Revealed at Makkah.


THIS chapter owes its title to the celebrated prophecy concerning the Greeks contained in the first and following verses. "The Greeks" were the inhabitants of the Constantinopolitan empire, which was, and still is, called Rum by the Arabs. Excepting the prophecy of the first five verses, there is no other allusion to the Greeks or their empire in this chapter. The remainder of the revelations is made up of a variety of passages, some of which treat of the folly of idolatry, with proofs of God's being and power drawn from his works in nature and providence, while others set forth the doctrine of the resurrection, illustrated by reference to God's revivifying power, seen in the restoration of the earth's verdure after it has been parched and dead. The Prophet's hearers are also called upon to consider that since God is the Creator of all things in heaven and earth, he is able to raise the dead to life again. Closely connected with this is the doctrine of a final judgment, when all men will be divided into two classes, one made up of true believers, who will enter into Paradise and enjoy its pleasures, the other made up of unbelievers, who will be consigned to everlasting torments.

The attitude of the Quraish, as seen in this chapter, is that of stolid indifference. Their hardness of heart is spoken of in the following terms:-" Thou" (i.e., Muhammad) "canst not make the dead to hear, neither canst thou make the deaf to hear thy call, when they retire and turn their backs; neither canst thou direct the blind out of error: thou shalt make none to hear, except him who shall believe in our signs" (vers. 51 and 52). And in ver. 58 God is declared to say, "Now have we propounded unto them in this Quran parables


of every kind; yet if thou bring them a verse thereof, the unbelievers will surely say, Ye are no other than publishers of vain falsehoods."

The chapter ends with an exhortation to Muhammad to be stead-fast and persevering in the faith, assured that the cause of Islam will certainly triumph.

Probable Date of the Revelations.

The date of the prophecy (vers. 1-5) is placed by various writers in the fifth, fourth, and third year before the Hijra. Sale thinks the sixth year B.H. is the probable date (see note on ver. i). Nöeldeke says, "It is difficult to define which of the numerous defeats the Byzantines suffered till after the Hijra be meant here; particularly as the older Muslim writers, who report these events in a confused and unreliable manner, are not corroborated by reliable Byzantine testimony, at least as far as my researches have extended. The usual statement is, that here that defeat is meant which the Byzantines suffered at Azru'at and Basra, or in Mesopotamia, or in Palestine, The Persian translator of At Tabari, which has here all sorts of confused accounts about the dethronement of Maurice &c., says the Quran speaks of the capture of Jerusalem. That an important event is meant, which had happened either in Palestine or its neighbourhood, cannot well be doubted. Whether, however, it was that capture of Jerusalem (about the year 7 or 6 before the Hijra), or a subsequent event, we cannot say for certain."

Vers. 16, 17, are thought by some (Umar Bin Muhammad, Al Zamakhshari, Baidhawi) to be Madinic, because they refer to the five daily prayers. These had, however, been appointed shortly before the Hijra.

While, therefore, the prophecy in vers. 1-5 may belong to a period as early as B.H. 6 or 7, the remaining portion of the chapter, judged by internal evidence, belongs to a period much later, though the precise time must remain a matter of conjecture.

Principal Subjects.

A prophecy concerning the ultimate triumph of the Greeks over the Persians . . . 1-5
God's power manifest in nature . . . 6, 7
The Quraish heed not the warnings of God . . . 8, 9
The despair of the infidels in the resurrection . . . 11-1 2
The righteous and wicked shall be separated on the judgment day . . .13-15
God to be worshipped at stated periods . . . 16, 17
The changes in nature a proof of the resurrection ... 18


