Page images


is a secret history which we reveal unto thee, O Mohammed, although thou wast not present with the brethren of Joseph, when they concerted their design, and contrived a plot against him. But the greater part of men, although they earnestly desire it, will not believe. Thou shalt not demand of them any reward for thy publishing the Korân; it is no other than an admonition unto all creatures. And how many signs soever there be of the being, unity, and providence of God, in the heavens and the earth; they will pass by them, and will retire afar off from them. And the greater part of them believe not in GOD, without being also guilty of idolatry. Do they not believe that some overwhelming affliction shall fall on them, as a punishment from GOD; or that the hour of judgment shall overtake them suddenly, when they consider not its approach? Say unto those of Mecca, This is my way: I invite you unto God by an evident demonstration; both I and he who followeth me; and, praise be unto God! I am not an idolater. We sent not any apostles before thee, except men, unto whom we revealed our will, and whom we chose out of those who dwelt in cities.h Will they not go through the earth, and see what hath been the end of those who have preceded them?. But the dwelling of the next life shall surely be better for those who fear God. Will they not therefore understand? Their predecessors were borne with for a time, until, when our apostles despaired of their conversion, and they thought that they were liars, our help came unto them, and we delivered whom we pleased; but our vengeance was not turned away from the wicked people. Verily in the histories of the prophets and their people, there is an instructive example unto those who are endued with understanding. The Korán is not a new invented fiction; but a confirmation of those scriptures which have been revealed before it, and a distinct explication of every thing necessary, in respect either to faith or practice, and a direction and mercy unto people who believe.

concerning his burial, that they had like to have come to blows; but at length they agreed to put his body into a marble coffin, and to sink it in the Nile; out of a superstitious imagination that it might help the regular increase of the river, and deliver them from famine for the future: but when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, he took up the coffin, and carried Joseph's bones with him into Canaan, where he buried them by his ancestors.8

For this crime Mohammed charges not only on the idolatrous Meccans, but also on the Jews and Christians; as has been already observed more than once.

And not of the inhabitants of the deserts; because the former are more knowing and compassionate, and the latter more ignorant and hard-hearted."

• Al Beidâwi.

Idem. See the Prelim. Disc, sect. i. p. 22,




AL M. R. These are the signs of the book of the Korân: and tha which hath been sent down unto thee from thy LORD is the truth; but th greater part of men will not believe. It is GOD who hath raised the heavens without visible pillars; and then ascended his throne, and compelled the sun and the moon to perform their services; every of the heavenly bodies runneth an appointed course. He ordereth all things. He showeth his signs distinctly, that ye may be assured ye must meet your LORD at the last day. It is he who hath stretched forth the earth, and placed therein steadfast mountains, and rivers; and hath ordained therein of every fruit two different kinds."* He causeth the night to cover the day. Herein are certain signs unto people who consider. And in the earth are tracts of land of different natures," though bordering on each other; and also vineyards, and seeds, and palm-trees springing several from the same root, and singly from distinct roots. They are watered with the same water, yet we render some of them more excellent than others to eat. Herein are surely signs unto people who understand. If thou dost wonder at the infidels denying the resurrection, surely wonderful is their saying,* After we shall have been reduced to dust, shall we be restored in a new creature? These are they who believe not in their LORD; these shall have collars on their necks, and these shall be the inhabitants of hell fire: therein shall they abide for ever. They will ask of thee to hasten evil rather than good:P

I This word occurs in the next page.

k Or, according to some copies, at Medina.

The meaning of these letters is unknown. Of several conjectural explications which are given of them, the following is one; I am the most wise and knowing God. As sweet and sour, black and white, small and large, &c.1

"It is He who spread out the earth, who raised the mountains, who formed the rivers, who gave you fruits of various kinds. He created them male and female." -Savary.

"Some tracts being fruitful and others barren, some plain and others mountainous, some proper for corn and others for trees, &c."

"If thou dost marvel at their unbelief, what must be thy surprise, when thou hearest them say, Is it possible that the dust of our body can become a new creature?"-Savary.

• The collar here mentioned is an engine something like a pillory, but light enough for the criminal to walk about with. Besides the hole to fix it on the neck, there is another for one of the hands, which is thereby fastened to the neck. And in this manner the Mohammedans suppose the reprobates will appear at the day of judgment. Some understand this passage figuratively, of the infidels being bound in the chains of error and obstinacy.

Provoking and daring thee to call down the divine vengeance on them for their impenitency.

