ENTITLED, THE PREFACE, OR INTRODUCTION;a REVEALED AT MECCA.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD
PRAISE be to GOD, the LORD of all creatures;b
the most merciful,
the king of the day of judgment.
Thee do we worship, and of thee do we beg assistance.
Direct us in the right way,
in the way of those to whom thou hast been gracious; not of those against whom thou art incensed, nor of those who go astray.c
a In Arabic al Fâtihat. This chapter is a prayer, and held in great veneration by the Mohammedans, who give it several other honourable titles; as the chapter of prayer, of praise, of thanksgiving, of treasure, &c. They esteem it as the quintessence of the whole Korân, and often repeat it in their devotions both public and private, as the Christians do the Lord’s Prayer.1
b The original words are, Rabbi ‘lâlamîna, which literally signify Lord of the worlds; but âlamîna in this and other places of the Korân properly mean the three species of rational creatures, men, genii, and angels. Father Marracci has endeavoured to prove from this passage that Mohammed believed a plurality of worlds, which he calls the error of the Manichees, &c.:2 but this imputation the learned Reland has shown to be entirely groundless.3
c This last sentence contains a petition, that GOD would lead the supplicants into the true religion, by which is meant the Mohammedan, in the Korân often called the right way; in this place more particularly defined to be, the way of those to whom GOD hath been gracious, that is, of the prophets and faithful who preceded Mohammed; under which appellations are also comprehended the Jews and Christians, such as they were in the times of their primitive purity, before they had deviated from their respective institutions; not the way of the modern Jews, whose signal calamities are marks of the just anger of GOD against them for their obstinacy and disobedience: nor of the Christians of this age, who have departed from the true doctrine of Jesus, and are bewildered in a labyrinth of error.4
This is the common exposition of the passage; though al Zamakhshari, and some others, by a different application of the negatives, refer the whole to the true believers; and then the sense will run thus: The way of those to whom thou hast been gracious, against whom thou art not incensed, and who have not erred. Which translation the original will very well bear. 1 Vide Bobovium de Precib. Mohammed. p. 3, et seq. 2 In Prodromo ad Refut. Alcorani part iv. p. 76, et in notis ad Alc. c. I. 3 De Religion. Mohammed. p. 262 1 Jallalo’ddin. Al Beidawi, &c.
CHAPTER II. ENTITLED, THE COW;d REVEALED PARTLY AT MECCA, AND PARTLY AT MEDINA. IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD. A. L. M.e There is no doubt in this book; it is a direction to the pious,
who believe in the mysteriesfof faith, who observe the appointed times of prayer, and distribute alms out of what we have bestowed on them,
and who believe in that revelation, which hath been sent down unto thee and that which hath been sent down unto the prophets before thee,g and have firm assurance of the life to come:h
these are directed by their LORD, and they shall prosper.
As for the unbelievers, it will be equal to them whether thou admonish them, or do not admonish them; they will not believe.
GOD hath sealed up their hearts and their hearing; a dimness covereth their sight, and they shall suffer a grievous punishment.are some who say, We believe in GOD, and the last day; but are not really believers:
they seek to deceive GOD, and those who do believe, but they deceive themselves only, and are not sensible thereof.
There is an infirmity in their hearts, and GOD hath increased that infirmity;i and they shall suffer a most painful punishment, because they have disbelieved.
10 When one saith unto them, Act not corruptlyk in the earth; they reply, Verily we are men of integrity.l
Are not they themselves corrupt doers? but they are not sensible thereof.
And when one saith unto them, Believe ye as othersm believe; they answer, Shall we believe as fools believe? Are not they themselves fools? but they know it not.
