The Historical Development of the Qur'an



The Qur'anic references in the book often do not correspond to modern versions of the Qur'an. The numbers in brackets give the verse numbers for modern versions of the Qur'an.


Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo, Syria
Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo, Syria


A COMPARISON of the historical facts in the life of Muhammad with the various portions of the Qur'an connected with them is necessary, if that life is to be intelligently understood. Another and equally important result of such comparison is that it shows the gradual way in which the Qur'an came into existence and how admirably the revelations fitted in to the local circumstances, and gave what was claimed to be divine authority and support to the varied actions of the Prophet. In this way alone could his change of policy be justified and he himself be protected from the charge of time-serving and inconsistency.

The arrangement of the Suras, or chapters in the Qur'an, is not chronological. The longest Suras are placed first in the book. Thus, to take the Qur'an and read it straight through throws no light on the life and work of the Prophet, but simply bewilders the reader. Maulavi Muhammad 'Ali, a Qadiani commentator, asserts that the whole Qur'an was committed to writing during the Prophet's life-time and that the present arrangement of chapters and verses was made under the Prophet's own superintendence. 1 If this is so, it is difficult to say why recensions were necessary under Abu Bakr and 'Uthman and what Zaid's work really was; nor is it easy to conceive that so capable a person as Muhammad would have left his book in so unintelligible a form. It seems more correct to say that the Qur'an in its present form is a genuine reproduction of Abu Bakr's recension. 'Uthman, after issuing his revised edition, 'caused all the remaining editions to be destroyed.' 2   This was unnecessary, if Muhammad compiled and left a correct copy. The Arab and Persian commentators have arranged the Suras in some definite order, and Muir and Nöldeke have also attempted to place them in chronological sequence. There are differences of opinion as to the exact date of some Suras, and of portions of others which are certainly composite; but for all practical purposes we can now arrange them in some sort of consecutive order.

In the following pages, I try to show how the Suras when thus placed in their true chronological order cast much light on the policy, the teaching, and the actions of the great Arabian Prophet.

The first words revealed are those which the Prophet heard in the cave of Mt. Hira, situated about three miles from Mecca, and now recorded in the Sura al-'Alaq (96) 1-2 :—

Recite thou in the name of thy Lord who created,
Created man from clots of blood. 3

Zamakhshari says that Ibn 'Abbas and Mujahid also agreed with this view; but that many commentators hold the Sura al-Fatiha (i) was the first portion revealed; others again say it was Sura al-Qalam (68).

It is said by some that the words in the Sura ash-Shu'ara' (26) 214,

Warn thy relatives of nearer kin,

contain the first call to preach; but the objections to this view are, that the context 'kindly lower thy wing over the faithful who follow thee' (215), and the words 'who seeth thee when thou standest in prayer and thy demeanour among those who worship' (218-9), both presuppose the existence of a small Muslim community. The style of the Sura, too, is not that of the earliest period, and such combinations as الْعَزيزُ الرَّحيمٌ the Mighty, the Merciful السَّمِيعُ الْعَليِمُ and the Hearer, the Knower belong to the later Suras.

Then followed a period, called the Fatra, during which no revelations came. 4 It is said to have lasted three years. During this time the mind of the Prophet was in much suspense and he even doubted his call to a divine mission. The Quraish, a leading tribe in Mecca, to which the Prophet himself belonged, did not all this while actively oppose Muhammad; they looked upon him as a madman, and in the East madness is often supposed to be accompanied with a sort of inspiration. In religious matters, the Meccans were not narrow-minded, nor was their religion exclusive. They tolerated the various creeds then accepted in Arabia and opened the Ka'ba to men of all sects. Waraqa, the cousin of Muhammad, one of the Hanifs, embraced Christianity, but no one blamed him or interfered with him on that account. So at first they treated Muhammad with good-humoured contempt. The opposition against him was aroused when he set up his own teaching as the exclusive way of life and explicitly and implicitly condemned all other religions. So long as he kept to general statements, such as exhortations to lead good lives, or allusions to the Last Day, the people of Mecca cared little; but, when he began to attack the idolatry of the Ka'ba, the case was quite altered and active opposition commenced. The chief cause of this was the intense dislike they had to the changing of what had been long established. They had great reverence for the religion which made Mecca a sacred centre for the Arab people. As yet they had no idea that Muhammad would, by adopting into Islam much of the old pagan ceremonial of the Ka'ba, conserve that feeling. Then he worked no miracles. They had only his own word in support of his claim.

It would not be difficult to show that he was, from the first, influenced by patriotic motives and that he had a politico-religious system in view. Ibn Ishaq tells us that, as Muhammad owed the amount of toleration he enjoyed solely to the support of his relatives, the elders of the Quraish begged his uncle Abu Talib to arrange some way of peace by mutual concessions. Abu Talib thereupon asked him to make some concession and stated that the Quraish would also do the same. To this Muhammad replied: 'Well then, give me a word whereby the Arabs may be governed and the Persians subjugated;' 5 and added, 'Say there is no God except Allah and renounce what you worship beside Him.' In other words, accept my teaching and Arabia shall be united and her enemies subdued. The Meccans realized the danger and replied: 'We are not sure whether the dominion will not be taken from us.' The political factor in the inception of Islam has been far too much overlooked. 6 The result of the battle of Muta (A.H. 8), for example, was disastrous from a military point of view; but it exalted Muhammad as the champion of a national idea and so produced a good effect. 7 The men of Mecca saw that acceptance of Muhammad's teaching might mean war and possible defeat, and this feeling no doubt added strength to their increasing opposition. They now called him liar, sorcerer, poet, soothsayer, demoniac. Even at the door of the Ka'ba, they assailed him. Once he lost his temper and said: 'Hear, ye Quraish, I come to you with slaughter,' 8 a threat which he was not able to carry out for many years; but the Quraish could not know this and so the next day they attacked him again. Abu Bakr had to come to his aid, and there 'was no man that day,' says Ibn Ishaq, 'free or slave, who did not call him a liar and insult him.' All through these troubles his uncle Abu Talib, though not at all convinced of the truth of his nephew's claims, was his steady protector. The Quraish urged him to withdraw his protection, but all that he would do was to remonstrate with his troublesome nephew thus: 'Spare me and thyself, and do not burden me with more than I can bear;' but Muhammad was firm, and so his uncle, true to the ties of relationship, dismissed the deputation and told him to go on, adding these words, 'By Allah, I shall in no wise surrender thee to them.'

The conception of Muhammad as a poor man, a mere camel driver, forcing his own way, unaided, against strong opposition is unfounded. He belonged to one of the most distinguished tribes in Arabia, and was a member of a highly aristocratic family. His relations were men of great political and social influence and that was used for his personal protection. If that support had not been given, Muhammad might have failed under the pressure of opposition and Islam might never have come into existence.

Some of Muhammad's followers, such as Abu Bakr and others who could claim connexion with some influential family in Mecca, though despised and insulted, were free from personal danger. The strong family affection was a safeguard against the serious molestation of any member of it, even though he had joined the new teaching; but, if Muhammad and some of his adherents were thus protected, it was otherwise with his followers who were gathered out from the slaves and the lower class of Arabs 9 for whom there was no powerful protector from amongst the leading members of the great Meccan families. They were cruelly tortured and imprisoned. Muhammad was much concerned at this, and even encouraged them to dissemble in order to escape torture. One day he met a man called 'Ammar bin Yasir who was weeping. In reply to Muhammad's enquiries, he said, 'Oh Prophet, they would not let me go till I had abused thee, and spoken well of their gods.' Muhammad said: 'But how dost thou find thy heart?'  ‘Secure and steadfast in the faith.' 'Then,' continued Muhammad, 'if they repeat their cruelty, repeat thou also thy words.' The case of such unwilling deniers of the faith is provided for in the Sura an-Nahl 16:108 [106] which is said to have been revealed after, the interview with 'Ammar bin Yasir. 10

Whoso, after he hath believed in God, denieth Him, if he was forced to it and if his heart remain steadfast in the faith, shall be guiltless. 11

About this time, when the Prophet's mind was full of anxiety, the two short Suras, the Sura ad-Duha (93). 12 and the Sura al-Inshirah (94), both addressed directly to Muhammad himself, and Sura al-Kafirun (109) and Su'ratu'l-Ikhlas (112), addressed to the people, were revealed for his consolation:—

By the noon-day brightness,
And by the night when it darkeneth,
Thy Lord hath not forsaken thee, neither hath
He been displeased;
And surely the future shall be better than the past. (93) 1-4.

Have we not opened thine heart for thee?
And taken off from thee thy burden,
Which galled thy back?
And have we not raised thy name for thee?
Then verily along with trouble cometh ease.
But when thou art set at liberty, then prosecute thy toil,
And seek thy Lord with fervour. (94) 1-8.

Say: O ye unbelievers!
I worship not that which ye worship,
And ye do not worship that which I worship
I shall never worship that which ye worship
Neither will ye worship that which I worship.
To you be your religion: to me my religion. (109) 1-6. 13

Say: He is God alone;
God the Eternal!
He begetteth not and He is not begotten;
And there is none like unto him. (112) 1-4.

Thus, in a period of depression, the Prophet was encouraged by direct messages to himself to protest against idolatry and by the deepening of his faith in the contemplation of the Unity of the Godhead.

The first Sura of a continued series, after the Fatra was over, is the Sura al-Mudaththir (lxxiv) 14 after which there was no more cessation of the revelations. This Sura came at a time when the Prophet was mocked and jeered at, charged with being a mere poet, or a soothsayer, misleading others with his rhapsodies. It is a clear indication to him to go straight on with his mission, and a command to preach:—

O thou, enwrapped in thy mantle!
Arise and warn!
Thy Lord-magnify Him!
Thy raiment-purify it!
The abomination-flee it! 1-5.

The people of Mecca were obdurate and the leader of the opposition was, according to the commentators Ibn 'Abbas and Baidawi, Walid bin Mughaira, the chief of Mecca. He is referred to in these vindictive verses:—

Leave me alone to deal with him whom I have created,
And on whom I have bestowed vast riches,
And sons dwelling before him,
And for whom I smoothed all things smoothly down;
Yet desireth he that I should add more!
But no! because to our signs he is a foe,
I will lay grievous woes upon him
For he plotted and he planned!
May he be cursed! 11-19.

He had said that the words of the Prophet were those of a mere man and were spoken under the influence of magic. Then follows the condemnation:—

We will surely cast him into hell-fire,
And who shall teach him what hell-fire is?
It leaveth nought, it spareth nought,
Blackening the skin. 26-9. 15

This same person is referred to in Sura al Qalam (68) as,

The man of oaths, a despicable person,
Defamer going about with slander. 10-11.
Who, when our wondrous verses are recited to him, saith,
'Fables of the Ancients,'
We will brand him in the nostrils. 15-16.

Another bitter opponent of Muhammad was his uncle 'Abdu'l-'Uzza, known as Abu Lahab, who was instigated by his wife to reject Muhammad's claim. Both uncle and aunt are fiercely condemned in an early Meccan chapter, Sura al-Lahab (cxi):—

Let the hands of Abu Lahab perish and let himself perish!
His wealth and his gain shall avail him not,
Burned shall he be at the fiery flame,
And his wife laden with fire-wood,
On her neck a twisted rope of palm fibre. 16

Sura al-Humazah (civ) is directed against a rich man named Akhnas ibn Sharif, 17 and clearly belongs to this period, though Nöldeke mentions, but without approval, that some Muslim authorities consider it a Madina one:—

Woe to every backbiter, defamer!
Who amasseth wealth and storeth it against the future!
He thinketh surely that his wealth shall be with him for ever.
Nay! for verily he shall be flung into the crushing fire;
And who shall teach thee what the crushing fire is?
It is God's kindled fire,
Which shall mount above the hearts of the damned. 1-7.

In a late Meccan Sura, a number of persons are referred to as refusing to listen and to have become so obdurate that, even after punishment, they would be unconvinced. The words are:—

Some among them hearken unto thee; 18 but we have cast a veil over their hearts that they should not understand it (Qur'an) and a weight into their ears; and though they should see all kinds of signs, they will refuse all faith in them until when they come to thee, to dispute with thee. The infidels say, Verily, this is nothing but fables of the ancients.'
And they will forbid it and depart from it, but they are only the authors of their own perdition, and know it not. Sura al-An'am (vi) 25-6.

Abu Jahl, 19 another bitter opponent, is referred to in Sura al-'Alaq (xcvi):—

Nay, verily, man is insolent,
Because he seeth himself possessed of riches. 6-7.

It is said by Baidawi, that he threatened to put his foot on the neck of the Prophet, when he was prostrate in prayer.

Again in the Sura al-Hajj (xxii) we read:—

A man there is who disputeth about God without knowledge or guidance or enlightening Book. [xxii, 8]

This is a Madina Sura and so the reference is historical and retrospective, but that is not uncommon in the later Suras. In another late Madina Sura we have:—

And be not like those Meccans, who came out of their houses insolently and to be seen of men and who turn others away from God. Sura Anfal (viii) 49. [47]

Against all this opposition, Muhammad is instructed in the Sura Qalam (68) to say of himself, as from God:—

Thou, by the grace of thy Lord, art not possessed. 2.

During the next year or two the theory of divine inspiration becomes more fully developed and the infallibility of the Prophet more strenuously asserted. The revelations as they come are not only declared to be the very words of God himself, but their original is said to be in Heaven:—

Yet it is a glorious Qur'an, 20
Written on the preserved Table. Sura Buruj (lxxxv) 21. [21-22]

This table is the Lauhu'l-Mahfuz, or preserved table, kept near the throne of God. The Qur'an

Is an admonition in revered pages; exalted, pure;
Written by scribes honourable and just. Sura Abasa (lxxx) 13-14.

The commentator Zamakhshari explains this thus: 'Being transcribed from the preserved table, kept pure and uncorrupt from the hands of evil spirits, and touched only by the Angels.' Baidawi says: 'Angels wrote it, or prophets transcribed the book from the (preserved) table, or by revelation, or the scribes wrote it by the revelation between God and His Prophet.' 21

The opposition was now very severe and is met by denunciations of the strongest kind in the Sura Mursalat (lxxvii), an early Meccan one. No less than ten times in a chapter of fifty short verses are the words repeated:—

Woe be on that day to those who charged with imposture!

