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The Holy Qur'an/Al-i-Imran

< The Holy Qur'an
Baqara The Holy Qur'an
3. Āl-i-'Imrān, or The Family of 'Imrān , translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali
An-Nisa
Third edition in 1938.



Introduction and Summary

Introduction To Sūra 3 (Āl-i-'Imrān).

This Sūra is cognate to Sūra 2, but the matter is here treated from a different point of view. The references to Badr (Ramaḏẖān, H. 2) and Uḥud (Shawwāl, H. 3) give a clue to the dates of those passages.

Like Sūra 2, it takes a general view of the religious history of mankind, with special reference to the People of the Book, proceeds to explain the birth of the new People of Islam and their ordinances, insists on the need of struggle and fighting in the cause of Truth, and exhorts those who have been blessed with Islam to remain constant in Faith, pray for guidance, and maintain their spiritual hope for the Future.

The new points of view developed are: (1) The emphasis is here laid on the duty of the Christians to accept the new light; the Christians are here specially appealed to, as the Jews were specially appealed to in the last Sūra; (2) the lessons of the battles of Badr and Uḥud are set out for the Muslim community; and (3) the responsibilities of that community are insisted on both internally and in their relations to those outside.

Summary.—God having revealed His Book, confirming previous revelations, we must accept it in all reverence, try to understand its meaning, and reject the base motives which make Truth unacceptable to those who reject Faith. (3:1-20, and C. 54.)

The People of the Book had only a portion of the Book and if they reject the complete Book, the People of Faith must part company with them, and their day is done. (3:21-30, and C. 55.)

The story of the family of 'Imrān (the father of Moses) leads us from the Mosaic Dispensation to the miracles connected with the birth of Jesus and his ministry. (3:31-63, and C. 56.)

God's revelation being continuous, all people are invited to accept its completion in Islam, and controversies are deprecated. The Muslims are asked to hold together in union and harmony, and are promised security from harm from their enemies, and enjoined to seek friendship among their own people. (3:64-120, and C. 57.)

The battle of Badr showed how God helps and upholds the virtuous, and how patience, perseverance, and discipline find their reward; on the other hand, the lessons of Uḥud must be learnt, not in despair, but in the exercise of the higher virtues and in contempt of pain and death. (3:121-148, and C. 58.)

The misfortunes at Uḥud are shown to be due to the indiscipline of some, the indecision and selfishness of others, and cowardice on the part of the Hypocrites, but no enemy can hurt God's Cause. (3:149-180, and C. 59.)

The taunts of the enemy should be disregarded, and sincere prayer offered to God, Who would grant His servants success and prosperity. (3:181-200, and C. 60.)

Confirmation of previous Revelations: Acceptance of Faith, 3:1-20

C. 54.(3:1-20)—The Qur'ān revelation has, step by step,
Confirmed the Law of Moses and the Gospel
Of Jesus. It is a guide from God,
And appeals to reason and understanding.
Let us understand it rightly, in reverence
And truth, unswayed by those who reject
Faith, and seeking ever the reward
Of the pleasure of God, through firmness,
Patience, discipline, and charity, and offering others
The light which we have ourselves received.

Sūra 3.

Āl-i-'Imrān, or The Family of 'Imrān.

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

1 Alif Lam Mim.[1]

2 God! There is no god but He,—the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal.[2]

3 It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel[3] (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the Criterion[4] (of judgment between right and wrong).

4 Then those who reject Faith in the Signs of God will suffer the severest penalty, and God is Exalted in Might, Lord of Retribution.

5 From God, verily nothing is hidden on earth or in the heavens.

6 He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He pleases.[5] There is no god but He, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.

7 He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation[6] of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except God. And those who are firmly grounded[7] in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.

8 "Our Lord!" (they say), "Let not our hearts deviate now after Thou hast guided us, but grant us mercy from Thine own Presence; for Thou art the Grantor of bounties without measure.

9 "Our Lord! Thou art He that will gather mankind together against a day about which there is no doubt; for God never fails in His promise."[8]

Section 2.

10 Those who reject Faith,—neither their possessions nor their (numerous) progeny will avail them aught against God: they are themselves but fuel for the Fire.

11 (Their plight will be) no better than that of the people of Pharaoh,[9] and their predecessors: they denied our Signs, and God called them to account for their sins. For God is strict in punishment.

12 Say to those who reject Faith: "Soon will ye be vanquished[10] and gathered together to Hell,—an evil bed indeed (to lie on)!

13 "There has already been for you a Sign in the two armies that met (in combat):[11] One was fighting in the cause of God, the other resisting God; these saw with their own eyes twice their number.[12] But God doth support with His aid whom He pleaseth. In this is a warning for such as have eyes to see."

14 Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet:[13] Women and sons; Heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world's life; but in nearness to God is the best of the goals (to return to).

15 Say: Shall I give you glad tidings of things Far better than those? For the righteous are Gardens in nearness to their Lord, with rivers flowing beneath; therein is their eternal home; with Companions pure (and holy);[14] and the good pleasure of God. For in God's sight are (all) His servants,—

16 (Namely), those who say: "Our Lord! we have indeed believed: forgive us, then, our sins, and save us from the agony of the Fire;"—

17 Those who show patience, firmness and self-control;[15] who are true (in word and deed); who worship devoutly; who spend (in the way of God); and who pray for forgiveness in the early hours of the morning.[16]

18 There is no god but He: that is the witness of God, His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm[17] on justice. There is no god but He, the Exalted in Power, the Wise.

19 The Religion before God is Islam (submission to His Will): Nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other,[18] after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of God, God is swift in calling to account.

20 So if they dispute with thee, say: "I have submitted my whole self[19] to God and so have those who follow me." And say to the People of the Book and to those who are unlearned:[20] "Do ye (also) submit yourselves?" If they do, they are in right guidance, but if they turn back, thy duty is to convey the Message; and in God's sight are (all) His servants.[21]

Partial Truths, and the Completed Book of God: Friendship with one's own people, 3:21-30

C. 55.(3:21-30)—If the People who received
Earlier revelations confine themselves
To partial truths, and in their pride
Shut their eyes to the whole of the Book
Of God, their day is done:
Let the Muslims seek the society
And friendship of their own, and trust
In God, who knows all, and holds
Every soul responsible for its own deeds.

Section 3.

21 As to those who deny the Signs of God and in defiance of right,[22] slay the prophets, and slay those who teach just dealing with mankind,[23] announce to them a grievous penalty.

22 They are those whose works will bear no fruit[24] in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.

23 Hast thou not turned thy vision to those who have been given a portion[25] of the Book? They are invited to the Book of God, to settle their dispute, but a party of them turn back and decline (the arbitration).[26]

24 This because they say: "The Fire shall not touch us but for a few numbered days":[27] for their forgeries deceive them as to their own religion.

25 But how (will they fare) when we gather them together against a day about which there is no doubt, and each soul will be paid out just what it has earned, without (favour or) injustice?

26 Say: "O God! Lord of Power (and Rule), Thou givest Power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off Power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: in Thy hand is all Good.[28] Verily, over all things Thou hast power.

27 "Thou causest the Night to gain on the Day, and Thou causest the Day to gain on the Night;[29] Thou bringest the Living out of the Dead, and Thou bringest the Dead out of the Living;[30] and Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou pleasest, without measure."[31]

28 Let not the Believers take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than Believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from God: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them.[32] But God cautions you (to remember) Himself; for the final goal is to God.

29 Say: "Whether ye hide what is in your hearts or reveal it, God knows it all: He knows what is in the heavens, and what is on earth. And God has power over all things.

30 "On the Day when every soul will be confronted with all the good it has done, and all the evil it has done, it will wish there were a great distance between it and its evil. But God cautions you (to remember) Himself. And God is full of kindness to those that serve Him."

Apostles form one Brotherhood: Birth of Mary, Yaḥyā and Jesus, 3:31-63

C. 56.(3:31-63)—God’s truth is continuous, and His Apostles
From Adam, through Noah and Abraham,
Down to the last of the Prophets, Muḥammad,
Form one brotherhood. Of the progeny
Of ’Imrān, father of Moses and Aaron,
Sprang a woman, who devoted
Her unborn offspring to God.
The child was Mary the mother of Jesus.
Her cousin was the wife of the priest
Zakarīya, who took charge of Mary.
To Zakarīya, in his old age, was born
A son Yaḥyā, amid prodigies:
Yaḥyā was the herald of Jesus
The son of Mary, and was known
As John the Baptist. Jesus
Was of virgin birth,
And performed many miracles.
But those to whom he came as Prophet
Rejected him, and plotted for his death.
Their plots failed, for God's Plan
Is above man’s plots. So will it be
With Islam, the Truth from all eternity.

Section 4.

31 Say: "If ye do love God, follow me: God will love you and forgive you your sins: For God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

32 Say: "Obey God and His Apostle": But if they turn back, God loveth not those who reject Faith.

33 God did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of 'Imrān above all people,—

34 Offspring, one of the other:[33] And God heareth and knoweth all things.

35 Behold! a woman of 'Imrān[34] said: "O my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service:[35] So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things."

36 When she was delivered, she said: "O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!"—and God knew best what she brought forth—[36]"And no wise is the male like the female.[37] I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Evil One, the Rejected."

