall have wrought: except the companions of the right hand; (42) who shall dwell in gardens, and shall ask one another questions concerning the wicked, (43) and shall also ask the wicked themselves, saying, What hath brought you into hell? (44) They shall answer, We were not of those who were constant at prayer, (45) neither did we feed the poor; (46) and we waded in vain disputes with the fallacious reasoners; (47) and we denied the day of judgment, (48) until death overtook us; (49) and the intercession of the interceders shall not avail them. (50) What aileth them, therefore, that they turn aside from the admonition of the Quran, (51) as though they were timorous asses flying from a lion? (52) But every man among them desireth that he may have expanded scrolls delivered to him from God. (53) By no means. They fear not the life to come. (54) By no means: verily this is a sufficient warning. (55) Whoso is willing to be warned, him shall it warn: but they shall not be warned, unless GOD shall please. He is worthy to be feared, and he is inclined to forgiveness.

(41) Every soul, &c. See note on chap. lii. 21.

Companions of the right hand, i.e., "the blessed, who shall redeem themselves by their good works. Some say these are the angels, and others, such as die infants."-Sale, Baidhawi.

See note on chap. lvi. 8, 9.

(48) Death. ' Literally, that which is certain."-Sale.

(52) Expanded scrolls, &c. "For the infidels told Muhammad that they would never obey him as a prophet till he brought each man a writing from heaven to this effect, viz.,' From God to such a one: Follow Muhammad.' "-Sale, Baidhawi.

Table of Contents
Answering Islam Home Page