Revealed at Makkah.


THIS chapter, like almost all the earlier Makkan Suras, opens with a number of oaths, which seem to have been uttered as a kind of warning to call special attention to the solemnity of what was to follow. The fourth verse shows us that Muhammad formed these imprecations with deliberate purpose, and uttered them after careful consideration.

The burden of the preacher's warning was levelled against the oppression and greed of the rich in his own town. Perhaps they had already begun to treat harshly the slave converts to Islam. However this may be, they are warned by the examples of Ad, Thamud, and Pharaoh, who were destroyed for their wickedness and oppression. They are also pointed to the judgment-day, when the wicked shall vainly regret their evil deeds. The chapter ends with a call to the believing soul to enter the joy of Paradise.

Probable Date of the Revelations.

Some Muslim writers (Itqan, 29) regard this chapter as Madinic. Nöldeke tells of one author (Hibat Allah) who declares that it was revealed at Makkah in A.H. 8. He, however, regards it as early Makkan, and in his chronological table places it immediately after chapter lxxxviii.

Principal Subjects.

Various oaths by natural objects . .... l-4
Unbelievers are warned by the fate of Ad, Thamud, and Pharaoh . . . . 5-13
Man praises God in prosperity, but reproaches him in adversity ... 14-17


Oppression of the poor and the orphan denounced .... 18-22
The wicked will vainly regret their evil deeds on the judgment-day . . . 23-25
The believing soul invited to the joys of Paradise . . 26-30


NISF. R 1/14.

(1) By the daybreak and ten nights; (2) by that which is double, and that which is single; (3) and by the night when it cometh on: (4) is there not in this an oath formed with understanding? (5) Hast thou not considered how thy LORD dealt with Ad, (6) the people of Iram, adorned with lofty buildings, (7) the like whereof

(1) Ten nights. "That is, the ten nights of Dhul Hajja, or the tenth of that month (whence some understand the day break mentioned just before, or the morning of that day or of the preceding); or the night of the 10th of Muharram; or, as others rather think, the 10th, 11th, and 12th of Dhul Hajja. All which ate days peculiarly sacred among the Muhammadans." – Sale.

(2, 3) "These words are variously interpreted. Some understand thereby all things in general; some, all created beings – which are said to have been created by pairs, or of two kinds (chap. li. 49) – and the Creator, who is single ; some, of the primum mobile and the other orbs; some, of the constellations and the planets; some, of the nights before mentioned, taken either together or singly; and some, of the day of slaying the victims (the 10th of Dhul Hajja)and of the day of Arafat, which is the day before, &c." – Sale, Zamakhshari.

(6) The people of Iram. "Iram was the name of the territory or city of the Adites, and of the garden mentioned in the next note, which were so called from Iram or Aram, the grandfather of Ad, their progenitor. Some think Aram himself to be here meant, and his name to be added to signify the ancient Adites, his immediate descendants, and to distinguish them from the latter tribe of that name; but the adjective and relative joined to the word are, in the original, of the feminine gender, which seems to contradict this opinion." – Sale, Baidháwi.

Lofty buildings, "or 'pillars.' Some imagine these words are used to express the great size and strength of the old Adites; and then they should be translated, 'who were of enormous stature.' But the more exact commentators take the passage to relate to the sumptuous palace and delightful gardens built and made by Shaddád, the son of Ad. For they say Ad left two sons, Shaddád and Shaddíd, who reigned jointly after his decease and extended their power over the greater part of the world; but Shaddíd dying, his brother became


hath not been erected in the land; (8) and with Thamád, who hewed the rocks in the valley into houses; (9) and with Pharaoh, the contriver of the stakes: (10) who had behaved insolently in the earth, (11) and multiplied corruption therein? (12) Wherefore thy LORD poured on them various kinds of chastisement: (13) for thy LORD is surely in a watch-tower, whence he observeth the actions of men. (14) Moreover, man, when his LORD trieth him by prosperity, and honoureth him, and is bounteous unto him, (15) saith, My LORD honoureth me; (16) but when he proveth him by afflictions and withholdeth his provisions from him, (17) he saith, My LORD despiseth me. (18) By no means: but ye honour not the orphan, (19)