The active form of the opposition seems to be referred to in the thirty-ninth verse, in which a sort of challenge is set forth:—

If now ye have any craft, try your craft on me. 22

The denunciations close with the fierce command:—

Begone to that hell that ye called a lie,
Begone to the shadows that lie in triple masses,
But not against the flames shall they help or shade you. 25-31. [29-31]

The next Sura, Sura Naba' (lxxviii) is in the same strain of bitter invective:—

Hell truly shall be a place of snares,
The home of transgressors,
To abide therein ages;
No coolness shall they taste therein nor any drink,
Save boiling water and running sores;
Meet recompense!
For they looked not forward to their account;
And they gave the lie to our signs, charging them with falsehood;
But we noted and wrote down all:
Taste this then, and we will give increase of nought— but torment. 21-30.

Sura Buruj (lxxxv) refers to the persecutions suffered by the early Muslims 23 and to the punishment of those who vex the believers. For them there is waiting the torments of hell, and 'the torment of the burning.' To confirm all this denunciation of those who opposed the Prophet, his hearers are reminded that the words are not his, but are those of the 'glorious Qur'an, written on the preserved table,' that is, the very words of God Himself.

These more general statements of the future lot of the impenitent sometimes gave way to the threat of a temporal calamity. Just as in ancient times God, before he destroyed a city, sent first a prophet to warn it, so it was now:—

We never destroyed a city which had not first its warners
With admonition; nor did we deal unjustly. Sura Ash Shu’ara (xxvi) 208-9.
We never destroyed a city whose term was not prefixed.
No people can forestall or retard its destiny. Sura Al-Hijr (xv) 4-5.
In such sort have we influenced the heart of the wicked ones,
That they will not believe it till they see the grievous chastisement;
And it shall come upon them on a sudden when they look not for it. Suratu’sh Shu'ara (xxvi) 201-2. [200-202]

The people of Mecca may, for a time, have been stirred by the constant reiteration of an impending local danger but, as time passed by and no calamity came to them, they passed from curiosity to incredulity. They challenged Muhammad's message, derided his denunciations and demanded miraculous signs of his authority.

They said:—
By no means will we believe in thee till thou cause a fountain to gush forth for us from the earth,
Or till thou have a garden of palm-trees and grapes, and thou cause forth gushing rivers to gush forth in our midst;
Or thou make the heaven to fall on us, as thou hast given out, in pieces; or thou bring God and the angels to vouch for thee. Sura Al-Isra (17), 90-92.

The unbelievers say, 'Why hath not a sign been given him by his Lord.' Sura Ar-Ra'd (13) 7.

Muhammad had to acknowledge that he had no such credentials, but he brought revelations to show that the absence of this power was part of God's purpose in dealing with these rebellious people of Mecca.

Thus, in order to show that what he deemed mere idle curiosity could not be gratified, we have:—

We will not send down the angels without due cause. Sura Al-Hijr (15) 8.

If they would not believe from the example of those who had gone before, if they now deliberately rejected the warning and the warner, then nothing else would help them, for in the same Sura (xv) it is written:—

Even were we to open a gate in Heaven, yet all the while they were mounting up to it,
They would say: it is only our eyes are drunken, we are a people enchanted. 14-15.

The strongest passage of all on this subject is one at the close of the middle Meccan period, where the reason assigned is that it was quite useless to give Muhammad the power of working miracles, 24   for such a gift had practically produced no result in the case of former prophets:—

Nothing hindered us from sending thee with miracles, except that the people of old treated them as lies. Sura Al-Isra (xvii) 61. [59]

They pressed their point, and, as we shall see later on, he had to maintain that the Qur'an was the one special miracle which attested his mission.

The Meccans looked upon the doctrine of the resurrection of the body as pure imagination, and when revelations concerning it were announced, treated them as made up by Muhammad from information gathered from the foreigners at Mecca. They spoke of them as 'Fables of the Ancients,' or as the effusion of a poetical imagination. In the Sura Al-Mutaffifn (lxxxiii) 25 delivered in the earlier part of the Meccan period of the Prophet's career, we read:—

Woe, on that day, to those who treated our signs as lies,
Who treated the day of judgment as a lie!
None treat it as a lie, save the transgressor, the criminal,
Who, when our signs are rehearsed to him, saith, Tale of the Ancients'
Yes; but their own works have got the mastery over their hearts,
Yes; they shall be shut out as by a veil from their Lord on that day;
Then shall they be burned in hell-fire;
Then it shall be said to them, 'This is what ye deemed a lie.' 10-17.

A little later on at Mecca, Muhammad discouraged poetry in the words:—

It is the poets whom the erring follow. Suratu’sh-Shu’ara’(xxvi) 224. 26

He also at this time rebutted the charge of being a mere poet, thus:—

We have not taught him (Muhammad) poetry, nor would it beseem him. This (book) is no other than a warning and a clear Qur'an. Suratu Ya-Sin (xxxvi) 69.

If he were a poet or composed poetry it might appear as if the Qur'an were his own composition and not the direct words of God. These emphatic assertions are intended, it is said, to confound the infidels who made such a false charge. Apparently his opponents were not satisfied, for somewhat later on, though still at Mecca, we find the same charge repeated in Sura Al-Furqan (xxv):—

And the infidels say, 'The Qur'an is a mere fraud of his own devising and others have helped him with it, who had come hither by outrage and lie.'
And they say, 'Tales of the Ancients' 27 that he hath put in writing, and they were dictated to him morning and evening. 5-6. [4-5]

They must also have looked upon him as a Kahin, 28 or soothsayer. See Suras lii. 29 and lxix. 42.

The Suras of the early Meccan period exhibit the dark feelings and suspicions of the Prophet, though the language is often very fine and the rhetorical cadence is full of poetic colour. The oaths with which he strengthens his teaching are very characteristic. The strong and comminatory attacks on his adversaries, of whom he even singles out some, are a marked feature of this period of his career. These Suras are the finest in the whole Qur'an and in them the passionate agitation of the Prophet appears at its height.

A conciliatory appeal is now made to the Meccans on the ground of their privileges:—

Hast thou not seen how thy Lord dealt with the army of the Elephant?
Did he not cause their stratagem to miscarry?
And he sent against them birds in flocks,
Claystones did they hurl upon them,
And he made them like stubble eaten down. Sura Al-Fil (cv) 1-.5.

This is an allusion to the deliverance of the inhabitants of Mecca from the army of the King of Abyssinia, sent to destroy the Ka'ba in the year when Muhammad was born. The plague, which in quite a natural way destroyed so many of the enemy, is here represented as a miraculous interposition of Providence.

In the Sura Quraish (cvi) there is an allusion to the sacred Ka'ba and the inviolability of its territory:—

Let them worship the Lord of this house, who hath provided them with food against hunger, And secured them against alarm. 3-4.

In Sura At-Tin (xcv) a similar appeal is enforced with an oath:—

I swear by the fig and the olive
By Mount Sinai
And by this inviolable soil. 1-3.

The commentators, Ibn 'Abbas and Husain, say that the fig and the olive stand for two hills near Mecca, Tina and Zita, famed for their trees, or for the mosques of Mecca and Damascus. The view put forth by Baidawi and Zamakhshari that they stand for what is nourishing and wholesome is more reasonable. An extraordinary and fanciful explanation is given by Maulavi Muhammad 'Ali. He says the fig represents Judaism, now passed away, for Christ said to the barren fig tree (Matt. xxi. 19) 'Let no fruit grow on thee, henceforward and for ever.' The olive stands for Islam, for as the olive produces oil for light, so Islam is the light of the nations. This is a good illustration of the author's vivid imagination and is opposed to all accepted interpretations.

A little later on we have in Sura At-Tur (lii):—

By the mountain
And by the Book written,
On an outspread roll
And by the frequented house. 1-4.

In this way, in the early part of his Meccan career, the Prophet praised and honoured a place dear to the Meccans.

Then follows an appeal of a different description an appeal to the lower instincts of human nature. The delights of heaven, the bridal couches, the choice wines, the perfume of musk are now pourtrayed for the encouragement of the dispirited band of the faithful, one of whose chief delights in Paradise will be to lie on these bridal couches and laugh the infidels to scorn; a passage explained by some commentators thus: 'A door will be opened between heaven and hell and the damned will be called to the open door; they will run with the alacrity of hope, but just as they get to it, it will be shut in their faces and the saved, enjoying the carnal pleasures of Paradise, will add to their joy by laughing heartily at the sad disappointment of the lost.' At this period, the most graphic descriptions are given of heaven and hell, not only to support the courage of the early Muslims under their trials, but also to terrify their opponents. The joys of Paradise are rest and ease, robes of silken textures, wines and scents, with attendants of rare beauty. All these are to be enjoyed in scenes which add to the delight of the senses. To complete the attraction, there is:—

For the God-fearing a blissful abode,
Enclosed gardens and vineyards
And damsels with swelling breasts, their peers in age,
And a full cup. Sura An-Naba' (lxxviii) 31-4.

And theirs shall be the Huris with large dark eyes,
like pearls hidden in their shells.
Of a rare creation have we created the Huris,
And we have made them ever virgin. Sura Al-Waqi'ah (lvi) 22, 34-5. [22-23, 35-36]

On couches, ranged in rows, shall they recline
And to the damsels with large dark eyes will we wed them. Sura At-Tur (lii) 20.

In a Sura a little later on, about the middle period in Mecca, we have:—

A state banquet shall they have
Of fruits; and honoured shall they be
In the gardens of delight,
Upon couches face to face.
A cup shall be borne round among them from a fountain,
Limpid, delicious to those who drink;
It shall not oppress the sense, nor shall they be drunken.
And with them are the large-eyed ones with modest refraining glances. Sura As-Saffat (xxxvii) 40-7. [42-48]

Gibbon sarcastically remarks on these statements, that 'Muhammad has not specified the male companions of the elect, lest he should either alarm the jealousy of the former husbands, or disturb their felicity by the suspicion of an everlasting marriage.' Faithful women as well as faithful men will renew their youth in heaven. Justice seems to demand that women, therefore, should have the same liberty as men, but Muhammad shrank from this legitimate conclusion to his teaching.

The question naturally arises whether these statements were meant to be literal or allegorical. No doubt Muslim mystics 29 and philosophers have refined them away into allegory, and such a course naturally commends itself to men of high moral tone in modern Islamic society, where it has been influenced by Christian thought and western culture; but it is difficult to believe that Muhammad so intended his words to be taken, or that his hearers so understood them. Muhammad's mind was intensely practical and not in the least given to mysticism. In the arrangements of the world and in the affairs of men he saw no difficulties and no mystery. The punishments of hell are material, no orthodox Muslim attempts to allegorize them; why then should the material joys of paradise be set aside? It must, however, be noted that these descriptions of a voluptuous paradise are given at a time when Muhammad was living a chaste and temperate life with a single wife. This is urged as a plea in support of the allegorical view; but it must be borne in mind that, though Muhammad was undoubtedly fond of and faithful to Khadija, 30 yet he was subject to her. She was the master, she had raised him from poverty, given him a position, placed him in comparative affluence; but she kept her fortune in her own hands. Muhammad had not, even assuming that he wished so to do, the means of granting dowries, or of, in any way, obtaining other wives. That his moderation then was compulsory seems to some critics evident from the fact that as soon as he was free he gratified his wishes to the full. Muhammad after Khadija's death was, according to the Raudatu' l-Ahbab, 31 very much dejected when a friend said, 'Why do you not marry again?' he replied, ' Who is there that I could take?' ' If thou wishest for a virgin, there is 'Ayisha, the daughter of thy friend Abu Bakr; and if thou wishest for a woman, there is Sauda who believes in thee.' He solved the dilemma by saying, ' Then ask them both for me.' Two months after the death of Khadija he was married to Sauda and betrothed to 'Ayisha, then a girl of six years of age, whom three years after he married. Still it may be said, how is it that in the later Suras these vivid descriptions of the carnal joys of Paradise are not given? 32 One reason sometimes assigned is that his followers in Madina, no longer being a persecuted people, did not need this encouragement; but there is also another explanation which has been given. 'The more probable cause, assuredly, is satiety. The pleasures which appeared so intense when out of reach, that Muhammad could think of no reward so fitting for the believer in Paradise, palled as soon as they were enjoyed without restriction.' 33  

In the second part of the Meccan period we have vivid descriptions of hell and its punishments. The inhabitants of hell are constantly tortured; they are dragged by the scalp and flung into the fire where boiling water will be forced down their throats and garments of fire fitted on to them; they will be beaten with iron maces and each time they try to escape they will be dragged back again, with the words:—

How wretched shall be the people of the left hand!
Amid scorching blasts and in scalding water,
And in the shadow of a black smoke
Not cool and horrid to behold. Sura Al-Waqi'ah (lvi) 41-3. [41-44]

In the third period of the Meccan ministry the same fierce denunciations are carried on, showing that up to its close this was the attitude of the Prophet towards his opponents:—

They hasten forward in fear; their heads upraised in supplication; their looks riveted 34 and their hearts a blank. Warn men, therefore, of the day when the punishment shall overtake them, and when the evil doers shall say, 'O our Lord! respite us a little while;'
And thou shalt see the wicked on that day linked together in chains;
Their garments of pitch, and fire shall enwrap their faces. Sura Ibrahim (xiv) 44-50. [43-50]

Those who treat 'the Book' 35 and the message with which we have sent our apostles, as a lie, shall know the truth hereafter,
When the collars shall be on their necks and the chains to drag them into hell; then in the fire shall they be burned. Sura Ghafir (xl) 70-3. [70-72]

As for those who have brought out evil, their recompense shall be evil of like degree, and shame shall cover them—no protector shall they have against God; as though their faces were covered with deep darkness of night. These shall be inhabitants of the fire: therein shall they abide for ever. Sura Yunus (x) 28. [27]

All this time Muhammad constantly and continuously reiterated the statement that he was sent as a Warner; but the Quraish would not listen to his warning:—

Say, I am the only plain spoken warner. Sura Al-Hijr (xv) 89.