Various signs of God's omnipotence . . . 19-26
The idolaters convinced of folly by reference to their own customs. . . 27, 28
Muhammad exhorted to follow the orthodox faith and to avoid idolatry...29-31
The ingratitude of idolaters, who call on God in adversity but forget him in prosperity. . .32-35
Muslims exhorted to charity . . .36-38
The idols unable to create and preserve life. . . . 39
God's judgments follow man's iniquity. . . 40, 41
Exhortation to repentance before the judgment .. . 42
The separation of the wicked and the just in the judgment-day; rewards and punishments .. . 42-44
God's goodness in his providence a sign to men . . . 45
Those who rejected the former prophets were punished ... 46
God's mercy manifest in his works . . . 47-49
A blasting wind sufficient to harden the hearts of the unbelievers . .. 50
Muhammad unable to make the dead to hear or the blind to see . . .51,52
God the Creator . .. 53
Believers and unbelievers on the resurrection-day ... 54-57
The parables of the Quran rejected . . . 58
Unbelievers are given over to blindness... 59
Muhammad encouraged to steadfastness in the true religion... 60


(1) A. L. M. The Greeks have been overcome by the Persians in the nearest part of the land; (2) but after

(1) See Prelim. Disc., p.101, and note on chap. ii. I.

The Greeks have been overcome. "The accomplishment of the prophecy contained in this passage, which is very famous among the Muhammadans, being insisted on by their doctors as a convincing proof that the Quran really came down from heaven, it may be excusable to be a little particular.

"The passage is said to have been revealed on occasion of a great victory obtained by the Persians over the Greeks, the news whereof coming to Makkah, the infidels became strangely elated, and began to abuse Muhammad and his followers, imagining that this success of the Persians, who, like themselves, were idolaters, and supposed


their defeat, they shall overcome the others in their turn, within a few years. (3) Unto GOD belongeth the disposal of this matter, both for what is past, and for what is to come: and on that day shall the believers rejoice in the

to have no Scriptures, against the Christians, who pretended, as well as Muhammad, to worship one God and to have Divine Scriptures was an earnest of their own future successes against the Prophet and those of his religion; to check which vain hopes, it was foretold in the words of the text, that how improbable soever it might seem, yet the scale should be turned in a few years, and the vanquished Greeks prevail as remarkably against the Persians.

"That this prophecy was exactly fulfilled the commentators fail not to observe, though they do not exactly agree in the accounts they give of its accomplishment, the number of years between the two actions being not precisely determined. Some place the victory gained by the Persians in the fifth year before the Hijra, and their defeat by the Greeks in the second year after it, when the battle of Badr was fought; others place the former in the third or fourth year before the Hijra and the latter in the end of the sixth or beginning of the seventh year after it, when the expedition of al Hudaibiah was undertaken.

"The date of the victory gained by the Greeks, in the first of these accounts, interferes with a story which the commentators tell of a wager laid by Abu Baqr with Ubba Ibn Khalf, who turned this prophecy into ridicule. Abu Baqr at first laid ten young camels that the Persians should receive an overthrow within three years; but on his acquainting Muhammad with what he had done, the Prophet told him that the word bed, made use of in this passage, signified no determinate number of years, but any number from three to nine (though some suppose the tenth year is included), and therefore advised him to prolong the time and to raise the wager, which he accordingly proposed to Ubba, and they agreed that the time assigned should be nine years, and the wager a hundred camels. Before the time was elapsed, Ubba died of a wound received at Ohod, in the third year of the Hijra; but the event afterwards showing that Abu Baqr had won, he received the camels of Ubba's heirs, and brought them in triumph to Muhammad.

