Page images

rain, that he may cause you to taste of his mercy; and that ships may sail at his command, that ye may seek to enrich yourselves of his abundance by commerce; and that ye may give thanks. We sent apostles, before thee, unto their respective people, and they came unto them with evident proofs: and we took vengeance on those who did wickedly; and it was incumbent on us to assist the true believers. It is GOD who sendeth the winds, and raiseth the clouds, and spreadeth the same in the heaven, as he pleaseth; and afterwards disperseth the same: and thou mayest see the rain issuing from the midst thereof; and when he poureth the same down on such of his servants as he pleaseth, behold, they are filled with joy; although before it was sent down unto them, before such relief, they were despairing. Consider therefore the traces of God's mercy; how he quickeneth the earth, after its state of death: verily the same will raise the dead; for he is almighty. Yet if we should send a blasting wind, and they should see their corn yellow and burnt up, they would surely become ungrateful, after our former favours. Thou canst not make the dead to hear, neither canst thou make the deaf to hear thy call, when they retire and turn their backs; neither canst thou direct the blind out of their error: thou shalt make none to hear, except him who shall believe in our signs; for they are resigned unto us. It is GOD who created you in weakness, and after weakness hath given you strength; and after strength, he will again reduce you to weakness and grey hairs: he createth that which he pleaseth; and he is the wise, the powerful. On the day whereon the last hour shall come, the wicked will swear that they have not tarried above an hour: in like manner did they utter lies in their lifetime. But those on whom knowledge hath been bestowed, and faith, will say, Ye have tarried, according to the book of GOD, until the day of resurrection; for this is the day of resurrection; but ye knew it not. On that day their excuse shall not avail those who have acted unjustly; neither shall they be invited any more to make themselves acceptable unto God. And now have we propounded unto mer, in this Korân, parables of every kind: yet if thou bring them a verse thereof,* the unbelievers will surely say, Ye are no other than publishers of vain falsehoods. Thus hath GOD sealed up the hearts of those who believe not:+ But do thou, O Mohammed, persevere with constancy, for GOD is true; and let not those induce thee to waver, who have no certain knowledge.

Viz., In the world or in their graves. See chap. 23, p. 286.

That is, according to his foreknowledge and decree in the preserved Table; or according to what is said in the Korân, where the state of the dead is expressed by these words, Behind them there shall be a bar until the day of resurrection.10

"The Korân offers multiplied examples unto men; but when a miracle is displayed, the unbeliever will exclaim, it is an imposture!"-Savary.

"It is thus that God sealeth the hearts of those who are blinded by ignorance.”— Savary.

Chap. 23, p. 285. 10 Al Beidâwi




A. L. M. These are the signs of the wise book, a direction, and a mercy unto the righteous; who observe the appointed times of prayer, and give alms, and have firm assurance in the life to come: these are directed by their LORD, and they shall prosper. There is a man who purchaseth a ludicrous story,d that he may seduce men from the way of GOD, without knowledge, and may laugh the same to scorn: these shall suffer a shameful punishment. And when our signs are rehearsed unto him he disdainfully turneth his back as though he heard them not, as though there were a deafness in his ears: wherefore denounce unto him a grievous punishment. But they who shall believe and work righteousness, shall enjoy gardens of pleasure: they shall continue therein for ever: this is the certain promise of GOD; and he is the mighty, the wise. He hath created the heavens without visible pillars to sustain them, and thrown on the earth mountains firmly rooted, lest it should move with you; and he hath replenished the same with all kinds of beasts: and we send down rain from heaven, and cause every kind of noble vegetable to spring forth therein. This is the creation of GOD: show me now what they have created, who are worshipped besides him? verily the ungodly are in a manifest error.† We heretofore bestowed wisdom on Lokmân, and commanded him, saying

The chapter is so entitled from a person of this name mentioned therein, of whom more immediately.

Some except the fourth verse, beginning at these words, Who observe the appointed times of prayer, and give alms, &c. And others three verses, beginning at these words, If all the trees in the earth were pens, &c.

See the Prelim. Disc. sect. iii. p. 42, &c.

die. Vain and silly fables. The passage was revealed, it is said, on occasion of al Nodar Ebn al Hareth, who, having brought from Persia the romance of Rostam and Isfandiyar, the two heroes of that country, recited it in the assemblies of the Koreish, highly extolling the power and splendour of the ancient Persian kings, and preferring their stories to those of Ad and Thamud, David and Solomon, and the rest which are told in the Korân. Some say that al Nodar bought singing girls, and carried them to those who were inclined to become Moslems, to divert them from their purpose by songs and tales.1

"There are men, who, making a mock of religion, purchase frivolous stories, calculated to seduce their fellow-creatures, and to turn them aside from the right path. A shameful punishment shall be their reward."-Savary.