37 Right graciously did her Lord accept her: He made her grow in purity and beauty: To the care of Zakarīya was she assigned. Every time that he entered (her) chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?" She said: "From God: for God provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure."[38]

38 There did Zakarīya pray to his Lord, saying: "O my Lord! Grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure: for Thou art He that heareth prayer![39]

39 While he was standing in prayer in the chamber, the angels called unto him: "God doth give thee glad tidings of Yaḥyā, witnessing the truth of a Word from God,[40] and (be besides) noble, chaste, and a prophet,—of the (goodly) company of the righteous."

40 He said: "O my Lord! How shall I have son, seeing I am very old, and my wife is barren?" "Thus," was the answer, "Doth God accomplish what He willeth."

41 He said: "O my Lord! Give me a Sign!" "Thy Sign," was the answer, "Shall be that thou shalt speak to no man for three days but with signals. Then celebrate the praises of thy Lord again and again, and glorify Him in the evening and in the morning."

Section 5.

42 Behold! the angels said: "O Mary! God hath chosen thee and purified thee—chosen thee above the women of all nations.[41]

43 "O Mary! worship thy Lord devoutly: Prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down."

44 This is part of the tidings of the things unseen,[42] which We reveal unto thee (O Apostle!) by inspiration: Thou wast not with them when they cast lots with arrows,[43] as to which of them should be charged with the care of Mary: Nor wast thou with them when they disputed (the point).[44]

45 Behold! the angels said: "O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus,[45] the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God;[46]

46 "He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity.[47] And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous."

47 She said: "O my Lord![48] How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?" He said: "Even so: God createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is!

48 "And God will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel,

49 "And (appoint him) an apostle to the Children of Israel, (with this message): "'I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God's leave:[49] And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by God's leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store[50] in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe;

50 "'(I have come to you), to attest the Law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear God, and obey me.

51 "'It is God Who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is a Way that is straight.'"

52 When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: "Who will be My helpers to (the work of) God?" Said the Disciples: "We are God's helpers: We believe in God, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims.[51]

53 "Our Lord! we believe in what Thou hast revealed, and we follow the Apostle; then write us down among those who bear witness."

54 And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and God too planned,[52] and the best of planners is God.

Section 6.

55 Behold! God said: "O Jesus! I will take thee[53] and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods)[54] of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior[55] to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.[56]

56 "As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help."

57 "As to those who believe and work righteousness, God will pay them (in full) their reward; but God loveth not those who do wrong."

58 "This is what we rehearse unto thee of the Signs and the Message of Wisdom."

59 The similitude of Jesus before God is as that of Adam;[57] He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be". And he was.

60 The Truth (comes) from God alone; so be not of those who doubt.[58]

61 If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge hath come to thee, say: "Come! let us gather together,—our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of God on those who lie!"[59]

62 This is the true account:[60] There is no god except God; and God—He is indeed the Exalted in Power, the Wise.

63 But if they turn back, God hath full knowledge of those who do mischief.

Seek common principles, avoid dissembling and disputing: True Religion, 3:64-120

C. 57.(3:64-120)—Islam doth invite all people
To the Truth: there is no cause
For dissembling or disputing.
False are the people who corrupt
God’s truth, or hinder men
From coming to God. Let the Muslims
Hold together in unity and discipline,
Knowing that they have a mission
Of righteousness for humanity.
No harm can come to them.
Though there are good men and true
In other Faiths, Muslims must
Be true to their own Brotherhood.
They should seek help and friendship
From their own, and stand firm
In constancy and patient perseverance.

Section 7.

64 Say: "O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than God."[61] If then they turn back, say ye: "Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to God's Will).

65 Ye People of the Book! Why dispute ye about Abraham, when the Law and the Gospel were not revealed till after him? Have ye no understanding?

66 Ah! Ye are those who fell to disputing (even) in matters of which ye had some knowledge![62] But why dispute ye in matters of which ye have no knowledge? It is God who knows, and ye who know not!

67 Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but he was true in Faith, and bowed his will to God's (which is Islam), and he joined not gods with God.[63]

68 Without doubt, among men, the nearest of kin to Abraham, are those who follow him, as are also this Apostle and those who believe: And God is the Protector of those who have faith.

69 It is the wish of a section of the People of the Book to lead you astray. But they shall lead astray (not you), but themselves, and they do not perceive!

70 Ye People of the Book! Why reject ye the Signs of God, of which ye are (yourselves) witnesses?

71 Ye People of the Book! Why do ye clothe Truth with falsehood, and conceal the Truth, while ye have knowledge?[64]

Section 8.

72 A section of the People of the Book say: "Believe in the morning[65] what is revealed to the Believers, but reject it at the end of the day; perchance they may (themselves) turn back;

73 "And believe no one unless he follows your religion." Say: "True guidance is the guidance of God: (Fear ye) lest a revelation[66] be sent to someone (else) like unto that which was sent unto you? Or that those (receiving such revelation) should engage you in argument before your Lord?"[67] Say: "All bounties are in the hand of God: He granteth them to whom He pleaseth: And God careth for all, and He knoweth all things."

74 For His Mercy He specially chooseth whom He pleaseth; for God is the Lord of bounties unbounded.

75 Among the People of the Book are some who, if entrusted with a hoard of gold,[68] will (readily) pay it back; others, who, if entrusted with a single silver coin,[69] will not repay it unless thou constantly stoodest demanding, because, they say, "there is no call on us (to keep faith) with these ignorant (Pagans)."[70] but they tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it.

76 Nay.—Those that keep their plighted faith and act aright,—verily God loves those who act aright.

77 As for those who sell the faith they owe to God and their own plighted word for a small price,[71] they shall have no portion in the Hereafter: Nor will God (deign to) speak to them or look at them on the Day of Judgment, nor will He cleanse them[72] (of sin): they shall have a grievous penalty.

78 There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (As they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, "That is from God," but it is not from God: It is they who tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it!

79 It is not (possible) that a man, to whom is given the Book, and Wisdom, and the Prophetic Office, should say to people: "Be ye my worshippers rather than God's":[73] on the contrary (he would say) "Be ye worshippers of Him who is truly the Cherisher of all: for ye have taught the Book and ye have studied it earnestly."

80 Nor would he instruct you to take angels and prophets[74] for Lords and Patrons. What! would he bid you to unbelief after ye have bowed your will (to God in Islam)?

Section 9.

81 Behold! God took the Covenant of the Prophets,[75] saying: "I give you a Book and Wisdom; then comes to you an Apostle, confirming what is with you; do ye believe in him and render him help." God said: "Do ye agree, and take this my Covenant as binding on you?" They said: "We agree." He said: "Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses."

82 If any turn back after this, they are perverted transgressors.

83 Do they seek for other than the Religion of God?—while all creatures in the heavens and on earth have, willing or unwilling,[76] bowed to His Will (accepted Islam), and to Him shall they all be brought back.

84 Say: "We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismā'īl, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam)."

85 If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to God),[77] never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).

86 How shall God guide those who reject Faith after they accepted it and bore witness that the Apostle was true and that Clear Signs had come unto them? But God guides not a people unjust.

87 Of such the reward is that on them (rests) the curse of God, of His angels, and of all mankind;—

88 In that will they dwell; nor will their penalty be lightened, nor respite be their (lot);—[78]

89 Except for those that repent (even) after that, and make amends; for verily God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

90 But those who reject Faith after they accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of Faith,—never will their repentance be accepted; for they are those who have (of set purpose) gone astray.

91 As to those who reject Faith, and die rejecting,—never would be accepted from any such as much gold as the earth contains, though they should offer it for ransom. For such is (in store) a penalty grievous, and they will find no helpers.

Section 10.

92 By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give (freely) of that[79] which ye love; and whatever ye give, of a truth God knoweth it well.

93 All food was lawful to the children of Israel, except what Israel[80] made unlawful for itself, before the Law (of Moses) was revealed. Say: “Bring ye the Law and study it, if ye be men of truth.”

94 If any, after this, invent a lie and attribute it to God, they are indeed unjust wrong-doers.

95 Say: “God speaketh the Truth: follow the religion of Abraham, the sane in faith; he was not of the Pagans.”[81]

96 The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka:[82] full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings:[83]

97 In it are Signs manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham;[84] whoever enters it attains security;[85] pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to God, those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, God stands not in need of any of his creatures.

98 Say: “O people of the Book! Why reject ye the signs of God, when God is Himself witness to all ye do?

99 Say: “O ye People of the Book! Why obstruct ye those who believe from the Path of God, seeking to make it crooked, while ye were yourselves witnesses (to God’s Covenant)?[86] But God is not unmindful of all that ye do.”

100 O ye who believe! If ye listen to a faction among the People of the Book, they would (indeed) render you apostates after ye have believed!

101 And how would ye deny Faith while unto you are rehearsed the Signs of God, and among you lives the Apostle? Whoever holds firmly to God will be shown a way that is straight.

Section 11.

102 O ye who believe! Fear God as He should be[87] feared, and die not except in a state[88] of Islam.

103 And hold fast all together, by the Rope[89] which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God’s favor on you; for ye were enemies[90] and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the Pit of Fire and He saved you from it. Thus doth God make His signs clear to you: that ye may be guided.

104 Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity.[91]

105 Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving clear Signs; for them is a dreadful penalty,—

106 On the day when some faces will be (lit up with) white, and some faces will be (in the gloom of) black:[92] to those whose faces will be black (will be said): “Did ye reject Faith after accepting it? Taste then the penalty for rejecting Faith."

