The Project Gutenberg ebook of The Koran



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"No poor man shall set foot this day within your garden;"
And they went out at daybreak with this settled purpose.
But when they beheld it, they said, "Truly we have been in fault:
Yes! we are forbidden our fruits."
The most rightminded of them said, "Did I not say to you, Will ye not give

praise to God?"


They said, "Glory to our Lord! Truly we have done amiss."
And they fell to blaming one another:
They said, "Oh woe to us! we have indeed transgressed!
Haply our Lord will give us in exchange a better garden than this: verily we

crave it of our Lord."


Such hath been our chastisement�but heavier shall be the chastisement of the

next world. Ah! did they but know it.


Verily, for the God-fearing are gardens of delight in the presence of their

Lord.
Shall we then deal with those who have surrendered themselves to God, as with

those who offend him?
What hath befallen you that ye thus judge?
Have ye a Scripture wherein ye can search out
That ye shall have the things ye choose?
Or have ye received oaths which shall bind Us even until the day of the

resurrection, that ye shall have what yourselves judge right?


Ask them which of them will guarantee this?
Or is it that they have joined gods with God? let them produce those

associate-gods of theirs, if they speak truth.


On the day when men's legs shall be bared,6 and they shall be called upon to

bow in adoration, they shall not be able:


Their looks shall be downcast: shame shall cover them: because, while yet in

safety, they were invited to bow in worship, but would not obey.


Leave me alone therefore with him who chargeth this revelation with

imposture. We will lead them by degrees to their ruin; by ways which they

know not;
Yet will I bear long with them; for my plan is sure.
Askest thou any recompense from them? But they are burdened with debt.
Are the secret things within their ken? Do they copy them from the Book of

God?
Patiently then await the judgment of thy Lord, and be not like him who was in

the fish,7 when in deep distress he cried to God.
Had not favour from his Lord reached him, cast forth would he have been on

the naked shore, overwhelmed with shame:


But his Lord chose him and made him of the just.
Almost would the infidels strike thee down with their very looks when they

hear the warning of the Koran. And they say, "He is certainly possessed."


Yet is it nothing less than a warning for all creatures.

_______________________


1 It has been conjectured that as the word Nun means fish, there may be a

reference to the fish which swallowed Jonas (v. 48). The fact, however, is

that the meaning of this and of the similar symbols, throughout the Koran,

was unknown to the Muhammadans themselves even in the first century. Possibly

the letters Ha, Mim, which are prefixed to numerous successive Suras were

private marks, or initial letters, attached by their proprietor to the copies

furnished to Said when effecting his recension of the text under Othman. In

the same way, the letters prefixed to other Suras may be monograms, or

abbreviations, or initial letters of the names of the persons to whom the

copies of the respective Suras belonged.


addenda: The symbol nun may possibly refer to this letter as forming the

Rhyme in most of the verses of this Sura.


2 This Sura has been supposed by ancient Muslim authorities to be, if not the

oldest, the second revelation, and to have followed Sura xcvi. But this

opinion probably originated from the expression in v. 1 compared with Sura

xcvi. 4. Verses 17-33 read like a later addition, and this passage, as well

as verse 48-50, has been classed with the Medina revelations. In the absence

of any reliable criterion for fixing the date, I have placed this Sura with

those which detail the opposition encountered by the Prophet at Mecca.
3 By djinn. Comp. Sur. xxxiv. 45.
4 In bearing the taunts of the unbelievers with patience.
5 They did not add the restriction, if God will.
6 An expression implying a grievous calamity; borrowed probably from the

action of stripping previous to wrestling, swimming, etc.


7 Lit. the companion of the fish. Comp. on Jonah Sura xxxvii. 139-148, and

Sura xxi. 87.