"History informs us (Gibbon's Deccline and Fall, chap. xlvi.) that the successes of Khusru Parviz, king of Persia, who carried on a terrible war against the Greek empire, to revenge the death of Maurice his father-in-law, slain by Phocas, were very great, and continued in an uninterrupted course for two-and-twenty years. Particularly in the year of Christ 615, about the beginning of the sixth year before the Hijra, the Persians, having the preceding year conquered Syria, made themselves masters of Palestine and took Jerusalem, which seems to be that signal advantage gained over the Greeks mentioned in this passage, as agreeing best with the terms here used, and most likely to alarm the Arabs by reason of their vicinity to the scene of action; and there was so little probability at that time of


success granted by GOD; (4) for he granteth success unto whom he pleaseth; and he is the mighty, the merciful. (5) This is the promise of GOD: GOD will not act contrary to his promise; but the greater part of men know not the

the Greeks being able to retrieve their losses, much less to distress the Persians, that in the following years the arms of the latter made still farther and more considerable progress, and at length they laid siege to Constantinople itself. But in the year 625, in which the fourth year of the Hijra began, about ten years after the taking of Jerusalem, the Greeks, when it was least expected, gained a remarkable victory over the Persians, and not only obliged them to quit the territories of the empire, by carrying the war into their own country, but drove them to the last extremity, and spoiled the capital city al Madain; Heraclius enjoying thenceforward a continued series of good fortune to the deposition and death of Khusru. For more exact information on these matters, and more nicely fixing the dates, either so as to correspond with, or to overturn this pretended prophecy (neither of which is my business here), the reader may have recourse to the historians and chronologers."- Sale, Baidhawi, Jalaluddin, Zamakhshari.

"The story" about Abu Baqr's wager given above, says Muir, "is apocryphal. It is neither in the Katib al Wackidi nor in Hishami; and bears a most suspicious stamp of being a late fabrication in illustration of the passage in the Coran." Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p.224, note.

Rodwell tells us that the vowel points of the consonants of the Arabic word , Gulibat (defeated) in verse I, not being originally written; the meaning would depend entirely upon the reader; so that the prophecy would read either "the Greeks have been defeated," or "the Greeks defeated," and so be true in either case. He thinks this ambiguity was intentional. I I I Noëldeke says, "The readings and are indeed old, and are already mentioned in Al Tirmuzi, 477, 527; nevertheless they have the support of less conclusive evidence than the commonly accepted reading, and must be rejected because they have been deduced from those defeats which the Byzantines later on suffered at the hands of the Muslims, and of these Muhammad could of course not have any knowledge."- Gesch. des Qurans.

The Christian need not be troubled by Quranic prophecy of this sort. Our daily newspapers constantly forecast political events of this kind, and in the special case before Muhammad, no prophetic ken was wanted to make the general statement of the text. We have no objection to allowing him any amount of reputation as a prophet of the kind revealed to us in these verses. Muhammad never spoke of this passage as a prophecy.

The nearest part of the Land. "Some interpreters, supposing that the land here meant is the land of Arabia, or else that of the Greeks,


veracity of God. (6) They know the outward appearance of this present life; but they are careless as to the life to Come. (7) Do they not consider within themselves that GOD hath not created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, otherwise than in truth, and hath set them a determined period? Verily a great number of men reject the belief of their future meeting their LORD at the resurrection. (8) Do they not pass through the earth, and see what hath been the end of those who were before them? They excelled the Makkans in strength, and broke up the earth, and inhabited it in greater affluence and prosperity than they inhabit the same: and their apostles came unto them with evident miracles; and GOD was not disposed to treat them unjustly, but they injured their own souls by their obstinate infidelity; (9) and the end of those who had done evil was evil, because they charged the signs of GOD with falsehood, and laughed the same to scorn.

R 2/5.

(10) GOD produces creatures, and will hereafter restore them to life: then shall ye return unto him. (11) And on the day whereon the hour shall come, the wicked shall be struck dumb for despair; (12) and they shall have no intercessors from among the idols which they associated with God. And they shall deny the false gods which they associated with him. (13) On the day whereon the hour shall come, on that day shall the true believers and the infidels be separated: (14) and they who shall have believed, and wrought righteousness, shall take their pleasure in a delightful meadow; (15) but as for those who shall have disbelieved, and rejected our signs, and the meeting of the next life, they shall be delivered

place the scene of action in the confines of Arabia and Syria, near Bostra and Adhruat; others imagine the land of Persia is intended, and lay the scene in Mesopotamia, on the frontiers of that kingdom; but Ibn Abbas, with more probability, thinks it was in Palestine."- Sale, Yahya, and Muhajid.