They marvel that a warner from among themselves hath come. And the Infidels say, This is a sorcerer and a liar. Sura Sad (xxxviii) 3. [4]

A revelation of the Mighty, the Merciful that thou shouldest warn a people whose fathers were not warned. Sura Ya-Sin (xxxvi) 5. [5-6]

Say, I only warn you of what hath been revealed to me. Sura Al-Anbiya' (xxi) 46. [45]

These Suras are all of the middle Meccan period when the Prophet was extremely anxious to win over the Quraish. There is, however, a similar expression in a rather late Madina Sura, Sura Al-Fath (xlviii) 8:—

We have sent thee to be a witness, a herald of good and a warner.

The warning is said to be for a special purpose, ' that ye may believe on God and on His Apostle,' a combination of the objects of belief found almost entirely in the later Suras. At Mecca Muhammad was more modest.

There are two famous Suras, Sura Al-Falaq (cxiii) and Sura An-Nas (cxiv), which, if Meccan ones, though this is not quite clear, 36 show that the Prophet used popular incantations and was so far time-serving; or, at all events, was still governed by superstitious practices; or that he was desirous of showing that he had power over the evil influences which his enemies sought to bring to bear upon him. It is said that a Jew, named Lubaid, assisted by his daughters, bewitched Muhammad. Gabriel delivered him from the spell by reciting these two Suras 37 :—

Say, I betake me for refuge to the Lord of the daybreak.
Against the mischief of his creation;
And against the mischief of the night when it overtaketh me;
And against the mischief of weird women;
And against the mischief of the envier when he envieth. Sura Al-Falaq (cxiii) 1-5.

Say, I betake me for refuge to the Lord of men,
The King of men,
The God of men,
Against the mischief of the stealthily withdrawing whisperer,
Who whispereth in men's breast Against jinn and men. Sura An-Nas (cxiv) 1-6.

These Suras are called the al-Ma'udhatain (المعوذتين ), or preservative chapters, and are engraved on amulets as charms against evil.

Still, the promised allurements of Paradise and all the threatened terrors of hell and all this alleged supernatural power over witchcraft failed to win over the Quraish, and the Prophet, being then unable to protect his poorer followers 38 and unwilling to run the risk of their perversion, recommended them to emigrate to Abyssinia, a country at that time in close commercial relations with Arabia. The emigrants were few in number, but it was an evidence to the Meccans that their faith was real and that exile was preferable to possibly forced recantation. Some of the exiles joined the Christian Church in Abyssinia, for the antagonism of Islam to Christianity came at a much later period than this. 39 Had Muhammad not found a few years later a home at Madina, he too might have gone to Abyssinia and some form of Christian heresy might have taken the place of Islam.

In three months the emigrants returned, for now there seemed to them a prospect of peace with the Quraish. The Meccans had no desire to lose a large number of citizens and the patronage of the King of Abyssinia seemed likely to give political power to Muhammad's cause. On the other hand, Abyssinian influence might grow too strong even for him. Thus, there was a prospect of danger both to Meccans and to Muslims. If a compromise between the two parties could be arrived at, it would obviously be to their mutual advantage. Negotiations were opened and one of the leading men of Mecca was deputed to visit Muhammad in order to induce him to come to some terms and to make some compromise. He said: 'Thou knowest, my cousin, that thou occupiest a high rank in our tribe and that thou hast brought before us a grave matter by which thou hast divided our community. Thou hast called us fools, hast blasphemed our gods, reviled our religion and charged our departed fathers with unbelief. Now, listen to me whilst I submit to thee proposals which, after reflecting upon, thou mayest deem acceptable.' Then riches and honour were offered to Muhammad. If only he would recognize the local deities, the Quraish would then also acknowledge Allah to be a God and would worship him as one of their deities. It was a great temptation, 40 for Muhammad had sought the conversion of his fellow-citizens. Only forty or fifty had responded to his call and of them some were now exiles. The Quraish seemed as hard and as obstinate as ever. All was dark and gloomy, but here was a chance of reconciliation and of gaining the assent of the opposing party to the claims of Allah, though in a modified form. So the story goes that one day Muhammad came upon a group of the leading men of Mecca near the Ka'ba. He joined them and in a friendly manner began to recite the opening verses of Sura An-Najm (liii). It began with a strong assertion of his own position:—

By the Star when it setteth
Your compatriot erreth not, nor is led astray;
Neither speaketh he from mere impulse,
The Qur'an is no other than a revelation revealed to him,
One mighty in power taught it him. 1-5.

Referring then to certain mysteries which had been revealed to him, he went on to speak of the Meccan idols:—

Do you see al-Lat and al-'Uzza
And Manat the third idol besides. 19-20.

And then came words meant to reconcile the Quraish, who were listening with deepened interest and who now, with much astonishment and pleasure, heard the words:—

These are the exalted Females
And verily their intercession is to be hoped for. 41

The closing words of the Sura, as Muhammad recited it, are:—

Prostrate yourself then to God and worship. 62.

With one accord they all did so. It was a remarkable scene. The Quraish were delighted and said, 'Now we know that it is the Lord alone that giveth life and taketh it away; that createth and supporteth. These our goddesses make intercession for us with Him, and as thou hast conceded unto them a position we are content to follow thee.' But Muhammad soon awoke to the fact that he had made a mistake and that he must at once retire from the false position he had taken up. He saw that the people still worshipped idols and that his concession had done no practical good. Then, according to Tradition, God consoled him by the revelation of words showing that former prophets had been likewise tempted of the devil:—

We have not sent an apostle or prophet before thee, among whose desires Satan injected not some wrong desire, but God shall bring to nought that which Satan had suggested. Sura Al-Hajj (xxii) 51 [52]. 42

When God had thus restored the confidence of Muhammad, it is said that He sent him the true revelation concerning the idols and that this is the text as we now have it in the Sura An-Najm (liii):—

Do you see al-Lat and al-'Uzza
And Manat the third idol besides,
What! shall ye have male progeny and God female,
This were indeed an unfair partition,
These are mere names and your fathers named then such. 19-23.

The Quraish were very angry and said, 'Muhammad hath repented of his favourable mention of the rank held by our goddesses before the Lord. He hath changed the same and brought other words in their stead,' so they stirred up the people to persecute the faithful with still more vigour. However weak Muhammad may have shown himself in this matter, he now and for ever broke with idolatry and began to declare the punishment due to idolaters. So in a Sura of this period we have:—

Worship ye what ye carve
When God hath created you and what ye make?
Fain would they plot against him, but we brought them low. Sura As-Saffat (xxxvii) 93-4, 96. [95-96, 98]

Moses is called in as a witness of God's displeasure at idolatry and is represented as saying to the children of Israel:—

Now look at thy god to which thou hast continued so devoted. We will surely burn it and reduce it to ashes. Sura Ta ­Ha (xx) 97.

Soon after his fall, Muhammad received a revelation warning him against ever approaching near to such a compromise again:—

And, verily, they had well-nigh beguiled thee from what we revealed to thee and caused thee to invent some other thing in our name; but in that case they would surely have taken them as a friend. 43 Sura Bani Isra'il (xvii) 75. [73]

The intercession of idols is treated of and described as a thing absurd:—

What think ye of the gods whom ye invoke besides God. Show me what part of the earth they have created? Had they a share in the creation of the heavens? Have we given them a book in which they can find proofs? Nay, the wicked promise one another only deceits. Sura Fatir (xxxv) 39. [40]

In this way were the Meccans admonished of the folly of idolatry. The circumstance which led to all these events was also used by the Prophet to justify a much stricter line of conduct in the future.

Thus Muhammad quickly rose from his fall and re-established his position with his followers; but with the people at large it was very different. They could not accept the theory of Satanic influence described in the Qur'an as the cause of his fall, nor place any faith in a revelation so open to it. If the Our'an were really God's message, surely this shifting about and this cancelling of verses were not divine. So they laughed to scorn all his efforts to make them give up their idol worship. To the charge of changing a verse, Muhammad replied by another revelation on which the very convenient Muslim doctrine of abrogation is founded:— 44

When we change one verse for another, and God knoweth best what he revealeth they say: 'Thou art only a fabricator!' Nay! but most of them have no knowledge. Say, the Holy Spirit hath brought it down with truth from thy Lord. That he may stablish those who have believed, and as guidance and glad tidings to the Muslims.

We also know that they say, 'Surely a certain person teacheth him. 45 But the tongue of him at whom they hint is foreign while this (Qur'an) is in the plain 46 Arabic. Sura An-Nahl (xvi) 103-5. [101-103]

But the Quraish still mocked and said: 'Ah! this is he whom God hath sent as an apostle! Verily he had nearly seduced us from our gods, unless we had patiently persevered therein.' [ref. to: Q. xx, 42] Indeed if it had not been for the powerful protection of Abu Talib, Muhammad would have been in great danger now; but that generous-hearted uncle, though not always pleased with the actions of his nephew, 47 stood manfully by him and on one occasion, when there had been some suspicion of foul play, said: 'By the Lord, had ye killed him, there had not remained one alive among you.'

Muhammad's position at Mecca, at this time, may be thus summed up. The Quraish were more hostile than ever to him, his followers were disheartened, the people generally were scornful or indifferent, though he himself was personally safe from danger, owing to the great influence of his uncle. To meet these adverse circumstances Muhammad adopted two lines of argument. In the first place, he produced a whole series of revelations showing that former prophets had been treated just as he now was and that this adverse treatment was, therefore, a clear proof of his divine mission:—

Already have we sent apostles before thee, among the sects of the ancients;
But never came apostles to them whom they did not deride,
In like manner will we put it into the hearts of the sinners (of Mecca) to do the same;
They will not believe on him. Sura Al-Hijr (xv) 10-13.

The other argument was the continued and reiterated assertions of his divine call and of the truth of the revelations he gave forth. This period is also notable for the strong protest Muhammad makes against all who opposed his claims.

The following verses show the way in which the treatment of previous prophets is used to prove his own claim to be a Prophet:—

The people of Noah, and 'Ad and Pharaoh, the impaler, treated their prophets as impostors. Sura Sad (xxxviii) 11. [12]

In Sura Al-Anbiya' (xxi), which, though verse eight is said to belong to Madina, was delivered in the middle Meccan period, the Meccans are warned of the great danger in which their city lies, by a reference to God's treatment of other places:—

How many a guilty city have we broken down, and raised up after it other peoples. 11.

Their gods are also challenged:—

Have they taken gods from the earth who can quicken the dead? 21.

Have they taken other gods beside Him? Say, bring forth your proofs (that they are gods). This is the warning of those who are with me and the warning of those who were before me. 24

Then follow references to God's care of preceding Patriarchs and Prophets of old, even down to Zacharias. God's favour to the Virgin Mary is referred to in a verse which teaches the immaculate and miraculous conception of Jesus Christ. 48 Thus as all these men of old were the peculiar favourites of heaven, so now he, the greatest of the Prophets, was the special recipient of God's grace. As they were treated with scorn, so was he.In the Sura Al-Qamar(liv) stories of the prophets are repeated and an account of the opposition they met with is given. The general position is stated in:—

They have treated the prophets as impostors and follow their own lusts. 3.

They called Noah an impostor and rejected him; the people of Lot treated his warning as a lie. To the people of Pharaoh came the threatening but they too treated miracles as impostures. Then turning to the people of Mecca, Muhammad says:—

Are your infidels, O Meccans, better than these?
Is there an exemption for you in the sacred Books? 43.
Taste ye the touch of hell. 48.

In the Sura Ash-Shu'ara'(xxvi) it is shown how Moses, Noah, Lot, and other prophets were treated with scorn and accused of imposture. These stories are related at great length and the conclusion drawn is that the opposition of the Meccans to Muhammad is, judging from the past, just what a true prophet might expect; but this did not justify the conduct of the Meccans who are sternly rebuked in the words:—

Shall I declare unto you upon whom the devils descend. They descend upon every lying and wicked person. 221. [221-222]

But all those who thus scoff and mock should take warning by the punishment which came to the opponents of the prophets in former ages, for a time will come when the infidels shall:—

Know the time when they shall not be able to keep the fire of hell from their faces, or from their backs, neither shall they be helped!
But it shall come on them suddenly and shall confound them; and they shall not be able to put it back, neither shall they be respited.
Other apostles have been scoffed at before thee; but that doom at which they mocked encompassed the scoffers. Sura Al-Anbiya' (xxi) 40-3. [39-41]

The Sura As-Saffat (xxxvii) seems to belong to a time when the opposition was not quite so active, a time when stolid indifference took the place of actual antagonism. It shows how the Meccan infidels followed in the steps of those who, in former ages, had rejected Noah, Moses, Aaron, Elias, Lot and Jonah, whose stories are told at some length. The Meccans excused themselves by saying:—

Had we a revelation transmitted to us from those of old,
We had surely been God's servants. 168-9.

The Prophet is then told to turn aside from them for a time and behold, for their doom is certain. 179-80. [178-179]

A late Meccan Sura is in the same strain and the same retribution is described, and how even no place of repentance will be found:—

And when their apostles had come to them with the tokens of their mission, they exulted in what they possessed of knowledge: but that retribution at which they scoffed, encompassed them.
And when they beheld our vengeance they said, 'We believe in God alone, and we disbelieve in the deities we once associated with Him.'
But their faith, after they had witnessed our vengeance, profited them not. Such the procedure of God with regard to His servants who flourished of old. And then the unbelievers perished. Suratu’l-Mu’min [Ghafir] (xl) 83-5 [84-85]. 49

He also points out how former prophets were aided in spite of all opposition:—

Our word came of old to our own servants the apostles,
That they should surely be the succoured,
And that our armies should procure the victory for them. Sura As-Saffat (xxxvii) 171-3.

So in like manner he would succeed.