SURA XC.�THE SOIL [XVIII.]
MECCA.�20 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
I NEED not to swear by this SOIL,
This soil on which thou dost dwell,
Or by sire and offspring!1
Surely in trouble have we created man.
What! thinketh he that no one hath power over him?
"I have wasted," saith he, "enormous riches!"
What! thinketh he that no one regardeth him?
What! have we not made him eyes,
And tongue, and lips,
And guided him to the two highways?2
Yet he attempted not the steep.
And who shall teach thee what the steep is?
It is to ransom the captive,3
Or to feed in the day of famine,
The orphan who is near of kin, or the poor that lieth in the dust;
Beside this, to be of those who believe, and enjoin stedfastness on each

other, and enjoin compassion on each other.


These shall be the people of the right hand:
While they who disbelieve our signs,
Shall be the people of the left.
Around them the fire shall close.

_______________________


1 Lit. and begetter and what he hath begotten
2 Of good and evil.
3 Thus we read in Hilchoth Matt'noth Aniim, c. 8, "The ransoming of captives

takes precedence of the feeding and clothing of the poor, and there is no

commandment so great as this."

SURA CV.�THE ELEPHANT [XIX.]


MECCA.�5 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
HAST thou not seen1 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 (ababils),
Claystones did they hurl down upon them,
And he made them like stubble eaten down!

_______________________


1 This Sura is probably Muhammad's appeal to the Meccans, intended at the

same time for his own encouragement, on the ground of their deliverance from

the army of Abraha, the Christian King of Abyssinia and Arabia Felix, said to

have been lost in the year of Muhammad's birth in an expedition against Mecca

for the purpose of destroying the Caaba. This army was cut off by small-pox

(Wakidi; Hishami), and there is no doubt, as the Arabic word for small-pox

also means "small stones," in reference to the hard gravelly feeling of the

pustules, what is the true interpretation of the fourth line of this Sura,

which, like many other poetical passages in the Koran, has formed the

starting point for the most puerile and extravagant legends. Vide Gibbon's

Decline and Fall, c. 1. The small-pox first shewed itself in Arabia at the

time of the invasion by Abraha. M. de Hammer Gemaldesaal, i. 24. Reiske

opusc. Med. Arabum. Hal�, 1776, p. 8.

SURA CVI.�THE KOREISCH [XX.]


MECCA.�4 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
For the union of the KOREISCH:�
Their union in equipping caravans winter and summer.
And let them worship the Lord of this house, who hath provided them with food

against hunger,


And secured them against alarm.1

_______________________


1 In allusion to the ancient inviolability of the Haram, or precinct round

Mecca. See Sura, xcv. n. p. 41. This Sura, therefore, like the preceding, is

a brief appeal to the Meccans on the ground of their peculiar privileges.

SURA XCVII.�POWER [XXI.]


MECCA.�5 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
VERILY, we have caused It1 to descend on the night of POWER.
And who shall teach thee what the night of power is?
The night of power excelleth a thousand months:
Therein descend the angels and the spirit by permission of their Lord for

every matter;2


And all is peace till the breaking of the morn.

_______________________


1 The Koran, which is now pressed on the Meccans with increased prominence,

as will be seen in many succeeding Suras of this period.


2 The night of Al Kadr is one of the last ten nights of Ramadhan, and as is

commonly believed the seventh of those nights reckoning backward. See Sura

xliv. 2. "Three books are opened on the New Year's Day, one of the perfectly

righteous, one of the perfectly wicked, one of the intermediate. The

perfectly righteous are inscribed and sealed for life," etc. Bab. Talm. Rosh.

Hash., § I.

SURA LXXXVI. THE NIGHT-COMER [XXII.]
MECCA. 17 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
BY the heaven, and by the NIGHT-COMER!
But who shall teach thee what the night-comer is?
'Tis the star of piercing radiance.
Over every soul is set a guardian.
Let man then reflect out of what he was created.
He was created of the poured-forth germs,
Which issue from the loins and breastbones:
Well able then is God to restore him to life,�
On the day when all secrets shall be searched out,
And he shall have no other might or helper.
I swear by the heaven which accomplisheth its cycle,
And by the earth which openeth her bosom,
That this Koran is a discriminating discourse,
And that it is not frivolous.
They plot a plot against thee,
And I will plot a plot against them.
Deal calmly therefore with the infidels; leave them awhile alone.

