Revealed at Makkah.


THE name of this chapter occurs in ver. 14- All of the best authorities agree that this chapter originated at Makkah. Most of the Muslim commentators make vers. 14, 29-31, to allude to events which occurred at Madina late in the life of the Prophet, and a few writers, says Noeldeke, have thought the whole chapter should be referred to Madina. However, the interpretations given by these commentators are based entirely upon the words of these passages, and, in the absence of better evidence, must be regarded as widely mistaken.

The internal evidence of the chapter is decidedly in favour of referring the origin of the whole to Makkah, excepting perhaps ver. 41.

The contents of the chapter relate entirely to Muhammad's disputes with the infidel Quraish. A remarkable feature of it is its many apologies for Muhammad's failure to perform the miracles demanded by the unbelievers. On this account the author of the Notes on the Roman Urdu Quran remarks that "this chapter should have been entitled the Chapter of Apologies."

Probable date of the Revelations.

We have already shown that this chapter, excepting ver. 41, must be referred to Makkah. As to the date of composition, the earlier verses of the chapter might be assigned to almost any period in the career of the Makkan preacher; but the latter part of the chapter must be referred to the latter part of his ministry at Makkah. This is evident from the allusion to the "adversity" of the Makkans in ver. 31, the belief of certain Jews in ver. 36, and the obstinate un-


belief and opposition of the Quraish in vers. 30 and 42. If we take the allusion in vers. 36 and 37 to be to the lapse of Muhammad in his temporary compromise with idolatry about six years before the Hijra, and if we refer the statements of ver. 42 to the persecutions which arose on Muhammad's recovery from the lapse, and which culminated in the ban against the Hashimites, this portion of the chapter may be referred to the period intervening between the years 6 and 4 B.H.

Principal Subjects.

The infidels reject the Quran . . . 1
God manifests himself to man in his works. .. 2-4
The unbelievers deny the resurrection . . . 5
Their punishment . . . 6
Threatened judgments sure to come to pass. . . . 7
Unbelievers demand a sign . . . . 8
God is omniscient . . . . . 12
God's purposes are unchangeable . . . 9-12
Thunder and lightning manifest God as the true object of worship. . . 13,14
Idolaters invoke their gods in vain . . . . 15
All nature worships the Creator . . . . . 16, 17
The separation of infidels from true believers typefied in the flowing stream and the melting metal . . . 18
True believers described . . . 19-22
Their reward . . . 23, 24
The end of the infidels. . . . 25
Abundance of wealth no sign of God's favour ... 26
The infidels demand a sign from heaven . . . 27
God directs true believers . . . 28
Muhammad sent to an unbelieving people . . . 29
Signs unavailing to make infidels true believers . . . 30
God will punish the unbelievers . . . 31, 32
Idolaters are reprobate. . . 33, 34
Paradise described . . . 35
Certain Jews acknowledge Muhammad to be a prophet .. . 36
Muhammad exhorted to make no compromise with idolatry ... 36, 37
Wives and children no hindrance to the prophetic office . .. 38
God is lord of his own book . . . 39
Muhammad a preacher only . . . 40
God's judgments sure to come to pass . . . . 41
The plots of God's enemies not hidden from him . . . 42
God attests the claims of his Prophet . . . . . 43



(1) A.L.M.R These are the signs of the book of the Quran; and that which hath been sent down unto thee from thy LORD is the truth; but the greater part of men will not believe. (2) 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. (3) 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 upon people who consider. (4) 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 upon people who understand. (5) 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? (6) These are they who believe not in

(1) "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.' "- Sale.

The truth. See note on chap. iii. 3.

(2) The popular Arab notions as to astronomy are represented here. The Creator of the heavens, with the luminaries thereof, is the true God. His works testily of his eternal power and godhead.

(3) To different kinds, e.g., "sweet and sour, black and white, small and large."- Sale, Jalaluddin.

The original word is zujain meaning impairs.