Another striking Sura of the middle period is the Sura Sad (xxxviii), the first ten verses of which were revealed on one of the occasions when the Quraish begged Abu Talib to withdraw his protection from Muhammad which he absolutely declined to do. This they did once about the year A. D. 615. Other Traditions refer it to a time when Abu Talib was on his deathbed, in the year A.D. 620. The earlier date is the more probable one. In any case the Quraish are warned by the fate of the generations of scorners who have passed away, and are reproved in a passage of much force and vigour:—

By the Qur'an full of warning! In sooth the infidels are absorbed in pride, in contention with thee.
How many generations have we destroyed before them! And they cried for mercy but no time was it of escape!
And they marvel that a warner from among themselves hath come to them; and the infidels say, 'This is a sorcerer, a liar;
Maketh he the gods to be but one God? A strange thing forsooth is this!'
And their chiefs took themselves off. 'Go,' said they, 'and cleave steadfastly to your gods. Ye see the thing aimed at.
We heard not of this in the previous creed. 50 It is but an imposture;
To him alone of us all hath a book of warning been sent down?' Yes! they are in doubt as to my warnings, for they have not yet tasted of my vengeance. Sura Sad (xxxviii) 1-7. [1-8]

Another feature of the revelation of this, the middle Meccan period, is the constant assertion of the. inspiration of the Qur'an. It is called the blessed Book, the luminous Book, the honourable Qur'an. It is the Book from God, the best of all recitals He hath sent, a missive from on high:—

A blessed book have we sent down to thee, that men may meditate its verses, and that those endued with understanding may bear it in mind. Sura Sad (xxxviii) 28. [29]

Muhammad is bidden not to grieve at the hardness of heart of his hearers and is assured that his message is divine. These are the signs of the lucid Book:—

Haply thou wearest thyself away with grief because they will not believe.
Were it our will we could send down to them a sign from Heaven, before which they would humbly bow.
But from each fresh warning that cometh to them from the God of mercy they have only turned aside,
And treated it as a lie. Sura Ash-Shu'ara' (xxvi) 2-5. [3-6]

In the one hundred and ninety-second and following verses of this Sura there is a very strong assertion of the fact that Gabriel brought the Book down from heaven: but, as there is a reference to the Jews, this passage is considered by Jalalu'd-Din as-Syuti to belong to the Madina period and so I do not quote it here. In other parts of this Sura, five of the older prophets are represented as saying 'Fear God and obey me;' and the conclusion drawn is that in like manner the Quraish should obey Muhammad, or suffer for their disobedience; and if they disobeyed him then he could, in the name of God, say,

I will not be answerable for your doings. 216.

The fragmentary nature of the revelations was useful, as it enabled the Prophet to meet with a supposed divine opinion the varying events of each day; but it needed some authority to justify it. This is found in the verse:—

And we have parcelled out the Qur'an into sections, that thou mightest recite it unto men by slow degrees, and we have sent it down piecemeal. 51 Sura Bani Isra'il (xvii) 107. [106]

In Sura At-Tur (lii) the charge of forgery is met and the supernatural nature of the Qur'an is asserted:—

Will they say, 'He hath forged it himself?' Nay, rather is it they that believe not.
Let them produce a discourse like it, if they speak the truth. 33-4.

Have they such a knowledge of the secret things that they can write them down? 41.

Verily, there is a punishment for the evil-doers. 47.

Sura Al-Haqqah (lxix), which belongs to the first Meccan period, contains one of the strongest denials of forgery to be found in the Qur'an:—

It needs not that I swear by what ye see, and by what ye see not,
This verily is the word of an Apostle worthy of all honour,
And that it is not the word of a poet; 52
How little do ye believe!
Neither is it the word of a soothsayer—
How little do ye receive warning!
It is a missive from the Lord of the worlds.
But if Muhammad had fabricated concerning us any sayings,
We had surely seized him by the right hand and had cut through the vein of his neck;
Nor would we have withheld any of you from him. 38-47.

In other words, the restraining influence, we (God) had upon you (the Quraish), preventing you from doing harm to the Prophet, would have been withheld. So anxious was Muhammad, at this period, to combat the idea that he was a mere poet and that the Qur'an was the product of his poetic genius, that in the Sura just quoted he makes God declare that it is not so. This is the most impassioned assertion of the divinity of the Qur'an to be found in that book. The very force and earnestness of it seem to betray doubt in the mind of Muhammad. It does not show forth the confident assurance of a man who fully believed in what he said. The calm dignity of a prophet of God is entirely lacking here. A few out of the many other passages are:—

It needs not that I swear by the stars of retrograde motion,
Which move swiftly and hide themselves away,
And by the night when it cometh darkening up,
And by the dawn when it brighteneth,
That this is the word of an illustrious messenger,
Endued with power, having influence with our Lord of the throne,
Obeyed there by angels, faithful to his trust,
And your compatriot is not one possessed by jinn. Sura At-Takwir (lxxxi) 15-22.

The Qur'an is no other than a revelation revealed to him,
One terrible in power taught it him. 53 Sura An-Najm (liii) 5. [4-5]

It needs not that I swear by the setting of the stars,
And it is a great oath, if ye know it,
That this is the honourable Qur'an,
Written on the preserved table.
Let none touch it but the purified. Sura Al-Waqi'ah (lvi) 74-8. [75-79]

We ourselves have sent down to thee the Qur'an as a missive from on high. Sura Ad-Dahr (lxxvi) 23.

By the luminous Book!
We have made it an Arabic Qur'an that ye may understand;
And it is a transcript of the archetypal Book 54 kept by us.  
It is lofty, filled with wisdom. Sura Az-Zukhruf (xliii) 1-3. [2-4]

And the infidels say, 'This Qur'an is a mere fraud of his own devising, and others have helped him with it, who had come hither by outrage and lie.'
And they say, 'Tales of the Ancients that he hath put in writing! and they were dictated to him morning and evening.'
Say: 'He hath sent it down who knoweth the secrets of the Heavens and of the Earth.'
Then said the Apostle, 'O my Lord! truly my people have esteemed this Qur'an to be vain babbling.' Sura Al-Furqan (xxv) 5-7, 32. [4-6, 30]

Will they say, he has forged it? Nay it is the truth from the Lord that thou mayest warn a people to whom no warner hath come before thee, that haply they may be guided. Sura As-Sajdah (xxxii) 2. [3]

Say, the Holy Spirit hath brought it down
With truth from thy Lord. Sura An-Nahl (xvi) 104. [102]

Sura Az-Zumar (xxxix) was probably revealed about the time of the first flight to Abyssinia. It emphasizes the statement that the Qur'an came direct from God, and records the terrifying effect of such a mode of revelation:—

We have sent down to thee this book with the truth, serve thou God then. 2.
The best of recitals hath God sent down, a book in unison with itself, and teaching by iteration. 55 The very skins of those who fear the Lord do creep at it. 24. [23]

The above illustrations of the lines of defence adopted by Muhammad for himself, based on the alleged similarity of the treatment accorded to other prophets and the constant iteration of the claims of the Qur'an to be a divine revelation, are but a few of the many utterances on this subject, and the general impression left upon the mind of the reader is that they are the outward expressions of a man whose own mind was not at ease and who sought by the very frequency and force of his assertions not only to silence his adversaries, but also to give confidence to his own hind and to confirm the faith of his followers.

Early in his Meccan career the Prophet challenged the production of a book like the Qur'an:—

Will they say, 'He hath forged it himself? Nay, rather it is that they believe not.
Let them produce a discourse like it, if they speak the truth.' Sura At-Tur (lii) 34-5. [33-34]

Sura Bani-Isra’il 56 (xvii), one of the latest of the second period of the Meccan Suras, continues the challenge:—

Say, verily, were men and jinn assembled to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce its like, though the one should help the other. 90. [88]

A little later on we find:—

If they shall say, 'The Qur'an is his own device,' say . then bring ten Suras like it of your own devising, call whom ye can to your aid beside God. Sura Hud (xi) 16. [13]

So convincing was this argument considered to be that we find it used also at Madina:—

If ye be in doubt as to that which we have sent down to our servant, then produce a Sura like it. Sura Al-Baqarah (ii) 21. [23]

This was a dangerous thing to attempt to do. Nadhir ibn Haritha, who had travelled in Persia, accepted the challenge to produce anything as good and either versified, or put into rhyme, the tales of the Persian Kings, which Firdausi, some four hundred years later, rendered immortal. These tales he read out at meetings, similar to those in which Muhammad published the Qur'an. Then in a late Meccan Sura this revelation came:—

A man there is who buyeth an idle tale, that in his lack of knowledge he may mislead others from the way of God and turn it to scorn. For such is prepared a shameful punishment. Sura Luqman (xxxi) 5. [6]

Nadhir was taken prisoner at the battle of Badr. Ransom was refused and he was put to death. 57

Muhammadans now assert that this challenge has never been taken up and that no Arab then nor since has produced anything equal to it; but the claim is overstated, for the challenge was not to produce something equal to the Qur'an in rhetoric or poetry, but with regard to the subject matter, the unity of God, future retribution, and so on. 58 Now, from the nature of the case the Quraish could not do this. They could not produce a book, showing as the Qur'an did the unity of God, for as pagans they did not believe in such a dogma. Had they tried to produce a book on these lines it would only have been a copy of his work, and copies fall short of the original; in fact, Muhammad had already occupied the ground. As no one could reproduce the individuality of Muhammad, stamped upon his book, he could safely challenge any one to produce its like. If the superiority claimed is in the form and expression, then Baron de Slane's remark seems to the point. He says that, if we now examine the Qur'an by the rules of rhetoric and criticism accepted in Muslim Colleges, no doubt the Qur'an is a perfect model, for the principles of rhetoric are drawn from it. Palmer says: 'That the best of Arab writers has never succeeded in producing anything equal in merit to the Qur'an itself is not surprising. They have agreed beforehand that it is unapproachable, and they have adopted its style as the perfect standard: any deviation from it therefore must of necessity be a defect. 59 The acknowledged claims of the Qur'an to be the direct utterance of the divinity have made it impossible for any Muslim to criticize the work, and it became, on the contrary, the standard by which other literary compositions had to be judged. Grammarians, lexicographers, and rhetoricians started with the presumption that the Qur'an could not be wrong, and other works, therefore, only approached excellence in proportion as they, more or less, successfully imitated its style.' 60 There is, however, by no means a consensus of Muslim opinion as to wherein this alleged superiority exists. Some say it lies in its eloquence, or in its subject-matter, or in the harmony of its parts (kitaban mutashabiha). 61 The sect of the Mu'tazilis hold that if God allowed it men could produce a Sura equal to it in eloquence and arrangement. 62

As the i'jaz, or miraculous nature of the Qur'an, is not dependent on the much-disputed question of its eternal nature, it follows that all classes and sects of Muslims accept as a dogmatic truth the miracle of the Qur'an.

Sura Ash-Shura (xlii), a late Meccan one, shows that the charge of forgery was kept up by the Meccans to the last days of the Prophet's residence there. Thus:—

Will they say he hath forged a lie of God? If God pleased, He could then seal up thy very heart. 23 [24]. 63

It was at this period of the Prophet's career that a connexion sprang up between Muhammad and the followers of the Jewish religion. During the Meccan period it seems quite clear that he looked upon both Christianity and Judaism as co-ordinate religions, the followers of which would in them find salvation, and even later on in Madina he could say:—

Verily, they who believe (Muslims), and the Jews and the Sabians and the Christians,—whosoever of them believeth in God and in the Last Day And doeth what is right, on them shall come no fear, neither shall they be put to grief. Sura Al-Baqarah (ii) 59. [62]

In one of the latest Meccan Suras, he even says that the Jews were very glad when they heard of his revelations:—

They 64 to whom we have given the Book rejoice in what hath been sent down to thee. Sura Ar-Ra'd (xiii) 36.

But although there was during the Meccan period an apparent friendliness with the Jews, yet Muhammad even then had begun to hint at the subordinate nature of Judaism, a point in his teaching more fully worked out in Madina. Still, in two Suras of the middle Meccan period the absolute nature of the claims of Islam are asserted:—

Truly this, your religion, is the one religion. Sura Al-Mu'minun (xxiii) 54. [52]

Of a truth this, your religion, is the one religion and I am your Lord; therefore serve me. Sura Al-Anbiya' (xxi) 92.

The references to Old Testament history are now many and varied. It is said that the object of the Qur'an is not only to attest its own divine origin, but also to confirm what had gone before.

Before the Qur'an was the book of Moses, a rule and a mercy, and this book confirmeth it (i.e., the Pentateuch) in the Arabic tongue. Sura Al-Ahqaf (xlvi) 11. [12]

It is alleged that the Jews with whom Muhammad at Mecca was friendly said to him that God was often called the Merciful (ar-Rahman) in the Pentateuch, and that they noticed he did not use the term. Then the verse came:—

Call upon God (Allah), and call on the Merciful (ar-Rahman), by whichsoever ye will invoke Him. He hath most excellent names. Sura Al-Isra' (xvii) 110.

The title ar-Rahman was dropped in the later Suras, 65 evidently from the fear lest Allah and ar-Rahman should be supposed to be two distinct Gods; a danger against which they were warned in the verse:—

For God hath said, 'take not to yourselves two gods for He is one God.' Sura An-Nahl (xvi) 53. [51]

The Quraish also objected to the term and according to the Qur'an said:—

Who is the God of Mercy (ar-Rahman) shall we bow down to what thou biddest? Sura Al-Furqan (xxv) 61. [60]

When the Quraish said: 'Shall we abandon our gods for a crazed poet?' the answer is: 'Nay! he cometh with truth and confirmeth the sent ones of old,' that is, according to the commentators, the prophets who preceded him:—

To the children of Israel gave we of old the Book, and the gift of prophecy . . . .
Afterward we set thee over our divine Law: follow it then and follow not the wishes of those who have no knowledge. Sura Al-Jathiya (xlv) 15-17. [16-18]

There are many such expressions showing that Muhammad now gained some general knowledge of the ancient history of the Jews. There is no evidence that he ever had the Bible before him. 66 Indeed the narratives he gives are not in accordance with Biblical statements, but do conform to Jewish legend and Rabbinical fable. It seems clear that he had some Jewish acquaintances from whom he gathered the material, afterwards worked up into the form in which it now appears in the Qur'an. 'The mixture of truth and fiction,' says Muir, 'of graphic imagery and of childish inanity, the repetition over and over again of the same tale in stereotyped expression, and the constant elaborate and ill-concealed effort to draw an analogy between himself and the former prophets, by putting the speech of his own day into their lips and those of their pretended opposers, fatigue and nauseate the patient reader of the Qur'an.' 67

The point, however, to be noticed is that all this information is produced as evidence of direct inspiration. Thus:—

I had no knowledge of what passed among the celestial chiefs (angels) when they disputed: verily it hath been revealed to me only because I was a public preacher. Sura Sad (xxxviii) 70. [69-70]

This story of the creation of man which follows was probably obtained from the Jews, but the knowledge of it is adduced as a proof of his divine apostleship. We also read of the history of Joseph that it came by inspiration of God:—

In revealing to thee the Qur'an, one of the most beautiful of narratives will we relate unto thee. Sura Yusuf (xii) 3.

