Some explanation of the form of these notes on the Qur'an is required, and may best be given in a short account of their origin.
When I began to prepare my lectures on the origin of Islam, my investigations were directed to the background and surroundings of early Islam rather than to the Qur'an itself. The results of European scholarship at that time seemed to point to Muhammad's dependence on some form of Christianity for the initiation and early content of his prophecy. I hoped to sum up the results, and perhaps by reading in Christian literature to extend them. Quite suddenly, when one day I was verifying a reference to the Qur'an, it dawned upon me that I was on the wrong track; that Muhammad could never have been in close contact with any form of Christianity. The echoes of Christian language, which one hears occasionally in the Qur'an, must have come to him in the course of his mission. Time pressed, but a fresh study of the Qur'an had to be undertaken.
In this study, the aim-impossible, of course, to realize-was to get away from previous interpretations, both Muslim and non-Muslim, and to read the book as openmindedly as possible, with the help of dictionary, grammar, and above all the Concordance. Noldeke's order of the suras was retained. The first form of the notes consisted of short jottings of my impressions of the man behind the book, his teachings and his aims; answers to the questions "What was aimed at by this deliverance?" and "How would it be understood by those who heard it delivered?"
Interest in the Qur'an having been thus aroused, I set myself as soon as my lectures were off my hands to work through the book, making a translation and keeping notes of difficulties, and any tentative solutions at which I arrived. I now made use of commentaries, especially that of Baydawi, and of European studies, so far as they were available to me, but I aimed always at an independent interpretation. I aimed further at dividing the suras into their component parts; for I was convinced that they consisted of short pieces, and that verses were not to be assumed to be connected simply because they happened to be placed together. Here perhaps I should acknowledge a special debt to Barth's article in Der Islam 7 (1916), which first called my attention to the grammatical unevennesses and interruptions of sense that occur in the Qur'an. That interpretations were sometimes adopted for their novelty and that breaks were discerned where there was no necessity to assume them, were natural. But this working over did bring out the main divisions and the breaks in connection. So far there was little attempt to explain how the dislocations had occurred. My aim was analysis, not reconstruction. The notes consisted largely of philological and exegetical matter, along with discussions of date. There was no attempt at a systematic commentary,
The idea had, however, been growing in my mind, and now I began to type out the translation and notes simultaneously, making drastic revisions, omissions, and additions. By this time I was fairly sure that I was dealing with written documents, and was on the outlook for explanations of confusions and displacement of verses. The suras were still being dealt with in Noldeke's order, and it must have been in working through his Medinan suras that the idea that sheets and parts of sheets might have been covered with writing on both sides and later read consecutively, began to take shape in my mind. Used as a tentative solution, it worked in many passages. When by its help I was able to solve to my own satisfaction the confusion at the beginning of Sura IX, the truth of the hypothesis seemed to be assured. From then on I used it freely, and found that it often gave a simple explanation of passages that had formerly seemed difficult and complicated.
Before publication could be thought of, however, it was necessary to work through the whole again. For it was only toward the end of revision that this idea had become clear to me, and it had now to be applied throughout the Qur'an. Besides, the notes, filled out with discussions and gropings after solutions of difficulties, had expanded to a rather formidable length. I therefore began to revise both translation and notes, compressing the latter as much as possible. I worked now in the traditional order of the suras, but before I had proceeded very far, I lost hope of finding a publisher for the notes. They were laid aside, except for my own use, and were no longer revised to correspond with changes made, not so much in the actual translation as in the arrangement of the contents of the surahs.
After the publication of my translation, regrets at the suppression of the notes were expressed by most of the reviewers, and inquiries about them were made from various sides. But no way to their publication appeared, and I felt I had spent enough time and labor on the Qur'an and had no mind to take up these notes and revise them again. So matters rested until the autumn of 1947. The Justice Faiz B. Tyabji, who had written me from Bombay about my Translation, paid a visit to this country and came to see me in Edinburgh. By his friendly interest and encouragement, he persuaded me to resume the work I had put aside, in the hope that the notes might have an interest not only for Christians* but for Muslims as well. Should this hope-which, presumptuous as it is, I could not in the light of my friend's example entirely reject-ever be fulfilled, and a Muslim consult the opinion of one of another faith on the meaning of the Qur'an, I must apologize for any offense to Muslim sentiment in the form and manner of expression. These notes were not written with any polemical object. They are simply the deposit of an honest effort to understand Muhammad and the Qur'an.
The work of revision has gone slowly; it has not been so thorough as it might have been. Evidence of the haphazard way in which the workt took shape, no doubt, remains. There are perhaps repetitions; there may even be inconsistencies. Of the latter I hope there are not many. But varied ideas found expression in the notes at different times. Some variation may remain. I have thought, however, to bring the whole into conformity with my final results expressed in the arrangement of my Translation. The notes are meant to be used along with the Translation, paragraph by paragraph, and to explain shortly and clearly why the arrangements of the materials of the suras were adopted.
The introduction consists of three parts.
Verses 1-4 describe the true believers for whom the book is being delivered. The description is duplicated in verses 2 and 3. With verse 3 compare verse 130, which dates probably a little before the adoption of the religion of Abraham. Verse 2 is later, but the date cannot be determined.
'alif lam mim. This combination of letters occurs at the beginning of Suras II, III, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII, accompanied by other letters in VII and XIII. Other combinations occur at the beginning of many other suras. No satisfactory explanation of these mysterious letters has yet been given, though many attempts to explain them have been made. The fact that they come after the bismillah indicates that they belong to the sura and not to the editorial heading. In nearly every case they are followed as here by some reference to the book.
dhalika. The reference is uncertain; it would naturally refer back to the mysterious letters, but it may refer forward to what is to follow. It is also uncertain whether it should be taken as demonstrative pronoun, or as adjective, "that Book."
la raiba fihi. Usually in connection with "day" or "hour" of the Book, in X.38, XXXII.1.
al-ghaib, "that which is absent, hidden, or unseen" is frequent in the Qur'an, generally in an eschatological sense.
alladhina kafaru, "those who have been ungrateful" or "have definitely disbelieved," is often applied to the Meccans, sometimes to the Jews of Medina. The reference here is not certain.
For phraseology of verse 6, cf. VI.46, XLI.22, and the like.
These verses describe unsatisfactory believers among the people of Medina.
Verse 9, however, does not continue verse 8, but the conduct of those who try to deceive Allah and the believers is described in verse 13. This evidently refers to Jews who hover between joining Muhammad and keeping on good terms with the Jewish leaders; cf. 111.65. A more pronounced attitude on their part is indicated in the gibe recorded in verse 12, which probably displaced verses 13-14 as the continuation of verse 8. verses 10-11 begin and end similarly to verse 12, having been modelled upon it. verses 9-11 therefore displaced verses 8-12 as the continuation of verse 7.
Verses 15-17 may be the continuation of verses 13-14, though in some ways the simile is more appropriate to those who had definitely gone back upon Muhammad, as is implied in verse 12.
The simile of verses 18-19 fits those who are hesitating in their attitude and support him so far, but are doubtful as to where he is leading them. It is therefore an addition referring to "those in whose hearts is disease."
This phrase designates those who were later dubbed Munafigin.
'alsada, "to cause corruption" and 'alsaha, "to set things right," refer to secular actions that affect the morale of the community.
For "satans"' as applying to Jewish rabbis, cf. verse 96; VI.112, 121.
cf. verse 170; 111. 170, 184, and the like.
These are quite out of connection; their presence here is explained by the addition of verses 18-19, having been written on the back of them. They are regarded by NS, i, p. 173) as of Meccan date, but the address "0 ye people" is prevailingly Medinan.
Probably the same "sign" arguments were used in Medina as had been used in Mecca, and we have here the beginning of one of these early Medinan addresses.
"Dome" is Bd.'s explanation of bins', "building."
These do not connect with the general context, nor with verses 19b-20. The back of them has been used for the addition of verse 23.
"Scripture," for the derivation of siirah, the word here used, cf. Bell, Origin of Islam, p. 52. For similar challenges cf. X.39; XI.16; XXVIII.19.
"Witnesses," that is divine testimony to the truth of the revelation, as Muhammad claimed Allah as his witness.
For people as "fuel of the Fire" cf. 111.8; LXVI.6.
Bd. interprets "the stones" as "idols," but quotes the explanation, attributed to Ibn Abbas, "sulphur" or "brimstone."
The date of this passage is uncertain. Its presence is due to the introduction of verse 23.
This is an addition, probably later than verses 18 f., designed to balance the condemnation of opponents and uncertain followers by an assurance to believers. It has been written on the back of verses 21-22.
For "pure spouses" cf. 111. 13; IV.60.
This belongs perhaps to about the same time as verse 16; it may have been occasioned by some discussion of the simile of that verse.
This is an addition making the epithet fasigin of the previous verse apply to a particular section of the people, that is, probably to the Jews.
For their "violating the covenant of Allah," cf. verses 77 ff.
What is meant by "separating what Allah hath commanded to be conjoined" is not clear, but it may refer to their rejection of part of the book, (verse 79) or to their rejection of Muhammad while claiming to believe in Allah.
These are directly addressed to the people. They are the continuation of verses 19a-20 and have been used for the addition of verse 25, which therefore probably belongs to about the same time as verses 18 f.
The Resurrection here takes its place not as a doctrine to be argued for, but, alongside the production of living men in the first half of the verse, as a sign or proof of the supreme power of Allah.
With verse 27 cf. XLI.10.
The story of Adam has come from different sources, as is still shown by the change from "thy Lord" (verse 28) to "We" (verse 32), and the change from 'Iblis (verse 32) to "Satan" (verse 34). It has, however, probably been placed here as a whole, having already taken its shape at an earlier period; cf. VII. 10-18; XV.28-44; XVII.63-68; XX.115ff; XXVIII.71-86. Verse 37 has perhaps been added at this time.
khalifah, "vice-gerent," cf. XXXVIII.71, where it is applied to David; the variant khaliqah, "creature," is of no authority.