[blocks in formation]

althongh there have already een examples of the divine vengeance before them. Thy LORD is surely endued with indulgence towards men, notwithstanding their iniquity; but thy LORD is also severe in punishing. The infidels say, Unless a sign be sent down unto him from his LORD, we will not believe. Thou art commissioned to be a preacher only, and not a worker of miracles: and unto every people hath a director been appointed. GOD knoweth what every female beareth in her womb; and what the wombs want or exceed of their due time, or number of young. With him is every thing regulated according to a determined measure. He knoweth that which is hidden, and that which is revealed. He is the great, the most high. He among you who concealeth his words, and he who proclaimeth them in public; he also who seeketh to hide himself in the night, and he who goeth forth openly in the day, is equal in respect to the knowledge of God. Each of them hath angels mutually succeeding each other, before him, and behind him; they watch him by the command of GOD. Verily GOD will not change his grace which is in men, until they change the disposition in their souls by sin. When GOD willeth evil on a people there shall be none to avert it; neither shall they have any protector beside him. It is he who causeth the lightning to appear unto you, to strike fear, and to raise hope," and who formeth the pregnant clouds. The thunder celebrateth his praise, and the angels also, for fear of him. He sendeth his thunderbolts, and striketh therewith whom he pleaseth, while they dispute concerning GOD; for he is mighty in power. It is he who ought of right to be invoked; and the idols, which they invoke besides him, shall not hear them at all; otherwise than as he is heard, who stretcheth forth his hands to the water that it may ascend to his mouth, when it cannot ascend thither: the supplication of the unbelievers is utterly erroneous. Whatsoever is in heaven and on earth worshippeth GOD, voluntarily or of force ;" and their shadows also, morn



See the Prelim. Disc. sect. iv. p. 51.

Thunder and lightning being the sign of approaching rain; a great blessing, in the eastern countries more especially.

'Or causeth those who hear it, to praise him. Some commentators tell us, that by the word thunder, in this place, is meant the angel who presides over the clouds, and drives them forward with twisted sheets of fire.

This passage was revealed on the following occasion. Amer Ebn al Tofail, and Arbad Ebn Rabiah, the brother of Labîd, went to Mohammmed with an intent to kill him; and Amer began to dispute with him concerning the chief points of his doctrine, while Arbad, taking a compass, went behind him to despatch him with his sword: but the prophet, perceiving his design, implored God's protection; whereupon Arbad was immediately struck dead by thunder, and Amer was struck with a pestilential boil, of which he died in a short time, in a miserable condition.7

Jallalo'ddin, however, tells another story, saying that Mohammed having sent one to invite a certain man to embrace his religion, the person put this question to the missionary, Who is this apostle, and what is God? is he of gold, or of silver, or of brass! Upon which a thunderbolt struck off his skull and killed him.

The infidels and devils themselves being constrained to humble themselves before him, though against their will, when they are delivered up to punishment.

Al Beidâwi, Jallalo'ddin. adject. ad Gram. Erpenii, p. 99.

7 Al Beidâwi.

Vide Golii notas in Adagia Arab.

ing and evening. Say, Who is the LORD of heaven and earth? Answer, GOD. Say, Have ye, therefore, taken unto yourselves protectors beside him, who are unable either to help, or to defend themselves from hurt? Say, Shall the blind and the seeing be esteemed equal? or shall darkness and light be accounted the same? or have they attributed companions unto GOD who have created as he hath created, so that their creation bear any resemblance unto his? Say, GOD is the creator of all things; he is the one, the victorious God. He causeth water to descend from heaven, and the brooks flow according to their respective measure, and the floods bear the floating froth: aud from the metals which they melt in the fire, seeking to cast ornaments or vessels for use, there ariseth a scum like unto it. Thus GOD setteth forth truth and vanity. But the scum is thrown off, and that which is useful to mankind remaineth on the earth. Thus doth GOD put forth parables. Unto those who obey their LORD shall be given the most excellent reward: but those who obey him not, although they were possessed of whatever is in the whole earth and as much more, they would give it all for their ransom. These will be brought to a terrible account their abode shall be hell; an unhappy couch shall it be! Shall he, therefore, who knoweth that what hath been sent down unto thee from thy LORD, is truth, be rewarded as he who is blind? The prudent only will consider; who fulfil the covenant of GOD, and break not their contract; and who join that which God hath commanded to be joined, and who fear their LORD, and dread an ill account; and who persevere out of a sincere desire to please their LORD, and observe the stated times of prayer, and give alms out of what we have bestowed on them, in secret and openly, and who turn away evil with good: the reward of these shall be paradise, gardens of eternal abode, which they shall enter, and also whoever shall have acted uprightly, of their fathers, and their wives, and their posterity: and the angels shall go in unto them by every gate, saying, Peace be upon you, because ye have endured with patience; how excellent a reward is paradise! But as for those who violate the covenant of GOD, after the establishment thereof, and who cut in sunder that which God hath commanded to be joined, and act corruptly in the earth, on them shall a curse full, and they shall have a miserable dwelling in hell. God giveth provision in abundance unto whom he pleaseth, and is sparing unto whom he pleaseth. Those of Mecca rejoice in the present life; although the present life, in respect of the future, is but a precarious provision. The infidels say, Unless a sign be sent down unto him from his LORD, we will not believe. Answer, Verily God will lead into error whom he pleaseth, and will direct