And then follows the story of Joseph, as told in Jewish legends; but a divine origin is claimed for this account of it:—

This is one of the secret histories which we reveal unto thee. Sura Yusuf (xii) 103. [102]

The people of Mecca would not, however, believe in the supernatural source of these matters and said:—

Surely, a certain person teacheth hire. Sura An-Nahl (xvi) 105. [103]

To this accusation the Prophet in the same verse replies that the tongue of him at whom they hint is foreign 68 and the Qur'an is Arabic; to which the retort was easy, that he supplied the material and that Muhammad worked it up in an Arabic form. Again and again Muhammad had to rebut statements such as this:—

The Qur'an is a mere fraud of his own devising and others have helped him with it. Sura Al-Furqan (xxv) 5. [4]

The Quraish stood firm in their convictions and persisted in calling all this Jewish history, and so the next verse reads:—

Tales of the Ancients that he hath put in writing and they were dictated to him morning and evening. 6. [5]

The Quraish now adopted another course. They cut off the family of Muhammad from all social intercourse with the rest of the people, or, in modern language, boycotted it, and for a while Muhammad and his kinsmen were confined to an isolated quarter of the city. At length, however, some of the Quraish began to relent, but just at this time Muhammad lost by death Abu Talib, his protector, and five weeks later Khadija, his wise and loving wife. This brought matters to a crisis. The Prophet, saddened, lonely and well-nigh hopeless, thought he would try whether the people of Ta'if, a city about seventy miles east of Mecca, would receive the man whom Mecca rejected. Accompanied by the faithful Zaid, Muhammad entered the city, waited on the chief men and explained his mission, but they would neither receive him nor accept his teaching. After ten days, he was stoned and so, wounded and weary, he had to flee away from the city. About half way on the return journey he halted in the valley of Nakhla. Excited by all he had gone through, saddened at the rejection of his message by men, he saw, in imagination, crowds of Jinn (Genii) embracing the faith.

Then Sura Al-Jinn (lxxii) was revealed 69 :—

Say: it hath been revealed to me that a company of Jinn listened, and said, 'Verily, we have heard a marvellous discourse' (Qur'an);
It guideth to the truth wherefore we believed in it. 1, 2.

When the servant of God stood up to call upon Him, the Jinn almost jostled him by their crowds. 19.

This eager acceptance by the Jinn of his message was a very great consolation to the Prophet, after the contemptuous indifference shown to him and to it by men. This event is referred to in one of the latest Meccan Suras:—

And remember, when we turned aside a company of Jinn to thee that they might hearken to the Qur'an. Sura Al-Ahqaf (xlvi) 28. [29]

Still the mission was a failure. It was a great and striking effort, but it did not command success. As Muir well says, 'There is something lofty and heroic in this journey of Muhammad to Ta'if; a solitary man, despised and rejected by his own people, going boldly forth in the name of God, like Jonah to Nineveh, and summoning an idolatrous city to repentance and to the support of his mission. It sheds a strong light on the intensity of his own belief in the divine origin of his calling.' He returned to Mecca, but found the opposition of the Quraish as strong as ever. It was now quite clear that either he or they must give way, and gradually the idea of retiring altogether from Mecca suggested itself to the mind of the Prophet. 70 The failure at Mecca was complete. The Prophet had on his side high family connexions, relationship with the guardians of the Ka'ba, many personal virtues, indomitable patience, uncompromising fearlessness and fervid eloquence, and yet he succeeded in getting only a very small band of followers. His mission at Mecca was a complete failure. The time had come to try elsewhere.

The city of Yathrib was not unknown to Muhammad. His grandfather and his great-grandmother were natives of the place and his father was buried there. There was a good deal of rivalry between Yathrib and Mecca and a man despised in the latter place would not thereby be at a disadvantage in the former. Then, for more than one hundred years there had been a blood feud between the men of the two great tribes who dwelt in Yathrib, and just now there was a disposition to put a stop to these dissensions by selecting some one person as a king or ruler. 'Hence the soil of Yathrib was thoroughly prepared for Islam. In a healthy community like that of Mecca it gained no hold; but in one that was ailing from long years of civil strife, it could spread apace.' 71 There was also a strong Jewish colony there which prepared the way for religious reform. The people of Mecca were utter materialists and could not rise to the spiritual part of the Prophet's teaching. In Yathrib it was different; 72 long intercourse with Jews had made such subjects as the unity of God, revelation through prophets and a future life more or less familiar to the inhabitants of the city. Islam owes much to Yathrib. It saved Muhammad from passing away as a mere enthusiast, rejected and disowned by his own people. It 'became the real birthplace of Islam, the cradle of its political power and the centre of its conquests throughout Arabia.' It is thus justly named al-Madinatu'n-Nabi, the city of the Prophet, and its converts are truly termed the Ansar, 73 or helpers of Islam. The state of feeling in Madina and the general position of affairs there presented just the circumstances which were calculated to relieve the despondent mood of the Prophet. He was sad, dispirited and worn out by the failure of all his efforts and the persistent opposition of the Quraish. No wonder that thoughts of a change of abode began to fill his mind. They find expression in a Sura of this period 74 :—

Follow thou that which hath been revealed to thee by thy Lord! there is no god but He! and withdraw from these who join other gods with Him. Sura Al-An'am (vi) 106.

The latter words refer to the Hijra, or flight from Mecca, and so the Prophet's subjective feelings received the sanction and authority of an outward revelation.

In the year A.D. 620, about the time of the annual pilgrimage of the pagan Arabs to Mecca, Muhammad noticed a small company of strangers from Madina. He said to them, 'Who are you?' They replied, 'We are Khazrajites,' one of the leading Madina tribes. They added, 'We come from a people amongst whom there is much ill-will and enmity; perhaps God will invite them through thee: we shall invite them to the faith which we ourselves now profess, and if God unites them around thee, then no man will be more powerful than thou.' In reply to a further question they said that they were friends of the Jews, whereupon Muhammad propounded to them the doctrine of Islam and read portions of the Qur'an. It would appear that some of the Madina people whom the Prophet now met were Jews 75 for in the Sura Yunus (x), a late Meccan one, we have:—

They have charged with falsehood that which they comprehend not, and the explanation thereof hath not yet come unto them. In like manner did those who were before them (charge their messengers) with falsehood: but see what was the end of the unjust. 40. [39]

So also in the Sura Al-Ahqaf (xlvi), also a late Meccan one we read:—

If this Book be from God, and ye believe it not, and a witness 76 of the children of Israel bear witness to its conformity (with the Law) and believe thereon while ye turn away scornfully? Verily God guideth not unjust people. 9. [10]

It had so happened that when oppressed by the Khazrajites the Jews, looking forward to the advent of their Messiah, had said: 'The time is nigh when a prophet will arise: we shall follow him and with his help destroy you.' On hearing Muhammad's claim to be a prophet, these men of Madina thought that this might be the prophet whom the Jews expected and considered that it would be politic to anticipate them and to secure him for their side. So it came to pass that they listened to Muhammad, believed in him and accepted Islam. In reply to Muhammad's request for protection at Madina they pointed out that, as there was much disunion and discord amongst them, it would be better for them to return now and to invite the people to accept the faith and that, if God united them in it, they would then return to Mecca at the next annual pilgrimage and report the result. 77 According to Jalalu'd-Din as-Syuti, Muhammad related to these converts the Sura Yusuf (Joseph), noted as being the only one in which only one subject is treated of throughout. The people of Madina knew something about Joseph from their Jewish neighbours, and now Muhammad repeats it to them in full detail to show that knowledge of the past was given to him by God. The whole account is a travesty of the Mosaic account and bears the mark of having been received at second-hand from ignorant persons, acquainted only with the loose traditional stories. During the year the small body of converts in Madina stood firm and, when the time for the pilgrimage came round again, there were twelve Ansar 78 amongst the Madina pilgrims. They met the Prophet and took the following oath of obedience to Muhammad and his teaching: 'We will not worship any but the One God: we will not steal, neither will we commit adultery, nor kill our children; we will not slander in anywise; and we will not disobey the Prophet in anything that is right.' This is known as the ' First pledge of 'Aqaba,' and, as it contained no promise to defend the Prophet, it is called the ' Pledge of Women,' as being the only one women ever took. They then returned to Madina as ardent disciples, and such large numbers attached themselves to the new teaching that they had to send to Mecca to get a special instructor. Mus'ab 79 was sent and Islam then took root in Madina. The year was one of patient waiting. The Prophet evidently despaired of making any further progress at Mecca. His hopes were placed on his new converts. at Madina. He determined to leave the Quraish severely alone and received in the last but one Sura revealed in Mecca definite instructions to do so:—

Follow that which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord: there is no god but He, and retire from the idolaters.
If God had so desired, they had not followed idolatry, and we have not made thee a keeper over them, neither art thou over them a guardian.
And revile not those whom they invoke besides God, lest they revile God in enmity from lack of knowledge. Sura Al-An'am (vi) 106-8.

But if there was now no aggressive work carried on, there was no lack of confidence in the ultimate result and in the full assurance of victory over the obstinate inhabitants of Mecca. Thus:—

The unbelieving (nations) said to their apostles, 'We will surely expel you from our land, or ye shall return to our religion.' Then their Lord spake by revelation unto them, saying, 'Verily we shall destroy the unjust.'
And we shall cause you to inherit the land after them; this shall be for him that feareth my appearing and feareth my threatening.
So they asked assistance of the Lord and every tyrant and rebellious one was destroyed. Sura Ibrahim (xiv) 16-18. [13-15]

In the midst of all this silent and possibly dejected state, when the result of thirteen years of constant work seemed likely to lead to nothing but practical banishment, Muhammad dreamed a dream, and passed, at least in imagination, to the temple at Jerusalem where angels, patriarchs and prophets met him, and from thence to the highest heaven and the presence of God himself:—

Praise be to Him who carried His servant by night from the sacred temple to the temple that is more remote, whose precincts we have blessed, that we might show him some of our signs. Sura Al-Isra' (xvii) 1.

And remember when we said to thee, verily thy Lord is round about mankind; we ordained the vision which we showed thee and likewise the cursed tree. 62 [60]. 80

This event has afforded to the imagination of poets and traditionists ample scope for the most vivid descriptions of what the Prophet saw and heard. 81 It is manifestly unfair to look upon these extravagant embellishments as matters of necessary belief. The most intelligent members of the modern school of Indian Muslims look upon the Mi'raj as a vision, though the orthodox utterly condemn such a view. 82

When the next period of the pilgrimage came round, Mus'ab brought a full report of the great success he had met with in Madina. On the last night of this pilgrimage Muhammad met his Madina converts. Seventy-three men and two women were present. Muhammad gave them an address and asked them to pledge themselves to defend him. This they did, and this pledge is known as the 'Second pledge of Aqaba.' The nature of the compact will be seen from what follows. Muhammad said, 83 'Swear that you will preserve me from everything from which you preserve your own wives and children.' One of the leaders replied, 'Yea, by Him who hath sent thee, a Prophet with truth, we shall protect thee as our bodies: receive our allegiance, O Prophet of God! By Allah! we are the sons of war and men of arms which we, the valiant, have inherited from the valiant.' Another said, 'O Apostle of God, there are ties between us and others,' meaning the Jews,' which now we shall have to tear asunder; but if we do this and God gives thee victory, wilt thou then leave us again and return to thy own home?' Muhammad replied, 'Your blood is my blood; what you shed, I also shed; you belong to me and I belong to you; I fight whomsoever ye fight, and I make peace with whomsoever ye make peace.' 84 This shows that the politico-religious development of his system had now advanced a stage farther in the Prophet's mind, and his long-felt desire to unite the Arab people in a political whole seemed nearer its fulfilment. This compact was a civil and political one, defensive and offensive, based on the rejection of idolatry, acceptance of Islam and obedience to the will of the Prophet. 'On the first pilgrimage his sympathisers from Madina had only to avow the fealty of women: but on the second, when such further progress had been made that their number exceeded seventy, they had to promise the fealty of men and warriors.' 85 This compact is not a change of front, it simply embodies the growing development of the principles of Islam from the first, and forms a definite starting point for the national and foreign conquests it was now about to enter upon.

The last Sura delivered at Mecca is Sura Ar-Ra'd (xiii). It deals entirely with the Quraish and is the Prophet's last word there with them. It has been well called the 'Chapter of Apologies,' as it gives reasons why the Prophet did not work miracles. When they asked for a sign he was told to say, 'Thou art a warner only.' [ref. Qur’an xiii, 7] The unbelievers said they would not believe unless a sign were sent to him by God. No sign was given but the message came:—

Say, God truly will mislead whom He will and He will guide to Himself him who turneth to Him. 27.
Whom God causeth. to err, no guide shall there be for him.
Chastisement awaiteth them in this present life and more grievous shall be the chastisement of the next. 33-34.

The words 'withdraw from them who join other gods with Him' Sura Al-An'am (vi)106 are said to be a command to leave Mecca.

Thus, with words of warning, and threatening of eternal fire and everlasting punishment on those who rejected his claims, the Prophet left the city in which for thirteen long years he had preached and pleaded in vain.

A few days after this, Muhammad gave the command to his followers saying, 'Depart unto Madina for the Lord hath verily given you brethren in that city, and a home in which ye may find refuge.' In the course of two months nearly all had emigrated. The Quraish were very much concerned at all this and, as Muhammad still remained behind, were much perplexed at the state of affairs and wondered what would come next. They determined that a deputation should wait on him, but he, fearing some plot, stole away from his house, joined Abu Bakr and, as night drew on, left the city. The action of the Quraish is recalled to mind and referred to in an early Madina Sura:—

And call to mind when the unbelievers plotted 86 against thee, to detain thee prisoner, or to kill thee, or to banish thee: they plotted, but God plotted, and of plotters God is the best. Sura Al-Anfal (viii) 30. 87

Abu Bakr and Muhammad took refuge in a cave for three days until the search was over. Many years after the Qur'an alludes to the miraculous interposition of God in protecting the Prophet:—

God assisted him formerly, when the unbelievers drove him forth in company with a second only, when they two were in the cave. God strengthened him with hosts ye saw not, and made the words of those who believed not the abased, and the word of God was the exalted. Sura At-Taubah (ix) 40.