For Adam giving names, cf. Gen. 2:20, and the passage quoted by Geiger, p. 98, from Midrash Rabbah on Numbers, par. 19; cf. XX.115a, XXXVIII.74.
'Iblis is probably a corruption of Greek 8ia(3okos (cf. Jeffery, Foreign Vocabulary, s.v.).
Cf. VII. 18.
Cf. VII.23, from which it is clear that the mutual enemies are mankind, not man and Satan.
Cf. XX. 120 f. The change of pronoun and apparent repetition (Barth) come from there.
In the Syriac Cave of Treasures, God makes a promise to Adam when he leaves the Garden (Budge's translation, p. 67); but it may be doubted if it is necessary to go beyond the biblical account for an explanation.
'imma, the enclitic ma makes the conditional particle more indefinite, "if ever."
These are in the form of an appeal to the Children of Israel, the Jews of Medina being probably specially in mind. In the main this will be earlier than the introduction. But the passage is not homogeneous, as is evident from the two beginnings, verses 38 and verse 44, and the appearance of revisions and additions within the sections.
Verses 38-43 appear on the whole to be later than verses 44 ff., and may at one time have displaced that passage. It is, however, composite.
This is long and there is a verse ending at fa-rhabuni very similar to that at the actual end of the verse. This indicates that a substitution has been made.
It is not clear whether the covenant referred to is the Covenant of Sinai or the covenant made with the people of Medina after the Hijrah; cf. verses 77 f; cf. also 111.70; VI.153; XVI.93.
The zakat is the legal contribution for the support of the community. The date of its enactment is uncertain, but was probably toward the end of the year 2 or beginning of the year 3.
These seem to be addressed to the believers rather than to the Jews, and verses 39-48 are probably later than the rest. The arrangement is not certain, but probably verse 38b, wa-'awfu ... fa-rhabuni has been substituted for the rest of verse 38 and verse 39; verses 40-41 have then been added later on the back of verses 42-43.
Cf. verse 148. The pronoun has nothing to refer to, the verse being out of its context.
These recognize the privileged position of the Bani Isra'il, and are probably earlier than the preceding; but cf. verses 116 f., also VII.136 and XLV.15. It is not certain that the Christian doctrine of atonement or of intercession is aimed at in verse 45, but it seems probable.
ladl is interpreted by Bd. as "ransom," some take it as "substitute"; cf. VI.69.
The deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt and giving of the Law at Sinai are recalled as the basis of the appeal for gratitude and belief.
furgan, from Syr. purgana, "salvation," cf. Bell, Origin of Islam, pp. 118 ff.; Jeffery, Foreign Vocabulary, s.v.; as it is here associated with the book, it is evidently thought of as of the nature of law or what distinguishes between right and wrong or between believers and unbelievers. Possibly the Heb. paragim may have influenced its use, as well as the meaning of the Arabic root; cf. XXI.49.
This repeats the incident of the Golden Calf, already referred to in verse 48, and is possibly a substitute, somewhat less friendly, for verses 48-50.
fa-gtulu'anfusakum, "slay yourselves"; it is interpreted by Bd. in a spiritual sense of humiliation and mortifying of the body, but cf. Exod. 32:26 f., on which this is probably founded.
These are the continuation of verse 51, rather than of verses 48-50, as they recount the perversities of the Children of Israel, rather than Allah's benefits to them.
Cf. Exod. 19:17 if., 33:18 f.; Moses' request to see God's glory has perhaps been transferred to the people; cf. IV.152.
Rodwell refers to Sanhedrin v, for the statement that the Israelites who had died were restored to life.
Cf. Numbers 11; as the guiding pillar of cloud is referred to in Num. 10:34, that, rather than the clouds and thick darkness at Sinai, may be what is meant here.
The change of pronoun at the end of the verse may be due to following VII.166.
Cf. VII.161 f.; there is no certain explanation of this, but probably there is a reminiscence of the failed attempt to enter the Promised Land at Kadesh-Barnea mingled with something else, whether the High Priest's entrance into the Holy of Holies on the day of Atonement, as Hirschfeld suggests, or the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, is doubtful.
hittah, probably an attempt to reproduce the Heb. het' "sin"; (see Jeffery, Foreign Vocabulary, s.v.); cf. the reference in Ibn Hisham, p. 741.
Cf. Numbers 20
This is founded on Num. 11:4 ff.; the second half of the verse is, however, later in tone and phraseology and there is an abrupt change of pronoun at wa-duribat `alaihim. It is a later insertion. Possibly the original end of the verse is found at verse 285b.
For the charge of killing the prophets cf. 111.20, 108, 177; IV.154; Matt. XXIII.31.
This has no connection with the context; the back of it has been used to make the insertion of verse 58b.
alladhina hadu, a pun on the name Yahud, "Jews." Nasara, "Christians."
sabidin has baffled all investigators. The verse aims at a recognition of all monotheists.
These return to Sinai, and would be in place after verse 50. But as the account in VII is to some extent being followed in this, we may note that VII. 170, which corresponds to this, is also out of its proper place as referring to the Covenant of Sinai. It may be that the continuation of verses 51-58a begins here.
These seem to be based on VII. 163 ff.; see notes on that passage. It may be noted that the particular story there referred to has disappeared, probably because it had caused difficulty as not being scriptural, and the charge becomes the general one of "transgressing in the matter of the Sabbath."
Hirschfeld's suggestion that this rests on a confusion of Num. 19:1-10 and Deut. 21:1-9, is probably correct. No source has been discovered for the questioning of Moses by the people. It probably reflects Muhammad's own experience with the Jews.
This is the close of the appeal, and indicates that Muhammad has now given up hope of gaining the Jews. The reproach is perhaps of Christian suggestion, cf. Ahrens, ZDMG, 84 (1930): 16 f., though there are sufficient references to the Jews' hardness of heart in the Old Testament.
The reference in "stones which have fallen in reverence for Allah" is enigmatical; the idols of the Philistines (?), Dagon, I Sam. v (?).
These are addressed to believers, but are directed against the Jews.
Verses 70-72 accuse them of double-dealing, cf. verses 7-8, 13 f.
kalam Allah is interpreted by Bd. as meaning the Torah, which gives the ordinary charge of perverting the Scriptures; more probably it is Muhammad's deliverance, which they listen to, and then pervert to ridicule behind his back.
This seems to imply that Muhammad's followers have been getting information from Jews.
The sense of "dispute with you in the presence of your Lord" is not clear. It probably implies that the Jews wish to withhold information out of jealousy, lest Muhammad's followers should be rivals in the favor of God.
This might be interpreted to mean that some Jews had attempted to palm off writings on Muhammad that were not Scripture; but more probably it refers to Jewish writings, such as the Mishnah, which the "common people" are allowed to regard as Scripture.
'ummiyyun, belonging to the'ummah or community, possibly therefore, Arabs, but perhaps the Jewish phrase `am ha-'tires has influenced the meaning here. The meaning of 'amaniyya is not certain. Bd. takes it as plural of 'umniyyah (XXII.51), but in spite of the fact that the word is there connected with the verb tamanna, "to wish," it is doubtful if we should take the word here as derived from the root mny. It would more naturally come from'mn, and would then mean something like "tradition, dogma, a thing taken on trust." This would suit the context here, and also in verse 105; IV.122.
These are the conditions of salvation. There is no need to assume that this refers especially to the Christian doctrine of purgatory. For the Jewish belief that no Israelite would be consigned permanently to Gehenna, cf. Weber, Lehren des Talmuds i, pp. 326 ff.
These are addressed to the Jews and interrupt the argument of verses 70-76, which is continued in verses 82 ff. Their position suggests that they were written on the back of that passage. They are hostile in spirit, and probably belong to the same time as Job. The Jews are charged with breaking the covenant.
This refers to the Covenant of Sinai. The contents of this covenant, as given here, reproduce some of the Ten Commandments, but correspond still more closely to the essentials of Muhammad's teaching; the Jews had, of course, perverted their religion after having received it.
The mention of the zakat as a recognized institution is evidence of fairly late date.
This refers to the compact made with the inhabitants of Medina, including the Jews, shortly after Muhammad's settlement there (see Ibn Hisham p. 341 ff.); some of its provisions are reproduced, and the phrase 'ithm wa-`udwan actually occurs in it.
The prohibition of shedding their own blood refers to the prosecuting of blood feuds within the community.
wa-'in ya'tukum 'usara tu>`adukum. This clause evidently belongs to verse 78, as one of the provisions of the compact. It seems to have been written on the margin, and taken in by a copyist at the wrong place.
'ikhrajukum is a gloss rendered necessary by the misplacing of the clause.
The beginning of the verse charges the Jews with breaking the compact. Unfortunately it is impossible to say on what specific actions this charge is founded, but it must refer to conduct after Muhammad's settlement in Medina, and the making of the compact. From the time of the battle of Badr and the attack on the Ban! Qainuga' that followed, the attitude of the Jews must have been suspect, and the intrigues of some of them with the Quraish may have given occasion for this charge.
For the second half of the verse cf. verse 108; verse 37, 45; XXII.9; XXXIX.27; XLI.15.
la yukhaffafu `anhum ul-`adhabu, cf. verse 157; 111.82; XVI.87; XXXV.33.
This recounts the privileges given to the Jews, and their perversity. The giving of the book to Moses is frequently cited. The following up by messengers is mentioned in LVII.27 (a reference to the prophets, cf. Jer. 25:4). Jesus is also sent to the Ban! 'Isra'il (111.15) but rejected by the Jews.
al-bayyinat may refer to the miraculous "evidences" there associated with Jesus, ruh al-qudus, the "spirit of holiness," cf. verse 254, verse 109, both of which passages refer to Jesus. In XVI.104, the only other occurrence of the phrase, it is associated with the revelation of the Qur'an and is interpreted as referring to Gabriel. But as associated with Jesus, it no doubt refers to the Holy Spirit of Christian belief.