107 But those whose faces will be (lit with) white,— they will be in (the light of) God’s Mercy: therein to dwell (for ever).

108 These are the Signs of God: We rehearse them to thee in Truth: and God means no injustice to any of His creatures.

109 To God belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth: to Him do all questions go back (for decision).[93]

Section 12.

110 Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in God.[94] If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.

111 They will do you no harm, barring a trifling annoyance; if they come out to fight you, they will show you their backs, and no help shall they get.

112 Shame is pitched over them[95] (Like a tent) wherever they are found, except when under a covenant (of protection) from God and from men; they draw on themselves wrath from God, and pitched over them is (the tent of) destitution. This because they rejected the Signs of God, and slew the Prophets in defiance of right;[96] this because they rebelled and transgressed beyond bounds.

113 Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (for the right); they rehearse the Signs of God all night long, and they prostrate themselves[97] in adoration.

114 They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous.

115 Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for God knoweth well those that do right.

116 Those who reject Faith,— neither their possessions nor their (numerous) progeny will avail them aught against God. They will be companions of the Fire,—dwelling therein (forever).[98]

117 What they spend in the life of this (material) world may be likened to a Wind which brings a nipping frost: It strikes and destroys the harvest of men who have wronged their own souls: it is not God that hath wronged them, but they wrong themselves.[99]

118 O ye who believe! Take not into your intimacy those outside your ranks: They will not fail to corrupt you. They only desire your ruin: Rank hatred has already appeared from their mouths: What their hearts conceal is far worse. We have made plain to you the Signs, if ye have wisdom.

119 Ah! ye are those who love them, but they love you not,— though ye believe in the whole of the Book.[100] When they meet you, they say, “We believe”:[101] But when they are alone, they bite off the very tips of their fingers at you in their rage. Say: “Perish in you rage; God knoweth well all the secrets of the heart.”

120 If aught that is good befalls you, it grieves them; but if some misfortune overtakes you, they rejoice at it. But if ye are constant and do right, not the least harm will their cunning do to you; for God compasseth round about all that they do.

God's help will come to those who strive, as at Badr: We must learn from our misfortunes, as at Uḥud, 3:121-148

C. 58.(3:121-148)—God's help comes to those who strive
With firmness, as it did at Badr.
Much can be learnt from the misfortunes
At Uḥud. It is not for us
To question God's Plan, which is full
Of wisdom and mercy for all. Our duty
Is to stand firm and unswerving,
To obey, and in steadfast courage
To persevere, to retrieve our mistakes,
Not in grief and despair, but in firm hope
In God and in contempt of pain and death.

Section 13.

121 Remember that morning thou didst leave thy household (early) to post the Faithful at their stations for battle:[102] And God heareth and knoweth all things:

122 Remember two of your parties[103] meditated cowardice; but God was their protector, and in God should the faithful (ever) put their trust.

123 God had helped you at Badr, when ye were a contemptible little force; then fear God; thus may ye show your gratitude.[104]

124 Remember thou saidst to the Faithful: “Is it not enough for you that God should help you with three thousand angels (specially) sent down?[105]

125 “Yea,—if ye remain firm, and act aright, even if the enemy should rush here on you in hot haste, your Lord would help you with five thousand angels making a terrific onslaught.[106]

126 God made it but a message of hope for you, and an assurance to your hearts: (in any case) there is no help except from God. The Exalted, the Wise:[107]

127 That He might cut off a fringe of the Unbelievers[108] or expose them to infamy, and they should then be turned back, frustrated of their purpose.

128 Not for thee, (but for God), is the decision: Whether He turn in mercy to them, or punish them; for they are indeed wrong-doers.[109]

129 To God belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth. He forgiveth whom He pleaseth and punisheth whom He pleaseth; but God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Section 14.

130 O ye who believe! Devour not Usury,[110] doubled and multiplied; but fear God; that ye may (really) prosper.[111]

131 Fear the Fire, which is prepared for those who reject Faith:

132 And obey God and the Apostle; that ye may obtain mercy.

133 Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth,[112] prepared for the righteous,—

134 Those who spend (freely),[113] whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;— for God loves those who do good;—

135 And those who,[114] having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls,[115] earnestly bring God to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins,— and who can forgive sins except God?— and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done.

136 For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath,— an eternal dwelling: How excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)!

137 Many were the Ways of Life[116] that have passed away before you: travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth.

138 Here is a plain statement to men, a guidance and instruction to those who fear God!

139 So lose not heart, nor fall into despair: For ye must gain mastery if ye are true in Faith.

140 If a wound hath touched you,[117] be sure a similar wound hath touched the others. Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns: that God may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself from your ranks martyr-witnesses (to Truth). And God loveth not those that do wrong.

141 God's object also is to purge[118] those that are true in Faith and to deprive of blessing those that resist Faith.

142 Did ye think that ye would enter Heaven[119] without God testing those of you who fought hard (in His Cause) and remained steadfast?

143 Ye did indeed wish for Death before ye met him: Now ye have seen him with your own eyes, (and ye flinch!)

Section 15.

144 Muhammad is no more[120] than an Apostle: many were the Apostles that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to God; but God (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude.

145 Nor can a soul die except by God's leave, the term being fixed as by writing. If any do desire a reward in this life, We shall give it to him; and if any do desire a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give it[121] to him. And swiftly shall We reward those that (serve us with) gratitude.

146 How many of the Prophets fought (in God's way), and with them (fought) large bands of godly men? But they never lost heart if they met with disaster in God's way, nor did they weaken (in will) nor give in. And God Loves those who are firm and steadfast.

147 All that they said was: "Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and anything We may have done that transgressed our duty: Establish our feet firmly, and help us against those that resist Faith."

148 And God gave them a reward in this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter. For God loveth those who do good.

Dangers of indiscipline, disputes, loss of courage, or pursuit of selfish ends: Glorious are the Martyrs without fear, 3:149-160

C. 59.(3:149-160)—Uḥud showed how dangerous is was
To lend ear to enemy suggestions,
To disobey orders, dispute, lose courage,
Or seek selfish ends; some even followed
The evil course of turning back.
But great is God's mercy: where He helps,
No harm can come. Trust your Leader.
The Hypocrites, in withdrawing from battle,
Were really helping the Unbelievers,
But glorious were those who knew
No fear: those killed in the Cause of God
Yet live and thrive and do rejoice;
And never can those who fight against Faith
Hurt in the least the Cause of God.

Section 16.

149 O ye who believe! If ye obey the Unbelievers, they will drive you back on your heels, and ye will turn back (from Faith) to your own loss.

150 Nay, Allah is your protector, and He is the best of helpers.

151 Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers!

152 Allah did indeed fulfil His promise to you when ye with His permission Were about to annihilate your enemy,-until ye flinched and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed it after He brought you in sight (of the booty) which ye covet. Among you are some that hanker after this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then did He divert you from your foes in order to test you but He forgave you: For Allah is full of grace to those who believe.

153 Behold! ye were climbing up the high ground, without even casting a side glance at any one, and the Messenger in your rear was calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for (the booty) that had escaped you and for (the ill) that had befallen you. For Allah is well aware of all that ye do.

154 After (the excitement) of the distress, He sent down calm on a band of you overcome with slumber, while another band was stirred to anxiety by their own feelings: moved by wrong suspicions of Allah; suspicions due to ignorance. They said: "What affair is this of ours?" Say thou: "Indeed, this affair is wholly Allah's." They hide in their minds what they dare not reveal to thee. They say (to themselves): "If we had had anything to do with this affair, We should not have been in the slaughter here." Say: "Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death"; but (all this was) that Allah might test what is in your breasts and purge what is in your hearts. For Allah knoweth well the secrets of your hearts.

155 Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts Met,-it was Satan who caused them to fail, because of some (evil) they had done. But Allah Has blotted out (their fault): For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing.

156 O ye who believe! Be not like the Unbelievers, who say of their brethren, when they are travelling through the Earth or engaged in fighting: "If they had stayed with us, they would not have died, or been slain." This that Allah may make it a cause of sighs and regrets in their hearts. It is Allah that gives Life and Death, and Allah sees well all that ye do.

157 And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they could amass.

158 And if ye die, or are slain, Lo! it is unto Allah that ye are brought together.

159 It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (Their faults), and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).

160 If Allah helps you, none can overcome you: If He forsakes you, who is there, after that, that can help you? in Allah, then, Let believers put their trust.

161 No prophet could (ever) be false to his trust. If any person is so false, He shall, on the Day of Judgment, restore what he misappropriated; then shall every soul receive its due,- whatever it earned,- and none shall be dealt with unjustly.

162 Is the man who follows the good pleasure of Allah Like the man who draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and whose abode is in Hell?- A woeful refuge!

163 They are in varying gardens in the sight of Allah, and Allah sees well all that they do.

164 Allah did confer a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah, sanctifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error.

165 What! When a single disaster smites you, although ye smote (your enemies) with one twice as great, do ye say?- "Whence is this?" Say (to them): "It is from yourselves: For Allah hath power over all things."

166 What ye suffered on the day the two armies Met, was with the leave of Allah, in order that He might test the believers,-

167 And the Hypocrites also. These were told: "Come, fight in the way of Allah, or (at least) drive (The foe from your city)." They said: "Had we known how to fight, we should certainly have followed you." They were that day nearer to Unbelief than to Faith, saying with their lips what was not in their hearts but Allah hath full knowledge of all they conceal.

