184 The CORÂN

The text is said by the Commentators to apply to the Jews and Christians, who both claimed Abraham, as having belonged to their respective faiths; this, Mahomet would refute by saying that Abraham lived before either the Old Testament or the Gospel had been revealed:—how then could they say that he belonged to the religion of either of those books? Or what means of judging had they from their books what his religion was? I do not pretend to offer an opinion as to the soundness of this argument. The passage is quoted simply because the Old and New Testaments are mentioned in it. The knowledge which the Jews and Christians are admitted to possess, and concerning certain points of which they disputed, is clearly the knowledge of their own Scriptures.

CX.—SURA III., v. 68[69-73].

سورة آل عمران

وَدَّت طَّآئِفَةٌ مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَوْ يُضِلُّونَكُمْ وَمَا يُضِلُّونَ إِلاَّ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لِمَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللّهِ وَأَنتُمْ تَشْهَدُونَ
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لِمَ تَلْبِسُونَ الْحَقَّ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتَكْتُمُونَ الْحَقَّ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
وَقَالَت طَّآئِفَةٌ مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ آمِنُواْ بِالَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَجْهَ النَّهَارِ وَاكْفُرُواْ آخِرَهُ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ


وَلاَ تُؤْمِنُواْ إِلاَّ لِمَن تَبِعَ دِينَكُمْ قُلْ إِنَّ الْهُدَى هُدَى اللّهِ أَن يُؤْتَى أَحَدٌ مِّثْلَ مَا أُوتِيتُمْ أَوْ يُحَآجُّوكُمْ عِندَ رَبِّكُمْ قُلْ إِنَّ الْفَضْلَ بِيَدِ اللّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاء وَاللّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

A party of the People of the Book desire to cause thee to go astray: but they shall not cause (any) to go astray, excepting their own souls, and they perceive it not. 
Oh People of the Book! why do ye reject the signs of God, while ye bear testimony (thereto)? 
Oh People of the Book! why do ye clothe the truth with that which is false, and hide the truth, while ye know (it)? 
and a party of the people of the book say,—Believe in that which is sent down unto those that believe, in the early part of the day; and reject (it, in) the latter part thereof; if haply they may turn back:
and, believe not (any) excepting him that followeth your religion. Say,—Verily the direction is the direction of God, that there should be given unto one (i.e. to Mahomet, a revelation) like unto that which hath been given unto you. Or, will they dispute with you before your Lord? say,—Verily favour is in the hand of God: He giveth it unto whomsoever He pleaseth; and God is widely comprehensive (in His mercy,) and wise.

This passage, it is agreed by all, is addressed to the Jews of Medîna, who opposed Mahomet. It opens with impugning the erroneous doctrines which they endeavoured to inculcate upon Mahomet and his followers. They were bigotedly attached to their own system, and naturally held by the maxim "to believe in no one but those who followed their religion." It is added that "they only deceived their own souls, though they perceived it not," that is, by their