For the charge of killing the prophets, cf. verse 61.
It may be recalled that the occasion for the attack on the Ban! Nadir was an alleged plot to kill Muhammad. Ahrens (Muhammad, pp. 191 f.), however, thinks, probably rightly, that in these and similar passages we have an echo of Christian polemic against the Jews.
These continue the attack upon the Jews interrupted by the preceding passage.
This puts in the mouth of the Jews a New Testament charge against them (cf. Acts VII.51); it is also found in the Old Testament (cf. Jer. 9.26). If actually used by the Jews, it must have been in mockery.
contains a repetition lamma ja'ahum, which is broken in construction, at wa-kanu, or, if we take this as a circumstantial clause, there is a break at fa-lamma. The first clause was inserted, after Muhammad had begun to deliver the book, as a substitute for the second, wa-kanu ... `arafu.
The sense of yastaftahuna is not clear, but it looks as if Jews had appreciated Muhammad's deliverances against idolators and had asked for more of them.
"What they recognized," that is, as being the same as what was in their own Scriptures.
Their refusal to accept Muhammad's deliverances as revelation is attributed to jealousy.
These meet the Jewish refusal to accept any new revelation, while accepting their own Scriptures, by pointing out that they have always been unbelieving, even in Moses' time.
This refers to the covenant of Sinai, cf. verse 60.
sami`na wa `asaina is a punning reproduction of the Hebrew shama`nu wa`asinu (Deut. 5:27).
These deal with the claim of the Jews to be the exclusive people of God in a grimly humorous fashion., cf. LXII.6.
In verse 90 the mention of the idolators is probably later, as the phrase comes in awkwardly and is difficult to construe.
This was perhaps the continuation of this passage, though the rhyme phrase of verse 90 is one that often closes a passage. If so, angels were probably at this stage thought of as the channel of revelation, by the rejection of which the Jews show their enmity. This is confirmed by verse 91, which begins in the same way as, and is evidently intended as a substitute for, verse 92. It is an assurance to the Prophet of the reality of the revelation through Gabriel, who now, but not untill now, appears as the medium of the revelation. As what is given to Muhammad still confirms previous Scriptures, the change must have been made not all too long afterward; perhaps before the time Muhammad assumed complete independence.
This continues verse 91. As the back of verse 92 did not give sufficient space, another scrap, verse 94, was used. This is out of place where it stands, but inasmuch as it charges the Jews with breaking covenant, it belongs to this context; where is uncertain.
These ascribe the rejection of the Messenger to the rejection of Scripture and the adoption of "what the satans recited in the reign of Solomon, and what had been sent down to the two angels in Babil, Harut and Marut." This has given rise to much speculation and investigation. On Harut and Marut cf. Wensinck in EI, s.v. It must be confessed that no satisfactory explanation has been found.
"Those to whom the Book has been given" is a frequent designation, which includes both Jews and Christians. The context suggests that the "part" of them here referred to is the Jews. This leads us to think of the Rabbinic Law as what is referred to at the beginning of verse 96, cf. the use of "satans" of the Jewish rabbis in verse 13.
The mention of Babil may further suggest the Babylonian Talmud. But the whole verse is obscure. It has been extended to undue length by the insertion of clauses designed to obviate misconceptions:
Finally the verse, having perhaps given rise to misconceptions, was discarded, and the short verse 97 substituted for it; this is, shown by the repetition of the rhyme phrase.
These are addressed to the believers, presumably in Allah's name, and are probably designed to prepare the way for a definite break with the Jews.
The objection to ralina is said to have been that the Jews laughed at it as meaning "our bad one"; but cf. IV.48, which implies that it was a Hebrew word, possibly mispronounced. Hirschfeld suggests re'eh-n5, "see now"; in any case, the sense must have been similar to that of the Arabic word to be substituted for it.
"Idolators" may again be a later insertion, the grammar is uneven; cf. verse 90; for the sense cf. verse 84.
The alteration of verses may have been noticed, or the way is being prepared for the changes that are to come.
Cf. verses 63 ff. for the questioning of Moses.
'ah1 al-kitab, "the People of the Book," may include both Jews and Christians, but probably refers here mainly to Jews.
Their criticism is discounted as arising from envy, and is to be suffered in the meantime.
'amr, in the sense of "affair," that is, special intervention.
The rhyme phrase would be the natural end of a passage, verse 104, with its mention of the zakat, is therefore a somewhat later addition.
These resume the theological attack, interrupted by the preceding passage. It now definitely includes Christians as well as Jews.
This deals with the exclusive attitude of both religions; note the form hud, apparently a plural, only here and in verses 129, 134.
This introduces the idea of Islam, conjoined with good conduct, as the criterion of acceptance with God.
The sense of 'aslama is no doubt the Arabic one of "surrender," that is, humble obedience. While this might theoretically be found in all three religions, it was inevitable that, as Muhammad claimed to be delivering the message of Allah, it should soon come to imply the acceptance of his directions.
These deal with the mutual enmity of Jews and Christians, who reject each other's claims.
"Those who have no knowledge" must refer to the Arabs, who agree in rejecting the claims of both.
This is difficult to understand.
Bd. suggests that it refers to
(a) the Romans who raided the Temple at Jerusalem, or
(b) the Meccans who prevented the Muslims from visiting the Kalbah at the time of Hudaibiyah.
This latter event is too late, but the charge of barring the way to the Ka'bah was brought against the Meccans much earlier, cf. VIII.34, though probably not before the change of qiblah, for which the following verse 109 is a preparation. Bd.'s first suggestion is ruled out by the fact that the context is directed against Jews and Christians.
The use of the plural masajid, "places of worship," causes difficulty. The Kacbah is usually distinguished as al-masjid al-haram, and it is doubtful if there was more than one definitely Muslim "mosque" in existence at this time. Masjid, however, is not limited to this, cf. XXII.41 and particularly XVIII.25. The reference might therefore quite well be to Christian churches in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was still the qiblah, but was in Persian hands, the Jews having aided them in its capture.
Even this, however, seems far-fetched; we should expect the verse to report some contemporary conditions affecting the Muslim community; VII.28, 29 seem to imply that believers may worship at any shrine provided they consciously direct their worship to Allah. It may be that the Jews objected to such use of their synagogues.
Verses 110 f.
This distinctly rejects the Christian doctrine of the divine sonship.
This belongs in form to what precedes, but deals not with Jews and Christians, but with some among the Arabs (cf. verse 107) who are asking why no revelation or "sign" has come to them. They do not, of course, recognize Muhammad as a prophet, and probably he, at this stage, claimed simply to confirm previous revelations and to make clear the signs, that is, the evidence of God's being and acts.
"Those who were before them," that is former unbelieving peoples.
These follow this up by an assurance to him that he has really been sent by Allah. This is addressed to him personally and was probably not intended for public recitation. He was no doubt disturbed by his disagreement with the followers of both religions, who, as monotheists, he had expected to agree with him, but he cannot doubt the truth of his own mission.
Cf. verses 195, 129, and for the latter part of XIII.37.
millah from Syr. meltha', "word," that is, creed or form of religion.
"The guidance of Allah," that is, the divine promptings that come to the Prophet; he must follow these.
It would be possible to translate, "Those to whom We have given the Book recite it as it should be recited; they believe in it," but in that case the verb yatluna would more naturally have come first; as it stands it is to be taken as circumstantial.
The pronoun "it" in yu'minuna bihi refers to Muhammad's own message. He has not yet given up the idea that he is in fundamental agreement with previous revelation, properly interpreted, and some of the People of the Book still support him.
The first two verses repeat verses 44 f. almost verbatim and lead up to a reference to Abraham as an example to follow. The idea may have been to make a final appeal to Jews and Christians to agree with him on the basis of Abraham, whom both claim, but who was "neither a Jew nor a Christian."
kalimat, "(certain) words," is probably a reference to the command to offer his son.
'imam, here in the sense of model or example.
This attributes the establishment of the Kalbah as a place of worship to Abraham. The attempt to find a basis for this in the traditions of local Jews or Christians fails for want of evidence; cf. Snouck Hurgronje, Het mekkansche Fest, p. 33 ff. But the introduction of Abraham and the Ka`bah in place of Moses and the blessing bestowed through him, is here abrupt and unprepared for (see below). It is, however, evidently connected with the change of qiblah.
"The House" is the Kalbah. It may be doubted whether the "station of Abraham" meant any other place. The name is now applied to a small building to the east of the Kacbah. The circling of the Ka`bah was an ancient Arab rite.
"Cleave" seems to be the sense of the verb cakafa; in XXII.5 it seems to refer to those who live near the Kalbah, but one would expect some religious action to be referred to here.
In XXII.27 the word al-lakifin is replaced by al-ga'imin, "those who stand" in prayer. Whether bowing and prostrating themselves was an ancient Arab custom is doubtful, but these actions must have been part of Muslim worship before this time.
The security of the haram of Mecca is represented as having been established in response to Abraham's prayer.
The sending of Muhammad is similarly represented. One is tempted to translate zakka here as "impose the zakat on"; but unless this passage be considerably later, it is doubtful if it had yet become a legal prescription.
This is a confused but important passage that shows, when unraveled, some of the steps by which Islam was freed from dependence upon Judaism and Christianity.
We have seen the widening rift between Muhammad and the People of the Book, known from tradition, reflected in the preceding passages from verse 44 on. But we have had nothing to prepare us for the virtual substitution of Abraham and the Kalbah for Moses and the deliverance from Egypt, which appears in verses 116-25. For some of the intervening steps we have to turn to III, especially verses 57 ff., but others will be found here. Even with verses 116-23 preceding, the mention of "the religion of Abraham" in verse 124 comes in abruptly.