168 (They are) the ones that say, (of their brethren slain), while they themselves sit (at ease): "If only they had listened to us they would not have been slain." Say: "Avert death from your own selves, if ye speak the truth."

169 Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord;

170 They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve.

171 They glory in the Grace and the bounty from Allah, and in the fact that Allah suffereth not the reward of the Faithful to be lost (in the least).

172 Of those who answered the call of Allah and the Messenger, even after being wounded, those who do right and refrain from wrong have a great reward;-

173 Men said to them: "A great army is gathering against you": And frightened them: But it (only) increased their Faith: They said: "For us Allah sufficeth, and He is the best disposer of affairs."

174 And they returned with Grace and bounty from Allah: no harm ever touched them: For they followed the good pleasure of Allah: And Allah is the Lord of bounties unbounded.

175 It is only the Evil One that suggests to you the fear of his votaries: Be ye not afraid of them, but fear Me, if ye have Faith.

176 Let not those grieve thee who rush headlong into Unbelief: Not the least harm will they do to Allah: Allah's plan is that He will give them no portion in the Hereafter, but a severe punishment.

177 Those who purchase Unbelief at the price of faith,- not the least harm will they do to Allah, but they will have a grievous punishment.

178 Let not the Unbelievers think that our respite to them is good for themselves: We grant them respite that they may grow in their iniquity: But they will have a shameful punishment.

179 Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which ye are now, until He separates what is evil from what is good nor will He disclose to you the secrets of the Unseen. But He chooses of His Messengers (For the purpose) whom He pleases. So believe in Allah. And His messengers: And if ye believe and do right, ye have a reward without measure.

180 And let not those who covetously withhold of the gifts which Allah Hath given them of His Grace, think that it is good for them: Nay, it will be the worse for them: soon shall the things which they covetously withheld be tied to their necks Like a twisted collar, on the Day of Judgment. To Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.

181 Allah hath heard the taunt of those who say: "Truly, Allah is indigent and we are rich!"- We shall certainly record their word and (their act) of slaying the prophets in defiance of right, and We shall say: "Taste ye the penalty of the Scorching Fire!

182 "This is because of the (unrighteous deeds) which your hands sent on before ye: For Allah never harms those who serve Him."

183 They (also) said: "Allah took our promise not to believe in an messenger unless He showed us a sacrifice consumed by Fire (From heaven)." Say: "There came to you messengers before me, with clear Signs and even with what ye ask for: why then did ye slay them, if ye speak the truth?"

184 Then if they reject thee, so were rejected messengers before thee, who came with Clear Signs, Books of dark prophecies, and the Book of Enlightenment.

185 Every soul shall have a taste of death: And only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of Life): For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception.

186 Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves; and ye shall certainly Hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that will be a determining factor in all affairs.

187 And remember Allah took a covenant from the People of the Book, to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it; but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And vile was the bargain they made!

188 Think not that those who exult in what they have brought about, and who love to be praised for what they have not done; that they can escape the penalty. For them is a penalty Grievous indeed.

189 To Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth; and Allah hath power over all things.

190 Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding,-

191 Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (With the thought): "Our Lord! not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.

192 "Our Lord! any whom Thou dost admit to the Fire, Truly Thou coverest with shame, and never will wrong-doers Find any helpers!

193 "Our Lord! we have heard the call of one calling (Us) to Faith, 'Believe ye in the Lord,' and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, blot out from us our iniquities, and take to Thyself our souls in the company of the righteous.

194 "Our Lord! Grant us what Thou didst promise unto us through Thine messengers, and save us from shame on the Day of Judgment: For Thou never breakest Thy promise."

195 And their Lord hath accepted of them, and answered them: "Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: Ye are members, one of another: Those who have left their homes, or been driven out therefrom, or suffered harm in My Cause, or fought or been slain,- verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath;- A reward from the presence of Allah, and from His presence is the best of rewards."

196 Let not the strutting about of the Unbelievers through the land deceive thee:

197 Little is it for enjoyment: Their ultimate abode is Hell: what an evil bed (To lie on)!

198 On the other hand, for those who fear their Lord, are Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath; therein are they to dwell (for ever),- a gift from the presence of Allah; and that which is in the presence of Allah is the best (bliss) for the righteous.

199 And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in Allah, in the revelation to you, and in the revelation to them, bowing in humility to Allah: They will not sell the Signs of Allah for a miserable gain! For them is a reward with their Lord, and Allah is swift in account.