SURA XCI.�THE SUN [XXIII.]


MECCA.�15 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
BY the SUN and his noonday brightness!
By the Moon when she followeth him!
By the Day when it revealeth his glory!
By the Night when it enshroudeth him!
By the Heaven and Him who built it!
By the Earth and Him who spread it forth!
By a Soul and Him who balanced it,
And breathed into it its wickedness and its piety,
Blessed now is he who hath kept it pure,
And undone is he who hath corrupted it!
Themoud1 in his impiety rejected the message of the Lord,
When the greatest wretch among them rushed up:�
Said the Apostle of God to them,�"The Camel of God! let her drink."
But they treated him as an impostor and hamstrung her.
So their Lord destroyed them for their crime, and visited all alike:
Nor feared he the issue.

_______________________


1 See Sura vii. 33, for the story of Themoud.

SURA LXXX.�HE FROWNED [XXIV.]


MECCA.�42 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
HE FROWNED, and he turned his back,1
Because the blind man came to him!
But what assured thee that he would not be cleansed by the Faith,
Or be warned, and the warning profit him?
As to him who is wealthy�
To him thou wast all attention:
Yet is it not thy concern if he be not cleansed:2
But as to him who cometh to thee in earnest,
And full of fears�
Him dost thou neglect.
Nay! but it (the Koran) is a warning;
(And whoso is willing beareth it in mind)
Written on honoured pages,
Exalted, purified,
By the hands of Scribes, honoured, righteous.
Cursed be man! What hath made him unbelieving?
Of what thing did God create him?
Out of moist germs.3
He created him and fashioned him,
Then made him an easy passage from the womb,
Then causeth him to die and burieth him;
Then, when he pleaseth, will raise him again to life.
Aye! but man hath not yet fulfilled the bidding of his Lord.
Let man look at his food:
It was We who rained down the copious rains,
Then cleft the earth with clefts,
And caused the upgrowth of the grain,
And grapes and healing herbs,
And the olive and the palm,
And enclosed gardens thick with trees,
And fruits and herbage,
For the service of yourselves and of your cattle.
But when the stunning trumpet-blast shall arrive,4
On that day shall a man fly from his brother,
And his mother and his father,
And his wife and his children;
For every man of them on that day his own concerns shall be enough.
There shall be faces on that day radiant,
Laughing and joyous:
And faces on that day with dust upon them:
Blackness shall cover them!
These are the Infidels, the Impure.

_______________________


1 We are told in the traditions, etc., that when engaged in converse with

Walid, a chief man among the Koreisch, Muhammad was interrupted by the blind

Abdallah Ibn Omm Maktűm, who asked to hear the Koran. The Prophet spoke very

roughly to him at the time, but afterwards repented, and treated him ever

after with the greatest respect. So much so, that he twice made him Governor

of Medina.


2 That is, if he does not embrace Islam, and so become pure from sin, thou

wilt not be to blame; thou art simply charged with the delivery of a message

of warning.
3 Ex spermate.
4 Descriptions of the Day of Judgment now become very frequent. See Sura

lxxxv. p. 42, and almost every Sura to the lv., after which they become

gradually more historical.

SURA LXXXVII.�THE MOST HIGH [XXV.]


MECCA.�19 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
PRAISE the name of thy Lord THE MOST HIGH,
Who hath created and balanced all things,
Who hath fixed their destinies and guideth them,
Who bringeth forth the pasture,
And reduceth it to dusky stubble.
We will teach thee to recite the Koran, nor aught shalt thou forget,
Save what God pleaseth; for he knoweth alike things manifest and hidden;
And we will make easy to thee our easy ways.
Warn, therefore, for the warning is profitable:
He that feareth God will receive the warning,�
And the most reprobate only will turn aside from it,
Who shall be exposed to the terrible fire,
In which he shall not die, and shall not live.
Happy he who is purified by Islam,
And who remembereth the name of his Lord and prayeth.
But ye prefer this present life,
Though the life to come is better and more enduring.
This truly is in the Books of old,
The Books of Abraham1 and Moses.