When they meet those who believe, they say, We do believe: but when they retire privately to their devils,n they say, We really hold with you, and only mock at those people: d This title was occasioned by the story of the red heifer, mentioned p. 9.
e As to the meaning of these letters, see the Preliminary Discourse, Sect. III.
f The Arabic word is gheib, which properly signifies a thing that is absent, at a great distance, or invisible, such as the resurrection, paradise, and hell. And this is agreeable to the language of scripture, which defines faith to be the evidence of things not seen.1
g The Mohammedans believe that GOD gave written revelations not only to Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, but to several other prophets;2 though they acknowledge none of those which preceded the Korân to be now extant, except the Pentateuch of Moses, the Psalms of David, and the Gospel of Jesus; which yet they say were even before Mohammed’s time altered and corrupted by the Jews and Christians; and therefore will not allow our present copies to be genuine.
h The original word al-âkherhat properly signifies the latter part of anything, and by way of excellence the next life, the latter or future state after death; and is opposed to al-donya, this world; and al-oula, the former or present life. The Hebrew word ahharith, from the same root, is used by Moses in this sense, and is translated latter end.3
i Mohammed here, and elsewhere frequently, imitates the truly inspired writers, in making GOD by operation on the minds of reprobates to prevent their conversion. This fatality or predestination, as believed by the Mohammedans, hath been sufficiently treated of in the Preliminary Discourse.
k Literally corrupt not in the earth, by which some expositors understand the sowing of false doctrine, and corrupting people’s principles.
l According to the explication in the preceding note, this word must be translated reformers, who promote true piety by their doctrine and example.
m The first companions and followers of Mohammed.4
n The prophet, making use of the liberty zealots of all religions have, by prescription, of giving ill language, bestows this name on the Jewish rabbins and Christian priests; though he seems chiefly to mean the former, against whom he had by much the greater spleen. 1 Heb. xi. I. See also Rom. xxiv. 25; 2 Cor. iv. 18 and v. 7. 2 Vide Reland. de Relig. Moham. p. 34 and Dissert. de Samaritanis, p. 34, &c. 3 Numb. xxiv. 20; Deut. viii. 16. 4 Jallalo’ddin.
GOD shall mock at them, and continue them in their impiety; they shall wander in confusion.
There are the the men who have purchased error at the price of true direction: but their traffic hath not been gainful, neither have they been rightly directed.
They are like unto one who kindleth a fire,o and when it hath enlightened all around him,p GOD taketh away their lightq and leaveth them in darkness, they shall not see;
they are deaf, dumb, and blind, therefore will they not repent.
Or like a stormy cloud from heaven, fraught with darkness, thunder, and lightning,r they put their fingers in their ears because of the noise of the thunder, for fear of death; GOD encompasseth the infidels:
the lightning wanteth but little of taking away their sight; so often as it enlighteneth them, they walk therein, but when darkness cometh on them, they stand still; and if GOD so pleased, he would certainly deprive them of their hearing and their sight, for GOD is almighty. O men of Mecca, serve your LORD who hath created you, and those who have been before you: peradventure ye will fear him;
20 who hath spread the earth as a bed for you, and the heaven as a covering, and hath caused water to descend from heaven, and thereby produced fruits for your sustenance. Set not up therefore any equals unto GOD, against your own knowledge.
If ye be in doubt concerning that revelation which we have sent down unto our servant, produce a chapter like unto it, and call upon your witnesses besides GOD,s if ye say truth.
But if ye do it not, nor shall ever be able to do it; justly fear the fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the unbelievers.
But bear good tidings unto those who believe, and do good works, that they shall have gardens watered by rivers; so often as they eat of the fruit thereof for sustenance, they shall say, this is what we have formerly eaten of; and they shall be supplied with several sorts of fruit having a mutual resemblance to one another.t There shall they enjoy wives subject to no impurity, and there shall they continue forever. o In this passage, Mohammed compares those who believed not on him, to a man who wants to kindle a fire, but as soon as it burns up, and the flames give a light, shuts his eyes, lest he should see. As if he had said, You, O Arabians, have long desired a prophet of your own nation, and now I am sent unto you, and have plainly proved my mission by the excellence of my doctrine and revelation, you resist conviction, and refuse to believe in me; therefore shall God leave you in your ignorance.
p The sense seems to be here imperfect, and may be completed by adding the words, He turns from it, shuts his eyes, or the like.
q That is of the unbelievers, to whom the word their being in the plural, seems to refer; though it is not unusual for Mohammed, in affectation of the prophetic style, suddenly to change the number against all rules of grammar.