200 O ye who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah; that ye may prosper.

Contents

Translator's Notes

  1. 342. See note to 2:1.
  2. 343. Cf. 2:255.
  3. 344. In some editions the break between verses 3 and 4 occurs here in the middle of the sentence, but in the edition of Hāfiz 'Uthmān, followed by the Egyptian Concordance Fatḥ-ur-Raḥmān, the break occurs at the word Furqān. In verse-divisions our classicists have mainly followed rhythm. As the word Furqān from this point of view is parallel to the word Intiqām, which ends the next verse, I have accepted the verse-division at Furqān as more in consonance with Quranic rhythm. It makes no real difference to the numbering of the verses, as there is only a question of whether one line should go into verse 3 or verse 4.
    From this point onwards in this Sūra, M. M. A., followed by H. G. S., numbers the verses so that there is a deficiency of one compared with the accepted numbering in the most approved Texts, which I have followed, including that of the Egyptian Royal Edition and that of our Anjuman-i-Himāyat-i-Islām.
  4. 345. Criterion : Furqān : for meaning see 2:53 n. 68.
  5. 346. Who can penetrate the mystery of life when a new life is just being born, except God? The reference to the mystery of birth prepares us for the mystery of the birth Jesus mentioned in 3:41 and the following verses.
  6. 347. This passage gives us an important clue to the interpretation of the Holy Qur’ān. Broadly speaking it may be divided into two portions, not given separately, but intermingled; viz. (1) the nucleus or foundation of the Book, literally "the mother of the Book", and (2) the part which is figurative, metaphorical, or allegorical. It is very fascinating to take up the latter, and exercise our ingenuity about its inner meaning, but it refers to such profound spiritual matters that human language is inadequate to it, and though people of wisdom may get some light from it, no one should be dogmatic, as the final meaning is known to God alone. The Commentators usually understand the verses "of established meaning" (muḥkam) to refer to the categorical orders of the Sharī'at (or the Law), which are plain to everyone's understanding. But perhaps the meaning is wider: the “mother of the Book” must include the very foundation on which all Law rests, the essence of God’s Message, as distinguished from the various illustrative parables, allegories, and ordinances.
    If we refer to 11:1 and 39:23, we shall find that in a sense the whole of the Qur’ān has both "established meaning" and allegorical meaning. The division is not between the verses, but between the meanings to be attached to them. Each verse is but a Sign or Symbol: what it represents is something immediately applicable, and something eternal and independent of time and space,—the "Forms of Ideas" in Plato's Philosophy. The wise man will understand that there is an "essence" and an illustrative clothing given to the essence, throughout the Book. We must try to understand it as best we can, but not waste our energies in disputing about matters beyond our depth.
  7. 348. One reading, rejected by the majority of Commentators, but accepted by Mujāhid and others, would not make a break at the point here marked Waqfa Lāzim, but would run the two sentences together. In that case the construction would run: "No one knows its hidden meanings except God and those who are firm in knowledge. They say", etc.
  8. 349. This is the prayer of those who are firmly grounded in knowledge. The more they know, the more they realise how little they know of all the depths of Truth in the spiritual world. But they have Faith. The glimpses they get of Truth they wish to hold fast in their hearts, and they pray to God to preserve them from deviating even from what light they have got. They are sure of their eventual return to God, when all doubts will be solved.
  9. 350. From the beginning of the world, sin, oppression, arrogance, and want of Faith have gone together. The Pharaoh of the time of Moses relied upon his power, his territory, his armies, and his resources to mock at Moses the man of God and to oppress the people of Moses. God saved the Israelites and punished their oppressors through many plagues and calamities.
  10. 351. As Moses warned the Egyptians, so the warning is here sounded to the Pagan Arabs, the Jews and the Christians, and all who resisted Faith, that their resistance would be in vain. Already the battle of Badr (referred to in the next verse) had been a warning how Faith must conquer with the help of God. The next few decades saw the Byzantine and the Persian Empires overthrown because of their arrogance and their resistance to the Law of God.
  11. 352. This refers to the battle of Badr in Ramaḏẖān in the second year of the Hijra. The little exiled community of Mecca Muslims, with their friends in Medina had organised themselves into a God-fearing community, but were constantly in danger of being attacked by their Pagan enemies of Mecca, in alliance with some of the disaffected elements (Jews and Hypocrites) in or near Medina itself. The design of the Meccans was to gather all the resources they could, and with an overwhelming force, to crush and annihilate Muḥammad and his party. To this end Abū Sufyān was leading a richly-laden caravan from Syria to Mecca. He called for armed aid from Mecca. The battle was fought in the plain of Badr, about 50 miles south-west of Medina. The Muslim force consisted of only about 313 men, mostly unarmed, but they were led by Muḥammad, and they were fighting for their Faith. The Meccan army, well-armed and well-equipped, numbered over a thousand and had among its leaders some of the most experienced warriors of Arabia, including Abū Jahl, the inveterate foe and persecutor of Islam. Against all odds the Muslims won a brilliant victory, and many of the enemy leaders, including Abū Jahl, were killed.
  12. 353. It was impossible, without the miraculous aid of God, for such a small and ill-equipped force as was the Muslim band, to defeat the large and well-found force of the enemy. But their firmness, zeal, and discipline won them divine aid. Enemy prisoners stated that the enemy ranks saw the Muslim force to be many times larger than it was.
  13. 354. The pleasures of this world are first enumerated: women for love; sons for strength and pride; hoarded riches, which procure all luxuries; the best and finest pedigree horses; cattle, the measure of wealth in the ancient world, as well as the means and symbols of good farming in the modern world; and broad acres of well-tilled land. By analogy, we may include, for our mechanized age, machines of all kinds,—tractors, motor-cars, aeroplanes, the best internal-combustion engines, etc., etc. In “heaped-up hoards of gold and s1lver," the Arabic word translated hoards is qanāṭīr, plural of quintār, which literally means a Talent of 1,200 ounces of gold. That quantity of pure gold would coin into 5,097 sterling gold Sovereigns, each containing 123·274 grains of gold 22 carats fine. These at present prices (say, Rs. 20 to the sovereign) would worth more than a lakh of rupees. Heaped hoards of qanāṭīr would therefore be boundless wealth "as wish can cla1m".
  14. 355. Cf. 2:25 and n. 44.
  15. 356. Ṣabr (Ṣābirīn) includes many shades of meaning: I have specified three here, viz., patience, firmness, and self-control. See 2:45 and 2:153 and notes thereon.
  16. 357. True servants of God are described in 3:16 and 17. They have faith, humility, and hope (3:16); and they have certain virtues (3:17) viz., (1) patience, steadfastness, self-restraint, and all that goes under the full definition of Ṣabr; this shows a certain attitude of mind; (2) in all their dealings they are true and sincere as they are also in their promises and words; this marks them out in social conduct; (3) further, their spiritual worship is earnest and deep, an inner counterpart of their outward conduct; (4) their worship of God shows itself in their love of their fellow-men, for they are ready and liberal in charity; and (5) their self-discipline is so great that the first thing they do every morning is humbly to approach their God.
  17. 358. God Himself speaks to us through His revelations (through angels) and through His Creation, for all Nature glorifies God. No thinking mind, if it only judges the matter fairly, can fail to find the same witness in his own heart and conscience. All this points to the Unity of God. His exalted nature, and His wisdom.
  18. 359. Baḡyan: through envy, through selfish contumacy or obstinacy, through sheer contrary-mindedness, or desire to resist or rebel. Cf. 2:90, and 2:213.
  19. 360. Wajh: whole self. See n. 114 to 2:112.
  20. 361. The People of the Book may be supposed to know something about the previous religious history of mankind. To them the appeal should be easy and intelligible, as all Religion is one, and it is only being renewed in Islam. But the appeal is also made to the Pagan Arabs, who are unlearned, and who can well be expected to follow the example of one of their own, who received divine enlightenment, and was able to bring new knowledge to them. A great many of both these classes did so. But the few who resisted God’s grace, and actually threatened and persecuted those who believed, are told that God will look after His own.
  21. 362. Note the literary skill in the argument as it proceeds. The mystery of birth faintly suggests that we are coming to the story of Jesus. The exposition of the Book suggests that Islam is the same religion as that of the People of the Book. Next we are told that the People of the Book made their religion one-sided, and through the priesthood of the family of ‘Imrān, we are brought to the story of Jesus, who was rejected by a body of the Jews as Muḥammad was rejected by a body of both Jews and Christians.
  22. 363. Right: ḥaqq has many shades of meaning: (1) right, in the sense of having a right to something; (2) right, in the sense of straight conduct, as opposed to wrong; (3) truth; (4) justice. All these shades are implied here.
  23. 364. Examples of the Prophets slain were: "the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar": Matt. 23:35. Cf. Q. 2:61. n. 75. Again, John the Baptist (Yaḥyā, noble, chaste, a prophet, of the goodly company of the righteous, Q. 3:39), was bound, imprisoned, and beheaded, and his head presented to a dancing harlot: Matt. 14:1-11. An example of a just man in another nation, who taught righteousness and was put to death, was Socrates, the Greek philosopher.
  24. 365. Cf. 2:217, end.
  25. 366. A portion of the Book. I conceive that God’s revelation as a whole throughout the ages is "The Book". The Law of Moses, and the Gospel of Jesus were portions of the Book. The Qur’ān completes the revelation and is par excellence the Book of God.
  26. 367. The Commentators mention a particular incident when a dispute was submitted by the Jews for arbitration to the Holy Apostle. He appealed to the authority of their own books, but they tried to conceal and prevaricate. The general lesson is that the People of the Book should have been the first to welcome in Muḥammad the living exponent of the Message of God as a whole, and some of them did so; but others turned away from guilty arrogance, relying on corrupted texts and doctrines forged out of their own fancies, though they were not conformable to reason and good sense.
  27. 368. Cf. Q. 2:80.
  28. 369. Another glorious passage, full of meaning, both obvious and mystic. The governing phrase in it all is: "In Thy hand is all Good." What is the standard by which we may judge Good? It is God’s Will. Therefore when we submit to God’s Will, and real Islam illuminates us we see the highest Good. There has been and is much controversy as to what is the Highest Good. To the Muslim there is no difficulty: it is the Will of God. He must ever strive to learn and understand that Will. But once in that fortress, he is secure. He is not troubled with the nature of Evil. Evil is the negation of God's Will. Good is conformity to God's Will. He does not cry with impatience against many things which give him pain and sorrow. He knows that "God is in His world", and that God is Good. God's Will is another name for God's Plan. There is nothing arbitrary or haphazard. We do not see the whole Plan or Will. But we have Faith. All is, will be, must be, right in the end.