(4) Tracts of land, &c. "Some being fruitful and others barren, some plain and other mountainous, &c."- Sale, Jalaluddin.


their LORD; these shall have collars on their necks, and these shall be the inhabitants of hell-fire: therein shall they abide for ever. (7) They will ask of thee to hasten evil rather than good: although there have already been 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. (8) 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.

(6) Collars. "The 'collar' here mentioned is an engine some-thing 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 Muhammadans 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."- Sale, Baidhawi.

See also chap. v.69, and note there.

(7) To hasten evil. "Provoking and daring thee to call down the Divine vengeance on them for their impenitency."- Sale. Rather daring Muhammad to bring down the wrath threatened against them for rejecting his prophetic claims.

(8) It is a fair inference from this verse that Muhammad wrought no miracles, not only because they were asked for, but because he here disclaims being a worker of miracles. "Thou art a preacher only."

The explanation of the commentators (see Tafsir-i-Hussaini) that God gave his prophets miracles suited to the age in which they lived, e.g., to Moses it was given to excel in jugglery, to Jesus to excel in the curing art, &c., is very puerile indeed and predicates excessive ignorance as to the nature of the miracles wrought by these prophets. The author of the Notes on the Roman Urdu Quran may well ask what the plagues of Egypt had to do with jugglery, or what Christ's walking on the waves, or his raising the dead, or his feeding the five thousand, had to do with the art of medicine; or what evidence is there that the age of Muhammad was marked by anything peculiar in the style or beauty of its literary productions, that the beauty and style of the Quran should be regarded as a miracle peculiarly suited to that time? The fact is, the passage before us clearly proves that the miracle of the Quran was never recognised by any of Muhammad's contemporaries outside the pale of Islam.


(9) 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 everything regulated according to a determined measure. (10) He knoweth that which is hidden and that which is revealed. He is the great, the most high. (11) 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. (12) 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. (13) It is he who causeth the lightning to appear unto you, to strike fear, and to raise hope, and who formeth the pregnant clouds. (14) The thunder celebrateth his praise, and the angels also, for fear of him. He sendeth his thunder-

(12) They watch him, &c. See Prelim. Disc., p.119.

(13) And to raise hope. "Thunder and lightning being the sign of approaching rain, a great blessing in the Eastern countries more especially." Sale.

(14) Thunder celebrateth his praise. "Or causeth those who bear 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."- Sale, Baidhawi.

While they dispute concerning God. "This passage was revealed on the following occasion. Amar Ibn al Tufail and Arbad Ibn Rabiah the brother of Labid, went to Muhammad with an intent to kill him; and Amar 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 Amar was struck with a pestilential boil, of which he died in a short time in a miserable condition.

Jalaluddin, however, tells another story, saying that Muhammad having sent one to invite a certain man to embrace his religion, the person but this question to the missionary, 'Who is this apostle, and


bolts, and striketh therewith whom he pleaseth, while they dispute concerning GOD; for he is mighty in power. (15) 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. (16) Whatsoever is in heaven and on earth worshippeth GOD, voluntarily or of force; and their shadows also, morning and evening. (17) 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. (18) He causeth water to descend from heaven, and the brooks flow according to their respective measure, and the floods bear the floating froth: and 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

what is God? Is he of gold, or of silver, or of brass?' Upon which a thunderbolt struck off his skull and killed him."- Sale.

This story is manifestly a pure fiction, constructed by the commentators out of the materials found in this passage. If true, the passage would have to be assigned to the year A.H. 9 or 10 at Madina, whereas the internal evidence fixes it, beyond alt reasonable dispute, at Makkah before the Hijra.

(16) Voluntarily or of force. "The infidels and devils themselves being constrained to humble themselves before him, though against their will, when they are delivered up to punishment."- Sale.

Morning and evening. When the shadows are longest, and appear prostrate in the posture of adoration.

(17-22) This is one of the best passages of the Quran, and points to the best days of the preacher of Makkah.


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!