This question would certainly be more in place if it followed the statement at the end of verse 129, where the "religion of Abraham" appears again. But if we place it there, we are struck by the fact that the beginning of verse 129 carries us back to the context of verses 1054 ff, where statements of Jews and Christians are being controverted. Here in answer to a claim of Jews and Christians, we have again the religion of Abraham abruptly introduced.
Now the "Say" of verse 129b is twice repeated in what follows.
Verse 130 does not join in verse 129 as it at present stands, but is in place if we take "Say ye," like the "Say" of verse 129b, as introducing the reply to the "They say" of verse 29a. So also "Say" in verse 133 which is unmotived as it stands. The rhymes also confirm that some substitution has taken place, for verses 128, 134, and 135 have all the same rhyme word; in fact, verses 128 and 135 are practically the same.
Taken as answers to the claims of Jews and of Christians in verse 129, these passages arrange themselves best by taking verses 133 ff. as the earliest. Here the assertion is that Muhammad's followers serve the same God as the Jews and Christians and have an equal right to claim his guidance. Their works may differ, but are equally based on service to the One God. This is the claim of verse 114, and reminds us of Saint Paul in Rom. 14:26.
Curiously enough, Abraham, who serves Saint Paul in his argument against the bondage of the law (Rom. 4:1 ff.), comes in here also as a stepping stone to the freedom of Islam. But the approach is so different that we cannot attribute this to borrowing. The point of verse 134 is that Abraham and his family were not Jews or Christians, seeing they lived prior to both the law and the Evangel, and if they were accepted of God, as was admitted, his grace could not be confined to Jews or to Christians, cf. 111.58 if.
Verses 138 f. goes a step further. The claim that Muhammad's followers are to make (note the plural qulu) is that they believe in God, and accept whatever he has revealed, be it through Muhammad, Abraham and the Patriarchs, Moses, Jesus, or any other prophet, without distinction-provided, of course, they could be sure that it really came from God. This attempt at accommodation, cf. 111.57, having failed, we find the religion of Abraham put forward by itself in verses 129b, 124-126; cf. 116-123.
The present arrangement of the passages may be explained as follows: verse 129a belonged somewhere in the context of verse 105, and was followed by verse 133, probably not by the whole of verses 133-135 (see below). This was detached and verses 130 and 132 were substituted for it. A later alteration was made on this that introduced verse 131 (see below). This again was discarded, verse 129a being still retained, and now verse 129b was added to it and the continuation, verses 124-128, written on the back of the discarded passages.
The disparity in length may be accounted for by the additions made to these passages, having been crowded onto the same sheets. As it so happened, this was left in such a way that verses 124-128 appeared to come before verse 129 and that verse appeared to be followed by 130 ff.
safiha nafsahu, the accusative causes difficulty, some take it as direct object, "has rendered himself stupid," others as accusative of respect, "has become stupid in soul."
millat'Ibrahim is pretty much equivalent to Islam. The idea of Islam has already appeared in verse 106.
"Jacob" is read as nominative and also as accusative; the former perhaps to be preferred. The implication seems to be that the religion of Abraham was handed on and ought therefore to have been accepted by his descendants.
This rather conflicts with the above (see below); it is really repeated from verse 135 and ends the substitution.
hud as a name for the Jews appears in verse 105; in verse 107 the usual form yahud appears, another indication that this verse originally belonged to the neighborhood of verse 105.
hanif is the singular of hunafa', the Syriac hanaphe, "heathen," the term applied by Syriac-speaking Christians to the Arabs. As the founder of the Arab religion, Abraham was a hanif; but that religion, according to Muhammad's ideas, had been, to begin with, pure monotheism. It had degenerated into idolatry, as the other two religions had degenerated from the purity of their beginnings. It is futile to look for the hanifs as a preIslamic sect in Arabia. The use of this phrase shows that the idea of an original Arab monotheism, and the break with the People of the Book, were already complete.
This is a profession of faith for Muhammad's followers, when confronted with Christian and Jewish assertions, cf. verse 285; 111.78.
"Abraham ... and the Patriarchs" are grouped together, apparently on an equal footing; indeed, the gist of the declaration is that all revelation from Allah is accepted equally. Patriarchs, asbat, properly "tribes," sing. sibt, Heb. sebet.
This cannot be part of the declaration, but is addressed to the believers, of course through the Prophet, as the singular pronoun at the end shows. The attitude also differs, for implicitly the belief of the Muslim community is now made the standard, from which to differ is to be in "schism."
shigaq, "separation," "cleavage"; cf. IV.39, but usually in the Qur'an of reprehensible separation from the community, cf. XXII.52; XLI.52.
This is apparently unconnected.
Zam. connects sibghata llahi with 'amanna bi-Ilahi, verse 130, as absolute object. This would be possible if verse 131 were absent, which, as we have seen, is different in attitude from verse 130.
Now the present rhyme-phrase of verse 130 is very similar to that of this verse differing by the use of muslimin instead of 'abidin. This, then, which fits in quite well as part of the declaration, was the original end of verse 130, which has been displaced by the present end phrase and verse 131.
sibghah has been frequently derived from Syriac sba` "baptize." But that is not the usual verb for "baptize" in Syriac, and there is no need to go beyond the Arabic, in which sabagha means to "dye," "color," or "flavor" a thing; note especially the use, cited by Lane, as applied to a girl brought into the household of someone. To believe in a revelation from Allah is to take the flavor or color of Allah and to become, as it were, one of his household servants.
This an answer for the Prophet to use against the assertions of Jews and Christians. It is based on common service to Allah; cf. XLII.14.
For the point of verse 134a, cf. above.
Note the form hud, a confirmation that verses 105, 129a, and this originally belonged closely together.
Introduced by another "Say," this does not continue verse 134a, but gives a retort to a claim, more likely to be made by Jews than by Christians, that Abraham belonged to them. To say so is to claim to know better than Allah. For Allah has made clear in the revelation given to Moses, that is, in the Torah, that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs lived before the time of Moses and the establishment of the Jewish religion. This revealed fact, shahadah, the Jews are accused of having concealed, a tacit admission that it had not been known to Muhammad until recently.
This is the original continuation of verse 134a; note the similarity of the rhyme words of verses 134 and 135 as an indication that a substitution has taken place. Abraham and his descendants were neither Jews nor Christians, but were a community that had passed away, for whose works, or code of conduct, no one was now responsible. This seems to exclude any claim even by Muhammad and his followers to have historical continuity with Abraham and his followers. Islam is an independent revival of the religion of Abraham; cf. 111.60 f.
These deal with the change of qiblah or direction of prayer. The date of this is given sometimes as Rajah, sometimes as Shalban of the year 2. Possibly the change was not carried through all at once, but there was an interval during which no specified qiblah was followed.
Verse 139a seems to imply that, cf. verses 109, 172. Perhaps verses 136-138 belonged to this interval, but the position of verse 137 is doubtful. The repetitions in verses 139, 144, and 145 indicate that revisions have taken place.
The suggested reconstruction is that verse 144 was the original continuation of verse 139a., and that this was private. When the new qiblah was promulgated, it was done in verse 139a (which was retained) and verses 145-147. These latter were written on the back of verses 141 and 142, (a scrap that probably has no reference to the qiblah), verses 143 and 144, (now detached from verse 139a). This deliverance counts on a certain amount of reluctance on the part of his followers, and argues and appeals for the adoption of the change.
Finally, when the need for argument was past, the shorter prescription, verse 139b, was substituted as the continuation of verse 139a. This was written on the back of verse 140, which was also probably private, and belonged to about the same time as verse 144, that is, the time when the adoption of the new qiblah was privately decided upon. It is recognized that this meant a final break with the Jews and the Christians.
As the future is explicitly indicated, the change has not yet taken place, or at least is so recent as not to have attracted outside attention.
as-sufaha' min an-nas will most naturally be Arabs, not Jews, cf. verse 12.
On the other hand, this implies that the change is past; unless, as may quite well be, it belongs to what the Prophet is to say in answer to the "stupids."
By the change of qiblah, the Muslims have become a "community." This sense of 'ummah seems to belong to North Semitic, cf. Heb. 'ummah, but is pre-Islamic.
wasat, only here, is usually taken as an adjective, unchangeable for gender and number, and is given the sense of "good," "best," that is, following the mean and avoiding extremes, or sometimes, especially by European translators, "middle," "intermediate." We thus get the sense "a good community" or "an intermediate nation" (Sale), between the Arabs and other nations, or between the Jews and the Christians. This latter seems to suit the historical situation.
But wasat is really a noun, and is here in apposition to 'ummah; so that what we have here is a statement that the Muslims have now become an independent community, and that they as a community are "an intermediate (body)" between Jews and Christians, or better as giving due weight to what follows, between the Prophet and the rest of the people (of Medina); he is to watch over them, and they are to watch over the rest of the people.
The Muslims appear as an 'ummah in the Constitution of Medinah, but that document belongs probably to about this time (see Buhl-Schaeder, Das Leben Muhammads, pp. 211 f).
"The qiblah which thou hast been observing" can only refer to the Jerusalem qiblah; the Prophet is being addressed as the representative of the community. As its appointment is represented as a test of the loyalty of his followers, it cannot have been popular, and must have been introduced after the Hijrah in the endeavor to conciliate the Jews.
The change of pronoun may be explained by the Prophet being the representative of the community, but the beginning of the verse seems more personal, while the second part ordains the people to turn in the direction of "the Sacred Mosque," that is the Kacbah at Mecca. If the above reconstruction be adopted, "turn thy face" is repeated from verse 144 or verse 145. Note also the repetition of the rhyme phrase from verse 144.
This refers to the qiblah, and seems also personal to the Prophet. It stresses the separation from the People of the Book, which the introduction of the new qiblah will cause.
Verses 141 f.
These do not connect closely with any verse in the context; so it is not clear that what the people of the Book recognize, as they recognize their own sons, is the new qiblah. That would be a bold statement, and in VI.20 where similar words occur, the reference is to the Qur'an, or the revelation given to Muhammad. Probably it is the same in this detached verse. The similar statement in verse 139 repeats this and is to be similarly interpreted as referring to the revelation, which now includes the new qiblah.
