208 The CORÂN

Say:—Oh ye People of the Book! ye are not grounded upon anything, until ye set up (or observe) the Tourât and the Gospel, and that which hath been revealed unto you from your Lord.

This passage may have been addressed to the Jews, —as a tradition in Ibn Ishâc's Biography supposes; or, generally, both to Jews and Christians. In either case, its purport is absolute and unconditional in requiring from those addressed, not only the acceptance of the Corân, but the belief and observance of the Tourât and the Gospel likewise. It was an indispensable condition that both Jews and Christians should obey the sacred books as preserved amongst them, i.e. the Old and New Testaments.

How can it then be held that these have been superseded by the Corân? This Sura was given forth several years after the Flight of Mahomet to Medîna, and only a few years before his death, when the teaching of Islâm was complete, or nearly complete. Yet even at this period, Mahomet, through the Corân, tells the Jews and the Christians that. they are bound to "set up," that is, observe the Old, and New Testaments, as well as the revelation made to himself. "Ye are grounded upon nothing," (it is as if he had said), " your foundation is false and insufficient, your religion futile, unless ye observe and. follow the preceding Scriptures: your profession is vain, even if ye obey the Corân, so long as the Tourât and the Gospel are not also set up and observed: without these your faith is insufficient."

If the observance of these inspired books is essential to the safety of the Jews and Christians,


even (as is plainly alleged in this passage) in addition to the Corân, can they without serious risk be set aside by the Mussulman? And how grievously must those have departed from the faith of their prophet, who can not only dispense with Scriptures praised by him as "a light and direction to mankind";— "an enlightenment and guidance and mercy to man ";—"a perspicuous book";—"a light, and a guide, and an instruction to the pious ";— "a guide, and an admonition to men of understanding hearts ";—"the book of God ";— "an illumination and admonition to the pious "; 1— but can even speak evil of them, and blaspheme their inspired teaching?

It may be useful to transcribe here the tradition of Ibn Ishâc as to the occasion or; which the text was revealed:—

ومن عدوانهم قال وأتي رسول الله رافع أبن حارثه وسلام ابن مشكم ومالك ابن الضيف ورافع ابن حرملة فقالوا يا محمد الست تزعم أنك على ملة أبرهيم ودينه وتومن بما عنذنا من التوراة وتشهد أنها من الله حق قال بلي ولكنتم أحدثتم وجحدتم ما فيها مما أخذ عليكم من الميثاق وكتمتم منها ما أمرتم ان تبينوه الناس

‫1 نوراً وهدى للناس— بصائر للناس وهدي ورحمة — كتاب منير نور وهدي وموعظة للمتقين — هدي وذكرى لاولي الألباب — كتاب الله — ضياء وذكر للمتقين