See chap. 16. p. 215. A learned writer,2 in his notes on this passage, says the original word rawâsiya, which the commentators in general will have to signify, stable mountains, seems properly to express the Hebrew word mechonim, i. e. bases or foundations; and therefore he thinks the Korân has here translated that passage of the Psalms, He laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be moved for ever This is not the only instance which might be given, that the Mohammedan doctors are not always the best interpreters of their own scriptures.

+"Behold his creation. Show me that which your idols have called forth from nothing. The wicked are involved in darkness."-Savary.

'The Arab writers say, that Lokmân was the son of Baûra, who was the son or 1 Al Beidâwi. 2 Gol. in Append. ad Erpenii Gram. p. 187. $ Psal. civ. 5.

Be thou thankful unto God: for whoever is thankful, shall be thankful to the advantage of his own soul; and if any shall be unthankful, verily GOD is self-sufficient, and worthy to be praised. And remember when Lokmân said unto his son, as he admonished him, Oh my son, give not a partner unto GOD; for polytheism is a great impiety. We have commanded man concerning his parents (his mother carrieth him in her womb with weakness and faintness,* and he is weaned in two years), saying, Be grateful unto me, and to thy parents. Unto me shall all come to be judged. But if thy parents endeavour to prevail on thee to associate with me that concerning which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not: bear them company in this world in what shall be reasonable; but follow the way of him who sincerely turneth unto me.k Hereafter unto me shall ye return, and then will I declare unto you that which ye have done. O my son, verily every matter, whether good or bad, though it be of the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, and be hidden in a rock, or in the heavens, or in the earth, grandson of a sister or aunt of Job; and that he lived several centuries, and to the time of David, with whom he was conversant in Palestine. According to the description they give of his person, he must have been deformed enough; for they say he was of a black complexion (whence some call him an Ethiopian), with thick lips, and splay feet but, in return, he received from God wisdom and eloquence in a great degree; which some pretend were given him in a vision, on his making choice of wisdom preferably to the gift of prophecy, either of which were offered him. The generality of the Mohammedans, therefore, hold him to have been no prophet, but only a wise man. As to his condition, they say he was a slave, but obtained his liberty on the following occasion. His master having one day given him a bitter melon to eat, he paid him such exact obedience as to eat it all; at which his master being surprised, asked how he could eat so nauseous a fruit? To which he replied, it was no wonder that he should for once accept a bitter fruit from the same hand from which he had received so many favours. The commentators mention several quick repartees of Lokmân, which, together with the circumstances above mentioned, agree so well with what Maximus Planudes has written of Esop, that from thence, and from the fables attributed to Lokmân by the orientals, the latter has been generally thought to be no other than the Esop of the Greeks. However that be (for I think the matter will bear a dispute), I am of opinion that Planudes borrowed great part of his life of Esop from the traditions he met with in the East concerning Lokmân, concluding them to have been the same person, because they were both slaves, and supposed to be the writers of those fables which go under their respective names, and bear a great resemblance to one another; for it has long since been observed by learned men, that the greater part of that monk's performance is an absurd romance, and supported by no evidence of the ancient writers.5

Whom some name Anâm (which comes pretty near the Ennus of Planudes), some Ashcan, and others Mathan.

The two verses which begin at these words, and end with the following, viz. And then will I declare unto you that which ye have done, are no part of Lokman's advice to his son, but are inserted by way of parenthesis, as very pertinent and proper to be repeated here, to show the heinousness of idolatry: they are to be read (excepting some additions) in the twenty-ninth chapter, and were originally revealed on account of Saad Ebn Abi Wakkâs, as has been already observed.

[ocr errors]

"We have prescribed sacred duties unto man, for him to perform towards the authors of his existence. He has been borne, with numerous pains, in the womb of his mother. He has been suckled for two years. Mortals, be grateful for our benefits; be beneficent unto your parents. I am the end of all things."-Savary. That is, show them all deference and obedience, so far as may be consistent with thy duty towards God.

The person particularly meant here was Abu Beer, at whose persuasion Saad

had become a Moslem.

Al Zamakh. al Beidâwi, &c. Vide D'Herbel. Bibl. Orient. p. 516, et Marrace. in Alc. p. 547. Vide la Vie d'Esope, par M. de Meziriac, et Bayle, Dict Hist. Art. Esope. Rem. B. See chap. 29, p. 325, and the notes thereon.