"Each" would most naturally refer to individuals, and the verse would imply that when it was revealed there was no fixed qiblah. If "each" refers to communities, the Muslims must have had their own fixed qiblah.
This is similar to verse 139b, but seems more personal to the Prophet. It is probably the original continuation of verse 139, which was displaced by verses 145-147.
"As thou hast gone forth" or "from where thou hast gone forth," that is, from Meccah.
This begins with the same phrases as verse 144, but evidently the community is now in mind.
For the use of hujjah, cf. IV.163; the Arabs had evidently been critical of the Jerusalem qiblah; the ground of their criticism will now be removed.
"Those of them who have done wrong" possibly refers to the Jews.
These make an appeal to the loyalty and gratitude of the believers, the effect of which is heightened by the change from "We" to "I" at the end.
zakka, "purify" by almsgiving; the zakat has probably not yet become a definite impost.
The basis of this passage is a short deliverance dealing with those slain at Badr (Ramadan II), consisting of verses 148, 149, 156, and 157. The part dealing with the Muslim dead was expanded, probably after Uhud, by the addition of verses 150-152, which were written on the back of the scraps verses 153 and 154 f. That dealing with the Meccan dead was expanded by the addition of verses 160-162, written on the back of verses 158-160a.
The date of these verses is uncertain. As the rhyme is different, they were not added at the same time as verses 150-152. The scrap on which they were written seems to be connected with the discourse verses 19b, 20, 26, 27; note the recurrence of "peers" in verses 20 and 160a. If so, it was probably made shortly after verses 18 f were added.
If it were certain that "those who have done wrong" referred to the Jews, (see verse 145), one might surmise that it referred to some of them killed at the siege of the Ban! Qainuga', though we are not told of any casualties at that time.
Cf. verse 42.
As NS point out, the Muslims are in adversity.
This is an addition to the regulations for the pilgrimage, apparently in answer to a question. The date is uncertain.
Permission is given to perform the run between Safa and Marwah, two heights in the neighborhood of the Ka'bah. This was, therefore, an Arab custom.
sha`a'ir, "manifestations," things that make Allah known.
The `umrah was the lesser pilgrimage or visit to the Kalbah.
Verses 154 f
These refer to the Jews' concealment of things in Scripture; the date is again uncertain. It is also uncertain whether "the Book" refers to the book in the hands of the Jews, or to that which Muhammad was now delivering; probably the former, the concealed fact perhaps being that of Abraham's priority to Moses.
This is evidently broken in the middle.
"Those who have been followed" would most naturally refer to religious leaders, but might possibly refer to false gods; cf. XXVII.63.
Verses 160b, 161, and 162
These have the assonance in -a(l) while the context has it in -i(1).
The rest of the sura is mainly taken up with legislation. First we have in verses 163-219 revisions of previous regulations, rendered necessary by the changed attitude toward the People of the Book, and the independence of Islam. These revisions will date from the period between Badr and Uhud, though still later revisions have sometimes been made.
These verses deal with food.
The earlier regulation, stating Muhammad's original attitude of unrestricted freedom, is contained in verses 163-164; the revised law in verses 167-168 and probably verse 169, though the connection of this latter verse is not certain. This was written on the back of the discarded verses 163 f., and, as that did not give sufficient space, verses 165-166 were also used. These seem to belong to the early Medinan discourse of which we have found other portions in the sura and probably were the continuation of verse 160a.
Verse 171 is a later addition of uncertain date, suggested by verse 169. It has been written on the back of verse 170, of which the connection is uncertain.
khutuwat ash-Shaitan, "footsteps of Satan"; the sense is not clear, cf. verse 204; VI.143; XXIV.21, but probably the reference is to heathen customs. It can be hardly be to Jewish customs, as this, though Medinan, presumably dates from before the break with them.
These refer to heathen, and "what Allah has sent down" is revelation in general; for the Jewish attitude cf. verse 85.
nazaqa, only here, "to croak," with bi "to call to" (animals).
This repeats the sense of verse 163, which it replaces.
The restrictions in verse 168 are Christian rather than Jewish, cf. Acts 25:20, 29.
'uhilla probably refers to invocations of the name of the god when an animal was slain, cf. Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, pp. 340, 431. This restriction will correspond to "meats offered to idols."
This, no doubt, refers to the Jews and their concealment of Scripture, but the phrase "eat nothing but fire in their bellies" probably shows that it is connected with this passage, and it may imply rejection of Jewish food laws.
This is out of rhyme. The exact reference is lost.
This appears to be later, cf. verse 131. Allah has now revealed the book to Muhammad, so that the real content of revelation is known.
This must originally have belonged to the period when the qiblah was indefinite, but the reference to the bestowal of wealth led to its being revised to include others than those originally specified.
What exactly has been added to the verse is difficult to say. It may have ended originally with al-masakin, "the poor," and the rest has been added now, though the mention of captives and the zakat suggests even later addition, for zakat must here be a fixed impost, as almsgiving has been already mentioned. Or the concluding clauses may also have belonged to the original.
`ala hubbihi. The suffix would naturally refer to wealth, but it might refer to Allah.
ibn as-sabil, "son of the way," probably refers to those whose presence in the community is due to their adherence to the "way" or cause of Allah, that is, those who have migrated to Medina to join the Muslims, and who have thereby been impoverished.
The original prescription consisted of verses 173a, and 175. The latter was rejected, and verses 173b-174 (no verse ending at'ihsan) substituted. The revision is an alleviation of the original Jewish and Arab lex talionis, recommending forgiveness of injuries within the Moslem community rather than revenge.
kutiba `alaikum probably implies scriptural authority.
These prescribe the making of a will before death, for which also scriptural authority is assumed. There is no mention of writing. The revision consists of verse 178, which allows interference, probably at the time the will is being made, on the part of a hearer for the purpose of preventing injustice.
jinf, only here, "inclining" away from the right, "unjust partiality."
These deal with fasting. The original consisted of verse 179, which may have stood alone, but was probably followed by verse 180, which in any case belongs to the time between the Hijrah and the first occurrence of the Jewish fast of cAshurah, which is here adopted.
For this latter verse, verse 181, prescribing the fast of Ramadan, was now substituted, being written on the back of it. As more space was required, the back of another scrap, verse 182, was utilized. Verse 183 was added later as a relaxation, written on the back of verses 184, 185, and 186(?). The date of this is uncertain; the mention of "judges" in verse 184 probably implies a fairly late date and if verse 186 was used for the insertion, it must date from the year 7 at the earliest.
Fasting is Medinan, not Meccan.
"Those before you" are the People of the Book, as is implied in kutiba; here particularly the Jews, as being most closely in contact.
The junction with verse 179 is not quite smooth, but, if we regard the rhyme phrase of verse 179 as parenthetical, or possibly later added, the two verses join quite well.
'ayyaman ma`dudatin is accusative of time to siyam, a fixed, and probably small number of days.
If we take this verse by itself, and as belonging to the early months in Medina, when approaches were being made to the Jews, there is no reasonable doubt that what is here in view is something corresponding to the Jewish fast of 'Ashurah, or the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the Jewish year, in preparation for which the preceding nine days were kept sacred. Provision is made for those who are sick or on a journey. Those who can afford it may redeem the fast by feeding a poor man, but this is a pious duty that should be done voluntarily, and not as substitute for a fast. Fasting is, in any case, better.
This institutes the fast of Ramadan. The general similarity of form, and the actual repetition of the provision regarding sickness or absence, show that this was intended as a substitute for verse 180. This agrees with the historical tradition, which asserts that the fast of Ramadan took the place of the'Ashurah. It is noteworthy that the provision as to buying off the fast is not repeated.
shahr is read as nominative; Bd. suggests several constructions, none of them satisfactory; he records, however, a reading as accusative, which would correspond to 'ayyaman in verse 180.
There has been considerable discussion as to why Ramadan was thus distinguished, but no satisfactory reason has been suggested; (see EI, sverses Ramadan, Sawm). The battle of Badr was fought in Ramadan II, and in spite of the difficulty as to the traditional date of the institution of the fast, we may surmise that it was that important victory that led to it.
The reason given is that the Qur'an was sent down in that month. This is often interpreted as the sending down of the Qur'an to the lower heaven on lailat al-qadar, which is placed in Ramadan. But cf. VIII.42, from which we learn that something had been sent down on the day of Badr. Probably that is here referred to; for the Qur'an is several times spoken of as something special, cf. XV.87, and the later suras speak of the revelation of the book, not of the Qur'an.
furgan, cf. verse 50.
has no reference to fasting, but rather to prayer, which Allah is ready to hear and to answer.
This returns to the subject of the fast, which is now, however, an established institution. The Muslims have assumed that marital intercourse was forbidden during the [nights of the] fast; it is now explicitly permitted. This must be considerably later. The method of keeping the fast is also laid down. The rule of abstinence by day and breaking the fast at night is said by NS, i, p. 179 (note 1) to have prevailed only among the Manichaeans and to have presumably been adopted from them. But it seems to have been fairly common among Oriental Christians to end fasts at nightfall or even earlier in the day (see ERE, s.v. "Fasting").
rafath, only here and in verse 193, "sexual converse."
"What Allah hath prescribed for you" may refer simply to the relaxation here laid down, but is usually interpreted as meaning "offspring."
cakafa, cf. verse 119 and Goitein, in Der Islam 18 (1929): 192. The sense seems to be that this relaxation is not to interfere with times of devotion in the mosque.
Note 'ayat in this and similar phrases, not in the sense of "wonderful sign" nor exactly in that of "verses," but rather "deliverances" or "pieces of revelation."
This is quite detached. It refers to gambling and bribery. For the mention of judges, which implies a fairly advanced date, cf. IV.39, 61 f.
This is also quite detached. It answers a question as to new moons, and condemns some pagan custom connected with them.