  29. 370. True in many senses. In every twenty-four hours, night merges into day, and day into night, and there is no clear boundary between them. In every solar year, the night gains on the day after the summer solstice, and the day gains on the night after the winter solstice. But further, if light and darkness are viewed as symbols of (a) knowledge and ignorance, (b) happiness and misery, (c) spiritual insight and spiritual blindness, God’s Plan or Will works here too as in the physical world, and in His hand is all Good.
  30. 371. We can interpret Dead and Living in even more senses than Day and Night: death physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual. Life and Death may also apply to collective, group, or national life. And who has ever solved the mystery of Life? But Faith refers is to God’s Will and Plan.
  31. 372. Again true in all the senses suggested in the two previous notes. The only true Reality is God. All else has its basis and sustenance in Him. Lest our little minds create fear out of "nicely calculated less or more", we are told at once that God’s bounty is without measure or account.
  32. 373. If Faith is a fundamental matter in our lives our associations and friendships will naturally be with those who share our Faith. "Evil communications corrupt good manners": and evil company may corrupt Faith. In our ordinary every-day affairs of business, we are asked to seek the help of Believers rather than Unbelievers. Only in this way can our community be strong in organisation and unity. But where there is no question of preference, or where in self-defence we have to take the assistance of those not belonging to our Faith, that is permissible. In any case we must not weaken our Brotherhood: we must try to make it stronger if possible.
  33. 374. The Prophets in the Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dispensation form one family literally. But the argument is wider. All men of God form spiritually one family. If you love and obey God, love and obey His Messenger who is actually present with you (in the flesh or in his teaching). Your love, obedience, and discipline will be the test of your Faith.
  34. 375. Now we begin the story of Jesus. As a prelude we have the birth of Mary and the parallel story of John the Baptist, Yaḥyā the son of Zakarīya. Yaḥyā's mother Elisabeth was a cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:36), and therefore John and Jesus were cousins by blood, and there was a spiritual cousinhood in their birth and career. Elisabeth was of the daughters of Aaron (Luke 1:5), of a priestly family which went back to Aaron the brother of Moses and son of ‘Imrān. Her husband Zakarīya was actually a priest, and her cousin Mary was presumably also of a priestly family. By tradition Mary's mother was called Hannah (in Latin, Anna, and in English, Anne), and her father was called ‘Imrān. Hannah is therefore both a descendant of the priestly house of ‘Imrān and the wife of ‘Imrān,—"a woman of ‘Imrān" in a double sense.
  35. 376. Muḥarrar=freed from all worldly affairs and specially dedicated to God’s service. She expected a son, who was to be a special devotee, a miraculous son of the old age of his parents, but God gave her instead a daughter. But that daughter was Mary the mother of Jesus, the chosen one among the women: 3:42.
  36. 377. The mother of Mary expected a male child. Was she disappointed that it was a female child? No, for she had Faith, and she knew that God’s Plan was better than any wishes of hers. Mary was no ordinary girl: only God knew what it was that her mother brought forth.
  37. 378. The female child could not be devoted to Temple service under the Mosaic law, as she intended. But she was marked out for a special destiny as a miracle-child, to be the mother of the miracle-child Jesus. She was content to seek God’s protection for her against all evil. There is a certain sense of pride in the girl on the part of the mother.
  38. 379. Mary grew under God’s special protection. Her sustenance, under which we may include both her physical needs and her spiritual food, came from God, and her growth was indeed a "goodly growth" which I have tried to express in the Text by the words "purity and beauty". Some aprocryphal Christian writings say that she was brought up in the Temple to the age of twelve like a dove, and that she was fed by angels.
  39. 380. The birth of Mary, the mystic mother of Jesus, of John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus, and of Jesus, the mystic prophet of Israel, whom Israel rejected, occurred in that order chronologically, and are told in that order. They are all inter-connected. Zakarīya prayed for no ordinary son. He and his wife were past the age of parenthood. Seeing the growth of the mystic girl Mary, he prayed for some mystic child from God,—"from Thee, a progeny that is pure". Perhaps he had adoption in his mind. Did he want to adopt Mary? To his surprise, he is given a son in the flesh, ushered in by a mystic Sign.
  40. 381. Notice: "a Word from God", not "the Word of God", the epithet that mystical Christianity uses for Jesus. As stated in 3:59 below, Jesus was created by a miracle, by God’s word "Be", and he was.
  41. 382. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was unique, in that she gave birth to a son by a special miracle, without the intervention of the customary physical means. This of course does not mean that she was more than human, any more than that her son was more than human. She had as much need to pray to God as anyone else. The Christian dogma, in all sects except the Unitarian, holds that Jesus was God and the son of God. The worship of Mary became the practice in the Roman Catholic Church, which calls Mary the Mother of God. This seems to have been endorsed by the Council of Ephesus in 431, in the century before Muḥammad was born to sweep away the corruptions of the Church of Christ. For 'ālamīn as meaning all nations, see 3:96, n. 423.
  42. 383. Things unseen: mystic, spiritual. The whole story has a mystic meaning, and it would be unseemly to dispute or speculate about it.
  43. 384. Literally, reeds: aqlām. For the Arab custom of casting lots with arrows, see 2:219, n. 241.
  44. 385. Christian apocryphal writings mention the contention between the priests as to the honour of taking charge of Mary, and how it was decided by means of rods and reeds in favour of Zakarīya.
  45. 386. Christ: Greek, Christos = anointed: kings and priests were anointed to symbolise consecration to their office. The Hebrew and Arabic form is Masīh.
  46. 387. Nearest to God: Muqarrabīn, Cf. Q. 56:11.
  47. 388. The ministry of Jesus lasted only about three years, from 30 to 33 years of his age, when in the eyes of his enemies he was crucified. But the Gospel of Luke (2:46) describes him as disputing with the doctors in the Temple at the age of 12, and even earlier, as a child, he was "strong in spirit, filled with wisdom" (Luke 2:40). Some apocryphal Gospels describe him as preaching from infancy.
  48. 389. She was addressed by angels, who gave her God’s message. In reply she speaks as to God. In reply, apparently an angel again gives God’s message.
  49. 390. This miracle of the clay birds is found in some of the apocryphal Gospels; those of curing the blind and the lepers and raising the dead are in the canonical Gospels. The original Gospel (see 3:48) was not the various stories written afterwards by disciples, but the real Message taught direct by Jesus.
  50. 391. I do not know whether this clause refers to a particular incident, or generally to a prophetic knowledge of what is not known to ordinary people.
  51. 392. The story of Jesus is told with special application to the time of the Apostle Muḥammad. Note the word helpers (Anṣār) in this connection, and the reference to plotters in 3:54. It was the one Religion—the Religion of God, which was in essence the religion of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. The argument runs: who do ye then now make divisions and reject the living Teacher? Islam is: bowing to the Will of God. All who have faith should bow to the Will of God and be Muslims.
  52. 393. The Arabic makara has both a bad and a good meaning, that of making an intricate plan to carry out some secret purpose. The enemies of God are constantly doing that. But God—in whose hands is all good—has His plans also, against which the evil ones will have no chance whatever.
  53. 394. Read this with 4:157, where it is said that the Jews neither crucified nor killed Jesus, but that another was killed in his likeness. The guilt of the Jews remained, but Jesus was eventually taken up to God.
  54. 395. Jesus was charged by the Jews with blasphemy as claiming to be God or the son of God. The Christians (except a few early sects which were annihilated by persecution, and the modern sect of Unitarians, who are almost Muslims) adopted the substance of the claim, and made it the cornerstone of their faith. God clears Jesus of such a charge or claim.
  55. 396. Those who follow thee: The Muslims are the true Christians, for they follow (or should follow) the true teaching of Christ, which did not include the blasphemy that he was God or the Son of God in the literal sense. But there is a large body of men, who by birth inherit such teaching nominally, but their hearts do not consent to it. Their real Muslim virtues (which from their point of view they call Christian virtues) entitle them to be called Christians, and to receive the leading position which they at present occupy in the world of men.
  56. 397. All the controversies about dogma and faith will disappear when we appear before God. He will judge not by what we profess but by what we are.
  57. 398. After a description of the high position which Jesus occupies as a prophet, we have a repudiation of the dogma that he was God, or the son of God, or anything more than a man. If it is said that he was born without a human father, Adam was also so born. Indeed Adam was born without either a human father or mother. As far as our physical bodies are concerned they are mere dust. In God’s sight Jesus was as dust just as Adam was or humanity is. The greatness of Jesus arose from the Divine command "Be": for after that he was—more than dust—a great spiritual leader and teacher.
  58. 399. The truth does not necessarily come from priests, or from the superstitions of whole peoples. It comes from God, and where there is a direct revelation, there is no room for doubt.
  59. 400. In the year of Deputations, 10th of the Hijra, came a Christian embassy from Najrān (towards Yaman, about 150 miles north of Ṣana'ā). They were much impressed on hearing this passage of the Qur’ān explaining the true position of Christ, and they entered into tributary relations with the new Muslim State. But ingrained habits and customs prevented them from accepting Islam as a body. The Holy Apostle, firm in his faith, proposed a Mubāhala, i.e., a solemn meeting, in which both sides should summon not only their men, but their women and children, earnestly pray to God, and invoke the curse of God on those who should lie. Those who had a pure and sincere faith would not hesitate. The Christians declined, and they were dismissed in a spirit of tolerance with a promise of protection from the State in return for tribute, "the wages of rule," as it is called in the Āīn-i-Akbārī.
  60. 401. We are now in a position to deal with the questions which we left over at 2:87, Jesus is no more than a man. It is against reason and revelation to call him God or the son of God. He is called the son of Mary to emphasize this. He had no known human father, as his birth was miraculous. But it was not this which raised him to his high spiritual position as a prophet, but because God called him to his office. The praise is due to God, Who by His word gave him spiritual strength—"strengthened him with the holy spirit." The miracles which surround his story relate not only to his birth and his life and death, but also to his mother Mary and his precursor Yaḥyā. These were the "Clear Signs" which he brought. It was those who misunderstood him who obscured his clear Signs and surrounded him with mysteries of their own invention.