GOD will bring the same to light; for GOD is clear-sighted and knowing. Oh my son, be constant at prayer, and command that which is just, and forbid that which is evil: and be patient under the afflictions which shall befall thee; for this is a duty absolutely incumbent on all men. Distort not thy face out of contempt to men, neither walk in the earth with insolence; for GOD loveth no arrogant, vain-glorious person. And be moderate in thy pace; and lower thy voice; for the most ungrateful of all voices surely is the voice of asses. Do ye not see that God hath subjected whatever is in heaven and on earth to your service, and hath abundantly poured on you his favours, both outwardly and inwardly ? There are some who dispute concerning GOD without knowledge, and without a direction, and without an enlightening book. And when it is said unto them, Follow that which God hath revealed, they answer, Nay, we will follow that which we found our fathers to practise. What, though the devil invite them to the torment of hell? Whosoever resigneth himself unto GOD, being a worker of righteousness, taketh hold on a strong handle; and unto God belongeth the issue of all things. But whoever shall be an unbeliever, let not his unbelief grieve thee: unto us shall they return; then will we declare unto them that which they have done, for GOD knoweth the innermost parts of the breasts of men. We will suffer them to enjoy this world for a little while: afterwards we will drive them to a severe punishment. If thou ask them who hath created the heavens and the earth, they will surely answer, GOD. Say, GOD be praised! but the greater part of them do not understand. Unto GOD belongeth whatever is in heaven and earth: for GOD is the self-sufficient, the praiseworthy. If whatever trees are in the earth were pens, and he should after that swell the sea into seven seas of ink, the words of GOD would not be exhausted;" for GOD is mighty and wise. Your creation and your resuscitation are but as the creation and resuscitation of one soul: verily GOD both heareth and seeth. Dost thou not see that GOD causeth the night to succeed the day, and causeth the day to succeed the night, and compelleth the sun and the moon to serve you? Each of those luminaries hasteneth in its course to a determined period: and GOD is well acquainted with that which ye do. This is declared concerning the divine knowledge and power, for that God is the true Being, and for that whatever ye invoke, besides him, is vanity; and for that GOD is the high, the great God. Dost thou not see that the ships run in the sea, through the favour of GOD, that he

may show you of

"Bear patiently the calamities which befall thee. They are a consequence of the eternal decrees."-Savary.


To the braying of which animal the Arabs liken a loud and disagreeable voice. i. e. All kinds of blessings, regarding as well the mind as the body.

"He who hath devoted his heart unto Islâmism and unto virtue hath seized hold of an immoveable pillar. He is supported upon God, the end of all things." -Savary.

This passage is said to have been revealed in answer to the Jews, who insisted that all knowledge was contained in the law.7

• God being able to produce a million of worlds by the single word Kun, i. e. Be and to raise the dead in general by the single word Kum, i. e. Arise.

7 Al Beidâwi.

his signs? Verily herein are signs unto every patient, grateful person. When waves cover them, like overshadowing clouds, they call upon GoD, exhibiting the pure religion unto him ;* but when he bringeth them safe to land, there is of them who halteth between the true faith and idolatry. Howbeit, none rejecteth our signs, except every perfidious, ungrateful person. O men, fear your LORD, and dread the day whereon a father shall not make satisfaction for his son, neither shall a son make satisfaction for his father at all: the promise of GOD is assuredly true. Let not this present life, therefore, deceive you; neither let the deceiver deceive you concerning GOD. Verily the knowledge of the hour of judgment is with GOD; and he causeth the rain to descend at his own appointed time; and he knoweth what is in the wombs of females. No soul knoweth what it shall gain on the morrow; neither doth any soul know in what land it shall die: but GOD is knowing and fully acquainted with all things.




A. L. M. The revelation of this book, there is no doubt thereof, is from the LORD of all creatures.† Will they say, Mohammed hath forged it? Nay it is the truth from thy LORD, that thou mayest preach to a people, unto whom no preacher hath come before thee; peradventure they will be directed. It is GOD who hath created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, in six days; and then ascended his throne. Ye have no patron, or intercessor besides him. Will ye not therefore con

"When the billows cover the ship, like gloomy mountains, the mariners call upon the name of God; they manifest unto him a sincere faith."-Savary. P Viz. the devil.

a In this passage five things are enumerated which are known to God alone: viz., the time of the day of judgment; the time of rain; what is forming in the womb, as whether it be male or female, &c.; what shall happen on the morrow; and where any person shall die. These the Arabs, according to a tradition of their prophet, call the five keys of secret knowledge. The passage, it is said, was occasioned by al Hareth Ebn Amru, who propounded questions of this nature to Mohammed. As to the last particular, al Beidâwi relates the following story:-The angel of death passing once by Solomon in a visible shape, and looking at one who was sitting with him, the man asked who he was, and upon Solomon's acquainting him that it was the angel of death, said, He seems to want me; wherefore order the wind to carry me from hence into India: which being accordingly done, the angel said to Solomon, I looked so earnestly at the man out of wonder; because I was commanded to take his soul in India, and found him with thee in Palestine.

This title is taken from the middle of the chapter, where the believers are said to fall down adoring.

See the Prelim. Disc. sect. iii. p. 42, &c.

+ The Sovereign of the universe hath caused the Korân to descend from heaven. This book ought to leave no doubt.”—Savary.

See chap. 28, p. 321.

« PreviousContinue »