The 'second of the two' —thani athnain— became one of the honourable titles of Abu Bakr. 88 Muhammadan traditions record many miracles connected with these three days. 89 On leaving the cave, the travellers arrived in due course at Madina. The Flight —the Hijra— was now complete. It showed that the Prophet's work in Mecca had ended in failure. The Meccans saw that the adoption of his system would lead to a civil despotism based on religion and this they were not prepared to accept. In Madina the prospects were far brighter. The expectation by the Jews of a Messiah had caused the idea of a coming prophet to be common; tribal feud and faction had worn the people out and they were really glad of some one with authority to be a ruler amongst them. The way was prepared for the setting up of the politico-religious system so long meditated on and by the Prophet so much desired. 'Muhammad's failure in Mecca was that of the Prophet, and his triumph in Madina that of the Chieftain and the Conqueror.'

Up to this time the Qur'an continues, as we have seen, to be made up of arguments in refutation of idolatry and of fierce denunciations of the Meccan people, who were not met with rational arguments, for Muhammad enveloped himself in his prophetical dignity, and in the name of Allah poured forth maledictions upon his opponents and condemned them to be roasted in hell. At Mecca it deals with God's attributes of omnipotence, omniscience and unity; with vivid pictures of the pains of hell and of the joys of Paradise, with legendary stories of preceding prophets and strong self-assertions of Muhammad's claims, and with its own divine nature. The positive precepts are still very limited; the times of prayer, certain rules about food, 90 and prohibitions regarding certain ancient and indecent rites connected with the circumambulation of the Ka'ba, 91 but the ritual is not yet elaborated. The social system and the laws of Islam are not as yet fixed in their rigidity. The Madina Suras address the Muslims less on dogma than on the laws which should guide them in their daily lives. The Qur'an, as a whole, is not formed on any fixed plan, but just follows the needs and suggestions of the day and the circumstances of the hour. The fervid eloquence of the preacher is now absent, and the dictates of the practical administrator takes its place. The Prophet deals now with questions of social life, domestic details, peace and war. It may be called by contrast the legal section of the Qur'an. The style, generally speaking, is that of the third Meccan period and with a few exceptions is not rhetorical. The Suras are long and probably consist of shorter exhortations and statements made on different occasions, and then afterwards arranged in a Sura, but apparently on no definite plan or system. 92


  1.   Holy Qur'an, pp. xxx-xlii., see also, Maulana Muhammad Ali, English Translation of the Holy Qur'an with Explanatory Notes, Edited by Zahid Aziz, Revised 2010 edition, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore Publication, U.K., ISBN: 978-1-906109-07-3, p. 36, 54-55.

  2.   Sir 'Abdu'r-Rahim, Muhammadan Jurisprudence, p. 20.

  3. اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ       خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ

From the use of اقْرَأْ here it is sometimes said that Muhammad must have been able to read, but قرأ means more generally to recite, and in the cognate dialects to call out, to proclaim. Thus קְרָא to cry out as a prophet. In Isaiah xl. 6 we have: קֹול אֹמֵר קְרָא וְאָמַר מָה אֶקְרָא

'The voice said "Cry," and he said "what shall I cry?".' See Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorans, pp. 9-10.

This Sura is a good illustration of a composite one for from verse six onwards the revelation belongs to the later Meccan period and refers to the opposition of Abu Jahl, v. 6. and those associated with him, v. 16.

  4.   For the manner in which inspiration is supposed to have come, see The Faith of Islam (4th ed.), pp. 71-2.

  5.   Quoted by Koelle, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 74.

  6.   Nowhere in the life of Muhammad can a period of turning be shown; there is a gradual changing of aims and a readjustment of the means of obtaining them. Hurgronje, Mohammedanism, pp. 37-8.

  7.   He did unite Arabia in religious matters, but he failed to suppress the rival factions of the Mudarites and the Yemenites, which continued and for centuries wrought evil in Islam. See Sell, The Umayyad and 'Abbasid Khalifates (C. L. S.), pp. 2-3.

  8.   Koelle, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 87. This little incident also shows that from the first he had thoughts of political power.

  9.   This was one of the objections urged against his claims by the Quraish:—

Then said the chiefs of the people, who believed not, 'We see in thee but a man like ourselves, and we see not those who have followed thee, except our meanest ones of hasty judgment, nor see we any excellence in you above ourselves: nay, we deem you liars.' Suratu Hud (xi) 29.

 10.   Tafsir of 'Abdu'llah bin 'Abbas and the Khulasatu't-Tafasir, vol. ii, p. 578, where the story of the early persecutions of the Muslims is related.

 11.   The commentators add the words in italics, which are not in the Arabic test, but are required to complete the sense. Thus, — اس غضب سى برى هے —'Free from this wrath' (Khulasatu't-Tafasir, vol. ii, p. 578). 'For him there is no calling to account.' See Translation of the Qur'an by Nadhir Ahmad.

 12.   Tirmidhi records a Tradition to the effect that the Quraish said that God had forsaken the Prophet. Then Gabriel brought this Sura (93) 1-3:—

By the noon-day brightness,
And by the night when it darkeneth,
Thy Lord hath not forsaken thee, nor hath
He been displeased. Sura (93) 1-3

So the Prophet was comforted.
Jami'u't-Tirmidhi, vol. ii, p. 469.

 13.   The Sura is said to have been revealed when some Meccan leaders, Abu Jahl, 'As, Walid and others suggested a compromise to the effect that the God of Muhammad should be worshipped at the same time as the Meccan deities, or alternately each year. Muhammad did not fall into the snare, and in this Sura distinctly rejected the old idolatry. Soon after in Suratu'l-Ikhlas (cxii) he gave the most emphatic testimony possible to the Unity of God.

The term din for religion here occurs for the first time, and is applied both to Meccan paganism and to Islam; afterwards it was restricted to the latter. This apparent recognition of the ancient religion is now disallowed as the words are abrogated by the — آية السّيف‎ — verse of the sword. Suratu't-Tauba (ix) 5. Tafsir-i-Husaini, vol. ii, p. 476.

 14.   The general consensus of Muslim commentators is that this Sura was the first one revealed after the Fatra, and the verses 1-7 clearly support that view, as the Arabic in verse 8 for a ' trump on the trumpet' (نُقِرَ فِي النَّاقُور) is peculiar to early Suras. At the same time, the Sura is a composite one, for the eleventh verse, 'Leave me alone to deal with him whom I have created,' points to an unbelieving opponent. This is said to be Walid bin Mughaira. The verses 31-4 seem to refer to opponents at Madina, Jews, unbelievers, hypocrites and idolaters, classes often grouped together there, and so these verses must have been inserted in the Sura at that later date.

 15.   In the Meccan Suras the punishment of hell is directed against those who did not believe in the claims of Muhammad; it is not decreed against sin in general.

 16.   If all that tradition relates about Abu Lahab is correct, this Sura becomes of much interest and value as showing how the special circumstances in which Muhammad was placed influenced even the very words used in the Qur'an. Thus, it is related that Muhammad one day called his kinsmen together to hear his claims. Abu Lahab became very angry and said: 'Hast thou called me for this? Mayest thou perish! 'Then taking a stone in his two hands, he threw it at Muhammad. So his hand was to perish. His wife Umm Jamil put thorns on a path over which the Prophet walked. Then one day as she was going along with a bundle of fire-wood, the rope around it twisted round her neck and she was strangled (Raudatu's Safa, Part ii, vol. i, p. 161; Khulasatu't-Tafasir, vol. iv, p. 126). Verse four may also mean that in hell she must gather wood for the fire. See Baidawi ad. loc. Maulavi Muhammad 'Ali says, she used to gather thorns bound with a rope, which she brought on her own head to spread in the Prophet's way' (Holy Qur'an, p. 1234). The words — ذَاتَ لَهَبٍ Dhata lahabin, which mean 'fiery flame,' are a play on the name of Abu Lahab, or 'Father of flames' (Tafsir-i-Husaini, p. 477).

 17.   Baidawi, vol. ii; p. 416.

 18.   The persons referred to are Abu Sufyan, Nadhir, Walid, 'Utba Shaibu and others. They asked Nadhir if he understood what Muhammad was saying. He replied that he did not; he only saw that he moved his tongue and told foolish stories. The reference in the next verse is to these same persons who forbade people to become Muslims, or to Abu Talib, who forbade the enemies of Muhammad, his nephew, to injure him, but would not himself accept Islam. Baidawi, vol. i, p. 287.

Tafsir-i-Husaini, vol. I, p. 167.

 19.   Baidawi, vol. ii, p. 411. Abu Jahl was killed at the battle of Badr.

 20.   'Unique in arrangement and meaning.' Baidawi, vol. ii, p. 391.

 21.   كَتَبة مِن الملائكة أو الأنبيَاء ينتسخون الكتابَ مِن اللّوح أو الوحى أو سُفراءَ يُسْفِرون بالوحى بين الله ورُسله   vol. ii, p. 387.

 22.   So in the Sura Tariq (lxxxvi) we have the following words: —

They plot against thee
And I will plot against them.
Deal calmly, therefore, with the Infidels. 15-17.

Some authorities, however, place this Sura later on, about the time of the first emigration to Abyssinia.

 23.   Unless vv. 8-11 are of later date which a difference of style may show.

 24.   I need scarcely say that the fact that he worked no miracles, though recorded so clearly in the Qur'an, is not accepted by Muslim theologians.

 25.   Some commentators consider this to be a Madina Sura, some that it is a late Meccan one; but Muir and Nöldeke place it about the fourth year of the ministry at Mecca.

 26.   'Muhammad at one time employed poets to defend himself and his religion from the satires of other poets. These productions were recited at the fair at Okatz. Subsequently he suppressed them as they led to inconvenient discussions.' Rodwell's Qur'an, p. 120.

 27.     أَسَاطِيرُ الأَوَّلِينَ

 28.   'The Kahins were soothsayers, connected with a sanctuary ... all mysterious and obscure things seem to have been referred to them. They foretold the future and the unseen. Muhammad's first utterances were in genuine Kahin form and Kahin spirit.' Macdonald, Religious Attitude and Life of lslam, pp. 29, 31. See, Sell, Life of Muhammad, p. 38.

 29.   Syed Amir 'Ali in the Spirit of Islam says: ' The Huris are creatures of Zoroastrian origin, so is paradise, whilst hell in the severity of its punishment is Talmudic. The descriptions are realistic, in some places almost sensuous; but to say that they are sensual, or that Muhammad, or any of his followers, even the ultraliteralists, accepted them as such, is a calumny, p. 394.

It is interesting to note how this admission of the human origin of this part of the Prophet's teaching completely disposes of the dogma of the eternal nature of the Qur'an and of its claim to be an inspired book in all its parts.

Maulavi Muhammad 'Ali (Holy Qur'an, p. 1009) in a note on Sura At-Tur(lii) 20 says that حُوْرٍ عيْنٍ means 'pure beautiful ones' and that they are 'plurals of words applying to men as well as to women, as also to qualities and good deeds' and that they here refer to 'heavenly blessings which the righteous women shall have along with the righteous men.' 'Womanhood stands for a symbol of purity and beauty' and so as 'purity of character and the beautiful deeds of the righteous' are here referred to, these 'blessings are described in words which apply to women.' It is a clever apology, but not orthodox nor convincing. This divergence from the 'received view' however does credit to the author's moral sense.

The accepted interpretations are:—

The Tafsir Husaini translates the words by زنان سفيد روى گشاده چشم — bright-faced, large-eyed, women.'

The Khulaatu't-Tafasir has, اور نكاح كرديا هم نے حور خوش جشم — we marry them to beautiful-eyed Huris. So also Ibn 'Abbas.

The Maqbul Tarjuma has, برى بري آنكهون والى حورون سى هم ان كى شاديان كردينگے ‎— we will marry them to large-eyed Huris.

The Urdu translators Nadhir Ahmad and Ahmad Shah so interpret it.

Zamakhshari has, قَرّناهم بالحُور — we joined them to Huris.

 30.   It is said that Khadija was alarmed when she was told that her parents were in hell, lest her deceased sons should be also there, a statement which would not have commended the new religion to her; but her fears were allayed by the revelation:—

To those who have believed, whose offspring have followed them in the faith, will we again unite their offspring. Sura At-Tur (52) 21.

This was an apt statement, and, as her son's salvation depended on her belief, it helped her so to do. The story is told by Musuad and is quoted by Margoliouth, Mohammed, p. 93

 31.   Quoted by Koelle, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 79.

 32.   In the Madina Suras, extending over a period of ten years after the Hijra, or flight from Mecca, women are only twice referred to as forming one of the joys of heaven and then as wives, not as concubines:—

Therein shall they have wives of purity. Sura Al-Baqarah (2) 25.

Therein they shall have wives of stainless purity. Sura An-Nisa' (4) 57.

Either closer contact with Jewish morality in Madina repressed the sense of the sensual Paradise, the representation of which was used at Mecca with so much force, or it was not necessary now to thus encourage the Muslims, by holding out to them those prospects of enjoyment in Paradise which they could on earth enjoy to the full.

 33.   Osborn, Islam under the Arabs, p. 36.

 34.   Osborn, Islam under the Arabs, p. 39

 35.   The Qur'an and books of preceding prophets.

 36.   Nöldeke says: 'It is very difficult to fix the date of these two Suras and we cannot be sure that they were delivered before the Hijra. Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorans, p. 85.

There are, however, similar expressions in undoubtedly Meccan Suras:—

If an enticement from Satan entice thee, then take refuge in God. Sura Fussilat (41) 36.

When thou readest the Qur'an, ask refuge with God from Satan. Sura An-Nahl (16) 98.

These Suras are, therefore, most probably Meccan, belonging to a period when the Prophet had not yet cast off the superstitious practices of the Arabs. Many Muslim commentators, however, say Labaid was a Jew at Madina and so place them after the Hijra. There is then no absolute certainty about their date.