  61. 402. In the abstract the People of the Book would agree to all three propositions. In practice they fail. Apart from doctrinal lapses from the unity of the One True God, there is the question of a consecrated Priesthood (among the Jews it was hereditary also), as if a mere human being—Cohen, or Pope, or Priest, or Brahman,— could claim superiority apart from his learning and the purity of his life, or could stand between man and God in some special sense. The same remarks apply to the worship of saints. They may be pure and holy, but no one can protect us or claim Lordship over us except God. For Rabb, see 1:2, n. Abraham was a true man of God, but he could not be called a Jew or a Christian as he lived long before the Law of Moses or the Gospel of Jesus was revealed.
  62. 403. The number of sects among the Jews and Christians shows that they wrangled and disputed even about some of the matters of their own religion, of which they should have had some knowledge. But when they talk of Father Abraham, they are entirely out of court, as he lived before their peculiar systems were evolved.
  63. 404. Cf. 2:135 and the whole argument in that passage.
  64. 405. There are many ways of preventing the access of people to the truth. One is to tamper with it, or trick it out in colours of falsehood: half-truths are often more dangerous than obvious falsehoods. Another is to conceal it altogether. Those who are jealous of a man of God, whom they actually see before them, do not allow his credentials or virtues to be known, or vilify him, or conceal facts which would attract people to him. When people do this of set purpose, against their own light ("of which ye are yourselves witnesses"), they are descending to the lowest depths of degradation, and they are doing more harm to themselves than to anyone else.
  65. 406. Wajh here has the sense of "beginning", "early part". The cynics who plotted against Islam actually asked their accomplices to join the Believers and then repudiate them.
  66. 407. The two clauses following have been variously construed, and some translations leave the sense ambiguous. I have construed the conjunction "an" to mean "lest", as it undoubtedly does in 7:172, "an taqūlū", etc.
  67. 408. Cf. 2:76. The People of the Book were doubly annoyed at the Muslims: (1) that they should (being outside their ranks) receive God’s revelations, and (2) that having received such revelations, they should be able to convict them out of their own scriptures before their Lord!
  68. 409. Hoard of gold: qinṭār: a talent of 1,200 ounces of gold, more than a lakh of rupees. See 3:14, n. 354.
  69. 410. Silver coin: dīnār. In the later Roman Empire, the denarius was a small silver coin, about the size of a four-anna piece. It must have been current in Syria and the markets of Arabia in the time of our Apostle. It was the coin whose name is translated in the English Bible by the word penny. Matt. 22:19 : hence the abbreviation of a penny is d(= denarius). The later Arabian coin dīnār, coined by the Umayyads, was a gold coin after the pattern of the Byzantine (Roman) denarius aureus and weighed about 66349 grains troy, just a little more than a half-sovereign.
  70. 411. Every race imbued with race arrogance resorts to this kind of moral or religious subterfuge. Even if its members are usually honest or just among themselves, they are contemptuous of those outside their circle, and cheat and deceive them without any qualms of conscience. This is a "lie against God".
  71. 412. All our duties to our fellow creatures are referred to the service and faith we owe to God. But in the matter of truth an appeal is made to our own self-respect as responsible beings: is it becoming that we should be false to our own word, to ourselves? And then we are reminded that the utmost we can gain by falsifying God’s word or being untrue to ourselves is but a miserable price. We get at best something very paltry as the price for selling our very souls.
  72. 413. Even on sinners—ordinary sinners—God will look with compassion and mercy; He will speak words of kindness and cleanse them of their sins. But those who are in active rebellion against God and sin against their own light,—what mercy can they expect?
  73. 414. It is not in reason or in the nature of things that God’s messenger should preach against God. Jesus came to preach the true God.
  74. 415. Jesus was a prophet, and the Holy Spirit "with which he was strengthened" was the Angel who brought the revelations to him.
  75. 416. Cf. 2:63, n. 78. The argument is: You (People of the Book) are bound by your own oaths, sworn solemnly in the presence of your own Prophets. In the Old Testament as it now exists, Muḥammad is foretold in Deut. 18:18; and the rise of the Arab nation in Isaiah 42:11, for Kedar was a son of Ismā‘īl and the name is used for the Arab nation: in the New Testament as it now exists, Muḥammad is foretold in the Gospel of St. John, 14:16, 15:26, and 16:7; the future Comforter cannot be the Holy Spirit as understood by Christians, because the Holy Spirit already was present, helping and guiding Jesus. The Greek word translated "Comforter" is "Paracletos", which is an easy corruption from "Periclytos", which is almost a literal translation of "Muḥammad" or "Aḥmad": see Q. 61:6. Further, there were other Gospels that have perished, but of which traces still remain, which were even more specific in their reference to Muḥammad; e.g., the Gospel of St. Barnabas, of which an Italian translation is extant in the State Library at Vienna. It was edited in 1907 with an English translation by Mr. Lonsdale and Laura Ragg.
  76. 417. God’s Truth is manifest, and all that is good and true and sane and normal accepts it with joy. But even where there is "disease in the heart" (Q. 2:10), or judgment is obscured by perversity, every creature must eventually see and acknowledge God and His power (2:167). Cf. R. Bridges: "Testament of Beauty": 4:1419-22—"For God’s love is unescapable as nature’s environment, which if a man ignore or think to thrust it off, he is the ill-natured fool that runneth blindly on death." All Nature adores God, and Islam asks for nothing peculiar or sectarian; it but asks that we follow our nature and make our will conformable to God’s Will as seen in Nature, history, and revelation. Its message is universal.
  77. 418. The Muslim position is clear. The Muslim does not claim to have a religion peculiar to himself. Islam is not a sect or an ethnic religion. In its view all Religion is one, for the Truth is one. It was the religion preached by all the earlier Prophets. It was the truth taught by all the inspired Books. In essence it amounts to a consciousness of the Will and Plan of God and a joyful submission to that Will and Plan. If anyone wants a religion other than that, he is false to his own nature, as he is false to God’s Will and Plan. Such a one cannot expect guidance, for he has deliberately renounced guidance.
  78. 418-A. Cf. 2:161-62.
  79. 419. The test of charity is: do you give something that you value greatly, something that you love? If you give your life in a Cause, that in the greatest gift you can give. If you give yourself, that is, your personal efforts, your talents, your skill, your learning, that comes next in degree. If you give your earnings, your property, your possessions, that is also. great gift; for many people love them even more than other things. And there are less tangible things, such as position, reputation, the well-being of those we love, the regard of those who can help us, etc. It is unselfishness that God demands, and there is no act of unselfishness, however small or intangible, but is well within the knowledge of God.
  80. 420. The Arabs ate the flesh of the camel, which is lawful in Islam, but it was prohibited by the Jewish Law of Moses (Leviticus 9:4). But that Law was very strict because of the “hardness of heart“ of Israel, because of Israel's insolence and iniquity (Q. 6:146). Before it was promulgated Israel was free to choose its own food. I take ”Israel" here to stand for the people of Israel.
  81. 421. The greater freedom of Islam in the matter of the ceremonial law, compared with the Mosaic Law, is not a reproach but a recommendation. We go back to an older source than Judaism,—the institutions of Abraham. By common consent his Faith was sound, and he was certainly not a Pagan, a term contemptuously applied to the Arabs by the Jews.
  82. 422. Bakka: same as Mecca: perhaps an older name, The foundation of the Ka'ba goes back to Abraham, but there are place associations in the sacred territory with the sames of Adam and Eve, e.g., at ‘Arafāt, the Mount of Mercy (see n. 217 to 2:197).
  83. 423. ‘Ālamīn : all the worlds (1:2 n.); all kinds of beings; all nations (3:42); all creatures (3:97)
  84. 424. Station of Abraham : see 2:125 and n. 125.
  85. 425. See reference in last note.
  86. 426. Cf. 3:81.
  87. 427. Fear is of many kinds: (1) the abject fear of the coward; (2) the fear of a child or an inexperienced person in the face of an unknown danger; (3) the fear of a reasonable man who wishes to avoid harm to himself or to people whom he wishes to protect; (4) the reverence which is akin to love, for it fears to do anything which is not pleasing to the object of love. The first is unworthy of man; the second is necessary for one spiritually immature; the third is a manly precaution against evil as long as it is unconquered; and the fourth is the seed-bed of righteousness. Those mature in faith cultivate the fourth; at earlier stages, the third or the second may be necessary; they are fears, but not the fear of God. The first is a feeling of which anyone should be ashamed.
  88. 428. Our whole being should be permeated with Islam; it is not a mere veneer or outward show.
  89. 429. The simile is that of people struggling in deep water, to whom a benevolent Providence stretches out a strong and unbreakable rope of rescue. If all hold fast to it together, their mutual support adds to the chance of their safety.
  90. 430. Yathrib was torn with civil and tribal feuds and dissensions before the Apostle of God set his sacred feet on its soil. After that, it became the City of the Prophet, Medina, an unmatched Brotherhood, and the pivot of Islam. This poor quarrelsome world is a larger Yathrib: can we establish the sacred feet on its soil, and make it a new and larger Medina?
  91. 431. Mufliḥ, aflaḥa, falāḥ: the root idea is attainment of desires; happiness, in this world and the next; success; prosperity; freedom from anxiety, care, or a disturbed state of mind;—the opposite of 'aẓāb in the next verse, which includes: failure; misery; punishment or penalty; agony or anguish. The ideal Muslim community is happy, untroubled by conflicts or doubts, sure of itself, strong, united, and prosperous; because it invites to all that is good; enjoins the right; and forbids the wrong,—a master-stroke of description in three clauses.
  92. 432. The “face” (wajh) expresses our Personality, our inmost being. White is the colour of Light; to become white is to be illumined with Light, which stands for felicity, the rays of the glorious light of God. Black is the colour of darkness, sin, rebellion, misery; removal from the grace and light of God. These are the Signs of heaven and hell. The standard of decision in all questions is the justice of God.
  93. 433. Cf. 2:210.
  94. 434. The logical conclusion to the evolution of religious history is a non-sectarian, non-racial, non-doctrinal, universal religion, which Islam claims to be. For Islam is just submission to the Will of God. This implies (1) Faith, (2) doing right, being an example to others to do right, and having the power to see that the right prevails, (3) eschewing wrong, being an example to others to eschew wrong, and having the power to see that wrong and injustice are defeated. Islam therefore lives, not for itself, but for mankind. The People of the Book, if only they had faith, would be Muslims, for they have been prepared for Islam. Unfortunately there is Unfaith, but it can never harm those who carry the banner of Faith and Right, which must always be victorious.
  95. 435. Ḍḥuribat; I think there is a simile from the pitching of a tent. Ordinarily a man’s tent is a place of tranquillity and honour for him. The tent of the wicked wherever they are found is ignominy, shame, and humiliation. It is pity from God or from men that gives them protection when their pride has a fall. Using the same simile of a tent in another way, their home will be destitution and misery.
  96. 436. Cf. 3:21, n. 363.
  97. 437. In Islam we respect sincere faith and true righteousness in whatever form they appear.