This deals with fighting. It has no connection with what precedes, but the following verse continues the subject. Considerations of space however, require the use of this verse also for the insertion of verse 183, so that it was probably a separate piece. It shows a peaceable disposition and would suit well the attitude adopted on the expedition that ended at Hudaibiyah.
ictada, "to transgress" or "to show oneself hostile"; cf. verse 89.
Verses 187 ff. display a much more bellicose attitude than verse 186, and cannot belong to the same time. They belong to the time of the final expedition against Mecca, and stand here because verse 186 had introduced the subject of fighting.
Verse 189, however, does not connect with verse 188, but with verse 187. Verse 188 is a substitute for it, inserted when negotiations had opened the prospect of a peaceable entry into Mecca. This deliverance was written on the back of verses 190 and 191.
That verse 190 belongs, as Snouck-Hurgronje argues (Verspreide Geschriften, i, p. 38), to the time of Hudaibiyah, is possible but not certain. The sacred months had been broken much earlier, for example, by the Quraish raid after Badr.
The verse is later than IX.5, but earlier than IX.37b.
Verse 191 is surely not so late as the year 6, but is more likely to belong to the period between Badr and Uhud, when the danger of Quraish attack was pressing, and contributions had not yet been regularized.
"From whence they have expelled you," that is, from Mecca, or more particularly, the Kalbah.
fitnah has several meanings; here probably it has the sense of "persecution." The object is to put an end to Quraish persecution of Muslims, and establish the religion of Allah in Mecca.
For the meaning of the second clause of the verse, cf. A. Fischer and P. Schwarz, in ZDMG, 65 (1911): 794-96, and 66 (1912): 136-38, 294-99, "hand not yourselves over to destruction," "put your hands in the power of destruction."
Passages dealing with the pilgrimage have become mixed with verses dealing with another subject. Rhymes also are mixed. The confusion is perhaps inextricable; the following suggestion is at best tentative.
The pilgrimage was probably dealt with at the time of the adoption of the religion of Abraham; verses 119 if. prepare for it. But after Badr, it must have been extremely dangerous for Muslims from Medina to visit Mecca, and the pilgrimage could no longer be insisted on as a duty. The original deliverance is perhaps to be found in verses 192a and 199, which recommend the performance of the pilgrimage "to Allah" and the spending of at least two days in this act of remembrance.
A question having arisen as to taking part in the trade which was usually combined with the pilgrimage, verse 199 was detached from verse 192a, and verses 194-195 substituted. This permits trading and substitutes for the two days' remembrance of Allah, a special act of remembrance at the Sacred Monument, and the doing otherwise as the rest of the people do. Or verses 194 and 195 may simply have been added to verses 192a and 199.
Badr having intervened, a new deliverance altogether was given, consisting of verses 193, 196, 197, and 198. This has the rhyme in -al and perhaps did not belong to this sura; but this rhyme occurs in other parts of the sura in additions made about this time, cf. verses 160 ff. This deliverance is permissive only, and, by its insistence on strictness of conduct, discouraging rather than encouraging. It was, of course, essential in the circumstances that Muslims should give no offense. The connection in the middle of verse 196 is doubtful, but verses 196b-198 are perhaps in place here as enforcing the pious attitude Muslims should observe, and discouraging too great eagerness to take part in trade at the pilgrimage.
This gave the model for verses 200-203, which were probably written on the back of verses 196-198 (now detached from verse 193), and of the detached verse 199 (see above). This passage was evidently occasioned by some event, and, from the reference to destruction of tillage and stock, it may be surmised that it was the assistance rendered by some of the Ban! n-Nadir to the raid of the Quraish after the battle of Badr.
The final regulation, verse 192, retained verse 192a and continued on the back of verses 193, 194, and 195. It is much later, but its exact date is difficult to determine. The sense is in some parts uncertain.
The injunction not to shave their heads until the gift, that is, the animals for sacrifice, has reached its place, would naturally refer to those who have been prevented but have sent a gift, but it might refer to those who actually perform the pilgrimage; and the exact sense of "making use of the time between the lumrah and the hajj," is not clear. As it refers to those whose families are not present, it would seem to be a permission to absent themselves from Mecca, or engage in trade if they so desire and feel that they can safely do so. The regulation is late, for the way to Mecca is evidently open; all that can be said is that it must be later than the conquest of Mecca.
"Specified months" may refer to the one particular month of each year, or to the three sacred months in each year in the middle of which the pilgrimage fell; more naturally the latter.
"Seek bounty from your Lord," that is, engage in trade. The "Sacred Monument" is a height on the eastern side of Muzdalifah on which a minaret has been built. It is probably a pre-Islamic place of worship; see Rutter, Holy Cities, i, p. 166.
The Muslims are evidently at this time inconspicuous members of the crowd.
khalaq, "portion" probably Heb. heleq (Hirschfeld); the phrase is Medinan.
Cf. VII.155 and, for the rhyme phrase, 111. 14, 188.
The actual pilgrimage usually occupied three days; Muslims are permitted to omit one day.
This would appropriately refer to Jews, who claim to worship Allah, but dispute Muhammad's claims.
Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Quraish raid, having obtained information from one of the leaders of the Bani n-Nadir, destroyed some palm plantations and then withdrew (Ibn Hisham, p. 545). Possibly, however, this is too early a date for the passage. Muslim commentators make it apply to an individual, al-Akhnas b. Shariq, but the indefinite pronoun, man, though construed as a singular, may refer to a group, and the reference is perhaps to Muhammad's opponents in Medina, especially some of the Jews who, between Badr and Uhud, and even later, were intriguing with Quraish and others, stirring up enmity against the Muslims.
This also describes a group, the true believers.
Verses 204-210, 212, 213 and 215(?)
For the address in verses 204, cf. 98, 148, 173, 179.
The two latter passages suggest that verses 212 f. originally followed the address here, as verse 212 is in the same form as these verses. Fighting is prescribed as a duty for believers.
Whether verse 215 followed verse 213 is not certain, but is possible. It promises the "mercy of Allah" to those who have left their homes and fought in Allah's cause. These verses were cut out later and replaced by an appeal for unity, the present verses 204-205.
silm occurs only here; salm, in VIII.63; XLVIII.37. According to Bd. the meaning is "resignation" or "obedience"; but cf. the verse of al-Alsha quoted by Lane, s.v., which gives the sense as "peace," "living in accord with each other," as opposed to war.
Verse 210, which prepares believers for suffering and disappointment, probably formed part of this declaration, or may have been added after Uhud. This verse was later discarded, and the philosophical explanation of the disunity among the followers of revealed religion, verse 209, was attached to the appeal for unity in verses 204-205. It ascribes the division not to any difference in the revelation, but to jealousy arising among them after the revelation had come. This cannot be dated with any certainty, but is probably still fairly early Medinan. The verse was written on the back of scraps that now stand as verses 206-208.
These verses are entirely out of connection here, are out of rhyme and are not even connected with each other. They cannot be placed.
For the form of verse 206, cf. VI.159, VIII.51, X.102, XVI.35, XXXV.41, XXXVI.49, XLIII.66, XLVII.20, especially VI.159 and XVI.35; it is just possible that "the angels" may be an afterthought here.
For the theophany, cf. XXXIX.69 and LXXIX.25. As the verse is detached, it is impossible to say to whom it refers.
This must date from before the complete break with the Jews, though there is already a hint of the charge that they change the good gift of Allah, that is, the revelation; cf. XIV.33.
This might be Meccan, but is more likely to be early Medinan, while the believers were suffering poverty and distress.
Verses 211, 214, and 216-222
These are a series of answers formulated to questions that believers ask, or are likely to ask. The earliest of them, at least, were not intended to form part of the book, and were not in rhyme. These are verses 216 and 217, wrongly divided in Flugel, in an attempt to get rhyme. The rhyme phrase in verse 217 has been inserted later. So probably also the rhyme phrases of verse 219 (verses 218-219 should be only one verse), verse 221 (verses 200-221, only one verse), and possibly verse 222.
This was written on the back of verses 212-213 (see above); it took the place of verses 216b-217; note the similar beginning and that here we have an answer not to the question "what," but "for what." The rhyme phrase may have been added later here also.
ibn as-sabil, see verse 172.
This deals with the question of fighting in the sacred month. This would arise in consequence of 'Abdallah b. Jahsh having attacked a Meccan car avan on the first of Rajah of the year 2; so Bd. and NS i, p. 182. It apologizes for this on the ground of the continued persecution of Muslims who had remained in Mecca, and the prevention of others from declaring themselves.
The phrase in the middle of the verse wa-l-masjid ... minhu, is an insertion from a later date, when the duty of pilgrimage had been recognized, and the Meccan opposition was preventing the duty being fulfilled; note that wa-l-masjidi depends upon saddun an, not upon kufrun; the latter phrase was probably intended to be omitted when the change was made.
This verse was written on the back of verses 215, 216, 217 (the latter probably not at the time having the rhyme phrase). The concluding phrase was written on the other side below verse 217, and now stands at the beginning of verse 218. Later, when a rhyme phrase was added to verse 214, the former concluding phrase was rewritten along with it at the foot.
This must have been discarded when verse 214 was written. Wine and maisir were afterward forbidden altogether, verse 92. The answer to the question about contributions was also discarded. It must belong to the early days of the demand for contributions, verse 211 being considerably later.
maisir, an old Arab gambling game.
For al-lafw, "the redundant," cf. VII.198, and Lane, s.v. The rest of the verse is a formal rhyme phrase, which was probably added at a much later revision.
For the first phrase, see above. It is difficult to say whether these two verses belong to the time of verses 216 f. or to that of verse 214; most probably to the former. They seem earlier than IV.2, but Bd. makes them subsequent to IV. 11. The rhyme phrase has again been added later.
This is not, like the surrounding verses, an answer to a question, but it may belong to the same period. If, however, "idolaters" includes Jews and Christians (so Bd.) the verse must be large, but this is hardly correct. The rhyme clause is again formal and has no doubt been added later.