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(19) 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; (20) who fulfil the covenant of GOD, and break not their contract; (21) and who join that which GOD hath commanded to be joined, and who fear their LORD, and dread an ill account; (22) 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, (23) 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

(21) Who join, &c. "By believing in all the prophets without exception, and joining thereto the continual practice of their duty, both towards God and man."- Sale, Jalaluddin.

(23) Their wives. This is one of five passages in the Quran distinctly asserting that women as well as men shall enter the joys of the Muslim Paradise. The other passages are chaps. ix. 73, XXXVI. 56, xl. 8, xliii. 70.

"Gibbon characteristically observes that 'Mahomet has not specified the male companions of the female elect, lest he should either alarm the jealousy of their former husbands, or disturb their felicity by the suspicion of an everlasting marriage." The remark, made in raillery, is pregnant with reason, and aims a fatal blow (if any were needed) at the Paradise of Islam. Faithful women will renew their youth in heaven as well as faithful men; why should not their good works merit an equal and analogous reward? But Mahomet shrunk from this legitimate conclusion." - Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p.143.

The expression gardens of eternal abode is translated by Rodwell" gardens of Eden." But the commentators do not take the word Eden in the sense which it bears in Hebrew. See note on chap. ix. 73.


angels shall go in unto them by every gate, (24) saying, Peace be upon you, because ye have endured with patience: how excellent a reward is paradise! (25) 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 fall, and they shall have a miserable dwelling in hell. (26) GOD giveth provision in abundance unto whom he pleaseth, and is sparing unto whom he pleaseth. Those of Makkah rejoice in the present life, although the present life, in respect of the future, is but a precarious provision.

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(27) 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 unto himself him who repenteth, (28) 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. (29) 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 hirn must I return. (30) Though a Quran were

(24) Cut in sunder, &c., i.e., by dislocating the faith of all the prophets. - Tafsir-i-Raufi. This is just what Muhammad and his followers have done.

(27) The infidels say, &c. See notes on ver. 8 above.

(28) They who believe, &c., i.e., who believe in Islam and perform the duties required by it.

(29) Say unto them &c. This, says the Tafsir-i-Raufi, was said in reply to the Quraish at the treaty made at Hadaibiya. Muhammad had directed the treaty to be headed by the words 'Bismillah ir Rahman-ar-Rahim," when the Quiaish asked, "Who is Rahman? The story is apparently a pure invention to explain the allusion of the text.


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? (31) Adversity shall not cease to afflict the unbelievers for that which they have committed, or to sit down near their habitatious, until GOD'S promise come; for GOD is not contrary to the promise.

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(32) 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! (33) Who is it, therefore, that standeth over every soul, to observe that

(30) By which mountains, &c. These are miracles which the Quraish required of Muhammad, demanding that he would, by the power of his Quran, either remove the mountains from about Makkah, that they might have delicious gardens in their room or that he would oblige the wind to transport them, with their merchandise, 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 Kusai Ibn Kalab and others of their ancestors, to bear witness to him ; whereupon this passage was revealed."- Sale. See also chap. viii. 23, and note.

(31) Their habitations. "It is supposed by some that these words are spoken to Muhammad, 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 Makkah, who were afflicted with a series of misfortunes for their ill-usage of the 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 Hudaibiya."- Sale, Baidhawi.

Until God's promise come, i.e., "till death and the day of judgment overtake them; or, according to the exposition in the preceding note, until the taking of Makkah."- Sale, Baidhawi.

The interpretation making this verse refer to the expedition to Hudaibiya is founded upon the imagination of the commentators. It is certainly better to regard the passage as Makkan, and to make the verse allude to some calamity - perhaps the famine of chap. xi. II - which had overtaken the people, and which Muhammad used to give point to his threatenings.


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? 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. (34) 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. (35) 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. (36) Those to whom we have given the scriptures, rejoice at what hath been revealed unto thee. Yet there are some of the con-

(33) Outward speech only. "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."- Sale, Baidhawi.