* This is an allusion to the increasing and diminishing of the shadows, according to the height of the sun; so that when they are the longest, which is in the morning and the evening, they appear prostrate on the ground, in the posture of adoration. By believing in all the prophets without exception, and joining thereto the continual practice of their duty both towards God and man.

Literally, gardens of Eden. See chap. 9, p. 157.

8 Al Beidawi, Jallalo'ddin, Yahya.

unto himself him who repenteth, and those who believe, and whose hearts rest securely in the meditation of God; shall not men's hearts rest securely in the meditation of GOD? They who believe and do that which is right shall enjoy blessedness, and partake of a happy resurrection. Thus have we sent thee to a nation which other nations have preceded, unto whom prophets have likewise been sent, that thou mayest rehearse unto them that which we have revealed unto thee, even while they believe not in the merciful God. Say unto them, He is my LORD; there is no God but he : in him do I trust, and unto him must I return. Though a Korân were revealed by which mountains should be removed, or the earth cleaved in sunder, or the dead be caused to speak," it would be in vain. But the matter belongeth wholly unto GOD. Do not, therefore, the believers know, that if GOD pleased, he would certainly direct all men? Adversity shall not cease to afflict the unbelievers for that which they have committed, or to sit down near their habitations, until God's promise come; for GOD is not contrary to the promise. Apostles before thee have been laughed to scorn; and I permitted the infidels to enjoy a long and happy life: but afterwards I punished them; and how severe was the punishment which I inflicted on them! Who is it, therefore, that standeth over every soul, to observe that which it committeth? They attribute companions unto GOD. Say, Name them: will ye declare unto him that which he knoweth not in the earth ?* or will ye name them in outward speech only ?d But the deceitful procedure of the infidels was prepared for them; and they are turned aside from the right path: for he whom GOD shall cause to err, shall have no director. They shall suffer a punishment in this life; but the punishment of the next shall be more grievous: and there shall be none to protect them against GOD. This is the description of paradise, which is promised to the pious. It is watered by rivers; its food is perpetual, and its shade also: this shall be the reward of those who fear God. But the reward of the infidels shall be hell fire. Those to whom we have


These are miracles which the Koreish required of Mohammed; demanding that he would by the power of his Korân either remove the mountains from about Mecca, that they might have delicious gardens in their room; or that he would oblige the wind to transport them with their merchandize to Syria (according to which tradition the words here translated, or the earth cleaved in sunder, should be rendered, or the earth be travelled over in an instant); or else raise to life Kosai Ebn Kelâb, and others of their ancestors, to bear witness to him.

It is supposed by some, that these words are spoken to Mohammed, and then they must be translated in the second person, Nor shalt thou cease to sit down, &c. · For they say this verse relates to the idolaters of Mecca; who were afflicted with a series of misfortunes for their ill-usage of their prophet, and were also continually annoyed and harassed by his parties, which frequently plundered their caravans and drove off their cattle; himself sitting down with his whole army near the city in the expedition of al Hcdeibîya.1

i. e. Till death and the day of judgment overtake them; or, according to the exposition in the preceding note, until the taking of Mecca.2

"Say to them, Name your divinities. Can you teach God any thing which he knoweth not? Or are the names which ye have created only an idle sound?"— Savary.

That is, calling them the companions of God, without being able to assign any reason, or give any proof why they deserve to be sharers in the honour and worship due from mankind to him."

* Sce chap. 8, p. 141, note *.

1 Al Beidawi.

* Idem.

8 Idem.

« PreviousContinue »