(6-15) Compare with chap. xxii. 1-10.


up to punishment. (16) Wherefore glorify GOD, when the evening overtaketh you, and when ye rise in the morning: (17) and unto him be praise in heaven and earth; and at sunset, and when ye rest at noon. (18) He bringeth forth the living out of the dead, and he bringeth forth the dead out of the living; and he quickeneth the earth after it hath been dead: and in like manner shall ye be brought forth from your graves. (19) Of his signs one is, that he hath created you of dust; and behold, ye are become men, spread over the face of the earth.

R 3/6.

(20) And of his signs another is, that he hath created you, out of yourselves, wives, that ye may cohabit with them; and hath put love and compassion between you: verily herein are signs unto people who consider. (21) And of his signs are also the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variety of your languages, and of your complexions: verily herein are signs unto men of understanding. (22) And of his signs are your sleeping by night and by day, and your seeking to provide for yourselves of his abundance: verily herein are signs unto people who hearken. (23) Of his signs others are, that he showeth you the lightning, to strike terror and to give hope of rain, and that he sendeth down water from heaven, and quickeneth thereby the earth, after it hath been dead; verily herein are signs unto people who un-

(16, 17) "Some are of opinion that the five times of prayer are intended in this passage; the evening including the time both of the prayer of sunset and of the evening prayer properly so called, and the word I have rendered at sunset marking the hour of afternoon prayer, since it may be applied also to the time a little before sunset"- Sale.

See also note on chap. ii. 238.

(18) Compare p. iii. 27.

(20) Out of yourselves, i.e., of your own species, some being born male and others female. See chap. xvi. 74.

(21) Variety . . . of your complexions. "Which are certainly most wonderful, and, as I conceive, very hard to be accounted for, if we allow the several nations in the world to be all the offspring of one man, as we are assured by Scripture they are, without having recourse to the immediate omnipotency of God."- Sale.

(23) Signs to people who understand, i.e., God in his works and


derstand. (24) And of his signs this also is one, namely, that the heaven and the earth stand firm at command hereafter, when he shall call you out of the. earth at one summons, behold, ye shall come forth. (25) Unto him are subject whosoever are in the heavens and on earth: all are obedient unto him. (26) It is he who originally produceth a creature, and afterwards restoreth the same to life: and this is most easy with him. He justly challengeth the most exalted comparison, in heaven and earth: and he is the mighty, the wise.


R 4/7.

(27) He propoundeth unto a comparison taken from yourselves. Have ye, among the slaves whom your right hands possess, any partner in the substance which we have bestowed on you, so that ye become equal sharers therein with them, or that ye fear them as ye fear one another? Thus we distinctly explain our signs unto people who understand. (28) But those who act unjustly, by attributing companions unto God, follow their own lusts, without knowledge: and who shall direct him whom GOD shall cause to err? They shall have none to help them. (29) Wherefore be thou orthodox, and set thy face towards the true religion, the institution of GOD, to which he hath created mankind disposed: there is no change in what

providence clearly reveals himself to those who consider him to be the only object worthy of the soul's worship. Comp. Rom. i. 19, 20.

(26) Exalted comparison, &c. "That is, in speaking of him we ought to make use of the most noble and magnificent expressions we can possibly devise."- Sale.

The import of the passage, interpreted by what follows, is that there is nothing in heaven or earth worthy of being compared with God, seeing he is the Creator of all. The challenge is of a kind which can never be met. For this reason Muslims regard all illustration of divinity or its attributes by reference to created things as sinful.

(27) Comp. chap. xvi. 77.