Whom God shall cause to err &c. The idea is that God having given them over to final destruction, they have become judicially blind, and are therefore hopelessly lost. This points to the latter years of Muhammad's career as preacher at Makkah.

(36) Those . . . rejoice, &c., viz., "the first proselytes to Muhammadanism from Judaism and Christianity ; or the Jews and Christians in general, who were pleased to find the Quran so consonant to their own Scriptures." See also notes on chaps. iii. 199, and vi. 20.

"The confidence with which Mahomet refers to the testimony of the Jews and of their Scripture is very remarkable. It leaves us no room to doubt that some amongst the Jews, possessed probably of an imperfect and superficial acquaintance with their own books and traditions, encouraged Mahomet in the idea that he might be, or positively affirmed that he was, 'that prophet whom the Lord their God should raise up unto them of their brethren.' "- Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. pp. 183, 184. Compare chaps. xxxiv. 6, x.93, vi. 20, xxviii. 52, and xvii. 108.

The confederates who deny. "That is, such of them as had entered into a confederacy to oppose Muhammad, as did Kab Ibn al Ashraf, and the Jews who followed him, and Sayad al Najrani, al Akib, and several other Christians, who denied such parts of the Quran as contradicted their corrupt doctrines and traditions.' - Sale.


federates who deny part thereof. Say unto them, Verily I am commanded to worship GOD alone; and to him give no companion: upon him do I can, and unto him shall I return. (37) To this purpose have we sent down the Quran, a rule of judgment, in the Arabic language. And verily, if thou follow their desires, after the knowledge which hath been given thee, there shall be none to defend or protect thee against GOD.

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(38) We have formerly sent apostles before thee, and bestowed on them wives and children; and no apostle had the power to come with a sign, unless by the permission of GOD. Every age hath its book of revelation. (39) GOD shall abolish and shall confirm what he pleaseth. With him is the original of the book. (40) Moreover, whether we cause thee to see any part of that punishment where with we have threatened them, or whether we cause thee to die before it be inflicted on them, verily unto thee belongeth preaching only, but unto us inquisition. (41) Do they not see that we come into their land, and straiten

(37) If thou follow their desires, &c. This probably refers to Muhammad's temporary lapse in making a compromise with idolatry. For an account of it see Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. chap. v.

(38) Wives and children. "As we have on thee. This passage was revealed in answer to the reproaches which were cast on Muhammad on account of the great number of his wives. For the Jews said that if he was a true prophet his care and attention would be employed about something else than women and the getting of children. It may be observed that it is a maxim of the Jews that nothing is more repugnant to prophecy than carnality" (Mamion., More Nev., part ii. c. 36, &c. - Sale, Jalaluddin, Yahya.

Every age hath its book. See chap. ii. 4, note.

(39) Abolish, &c. See notes on chap. ii. 105.

The original book. "Literally, the mother of the book, by which is meant the Preserved Table, from which all the written revelations which have been from time to time published to mankind, according to the several dispensations, are transcripts."- Sale.

(40) Unto thee belongeth preaching only. See above on ver. 8.

(41) We came into their land, &c. This passage is of Madina origin, and refers to the encroachments of the Muslims on their idolatrous neighbours. It is probably an addition, made either by Muhammad himself or by the compilers after his death.


the borders thereof by the conquests of the true believers? When GOD judgeth, there is none to reverse his judgment; and he will be swift in taking an account. (42) Their predecessors formerly devised subtle plots against their prophets, but God is master of every subtle device. He knoweth that which every soul deserveth; and the infidels shall surely know whose will be the reward of Paradise. (43) The unbelievers will say, Thou art not sent of God. Answer, GOD is a sufficient witness between me and you, and he who understandeth the scriptures.

(43) Thou art not sent. "The persons intended in this passage, it said, were the Jewish doctors."- Sale, Baidhawi.

He who understandeth the Scriptures. See notes on chap. vi. 20 and above on ver. 36.


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