_______________________


1 Thus the Rabbins attribute the Book Jezirah to Abraham. See Fabr. Cod.

Apoc. V. T. p. 349.

SURA XCV.�THE FIG [XXVI.]
MECCA.�8 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
I SWEAR by the FIG and by the olive,
By Mount Sinai,
And by this inviolate soil!1
That of goodliest fabric we created man,
Then brought him down to be the lowest of the low;�
Save who believe and do the things that are right, for theirs shall be a

reward that faileth not.


Then, who after this shall make thee treat the Judgment as a lie?
What! is not God the most just of judges?

_______________________


1 In allusion to the sacredness of the territory of Mecca. This valley in

about the fourth century of our �ra was a kind of sacred forest of 37 miles

in circumference, and called Haram a name applied to it as early as the time

of Pliny (vi. 32). It had the privilege of asylum, but it was not lawful to

inhabit it, or to carry on commerce within its limits, and its religious

ceremonies were a bond of union to several of the Bedouin tribes of the

Hejaz. The Koreisch had monopolised most of the offices and advantages of the

Haram in the time of Muhammad. See Sprenger's Life of Mohammad, pp. 7 20.

SURA CIII.�THE AFTERNOON [XXVII.]
MECCA.�3 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
I SWEAR by the declining day!
Verily, man's lot is cast amid destruction,1
Save those who believe and do the things which be right, and enjoin truth and

enjoin stedfastness on each other.

_______________________
1 Said to have been recited in the Mosque shortly before his death by

Muhammad. See Weil, p. 328.

SURA LXXXV.�THE STARRY [XXVIII.]
MECCA.�22 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
BY the star-bespangled Heaven!1
By the promised Day!
By the witness and the witnessed!2
Cursed the masters of the trench3
Of the fuel-fed fire,
When they sat around it
Witnesses of what they inflicted on the believers!
Nor did they torment them but for their faith in God, the Mighty, the

Praiseworthy:4


His the kingdom of the Heavens and of the Earth; and God is the witness of

everything.


Verily, those who vexed the believers, men and women, and repented not, doth

the torment of Hell, and the torment of the burning, await.


But for those who shall have believed and done the things that be right, are

the Gardens beneath whose shades the rivers flow. This the immense bliss!


Verily, right terrible will be thy Lord's vengeance!
He it is who produceth all things, and causeth them to return;
And is He the Indulgent, the Loving;
Possessor of the Glorious throne;
Worker of that he willeth.
Hath not the story reached thee of the hosts
Of Pharaoh and Themoud?
Nay! the infields are all for denial:
But God surroundeth them from behind.
Yet it is a glorious Koran,
Written on the preserved Table.

_______________________


1 Lit. By the Heaven furnished with towers, where the angels keep watch;

also, the signs of the Zodiac: this is the usual interpretation. See Sura xv.

15.
2 That is, by Muhammad and by Islam; or, angels and men. See, however, v. 7.
3 Prepared by Dhu Nowas, King of Yemen, A.D. 523, for the Christians. See

Gibbon's Decline and Fall, chap. xii. towards the end. Pocock Sp. Hist. Ar.

p. 62. And thus the comm. generally. But Geiger (p. 192) and Nöldeke (p. 77

n.) understand the passage of Dan. iii. But it should be borne in mind that

the Suras of this early period contain very little allusion to Jewish or

Christian legends.


4 Verses 8-11 wear the appearance of a late insertion, on account of their

length, which is a characteristic of the more advanced period. Observe also

the change in the rhymes.

SURA CI.�THE BLOW [XXIX.]


MECCA.�8 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
THE BLOW! what is the Blow?
Who shall teach thee what the Blow is?
The Day when men shall be like scattered moths,
And the mountains shall be like flocks of carded wool,
Then as to him whose balances are heavy�his shall be a life that shall please

him well:


And as to him whose balances are light�his dwelling-place1 shall be the pit.
And who shall teach thee what the pit (El-Hawiya) is?
A raging fire!

