in order that God may forgive thee what went before of thine offence, and what followed after." 'Abbasi explains this as meaning the offences which Muhammad had committed before he claimed to be a prophet, and those that he was to commit even until his death. Al Baizawi and other commentators say that the meaning is, the faults which he had committed in the Time of Ignorance and up to the date of the "descent" of these verses.1 On the supposition that the Qur'an "descended" from God Most High, we have here very distinct statements about Muhammad. Nor can it be argued that the word "offence" (ذَنْبُ) used in the Qur'an means only lesser sins or slight faults which can hardly be called sins at all. For in Surah iv. 39, the word in the plural is applied to the sins of both jinns and men. In Surah xxviii. 78 idolaters are said to be guilty of "offences" (ذُنُوبْ), and the word is used as equal to jurm. The same word "offence" (ذنب) is used of such sins as lying; slander, lust, unbelief, and others of the worst crimes, in Surahs xii. 29 ; Lxvii. 11; xci. 14, and elsewhere. In Surah xlvii. 21, Muhammad is thus addressed: "Ask pardon for thy offence, and for believing men and believing women." Here Muhammad's own offence is clearly distinguished as being his own personal fault and separate from those of his followers, though some have vainly attempted to explain "thy offence" as meaning "the offence of Muslim men and women". In Surah xciv. 1-3 God is represented as saying to Muhammad: "Did We not open thy breast for thee and remove from thee thy burden, which weighed down thy back?" It is impossible to mistake the meaning of all these passages.

The Traditions agree with the Qur'an in this matter, whether we consult the books of the Sunnis or those of the Shi'ites. Let us take only a few examples out of many. Ahmad, At Tirmadhi, and Ibn Majah tell us,

1 Al Zamakhshari explains "what went before", as referring to the affair of Zainab, and "what followed after" to that of Mary the Copt.

on the authority of Fatimah, that, when Muhammad entered the Mosque, he said: "My 1 Lord, forgive me mine offences, and open to me the gates of Thy mercy"; and when he came out he said, " My Lord, forgive me mine offences, and open to me the gates of Thy grace." 'Ayishah tells us another of his prayers, in which the words, "O God,2 forgive me," occur. In another place Muslim quotes on her authority Muhammad's saying: "O God,3 verily I take refuge in Thy good pleasure from Thy displeasure, and in Thy forgiveness from Thy punishment." Ahmad, At Tirmidhi, and Abu Da'ud quote, on 'Ali's authority, Muhammad's prayer: "Verily 4 I have wronged my soul; therefore forgive me, for there is none that forgiveth offences but Thee." According to Abu Musa, Muhammad used to pray thus: "O God,5 forgive me my sin and my ignorance and my dissipation in my business, and what Thou knowest better than I do. O God, pardon me my earnestness and my joking and my error and my obstinacy, and all that is with me. O God, forgive me what went before and what came after, and what I have concealed and what I have made manifest.'' Besides this, Al Baihaqi 6 in Ad Da'watu'l Kabirah tells us, on the authority of 'Ayishah, that one day the latter said to Muhammad: "O Apostle of God, doth no one enter Paradise except through the mercy of God Most High?" In reply he three times said, "No one enters Paradise except through the mercy of God Most High." She said, "Not even thou, O Apostle of God?" Muhammad placed his hand on his head and replied, "Not even I, unless God decide upon it firmly from Himself for me through His mercy." This he said three times.

Imam Ja'far tells us 7 that one night, when Muhammad

1 Mishkatu'l Masabih, p. 62.
2 Mishkat, p. 74.
3 Mishkat, p. 76.
4 Mishkat, p. 206.
5 Mishkat p. 210 Similar traditions are given in Mishkat, pp. 100, 104, &c.
6 Quoted in Mishkat, p. 107.
7 Hayatu'l Qulub, vol. ii, p. 75.