r Here he compares the unbelieving Arabs to people caught in a violent storm. To perceive the beauty of this comparison, it must be observed, that the Mohammedan doctors say, this tempest is a type or image of the Korân itself: the thunder signifying the threats therein contained; the lightning, the promises; and the darkness, the mysteries. The terror of the threats makes them stop their ears, unwilling to hear truths so disagreeable; when the promises are read to them, they attend with pleasure; but when anything mysterious or difficult of belief occurs, they stand stock still, and will not submit to be directed.
si.e., Your false gods and idols.
t Some commentators1 approve of this sense, supposing the fruits of paradise, though of various tastes, are alike in colour and outward appearance: but others2 think the meaning to be, that the inhabitants of that place will find there fruits of the same or the like kinds as they used to eat while on earth. 1 Jallalo’ddin. 2 Al Zamakhshari.
Moreover, GOD will not be ashamed to propound in a parable a gnat, or even a more despicable thing:u for they who believe will know it to be the truth from their LORD; but the unbelievers will say, What meaneth GOD by this parable? he will thereby mislead many, and will direct many thereby: but he will not mislead any thereby, except the transgressors,
who make void the covenant of GOD after the establishing thereof, and cut in sunder that which GOD hath commanded to be joined, and act corruptly in the earth; they shall perish.
How is it that ye believe not in GOD? Since ye were dead, and he gave you life;x he will hereafter cause you to die, and will again restore you to life; then shall ye return unto him.
It is he who hath created for you whatsoever is on earth, and then set his mind to the creation of heaven, and formed it into seven heavens; he knoweth all things.
When thy LORD said unto the angels, I am going to place a substitute on earth;y they said, Wilt thou place there one who will do evil therein, and shed blood? but we celebrate thy praise, and sanctify thee. GOD answered, Verily I know that which ye know not;
and he taught Adam the names of all things, and then proposed them to the angels, and said, Declare unto me the names of these things if ye say truth.
30 They answered, Praise be unto thee; we have no knowledge but what thou teachest us, for thou art knowing and wise.
GOD said, O Adam, tell them their names. And when he had told them their names, GOD said, Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and know that which ye discover, and that which ye conceal?z
And when we said unto the angels, Worshipa Adam, they all worshipped him, except Eblis, who refused, and was puffed up with pride, and became of the number of unbelievers.b u This was revealed to take off an objection made to the Korân by the infidels, for condescending to speak of such insignificant insects as the spider, the pismire, the bee, &c.3
xi.e., Ye were dead while in the loins of your fathers, and he gave you life in your mothers wombs; and after death ye shall be again raised at the resurrection.4
y Concerning the creation of Adam, here intimated, the Mohammedans have several peculiar traditions. They say the angels, Gabriel, Michael, and Israfil, were sent by God, one after another, to fetch for that purpose seven handfuls of earth from different depths, and of different colours (whence some account for the various complexion of mankind5); but the earth being apprehensive of the consequence, and desiring them to represent her fear to God that the creature he designed to form would rebel against him, and draw down his curse upon her, they returned without performing God’s command; whereupon he sent Azraïl on the same errand, who executed his commission without remorse, for which reason God appointed that angel to separate the souls from the bodies, being therefore called the angel of death. The earth he had taken was carried into Arabia, to a place between Mecca and Tayef, where, being first kneaded by the angels, it was afterwards fashioned by God himself into a human form, and left to dry6 for the space of forty days, or, as others say, as many years, the angels in the meantime often visiting it, and Eblis (then one of the angels who are nearest to God’s presence, afterwards the devil) among the rest; but he, not contented with looking on it, kicked it with his foot till it rung and knowing God designed that creature to be his superior, took a secret resolution never to acknowledge him as such. After this, God animated the figure of clay and endued it with an intelligent soul, and when he had placed him in paradise, formed Eve out of his left side.7
z This story Mohammed borrowed from the Jewish traditions, which say that the angels having spoken of man with some contempt when God consulted them about his creation, God made answer that the man was wiser than they; and to convince them of it, he brought all kinds of animals to them, and asked them their names; which they not being able to tell, he put the same question to the man, who named them one after another; and being asked his own name and God’s name, he answered very justly, and gave God the name of JEHOVAH1. The angels’ adoring of Adam is also mentioned in the Talmud.2
a The original word signifies properly to prostrate one’s self till the forehead touches the ground, which is the humblest posture of adoration, and strictly due to GOD only; but it is sometimes, as in this place, used to express that civil worship or homage, which may be paid to creatures.3
b This occasion of the devil’s fall has some affinity with an opinion which has been pretty much entertained among Christians,4 viz., that the angels being informed of GOD’S intention to create man after his own image, and to dignify human nature by CHRIST’S assuming it, some of them, thinking their glory to be eclipsed thereby, envied man’s happiness, and so revolted. 3 Yahya. 4 Jallalo’ddin. 5 Al Termedi, from a tradition of Abu Musa al Ashari 6 Kor. c. 55. 7 Khondamir. Jallalo’ddin. Comment. in Korân, &c. Vide D’Herbelot, Biblioth. Orient. p. 55. 1 Vide Rivin. Serpent. seduct. p. 56. 2 R. Moses Haddarshan, in Bereshit rabbah. 3 Jallalo’ddin. 4 Irenæus, Lact. Greg. Nyssen. &c.