_______________________


1 Lit. Mother.

SURA XCIX.�THE EARTHQUAKE [XXX.]


MECCA.�8 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
WHEN the Earth with her quaking shall quake
And the Earth shall cast forth her burdens,
And man shall say, What aileth her?
On that day shall she tell out her tidings,
Because thy Lord shall have inspired her.
On that day shall men come forward in throngs to behold their works,
And whosoever shall have wrought an atom's weight of good shall behold it,
And whosoever shall have wrought an atom's weight of evil shall behold it.

SURA LXXXII.�THE CLEAVING [XXXI.]


MECCA.�19 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
WHEN the Heaven shall CLEAVE asunder,
And when the stars shall disperse,
And when the seas1 shall be commingled,
And when the graves shall be turned upside down,
Each soul shall recognise its earliest and its latest actions.
O man! what hath misled thee against thy generous Lord,
Who hath created thee and moulded thee and shaped thee aright?
In the form which pleased Him hath He fashioned thee.
Even so; but ye treat the Judgment as a lie.
Yet truly there are guardians over you�
Illustrious recorders�
Cognisant of your actions.
Surely amid delights shall the righteous dwell,
But verily the impure in Hell-fire:
They shall be burned at it on the day of doom,
And they shall not be able to hide themselves from it.
Who shall teach thee what the day of doom is?
Once more. Who shall teach thee what the day of doom is?
It is a day when one soul shall be powerless for another soul: all

sovereignty on that day shall be with God.

_______________________
1 Salt water and fresh water.

SURA LXXXI.�THE FOLDED UP [XXXII.]


MECCA.�29 Verses
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
WHEN the sun shall be FOLDED UP,1
And when the stars shall fall,
And when the mountains shall be set in motion,
And when the she-camels shall be abandoned,
And when the wild beasts shall be gathered together,2
And when the seas shall boil,
And when souls shall be paired with their bodies,
And when the female child that had been buried alive shall be asked
For what crime she was put to death,3
And when the leaves of the Book shall be unrolled,
And when the Heaven shall be stripped away,4
And when Hell shall be made to blaze,
And when Paradise shall be brought near,
Every soul shall know what it hath produced.
It needs not that I swear by the stars5 of retrograde motions
Which move swiftly and hide themselves away,
And by the night when it cometh darkening on,
And by the dawn when it brighteneth,
That this is the word of an illustrious Messenger,6
Endued with power, having influence with the Lord of the Throne,
Obeyed there by Angels, faithful to his trust,
And your compatriot is not one possessed by djinn;
For he saw him in the clear horizon:7
Nor doth he grapple with heaven's secrets,8
Nor doth he teach the doctrine of a cursed9 Satan.
Whither then are ye going?
Verily, this is no other than a warning to all creatures;
To him among you who willeth to walk in a straight path:
But will it ye shall not, unless as God willeth it,10 the Lord of the worlds.

_______________________


1 Involutus fuerit tenebris. Mar. Or, thrown down.
2 Thus Bab. Talm. Erchin, 3. "In the day to come (i.e., of judgment) all the

beasts will assemble and come, etc."


3 See Sura xvi. 61; xvii. 33.
4 Like a skin from an animal when flayed. The idea is perhaps borrowed from

the Sept. V. of Psalm civ. 2. Vulg. sicut pellem.


5 Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn.
6 Gabriel; of the meaning of whose name the next verse is probably a

paraphrase.


7 Sura 1iii. 7.
8 Like a mere Kahin, or soothsayer.
9 Lit. stoned. Sura iii. 31. This vision or hallucination is one of the few

clearly stated miracles, to which Muhammad appeals in the Koran. According to

the tradition of Ibn-Abbas in Waquidi he was preserved by it from committing

suicide by throwing himself down from Mount Hira, and that after it, God

cheered him and strengthened his heart, and one revelation speedily followed

another.
10 Comp. the doctrine of predestination in Sura 1xxvi. v. 25 to end.

SURA LXXXIV.�THE SPLITTING ASUNDER [XXXIII.]

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