 37.   Tafsir-i-Husaini on Sura Al-Falaq (cxiii). Qur'an-i-Majid in loco. 'Ayisha is reported to have said that whoever after the Friday Namaz repeats these Suras seven times will be preserved from all evils until the next Friday. Khulasatu't-Tafasir, vol. iv., page 132.

 38.   At this time Islam was accepted as their religion by slaves who had either been carried away from Christian lands, or had been born of Christian parents at Mecca. They saw in Muhammad a liberator and so they believed in his teaching and some died as martyrs to it. Nöldeke considers that verse ten of Sura Al-'Alaq (xcvi), 'A slave of God when he prayeth,' refers to a slave convert; but the ordinary interpretation of it is 'A servant of God when he prayeth,' and it is said to refer to Muhammad himself, in connexion with the threat made by Abu Jahl (ante, p. 13) that he would put his foot on the Prophet's neck when at prayer. Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorans p. 66; Tafsir-i-Husaini, vol. ii., p. 468; and also Baidawi, vol. ii., p. 410.

 39.   In Sura Al-Ma'idah (v) 85 [82], we read: —

Of all men thou wilt certainly find the Jews, and those who join other gods with God, to be the most intense in hatred of those who believe; and thou shalt certainly find those to be nearest in affection to them who say, ' We are Christians.'

This Sura, though a late one, is composite and this verse, evidently recorded in grateful recollection of the kindness shown to the exiles, must have been written after A. H. 3, when the enmity to the Jews was marked and before A. H. 8, by which time both Jews and Christians were denounced.

 40.   See Muir, Life of Mahomet, vol. ii., pp. 150-8.

 41.   Some Muslim historians and commentators try to explain this as a mere magical effect produced by Satan on the ears of the audience, and say that Muhammad neither heard nor knew the words until Gabriel brought the message [Sura Al-Hajj (xxii) 52] that it was the devil who uttered them. We read in the Raudatu'l-Ahbab, 'When the Sura "By the Star" came down, the Lord of the World went to the holy house of prayer and read that Sura in the assembly of the Quraish. In reading it he paused between the verses, to enable the people to take them in and remember them entirely. When he reached the noble verse, "Do you see al-Lat and al-'Uzza and Manat the third besides," then Satan found it possible to cause the stupefied ears of the Infidels to hear these words, "These are the exalted females, and verily their intercession is to be hoped for." On hearing these words, the Infidels were exceedingly delighted.' Some authorities deny the whole thing and say that it was an invention of the Zendiqs (infidels).

 42.   This is a Madina Sura and evidently refers back to the lapse at Mecca, and is a proof of its historical accuracy. Sale translates the words إِذَا تَمَنَّى — by 'but when he read' not as Rodwell does 'among whose desires.' In the Tafsir-i-Husaini  they are translated چون تالوت كرد — 'when he read,' and are explained by a reference to this event at Mecca. A Persian translation by Shah Wali Ullah has آرزو بخاطر بست — 'kept desire in his heart'; Baidawi explains it thus 'What he desired was perverted' — زور في نفسه ما يهواه

Nadhir Ahmad translates the phrase by جب اسنى تمناكى — 'When he desired.'

Ibn 'Abbis says it means قراءة الرّسول أو حديث النّبي — 'the reading of an apostle or the saying of a prophet.' There is good authority for this rendering. Ahmad Shah has جب اسنے كجه جاها — 'When he wished something.'

A Qadiani commentator denies that the verse has any reference to the lapse at Mecca on the ground that if such a lapse took place, it is improbable that some years would pass before its being referred to as due to the instigation of the Devil. Holy Qur'an. p, 674.

 43.   Some authorities, however, hold that this refers to a temptation placed before the Prophet by the people of Ta'if when, in answer to his appeal to them, they required certain concessions, such as freedom from the legal alms and the stated times of prayer and permission to retain for a time their idol al-Lat; or it may refer to the time when Ta'if was besieged and if so the verses would belong to the eighth or ninth year of the Hijra and so be part of a Madina Sura. (See Sale's Preliminary Discourse, Wherry's ed, p. 39). Zamakhshari is quoted as favouring this view Rodwell p. 198), and Plamer says that this is the view of most commentators. Waqidi's account of the negotiations agrees with this opinion. Another view stated in the Tafsir-i-Husaini is that it refers to the time 'when the Quraish came and said, "We will not allow thee to kiss the black stone until thou touchest our idols. If only with the tip of the finger."  (i.e., to show respect). His Excellency had a great desire to make the circumambulation of the Ka'ba, and thought deeply in his heart what would happen should I do this.'

قريش یه آن حضرت گفتند كه نمیگذاریم تراكة استلام حجر كنى تا وقتيكة مس كنى بتان ما را و اكرجة بسر انگشت باشد آنحضرت غايت شوق كة بطواف حرم داشت در خاطر مبارکش خطور كرد چه شود اگر چنین  كنم

Muir, however, considers the verses to refer to the great lapse at Mecca, which has been described.

 44.   'To withdraw a revelation and substitute another for it was, he asserted well within the power of God. Doubtless it was, but so obviously within the power of man that it is to us astounding how so compromising a procedure can have been permitted to be introduced into the system by friends and foes.' Margoliouth, Mohammed, p. 139.

Later on in Sura Al-Baqarah we have a definite statement (ii) 100 [106] on abrogation. It is:—

'Whatever verses we cancel, or cause thee to forget, we bring a better or its like.'

The Qadiani commentators deny the doctrine of abrogation. They say that in the words quoted above the word Ayal should. not be translated by 'verse' but by 'communication' and that it means 'the Law of Moses' now abrogated. But as Muhammad never learnt the Law of Moses, he cannot be said to have forgotten it. The great Imams and the commentators Baidawi, Jalalain, Jalalu'd-Din, Husain and others accept the doctrine. Professor Macdonald says that he cannot find in the works of any author one who 'denies the doctrine that one part of the Qur'an has been abrogated by another and that this has been the consistent agreement (Ijma') of Islam from the first.' (The Moslem World, October, 1917, p. 620). It is thus clear that the orthodox interpretation of texts referring to abrogation must stand.

Nöldeke says:—

'That God, the absolute ruler should alter His commands was not an idea repugnant to Muhammad. The Qur'an contains very different directions, suited to varying circumstances. as to the treatment of idolaters.' Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. xvi. p. 599. 

Baidawi describes the varying circumstances as — حسب الحوادث Tafsir, vol. i, p. 553.

On the whole subject, see The Faith of Islam (4th ed.), pp. 101-9.

 45.   Zamakhshari and Baidawi say that some refer this to Salman. the Persian, but they give other names also.

 46.   'The meaning is that the style of the Qur'an is very eloquent. A foreigner does not know such a style and so much less can he speak it.' Nadhir Ahmad

 47.   'He said, "What will the Arabs say of me?
That my own nephew has perverted me from my religion."
Muhammad said, "O Uncle confess the faith to me,
That I may strive with God for thee."
He said, "Nay: it will be published by them that hear;
A secret known to more than two is known to everyone",
Jalalu'd-Din, Mathnavi.

 48.   وَالَّتِى أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهَا مِن رُّوحِنَا وَجَعَلْنَاهَا وَابْنَهَا آيَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

And her who kept her maidenhood, and into whom we breathed of our spirit, and made her and her son a sign to all creatures. Sura Al-Anbiya' (xxi) v. 91.

Nadhir Ahmad in his Urdu translation explains the words, 'we breathed of our spirit,' to mean that 'she conceived without a husband,' and interprets the 'sign' as that of 'God's perfect power.'
Zamakhshari says: 'The meaning of the text is, "We breathed the spirit into Jesus within her, that is, we quickened him within her womb."'

معناه نفخنا الرّوح فى عيسى فيها أيْ أحييناه فى جوفها

Of 'the sign' he says, it is Mary's giving birth to him whilst having no husband — غير فحلٍ

In Sura Maryam (xix), a Sura of the same period, we read of Mary:—

When she went apart from her family eastward, and took a veil to shroud herself from them: and we sent our spirit to her and he took before her the form of a perfect man,

She said, 'I fly for refuge from thee to the God of Mercy if thou fearest him.'

He said: 'I am only a messenger of thy Lord to bestow un thee a holy son.' 17-19.

Some commentators translate v. 18 thus:—

I fly for refuge from thee to the God of Mercy. If thou fearest him, begone from me.

These words in italics are added and seem necessary to complete the sense.

Baidawi says غلاماً زكيّاً 'holy son' may mean 'pure from sins' — طاهراً من الذنوب

Zamakhshari defines 'holy son' — غلاماً زكيّاً as  وَلداً سوياً — i.e. as one in whom there is no blemish or physical defect.

In these verses, the spirit is said to take the form of a man. From Sura Al-An'am (vi) 9 it appears that an angel if sent would take a human form; and so it is believed that it was Gabriel who was here sent to Mary.

Maulavi Muhammad 'Ali says that this was a vision and not an actual visit.

A late Meccan Sura speaks of the child thus born as perfect;—

'Yet when God had given them a perfect child they joined partners with Him in return for what He had given them. Sura Al-A'raf (vii) 193. [190]

The immaculate conception is again referred to in an early Madina Sura thus:—

Verily Jesus is as Adam in the sight of God, He created him of dust: He then said to him ' Be' and he was. Sura Al-'Imran(iii) 52. [59]

The Arabic is ‎ إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَى عِندَ اللهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ i.e., neither Adam nor Christ had a human father. Baidawi comments on it thus, إنَّ شأنَه الغريب كشأن آدم — 'His nature (or rank) was extraordinary, like that of Adam.'

 49.   In speaking of other prophets Muhammad rarely refers to their prophetic gifts; but rather represents them as warning against idolatry and wickedness.

 50.   مَا سَمِعْنَا بِهَذَا فِي الْمِلـَّةِ الآخِرَةِ

Muhammad puts this speech into the mouth of polytheists and thus ironically implies that Christianity teaches a plurality of gods.

In the Tafsir-i-Husaini the reference is explained to be to the Christian religion, which was the latest and which it is erroneously said accepted the doctrine of the Trinity only; but not that of the Unity.

صلت عیسی كة آخرين صلت است چه ايشان بتثلبث قائل اند نه بتوحيد

Baidawi says it refers to the religion of their ancestors, or to the Christian religion, the last of the religions.

Ibn 'Abbas says, ' we have not heard from Jews or Christians that God is one' — لم نسمع من اليهود والنّصارى أنّ الله واحدٌ

Zamakhshari says, 'It refers to the Christians, who are Trinitarians, not Unitarians; or it refers to the Qnraish.

Mujahid says it refers to the religion of the Quraish. Khulasatu't-Tafasir, vol. iv, p. 44.

 51.   Baidawi explains 'piecemeal' (تنزيلاً) as على أَنَّها حسب الحوادث — 'according to circumstances.' This was a convenient theory, as it allowed a revelation to be produced when needed. The giving it by 'slow degrees' and 'piecemeal' may also have been for the convenience of the hearers. In Sura Al-Furqan (xxv) 34 [32] such a mode of revelation is said to have had for its object the confirming of the Prophet's mind.

 52.   In the Sura Ash-Shu'ara' (xxvi) 221-5, called 'The Poets,' Muhammad said that the poets who wrote against him were mad:—

 It is the poets whom the erring follow
Seest thou not that they wander as bereft of senses, 224-5,

 On the other hand, Muhammad employed poets to defend him and his religion. Such poets are not to be blamed. They are, according to Baidawi, referred to as those:—

Who defend themselves when unjustly treated, and they who treat them unjustly shall know hereafter with what treatment they shall be treated. 228.

The latter clause, according to Mu'alim, 'refers to the opponents of the Prophet':—

ية اشارة هى رسول الله كى هجو كرنے والوں كى طرف

Khulasatu-Tafasir, vol. iii, p. 388.

 53.   The commentators say that this is Gabriel.

 54.   أمّ الكتاب mother of the Book. Husain says:—

در اصل همة كتب سماوي يعنى در لوح محفوظ که ايمن است از تغییر

'The original of all the heavenly books is kept safe from change in the preserved table.' Tafsir-i-Husaini vol. ii, p. 300.

Baidawi calls it أصل الكتب السّماويّة — 'the original of the heavenly books.' We are not told what the original language is, but only that it is 'lofty, wise,' which is interpreted to mean that it is the most glorious of books and that it is wise in its diction, perspicuous and not

 55.    The expression مَثَانِي (literally by twos, in pairs,) is translated by Sale as 'containing repeated (admonition);' by Palgrave and by Palmer as 'repeating;' by Rodwell as in the text See Sura Al-Hijr (xv) 87, and the note thereon in Rodwell's Qur'an, p. 126. An Urdu translation gives ايكث مدعا كئى طرح تقرير كيا — 'a claimant narrated in diverse ways.' The same word is used in Sura Al-Hijr (xv) 87, 'we have already given thee the seven verses of repetition' (مَثَانِيَ). This refers to the seven verses of Sura Al-Fatihah which are to be repeated frequently.
 On the whole passage in the text كِتَاباً مُتَشَابِهاً مَثَانِيَ the commentator Husain remarks in Persian:—

كتابى مانند یکدیگر يعنى قرآن كه بعضى از مشابة بعضى ست در اعجاز يا در جودت لفظ وصحت معنى يا برخى ازان مصدق برخى دیگر ست ودر آن تناقض و اختلاف نیست

مثانى ... دوبارة ودو تو كردة بعنى مشتمل است برزوجات جون امر و نهى ووعد ووعيد وذكر وفكر ورحمت وعذاب وبهشت ودوزخ وصوصن وكافر

which runs as follows:— The Qur'an, some of which resembles other parts in miracles, or in the suitableness of its words and sound meaning, or one part of it verifies some other part, and there is no disagreement and difference in it. Mathani is said to mean — two tunes or twofold, i.e. the Qur'an contains pairs (of expressions) such as command and prohibition, promise and threat, speech and thought, mercy and anger, heaven and hell, believer and infidel. Tafsir-i-Husaini, vol. ii, p. 262.