And we said, O Adam, dwell thou and thy wife in the garden,c and eat of the fruit thereof plentifully wherever ye will; but approach not this tree,d lest ye become of the number of the transgressors.
But Satan caused them to forfeit paradise,e and turned them out of the state of happiness wherein they had been; whereupon we said, Get ye down,f the one of you an enemy unto the other; and there shall be a dwelling-place for you on earth, and a provision for a season.
And Adam learned words of prayer from his LORD, and GOD turned unto him, for he is easy to be reconciled and merciful.
We said, Get ye all down from hence; hereafter shall there come unto you a direction from me,g and whoever shall follow my direction, on them shall no fear come, neither shall they be grieved;
but they who shall be unbelievers, and accuse our signsh of falsehood, they shall be the companions of hell fire, therein shall they remain forever.
O children of Israeli, remember my favor wherewith I have favored you; and perform your covenant with me, and I will perform my covenant with you; and revere me: and believe in the revelation which I have sent down, confirming that which is with you, and be not the first who believe not therein, neither exchange my signs for a small price; and fear me. c Mohammed, as appears by what presently follows, does not place this garden or paradise on earth, but in the seventh heaven.5
d Concerning this tree or the forbidden fruit, the Mohammedans, as well as the Christians, have various opinions. Some say it was an ear of wheat; some will have it to have been a fig-tree, and others a vine.6 The story of the Fall is told, with some further circumstances, in the beginning of the seventh chapter.
e They have a tradition that the devil offering to get into paradise to tempt Adam, was not admitted by the guard; whereupon he begged of the animals, one after another, to carry him in, that he might speak to Adam and his wife; but they all refused him except the serpent, who took him between two of his teeth, and so introduced him. They add that the serpent was then of a beautiful form, and not in the shape he now bears.7
f The Mohammedans say that when they were cast down from paradise, Adam fell on the isle of Ceylon or Serendib, and Eve near Joddah (the port of Mecca) in Arabia; and that after a separation of 200 years, Adam was, on his repentance, conducted by the angel Gabriel to a mountain near Mecca, where he found and knew his wife, the mountain being thence named Arafat; and that he afterwards retired with her to Ceylon, where they continued to propagate their species.8
It may not be improper here to mention another tradition concerning the gigantic stature of our first parents. Their prophet, they say, affirmed Adam to have been as tall as a high palm-tree;9 but this would be too much in proportion, if that were really the print of his foot, which is pretended to be such, on the top of a mountain in the isle of Ceylon, thence named Pico de Adam, and by the Arab writers Rahûn, being somewhat above two spans long10 (though others say it is 70 cubits long, and that when Adam set one foot here, he had the other in the sea)11; and too little, if Eve were of so enormous a size, as is said, when her head lay on one hill near Mecca, her knees rested on two others in the plain, about two musket-shots asunder.12
g GOD here promises Adam that his will should be revealed to him and his posterity; which promise the Mohammedans believe was fulfilled at several times by the ministry of several prophets, from Adam himself, who was the first, to Mohammed, who was the last. The number of books revealed unto Adam they say was ten.1
h This word has various significations in the Korân; sometimes, as in this passage, it signifies