This perhaps implies that some regulation concerning marital relations had preceded, but not necessarily. For a similar attitude to menstruation, cf. Lev. 18:19; 20:18.
This may, then, be earlier than verse 222. It declares marital intercourse to be unrestricted. From this verse 222 excepts the period of menstruation.
'anna is indefinite in meaning, "how" and "when." The use of the simile of cultivated land shows that it is natural intercourse that is thought of.
gaddimu is usually interpreted as recommending the doing of some meritorious act or uttering a pious phrase before coition. The concluding phrase is again loosely attached, and out of construction; cf. IX. 113, and verses 23, 150.
These are placed by Bd. at the time of the trouble with'A'ishah and made to refer to the oath of Abu Bakr not to have anything more to do with Mirtah, who had harbored suspicions against 'A'ishah. That would suit well as an occasion, but the words are quite general. The similar rhyme phrases argue that the verses were modeled on verses 226 f., but the phrase "setting things right amongst the people" is against taking them as a later treatment of the same purely private matter; especially as that follows in verses 228 ff.
The sense seems to be that people are not to plead oaths, which may have been hastily uttered, as an excuse for not doing what is right and for the public good, cf. verse 91.
The verses deal with divorce, and recommend a waiting period of four months from the cessation of intercourse before divorce is finally determined on. The continuation is probably to be found in verse 242. The verses were discarded in favor of the fuller treatment that follows.
These also deal with divorce, the treatment of divorced women, and that of widows. This is later than verses 226 f., whether it belongs to the same time as verses 224 f. is doubtful, but it can hardly be earlier than that time. Muslim law as it finally took shape hardly does justice to the spirit of these regulations; see my article in The Moslem World, 29 (1939): 55-62.
This verse is really a substitute for verses 226 f. and the intention evidently is that there should be an interval of between three and four months (quru', "menstrual courses of women") before divorce becomes final, and that, during that interval, both spouses should keep the way open for the resumption of marital relations.
Divorce of this kind, which has not been made final, may occur twice, with the option each time of reconstituting the marriage during the period, or of finally dismissing the wife at the end of it. Presumably if it occurs a third time, the parties are to separate finally. If the divorce be made final, the woman's dowry must be paid up in full.
The clause 1115 ... bihi is a later insertion; it shows a mixture of pronouns.
The pronoun in khiftum is usually taken as referring to the judges who deal with the case; it probably, like preceding second persons, refers to the Muslim community, as representing who the Prophet is here being addressed.
The idea of the insertion probably is that if the payment of the dowry is an obstacle to the dissolution of marriage otherwise desired, the woman may sacrifice part of her dowry to purchase her freedom, cf. verse 231.
This would naturally refer to the case in which divorce has been actually carried through, on any of the occasions on which it may have been contemplated. Muslim law, however, regards it as the consequence of a third complete divorce. Muhammad's intention apparently was to make divorce a serious step, by allowing a period for reflection and ordaining that, if a man at the end of that period still insisted on divorce, he had to reckon with the probability that it would never be allowable for him to take the woman as his wife again.
This condemns unfair advantage being taken of the option stated in verse 229; the woman is not to be retained against her will. It is earlier than the insertion in that verse that recognizes a method adopted by women to avoid what is here condemned.
'ajalahunna, that is, the term stated in verse 228.
al-kitab wa-l-hikmah, cf. verses 123, 146; 111.158, and so on.
This is usually taken as addressed to the woman's relatives, forbidding them to interfere and prevent her returning to the husband who has divorced her. More naturally it would be the complement of verse 231; a woman provisionally divorced is not to be retained by force, nor is she to be vexed if she chooses to marry another husband at the conclusion of her ciddah.
This deals with the case in which there is a child of the marriage. The husband can demand that the divorced wife suckle the child until it is two years old, but he must during that time provide for her according to his means. They may, however, agree to make other arrangements.
This verse extends the principle of the `iddah to widows.
Marriage with them may meantime be contemplated, but must not be actually carried through, nor must there be any binding promises, until the expiry of the `iddah.
"Until the book has reached its term" must mean "until the term prescribed in the book has been reached." The book is here that given to Muhammad of which the preceding regulations are part.
These deal with divorce taking place before the marriage has been consummated, and are perhaps a somewhat later addition. The marriage portion would normally be settled at the time of the marriage, so that in all probability the marriage of minors is here contemplated. This is confirmed by the phrase "he in whose hand the bond of marriage is" (verse 238). It is usually taken as referring to the husband and as meaning that he may give more than half the dowry. But the use of 1fw in this sense is unusual. More probably it refers to the girl's guardian, who may remit part of the demand on her behalf. These two verses were probably written on the back of discarded scraps.
These have no connection with the context. They seem designed for those on some military expedition. They are earlier than IV. 102 f. (NS). The middle prayer is said to be the afternoon prayer, but though the verse might possibly include the five canonical prayers, it would be more natural to take it as referring to three, morning and evening, and a prayer during the day, perhaps recently introduced and therefore more liable to be omitted. In danger, the prayers may be performed without the customary formality, and supplemented by special remembrance of Allah later; cf. verses 192, 194.
This verse deals with the same subject as verse 234, and was discarded in favor of that verse. It must be earlier also than the detailed regulations for inheritance in IV. 12 if.
This may have been the continuation of verses 226 f. and was discarded in favor of the fuller treatment of divorce in verses 228 if.
This is formal, and it is impossible to say whether it was originally connected with verse 242 or not; cf. verses 112, 183, 217, and 221.
The kernel of this lengthy passage is a parable drawn from the history of the Children of Israel designed to illustrate and enforce the duty of fighting, verses 247-252.
Verse 247 is perhaps earlier than the rest. It was written on the back of scraps, verse 244 (which suggested the beginning), verse 245, and verse 246.
Verses 248-252, which illustrate the victory of a small band and conclude by inculcating the duty of defense may have been revealed before Uhud. It was written on the back of a number of older passages, verses 253, 254, 255, 256, and 257-59.
This is enigmatic; it is unconnected with the context (but cf. verse 260), and the reference is unknown.
Bd. gives two stories:
(a) that of the people of Dawardan, said to be a village near Wasit associated in legend with Ezekiel, who were stricken by a pestilence and fled; Allah caused them to die, but afterward brought them to life;
(b) that of some of the Israelites who refused to fight when summoned to do so by their king; they were caused to die but restored to life after eight days.
The latter is evidently founded on a wrong interpretation of the verse, which has no connection with fighting, but is designed to enforce the doctrine of the resurrection. The former is perhaps founded upon Ezekiel's vision in Ezekiel 47. Something of the kind may lie behind the verse. Muhammad Ali takes the reference to be the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt, but that can hardly be, unless the verse be pretty early in date.
'uluf, probably plural of 'alf, "thousand," but possibly an unusual plural of 'ilf, "intimate friend."
This is an unconnected scrap, and as recommending fighting, is Medinan in date.
This is also unconnected, and also Medinan; cf. verse 263; LVII.1l. It is an appeal for funds for war and other purpose.
This evidently refers to the demand of the Israelites to Samuel to appoint a king over them, I Sam. 8:5; the second half of the verse is suggested by the position of the Muhajirin, rather than by any biblical incident. The initial reluctance of Muhammad's followers to fight is reflected in it.
The form Ta1ut for Saul is influenced by Ja1ut for Goliath in verse 250. Objections to Muhammad's authority in Medina are perhaps reflected in the objections to Saul as king.
The return of the Ark, I Samuel 6, is associated with Saul.
tabut for the Ark of the Covenant is late Hebrew; cf Geiger, pp. 45 f. and Jeffery, Foreign Vocabulary, s.v.
It ought to be feminine, and Bd. therefore takes fihi as referring to the coming of the Ark, and sakinah "assurance" as in other passages, cf. IX.26, 40; XLVIII.4, 16, 26. But as sakinah is coordinate with baqiyyan, it is more natural to take f i hi as referring to the Ark itself, and sakinah as something which was supposed to be contained in it. The word is the Heb. shakinah and this is no doubt the earliest use of it in the Qur'an; in the other passages the sense has been influenced by that of the Arabic root.
For the relics of the family of Moses and Aaron contained in the Ark, cf. Exod. 25:6 ff.; I Kings 8:9; and especially Heb. 9:4. That the angels carry the Ark is probably a reminiscence of the cherubim.
This mixes the story of Gideon, Judges 7:5 f., with that of Saul. Goliath is regarded as leader of the opposing forces. The end of the verse combats the feeling of weakness in face of a stronger force, possibly before Uhud.
cf. VII.123; VIII.11.
Cf. XXII.41; there was still some aversion to war among the people of Medina.
This is quite detached, though it may have originally preceded verse 254.
This is out of connection; it must have followed some list of previous messengers; cf. XVII.57. It belongs to the period of controversy with Jews and Christians, cf. verse 81. It deals with the problem of the differences between the monotheistic religion.
man kallama Ilah, "to whom Allah spoke" as to Moses, but Allah is sometimes read as object, "who spoke to Allah"; cf. verse 208.
This is also unchanged, but may be complete in itself. For the address cf. verse 204, and for parallels, XIV.36; LXIII.10. The rhyme phrase is loosely attached.
The famous verse of the throne, also stands by itself.
al-hayy a1-gayyum, cf. 111. 1; XX.110.
gayyum is by Muslim interpreters derived from Arabic gama bi, and taken in the sense of "all-sustaining," but it is probably the Aramaic gayyum, "eternal."
NS suggests that the verse may be the translation of a Jewish or Christian hymn, see NS, i, p. 184, n., for references to Jewish literature, from which phrases may have been borrowed. More probably, it has been composed on the basis of knowledge acquired in early Medinan days, particularly of the Psalms, cf. Ps. 121:3, 24:1, 50:10 f., 139, 11:4; also Isa. 40:13, 28; 66:1. The verse may have formed part of the early Medinan address in praise of Allah, portions of which have already appeared in the sura, cf. verses 19b, 20, 26, 27, and 158-160a.