Zamakhshari refers to the twofold form of its commands and prohibitions; promises and threats. أوامر ونواهي، ووعد ووعيد

Nadhir Ahmad in his Urdu translation has, ايكث هى بات سمحهانے كے لئے بار بار دوهرائى كئى هين  'In order to make it understood each matter is repeated again and again.'

In a note he seems to refer it to the descent of the Qur'an at various times and considers this to be a great proof of its divine nature.

Rabbi Geiger considers that the perplexity about the word arises from the fact that it is considered an Arabic one and has not been traced back to its source טשכה. The Jewish law was divided into two parts, the written and the oral teaching. The latter part was called Mishnah and so in time the whole collection of oral teaching, or Tradition, was called by the same name. Then an etymological error crept in and Mishnah was derived from a word meaning 'to repeat,' and so was applied to the act of the repetition of the written teaching and not to the collected body of Tradition. The Arabian Jews made the same mistake and so we get mathani. Then Muhammad, if he used the word correctly, put the Qur'an in the place of the whole Jewish teaching, the Mishnah, and did not refer to repetition at all. So, at least, one Arabic commentator admits for, according to Rabbi Geiger, Ta'us said, ' the whole Qur'an is mathani' — قال طاووس:  القُرْآن كلّه مثاني

See Geiger, Judaism and Islam (S.P.C.K., Madras) p. 43.

The fear caused to men by the revelation is not surprising, when it is believed that in heaven the effect of it (وحي) is that nature is convulsed, that angels become senseless, and that Gabriel is the first one to return to consciousness. For further details, see Khulasatu't-Tafasir, vol. iv, p. 75.

 56.   This Sura is a composite one; vv. 75-82 must belong to Madina.

 57.   Baidawi, vol. ii, p. 112. Margoliouth, Mohammed, pp. 135, 266.

 58.   Maulavi Muhammad 'Ali says that its unequalled superiority consists in the effect it produced and that no other book has done, or could do the like, that every word of it gives expression to the Divine majesty and glory in a manner which is not approached by any other sacred book (Holy Qur'an, p. 19). This Qadiani commentator is so given to exaggerated statements, that they are of no critical value.

 59.   'That the adversaries should produce any sample whatever of poetry or rhetoric equal to the Qur'an is not at all what the Prophet demands. In that case he would have been put to shame, even in the eyes of many of his own followers, by the first poem that came to hand. Nevertheless it is on a false interpretation of the challenge that the dogma of the incomparable excellence of the style and diction of the Qur'an is based.' Nöldeke, Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. xxi, p. 601.

 60.   Sacred Books of the East, vol. vi, pp. lxxvi.

 61.   Muir, Beacon of Truth, p. 26.

 62.   Shahrastani, al-Millal wa'n-Nihal, p. 39 and Nöldeke Geschichte des Qorans, p. 44.

 63.  5  The interpretation of this verse is not easy. It probably means God could, if thou didst such a thing, take away thy prophetic mission, or if the accusation is false seal up thy heart, that is, strengthen it to bear this unmerited calumny. Husain explains 'seal up thy heart, يَخْتِمْ عَلَى قَلْبِكَ as follows:—

مهر نهد بر دل تو اگر افترا كنى یا مهر نهد بر دل تو بصبر وشكيبائى تا از آزارو جفاى ايشان متضرر نشوى

'He will seal up thy heart, if thou inventest lies, or will seal thy heart with patience and long-suffering that thou mayest receive no injury from their wrath and anger.' Tafsir-i-Husaini, vol. ii, p. 295.

'He can withhold from thee, the Qur'an and wahi (inspiration), or give thee patience that their troubling does not distress thee.' Baidawi, vol. ii, p. 230.

Nadhir Ahmad explains the sealing of the heart to mean that the Prophet could not do such a thing.

 64.   That is the Jews, who, at this period of Muhammad's prophetic functions, must have been highly gratified at the strong leaning towards, and respect for, their scriptures and histories, which is shown in the later Meccan Suras. Rodwell, Qur'an, p. 427.

Baidawi is more definite. He says that the passage refers to the Jews and Christians who became Muslims. They were 'Abdu'llah ibn as-Salam, Najashi and others, eighty men in all, of whom forty were from Najran, eight from Yemen and thirty-two from Abyssinia. They were glad with what they found in accordance with their own book, vol. i, p. 483.

 65.   The use of the term ar-Rahman is, therefore, one of the internal evidences of the date of a Sura.

 66.   There can be no doubt that Muhammad did not himself read any Jewish or Christian books. Hence the Old Testament Traditions in the Qur'an resemble more the embellished Haggada tales than they do the original, while the New Testament Traditions are quite legendary and are similar to the reports of the Apocryphal Gospels. (Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorans, p. 6.) The term النَّبِيّ الأمَّي [Sura Al-A'raf (vii) 156, 158], ' the illiterate Prophet' bears on this point. In Sura Al-Baqarah (ii) 73 [78] also we read وَمِنْهُمْ أُمِّيُّون and amongst them (Jews) are illiterates,' that is, those who are unacquainted with the Book (Pentateuch), and so the term clearly refers to those who did not know the Scriptures. So, with reference to Muhammad, the term الأمَّي simply means that he had no previous acquaintance with the Bible and not as Muslims say that, being an ignorant man, he had not the learning required to compose such a book as the Qur'an, which must, therefore, be the words of God. See Faith of Islam (4th ed.), pp. 18-21. It does not touch the question of his power to read, or show that he was in the general sense of the term an ignorant man. (Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qorans, p. 11.) See also an interesting note in Geiger's Judaism and Islam, p. 20.

The only text from the Old Testament quoted in the Qur'an is:—

Since the Law was given, have we written in the Psalms that, My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth. Sura Al-Anbiya' (xxi) 105.

This is taken from  Psalm xxxvii. 24: 'The righteous shall. inherit the land.'

The Qadiani commentator, Muhammad 'Ali, gives three possible meanings of the term—(1) one who could neither read nor write; (2) one from among the Arabs; (3) one from Mecca—the Ummu'l Qura, or metropolis of the Arabs (Holy Qur'an, p. 361.) On Sura Al-'Ankabut (xxix) 47 [48] he says that Muhammad could neither read nor write. This he argues is a proof 'of the divine origin of his teaching and differentiates him from all other prophets and makes him superior to all of them.' Op. cit. p. 781. It may be admitted it makes him different; but how ignorance can make him superior is difficult to understand.

 67.   Muir, Life of Mahomet, vol. ii., p. 185.

 68.     أَعجَميّ which Husain says means 'without eloquence.' ' Now, ' he adds, 'the speech of the Prophet was eloquent as to matter and style, (در فصاحت وبلاغت), so how could he have learned the Qur'an from such a man?'

Ibn 'Abbas says that, أَعجَميّ means a Hebrew. There is a very full note on this verse by Wherry, Commentary on the Qur'an, vol. lii p. 45.

Verses 111, 119-20, 125 are clearly Madina ones, and so Sura An-Nahl (xvi) is a composite one,

 69.   Rodwell, Qur'an, p. 157, note 3. For a good account of this journey, see Muir, Life of Mahomet, vol. ii, pp. 200-7.

 70.   This is hinted at in a late Meccan Sura, Sura Al-'Ankabut (xxix) 56:—

O my servants who have believed! Vast truly is my earth; me, therefore, do ye worship me.

Rodwell comments on this thus: 'That is, you may find places of refuge where you may worship the true God in some other parts of the earth, if driven forth from your native city. This verse is very indicative of a late Meccan origin. Flight from Mecca must have been imminent when Muhammad could write thus.' Rodwell, Qur'an, p. 329.

Husain interprets أَرْضِي وَاسِعَةٌ — 'vast earth' as:

زمين گشاده است هجرت كنيد از موضع خوف بمنزل امن

'The earth is wide, flee from a place of terror to a place of safety'. Tafsir-i-Husaini, vol. ii, p. 173.

'Abbas says that some consider it to be a special reference to Madina, and others say: 'It was given to console the faithful at Mecca at a time when they were oppressed, and the divine command (فرضيت) to fight the infidels had not yet been given, and so it is a command to flee.' Khulasatu't-Tafasir, vol. iii, p 471.

From all this it is clear that Muhammad was now thus preparing his followers for flight.

 71.   Margoliouth, Mohammed, p. 198.

 72.   'On the other hand, Muhammad had to encounter in Madina difficulties which at Mecca he had never experienced. The ignorance of the Quraish had enabled him to give what account he pleased of the Suras he recited to them. When he asserted that his foolish and extravagant legends about Noah, Abraham and others had been made known to him by the Archangel Gabriel and that they were identical with similar stories in the sacred book of the Jews, the Meccans lacked the knowledge to prove their falseness. At Madina, he was confronted by the very people and the very books to whom he had made appeal to confirm the veracity of his mission.' Osborn, Islam under the Arabs, p. 43.

 73.   Some authorities say the name refers to (1) those who became Muslims before the change of the Qibla; (2) those who took part in the Treaty of Hudaibiya.

 74.   This Sura contains some Madina verses, for in verse ninety-one we have the usual charge against the Jews of concealing portions of their scriptures. This charge was not usual at Mecca but it was common in Madina. In verse ninety-two we also read of the Qur'an:—

And this Book which we have sent down is blessed, confirming that which was before it, and in order that thou mightest warn the mother city and those who dwell around it. Sura Al-An'im (vi) 92.

Sale translates اُّمَّ الْقُرىَ — mother of the city — as metropolis of Mecca, and has the authority of some commentators for it, but from the context it seems better to refer it to Madina. Anyhow, Muhammad did not, except in the futile expedition to Ta'if (ante, p. 61), preach or warn those who dwelt around Mecca.

It was common now to put back into earlier Suras verses revealed later on. See Wherry's Commentary on the Qur'an, vol. ii, p. 182, and Muir, Life of Mahomet, vol. ii, p. 268.

 75.   This has led some persons to consider that verse forty or even the whole Sura was revealed in Madina.

 76.   'Whether this witness and other Jewish supporters of Muhammad were among his professed followers, slaves perhaps, at Mecca, or were causal visitors from Israelitish tribes, or belonged to the Jewish inhabitants of Madina (with the inhabitants of which city the Prophet was on the point of establishing friendly relations), we cannot do more than conjecture.' Muir, Life of Mahomet, vol. ii, p. 185.

Mu'alim says that this witness was a learned Jew, called 'Abdu'llah bin Salam, who became a believer in Madina. Kabir says that the verse is a Madina one and so the witness must have been a Jew there. Khulasatu't-Tafasir, vol. iv, p. 201.

 77.   Mirkhund, Raudatu's-Safa, Part ii, vol. ii, p. 220.

 78.   Literally, 'helpers,' a name given to the Madina converts,

 79.   Mus'ab was a convert, who had suffered persecution. He was devoted to the cause of the Prophet, by whom he was much beloved.

 80.   Muhammad 'Ali says that the ascension was spiritual not bodily. The cursed tree is called Zaqqum in Sura xxxvii. 60 and is the food of sinners in hell. This commentator then makes the curious deduction that this vision shows the triumph of Islam and the defeat of its enemies.

 81.   For a full description of these marvels, see Koelle, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, pp. 304-14; also, Deutch, Literary Remains, pp. 99-112.

 82.   'All that Muhammadans must believe respecting the Mi'raj is that the Prophet saw himself,. in vision, transported from Mecca to Jerusalem and that in a such a vision he really beheld some of the greatest signs of his Lord.' Syed Ahmad, Essays, vi. p. 34.

Muhammad 'Ali's view is that it refers to the flight from Mecca, i.e. from the Ka' ba to the Mosque about to be built at Madina. Holy Qur'an, p. 561.

The orthodox view is that he who denies the actual bodily migration from Mecca to Jerusalem is a Kafir (infidel), as he denies the statement of a نص or plain statement of the Qur'an; he who denies the further ascension to heaven and the account recorded in the traditions is a فاسق (sinner), though he is still a Muslim. See The Faith of Islam (4th ed.), p. 309.

 83.   Mirkhund, Raudatu's-Safa, Part ii, vol. i, p. 229.

 84.   Ibn Ishaq, quoted by Koelle, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 325.

 85.   Koelle, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 107.

 86.   Sale following some of the Traditionists says that the Quraish plotted to kill him; but the Traditions seem to have grown out of the verse. 'A resolution so fatal would unquestionably have been dwelt on at length, both in the Qur'an and in the Traditions, and produced as a justification of all subsequent hostilities.' Wherry, Commentary on the Qur'an, vol. i, p. 84. See also Muir, Life of Mahomet, vol. ii, p. 125.

 87.   In a late Meccan Sura Muhammad referred to the plot against a prophet Salih:—

They devised and we devised a device and they were not aware of it.
And see what was the end of their device. We destroyed them and their whole people.
And for their sins these their houses are empty ruins:verily in this is a sign to those who understand. Sura An-Naml (xxvii) 51-3. [50-52]

This was no doubt meant as a warning to the Quraish who were then his bitter opponents.

 88.   The Sunnis who highly esteem Abu Bakr say that verse fourteen [15] of Sura Al-Ahqaf (xlvi), a late Meccan one, refers to him:—

We have commanded man to show kindness to his parents. His mother beareth him and bringeth him forth with pain, and his bearing and his weaning is thirty months: until when he attaineth strength and the age of forty years he saith, 'O Lord give me inspiration, that I may be grateful for thy favour wherewith Thou halt favoured me and my patents,'

According to the commentator Husain, Abd Bakr embraced Islam in his thirty-eighth year, and his father and mother were also converted, and in his fortieth year he said, 'O Lord give me inspiration, that I may be grateful.' The favours are described as the gift and blessing of Islam. Tafsir-i-Husaini, vol. ii, p. 321.

Rodwell considers that this explanation of the verse was invented after Abu Bakr became the Khalifa. Nöldeke is doubtful about it.

 89.   See Koelle, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, pp. 315-21.

 90.   Sura Ta-Ha (xx) 130, Sura Ar-Rum (xxx) 17, Sura Hud (xi) 111, Sura Al-An'am (vi) 146-7 and Sura An-Nahl (xvi) 119, but this last may be a Madina verse.

 91.   Sura Al-A'raf (vii) 27-33.

 92.   For an account of the recensions of the Qur'an and its 'various readings' see Sell, Recension of the Qur'an (C.L.S.), pp. 1-10, 15-19.