  98. 438. Cf. 3:10.
  99. 439. False “spending” may be either in false “charity” or in having a “good time”. For the man who resists God’s purpose, neither of them is any good. The essence of charity is faith and love. Where these are wanting, charity is no charity. Some baser motive is there: ostentation, or even worse, getting a person into the giver’s power by a pretence of charity: something that is connected with the life of this grasping, material world. What happens? You expect a good harvest. But “while you think, good easy man, full surely your greatness is a-ripening,” there comes a nipping frost, and destroys all your hopes. The frost is some calamity, or the fact that you are found out! Or perhaps it is “High blown pride,” as in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, 2:3. In your despair you may blame blind Fate or you may blame God! Blind Fate does not exist, for there is God’s Providence, which is just and good. The harm or injustice has come, not from God, but from your own soul. You wronged your soul, and it suffered the frost. Your base motive brought you no good: it may have reduced you to poverty, shame, and disgrace. All the brave show of the wicked in this life is but a wind charged with evil to themselves.
  100. 440. Islam gives you the complete revelation, “the whole of the Book,” though partial revelations have come in all ages. (Cf. 3:23, and n. 366.)
  101. 441. Cf. 2:14.
  102. 442. The Battle of Uḥud was a great testing time for the young Muslim community. Their mettle and the wisdom and strength of their Leader were shown in the battle of Badr (3:13 and note), in which the Meccan Pagans suffered a crushing defeat. The Meccans were determined to wipe off their disgrace and to annihilate the Muslims in Medina. To this end they collected a large force and marched to Medina. They numbered some 3,000 fighting men under Abū Sufyān, and they were so confident of victory that their women-folk came with them, and showed the most shameful savagery after the battle. To meet the threatened danger the Muslim Leader, Muḥammad Muṣṭafā, with his usual foresight, courage, and initiative, resolved to take his station at the foot of Mount Uḥud, which dominates the city of Medina some three miles to the north. Early in the morning, on the 7th of Shawwāl, A.H. 3 (January, 625), he made his dispositions for battle. Medina winters are notoriously rigorous, but the warriors of Islam (700 to 1000 in number) were up early. A torrent bed (Nullah) was to their south, and the passes in the hills at their back were filled with 50 archers to prevent the enemy attack from the rear. The enemy were set the task of attacking the walls of Medina, with the Muslims at their rear. In the beginning the battle went well for the Muslims. The enemy wavered, but the Muslim archers, in disobedience of their orders, left their posts to join in the pursuit and share in the booty. There was also treachery on the part of the 300 “Hypocrites” led by 'Abdullāh ibn Ubai, who deserted. The enemy took advantage of the opening left by the archers, and there was severe hand-to-hand fighting, in which numbers told in favour of the enemy. Many of the Companions and Helpers were killed. But there was no rout. Among the Muslim martyrs was the gallant Ḥamza, a brother of the Apostle’s father. The graves of the martyrs are still shown at Uḥud. The Apostle himself was wounded in his head and face, and one of his front teeth was knocked off. Had it not been for his firmness, courage, and coolness, all would have been lost. As it was, the Apostle, in spite of his wound, and many of the wounded Muslims, inspired by his example, returned to the field next day, and Abū Sufyān and his Meccan army thought it most prudent to withdraw. Medina was saved, but a lesson in faith, constancy, firmness, and steadfastness was learnt by the Muslims.
  103. 443. The two parties wavering in their minds were probably Banū Salamah Ḵẖazrajī and the Banū Ḥāritha, but they rallied under the Apostle’s inspiration. That incident shows that man may be weak, but if he allows his weak will to be governed by the example of men of God, he may yet retrieve his weakness.
  104. 444. Gratitude to God is not to be measured by words. It should show itself in conduct and life. If all the Muslims had learnt the true lesson from the victory at Badr, their archers would not have left the posts appointed for them, nor the two tribes mentioned in the last note ever wavered in their faith.
  105. 445. Read verse 124 with the following five verses, to get its full signification.
  106. 446. Musawwim: this is the active voice of the verb, not to be confused with the passive voice in 3:14, which has a different signification.
  107. 447. Whatever happens, whether there is a miracle or not, all help proceeds from God. Man should not be so arrogant as to suppose that his own resources will change the current of the world plan. God helps those who show constancy, courage, and discipline, and use all the human means at their disposal, not those who fold their hands and have no faith. But God’s help is determined on considerations exalted far above our petty human motive, and by perfect wisdoms, of which we can have only faint glimpses.
  108. 448. A fringe of the Unbelievers: an extremity, an end, either upper or lower. Here it may mean that the chiefs of the Meccan Pagans, who had come to exterminate the Muslims with such confidence, went back frustrated in their purpose. The shameless cruelty with which they and their women mutilated the Muslim corpses on the battle-field will stand recorded to their eternal infamy. Perhaps it also exposed their real nature to some of those who fought for them, e.g., Ḵẖālid ibn al Walīd, who not only accepted Islam afterwards, but became one of the most notable champions of Islam. He was with the Muslims in the conquest of Mecca, and later on, won distinguished honours in Syria and 'Irāq.
  109. 449. Uḥud is as much a signpost for Islam as Badr. For us in these latter days it carries an ever greater lesson. God’s help will come if we have faith, obedience, discipline, unity, and the spirit of acting in righteousness and justice. If we fail, His mercy is always open to us. But it is also open to our enemies, and those who seem to us His enemies. His Plan may be to bring sinners to repentance, and to teach us righteousness and wisdom through those who seem in our eyes to be rebellious or even defiant. There may be good in them that He sees and we do not,—a humbling thought that must lead to our own self-examination and self-improvement.
  110. 450. Cf. 2:275 and note. The last verse spoke of forgiveness, even to enemies. If such mercy is granted by God to erring sinners, how much more is it incumbent on us, poor sinners to refrain from oppressing our fellow-beings in need, in matters of mere material and ephemeral wealth? Usury is the opposite extreme of charity, unselfishness, striving, and giving of ourselves in the service of God and of our fellow-men.
  111. 451. Real prosperity consists, not in greed, but in giving,—the giving of ourselves and of our substance in the cause of God and God’s truth and in the service of God’s creatures.
  112. 452. The Fire (3:131) is, as always, contrasted with the Garden in a spiritual sense,—in other words, Hell contrasted with Heaven. Lest we should think that Heaven is a sort of enclosed material Garden somewhere in the skies, we are told that its width alone is that of the whole of the heavens and the earth,—all the creation we can imagine. In other words our spiritual felicity covers not merely this or that part of our being, but all life and all existence. Who can measure its width, or length, or depth?
  113. 453. Another definition of the righteous (vv. 134-35). So far from grasping material wealth, they give freely, of themselves and their substance, not only when they are well-off and it is easy for them to do so, but also when they are in difficulties, for other people may be in difficulties at the same time. They do not get ruffled in adversity, or get angry when the other people behave badly, or their own good plans fail. On the contrary they redouble their efforts. For the charity—or good deed—is all the more necessary in adversity. And they do not throw the blame on others. Even where such blame is due and correction is necessary, their own mind is free from a sense of grievance, for they forgive and cover other men’s faults. This as far as other people are concerned. But we may be ourselves at fault, and perhaps we brought some calamity on ourselves. The righteous man is not necessarily perfect. In such circumstances his behaviour is described in the next verse.
  114. 454. The righteous man, when he finds he has fallen into sin or error, does not whine or despair, but asks for God’s forgiveness, and his faith gives him hope. If he is sincere, that means that he abandons his wrong conduct and makes amends.
  115. 455. Sin is a sort of oppression of ourselves by ourselves. This follows from the doctrine of personal responsibility, as opposed to that of blind fate or of an angry God or gods lying in wait for revenge or injury on mankind.
  116. 456. Cf. Tennyson (In Memoriam): “Our little systems have their day. They have their day and cease to be: They are but broken lights of Thee, And Thou, O Lord! art more than they.” Only God’s Truth will last, and it will gain the mastery in the end. If there is defeat, we must not be dejected, lose heart, or give up the struggle. Faith means hope, activity, striving steadfastly on to the goal.
  117. 457. These general considerations apply in particular to the disaster in Uḥud. (1) In a fight for truth, if you are hurt, be sure the adversary has suffered hurt also, the more so as he has no faith to sustain him. (2) Success or failure in this world comes to all at varying times: we must not grumble, as we do not see the whole of God’s Plan. (3) Men’s true mettle is known in adversity as gold is assayed in fire: Cf. also 3:154, n. 467. (4) Martyrdom is in itself an honour and a privilege: how glorious is the fame of Ḥamza the Martyr, and in later times, of Ḥasan and Ḥusain? (5) If there is any dross in us, it will be purified by resistance and struggle. (6) When evil is given rope a little, it works out its own destruction: the orgies of cruelty indulged in by the Pagans after what they supposed to be their victory at Uḥud filled up their cup of iniquity; it lost them the support and adherence of the best in their own ranks, and hastened the destruction of Paganism from Arabia, Cf. 3:127 and n. 448.
  118. 458. The purge or purification was in two senses. (1) It cleared out the Hypocrites from the ranks of the Muslim warriors. (2) The testing-time strengthened the faith of the weak and wavering: for suffering has its own mission in life. The Apostle’s example—wounded but staunch, and firmer than ever—put new life into the Community.
  119. 459. Cf. 2:214.
  120. 460. This verse primarily applies to the battle of Uḥud, in the course of which a cry was raised that the Apostle was slain. He had indeed been severely wounded, but Ṭalḥa, Abū Bakr, and ʿAlī were at his side, and his own unexampled bravery saved the Muslim army from a rout. This verse was recalled again by Abū Bakr when the Apostle actually died a natural death eight years later, to remind people that God, whose Message he brought, lives forever. And we have need to remember this now and often for two reasons: (1) when we feel inclined to pay more than human honour to one who was the truest, the purest, and the greatest of men, and thus in a sense to compound for our forgetting the spirit of his teaching, and (2) when we feel depressed at the chances and changes of time, and forget that the eternal God lives and watches over us and over all His creatures now as in all history in the past and in the future.
  121. 461. There is a slight touch of irony in this. As applied to the archers at Uḥud, who deserted their post for the sake of plunder, they might have got some plunder, but they put themselves and the whole of their army into jeopardy. For a little worldly gain, they nearly lost their souls. On the other hand, those who took the long view and fought with staunchness and discipline,—their reward was swift and sure. If they died, they got the crown of martyrdom. If they lived, they were heroes honoured in this life and the next.