The intercessors referred to seem to be angels, cf. XIX.65.
These might possibly connect with verse 256, but are probably separate. This seems to be the only passage in which compulsion in religion is deprecated; it is probably early Medinan.
For the opposition of ar-rushd and al-ghayy, cf. VII.143, also LXXXII.2.
taghut from late Heb. ta`uth (Geiger), Aram. talyutha (Grimme); Jeffery decides in favor of Ethiopic as the source from which the required sense of "idols" may be derived. The occurrence of the word in early Medinan passages would, however, favor Jewish influence. From verse 259 it appears that the word was regarded as plural.
al curwah al-wuthga, cf. XXXI.21.
"bring out of the darkness into the light," cf. V.18; XIV.1, 5; XXXIII.42; LVII.11.
Verses 258-259 should form only one verse.
These verses consist of a series of deliverances dealing with contributions, verses 263-268, which have been written on the back of verses 260-262, which belong to the same context as verse 244. The disparity in space is perhaps to be explained by verse 265, and the close of verse 266 being later insertions. The fact that verse 244 was evidently detached when verses 247 ff. was written may perhaps argue that these deliverances were earlier than the preceding passage.
This begins in the same way as verse 244, and like it, deals with the revival of the dead. Bd. says the reference is to Nimrod, but no satisfactory source has been discovered.
This verse connects with verse 260, and also deals with the resurrection.
The reference is quite uncertain. Ezekiel's vision may have suggested the first part of the verse (Muhammad Ali); others find in it a reference to Nehemiah's restoration of Jerusalem. A. Muller, in ZDMG 42 (1888), recalls the story in the Ethiopic Book of Baruch, according to which the friend of Jeremiah falls asleep for years, and when he is restored, finds his provisions still fresh. The verse may be based on a confusion of the two stories.
For the phrase khawiyah `ala `urushina, cf. XVIII.40; XXII.44;
kam labithta, cf. XVIII.18; XXIII.1l4 f.
This is perhaps founded on a verse recollection of Gen. 15:9 if. It belongs to the same context as verses 260-261.
sur, in surhunna, is variously pointed; it is usually taken as imper. of swr, used here in the sense of "cause to come." This is an unusual meaning of the verb, but no better suggestion has been made.
This is an appeal rather than a command for contributions, and is complete in itself. The simile perhaps shows a recollection of the parable of the sower. For the close of the verse, cf. verse 246.
This is a similar appeal.
mann, properly "favor" or "bounty," must be here in the sense of presuming upon favors bestowed to affect superiority, playing the bountiful. The concluding phrase shows that the verse was originally complete in itself.
This is probably a later addition.
These probably originally formed only one verse. The concluding clause of verse 266 interrupts the parable, and breaks the construction; it was probably introduced later to give a rhyme and break an overlong verse. The parable contained in the verses seems to show reminiscences of the parable of the sower and Matt. 7:24 ff.; perhaps also Isa. 6:1 f.
"For the sake of appearances," cf. Matt. 6:1.
This seems to be another parable emphasizing the point of the preceding one. Those who contribute for show may seem to have a nice garden of good works, but when they need it most, it is suddenly swept away.
These verses are complicated, and the arrangement adopted in my Translation is not satisfactory. Verse 272 is out of rhyme. Verse 273 has a verse ending in the middle, which would give the same rhyme as as that of verse 272. A similar rhyme is found in verse 271 a and verse 272a; verse 274a has no connection with the context, while verse 271 and verse 272 have very little connection with the subject of contributions. The rhyme phrase of verse 271 is loosely attached and rather disrupts the connection. It was probably inserted later to divide the verse and introduce the assonance of this surah. If it be removed, verses 271-272 may be read as one verse, with assonance in -a followed by a consonant, or as consisting of at least three verses. verse 271 a (bi-l-fahsha'); verse 271b (fatlla[n] [?]); verse 272a (yasha'); verse 272b (al-albab).
The presence of this passage, which deals with Allah's free bestowal of wisdom, is no doubt due to verses 269-270 having been written on the back of it.
Though verse 273a does not connect with verses 271-272, it has the assonance and probably belongs to the earlier strand. The back of it was used for the writing of verse 273b, which forms a (perhaps later) annex to verses 269-270; as that did not suffice, the concluding phrase was written on the back of another short phrase, which stands isolated at the beginning of verse 274.
Cf. verse 164; XXIV.21.
al-fahsha' can hardly mean "nigardliness," which is the usual interpretation here, but is an attempt to adapt the passage to the present context.
Cf. verse 252, XXXI. 11.
For rhyme phrase, cf. 111. 189.
Cf. Matt. 6:4; verse 275.
kaffara is the Hebrew kipper, and is a Medinan word; the subject to the verb here is usually taken to be Allah, but may be the action described.
For the phrase, cf. IV.35; 111.194; verse 15, 70; VIII.29; XXIX.6; XLVIII.5; LXVI.8.
This verse is long, even after detaching the initial phrase, which does not belong to it, and has a break, with a rhyme, in the middle, at tuzlamuna.
li-l-fugara' has nothing to depend on in its present position. It is parallel to li-'anfusikum, and the second part of the verse is a substitute for the first, beginning at the latter word. For additional space, the back of verse 275, itself a separate deliverance on alms-giving, cf. XIV.36, was utilized.
"Restricted in the way of Allah," Bd. takes to mean "occupied with the jihad," but more probably it refers to Muhajirin, who have been reduced to poverty and for some reason or other cannot engage freely in trade. Whether the fact that they can be recognised by their mark implies that they devoted themselves to pious exercises is doubtful; cf. VII.44, 46; XLVII.32, (XLVIII.29); LV.41.
These verses deal mainly with usury, but are not uniform.
Verse 277 consists really of two verses, with an ending at 'athim. The second half has no connection with usury.
This is long, but has a break at al-mass.
Up to here the verse is a dissuasion from taking usury because of its moral consequences at the Judgment. The rest of the verse implies that usury has already been forbidden, and repeats the prohibition more emphatically. This previous prohibition may be that of Jewish Law, or that contained in verse 277, which possibly may have been the original continuation of verse 276a. The sense seems to be that usury is done away with; it is alms freely given that bear interest, that is, in spiritual reward.
This has been written on the back of the two separate verses contained in verse 277.
"Arise," that is, at the resurrection.
takhabbata, only here in the Qur'an, "to strike obliquely," as a camel with the forefoot, "to overthrow."
The "touch" of Satan probably refers to demoniacal possession or insanity.
"Retains what is past," that is, the prohibition is not to apply to what has already been received, of which no account is to be taken.
The main part of this is a long and probably late enactment dealing with borrowing and the recording of debts, verses 282-283, which may have been designed to replace previous deliverances dealing with usury. In any case it was written on the back of
verses 278-81 (a prohibition of usury),
verse 284 (a verse from some other context setting forth Allah's knowledge),
verses 285a-286b (a profession of faith and prayer).
A modification excepting ordinary business transactions from the necessity of being recorded was inserted into verse 282,'idha ... tabaya`tum. This was written on the back of the scraps verses 285b-286a, and when it was inserted in its proper place in the new enactment, these scraps interrupted the connection of verse 285a and verse 286b on the other side.
These verses are very peremptory in tone and, being addressed to believers, are difficult to date. They are probably later than verse 276b. They forbid, under threat of war, the collecting of interest that has already been agreed upon, but has not been paid. One would be inclined to regard this a directed against the Jews, but they could hardly be addressed as believers. Tradition says it was the Thagif who demanded usury from some of the Quraish; this would imply a later date.
The pronoun in verse 280 refers to the debtor; the indulgence to be granted refers to the repayment of capital, not interest.
These imply that writing was a fairly common accomplishment in Medina, but not in the country districts. For similar regulations regarding the recording of bequests, cf. V.105 f., which is perhaps earlier than this.
alladhi'alaihi 1-haqqu, that is, the debtor; by dictating the agreement he acknowledges the debt.
waliyyuhu is not the other party to the contract, but the representative of the debtor.
tijarah hadirah is read by 'Asim as accusative, by all the other readers as nominative, without much difference in sense.
tijarah must be in the concrete sense of "merchandise." The exception introduced refers to goods passing from hand to hand in the ordinary course of business.
yudarra may be either active or passive, that is, either those who write the agreement or witness it are not to do an injury by writing or testifying what is false, or they are not to suffer an injury by being involved in the transaction. The latter seems preferable on account of the following clause. But perhaps "ye" is to be taken as including the writer and witness; that is, if writers and witnesses from among you do an injury.
On a journey amongst the Bedouin, it might be difficult to find a "writer"; there are variants, kitab, kutub, kuttab; but the context supports katib. In that case a pledge may be taken, as equivalent, or as evidence of the debt. Or the lender may dispense with formalities and simply trust the debtor, in which case the debtor must, as a pious duty, fulfill his obligation.
This verse is almost certainly Medinan, because of its insistence on Allah's knowledge of concealed opinions, but its context is uncertain.
This dates from about the time of the break with the Jews, cf. verse 92 and verse 130, also IV.135. The end of verse 285 is, however, out of connection; note the grammatical break at wa-q510.
There is also a grammatical break at ktasabat in verse 286, and the beginning of this verse is also quite out of connection,
The introduction of these two scraps is explained by the insertion of the exceptive clause in verse 282. With their removal, verse 285 and verse 286 join together as a declaration of belief on the part of the messenger and the believers, followed by a prayer.
With the declaration of belief cf. verse 130; the date must be somewhere about the time of the change of qiblah.
For verse 285b
Cf. verse 87. It may have been the original ending of verse 58, but that is uncertain.
The original context of verse 286a is still more uncertain. A similar idea occurs in the second part of the verse; cf. also VI. 153; VII.40; XXIII.64.
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