sole monarch; who, having heard of the 'Celestial Paradise,' made a garden in imitation thereof in the deserts of Aden, and called it Iram, after the name of his great-grandfather. When it was finished, he set out with a great attendance to take a view of it; but when they were come within a day's journey of the place, they were all destroyed by a terrible noise from heaven. Al Baidháwi adds that one Abdullah Ibn Kalábah (whom, after D'Herbelot, I have elsewhere named Colabah, Prelim. Disc., p. 21) accidentally hit on this wonderful place as he was seeking a camel." – Sale, Baidháwi.
See Prelim. Disc., pp. 20, 21.

(7) The like, &c. "if we suppose the preceding words to relate to the vast stature of the Adites, these must be translated, 'The like of whom hath not been created,' &c." – Sale.

(8) "The learned Greaves, in his translation of Abul Fida's 'Description of Arabia,' has falsely rendered these words, which are there quoted, 'Quibus petræ vallis responsum dederunt,' i.e., 'To whom the rocks of the valley returned answer ;' which slip being made by so great a man, I do not at all wonder that La Roque and Petis de la Croix, from whose Latin version and with whose assistance La Roque made his French translation of the aforesaid treatise, have been led into the same mistake, and rendered those words, 'A qui les pierres de la vallée redirent réponse.' The valley here meant, say the commentators, is Wádi al Qurá, lying about one day's journey (not five and upwards, as Abul Fida will have it) from al Hajr." – Sale.

(9) See note on chap. xxxviii. 11.

(12) Various kinds. "The original word signifies a 'mixture,' and also a 'scourge' of platted thongs; whence some suppose the 'chastisement of this life'is here represented by a 'scourge,' and intimated to be as much lighter than that of the next life as 'scourging' is lighter than death." – Sale, Baidháwi.

(18) By no means. "For worldly prosperity or adversity is not a certain mark either of the favour or disfavour of God." – Sale.


neither do ye excite one another to feed the poor; (20) and ye devour the inheritance of the weak, with undistinguishing greediness, (21) and ye love riches with much affection. (22) By no means should ye do thus. When the earth shall be minutely ground to dust: (23) and thy LORD shall come, and the angels rank by rank; (24) and. hell, on that day, shall be brought nigh: on that day shall man call to remembrance his evil deeds: but how shall remembrance avail him? (25) He shall say, Would to GOD that I had heretofore done good works in my lifetime! On that day none shall punish with his punishment; (26) nor shall any bind with his bonds. (27) O thou soul which art at rest, (28) return unto thy LORD, well pleased with thy reward, and well-pleasing unto God: (29) enter. among my servants; (30) and enter my Paradise.

(20) Ye devour. . . the weak. "Not suffering women or young children to have any share in the inheritance of their husbands or parents." – Sale. See chap. iv. 2—7 and notes there.

(24) "There is a tradition that, at the last day, hell will be dragged towards the tribunal by 70,000 halters, each halter being hauled by 70,000 angels; and that it will come with great roaring and fury." – Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddin.

(25) My lifetime. "Or, 'For' this 'my'latter 'life.'" – Sale.

(26) "That is, none shall be able to punish or to bind, as God. shall then punish and bind the wicked." – Sale, Baidháwi.

(27) Thou soul, &c. "Some expound this of the soul, which having, by pursuing the concatenation of natural causes, raised itself to the knowledge of that Being which produced them and exists of necessity, 'rests' fully contented, or 'acquiesces' in the knowledge of him and the contemplation of his perfections. By this the reader will observe that the Muhammadans are no strangers to Quietism. Others, however, understand the words of the soul, which, having attained the knowledge of the truth, 'rests' satisfied and 'relies securely' thereon, undisturbed by doubts; or of the soul, which is 'secure' of its salvation and free from fear or sorrow." – Sale, Baidháwi.

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