(29) There is no change, &c., i.e., "the immutable law or rule, to which man is naturally disposed to conform, and which every one would embrace as most fit for a rational creature, if it were not for the prejudices of education. The Muhammadans have a tradition that their Prophet used to say, 'That every person is born naturally disposed to become a Muslim; but that a maa's parents make him a Jew, a Christian, or a Magian.' "- Sale.


GOD hath created. This is the right religion; but the greater part of men know it not. (30) And be ye turned unto him, and fear him, and be constant at prayer, and be not idolaters. (31) Of those who have made a schism in their religion, and are divided into various sects, every sect rejoice in their own opinion. (32) When adversity befalleth men, they call upon their LORD, turning unto him: afterwards, when he hath caused them to taste of his mercy, behold, a part of them associate other deities with their LORD: (33) to show themselves ungrateful for the favours which we have bestowed on them. Enjoy therefore the vain pleasures of this life; but hereafter shall ye know the consequence. (34) Have we sent down unto them any authority which speaketh of the false gods which they associate with him? (35) When we cause men to taste mercy, they rejoice therein; but if evil befalleth them for that which their hands' have before committed, behold, they despair. (36) Do they not see that GOD bestoweth provision abundantly on whom he pleaseth, and is sparing unto whom he pleaseth? Verily herein are signs unto people who believe. (37) Give unto him who is of kin to thee his reasonable due, and also to the poor and the stranger: this is better for those who seek the face of GOD; and, they shall prosper. (38) Whatever ye shall give in usury, to be an increase of

The words "what God hath created" manifest ly refer to the orthodox religion of Islam, and the meaning is that Islam has never changed; other religions have arisen by heretical departures from the true faith, adding to and subtracting from the true faith. Muhammad believed the unity of the Godhead to be an intuitive truth.

(32, 33) Compare chap. xxix. 65, 66.

Any authority. "That is, have we either by the mouth of any prophet or by any written revelation commanded or encouraged the worship of more gods than one ? "- Sale.

(35) They despair. "And seek not to gain the favour of God by timely repentance."- Sale.

(37, 38) See notes on chap. ii. 261-280

Usury. "Or by way 6f bribe. The word may include any sort of extortion or illicit gain."- Sale.


men's substance, shall not be increased by the blessing of GOD; but whatever ye shall give in alms, for GOD's sake, they shall receive a twofold reward.

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(39) It is GOD who hath created you,. and hath provided food for you: hereafter will he cause you to die; and after that will he raise you again to life. Is there any of your false gods who is able to do the least of these things? Praise be unto him, and far be he removed from what they associate with him! (40) Corruption hath appeared by land and by sea, for the crimes which men's hands have committed; that it might make them to taste a part of the fruits of that which they have wrought, that peradventure they might turn from their evil ways. (41) Say, Go through the earth, and see what hath been the end of those who have been before you: the greater part of them were idolaters. (42) Set thy face therefore towards the right religion, before the day cometh which none can put back from GOD. On that day shall they be separated into two companies: (43) whoever shall have been an unbeliever, on him shall his unbelief be charged; and whoever shall have done that which is right, shall spread themselves couches of repose in Paradise; (44) that he may reward those who shall believe, and work righteousness, of his abundant liberality; for he loveth not the unbelievers. (45) Of his signs one is that he sendeth the winds, bearing welcome tidings of rain, that he may cause you to taste of his mercy; and that ships may sail at his command, that ye may seek to enrich yourselves of his abundance by commerce; and that ye may give thanks. (46) We sent apostles before thee unto their respective peoples and they came unto them with evident proofs:

(40) Corruption, viz.,"mischief and public calamities; such as famine, pestilence, droughts, shipwrecks, &c, or erroneous doctrines, or a general depravity of manners."- Sale.

That it might make them to taste. "Some copies read, in the first plural, 'That we might cause them to taste,' &c. "- Sale.

(41) See ver. 8.


and we took vengeance on those who did wickedly; and it was incumbent on us to assist the true believers. (47) It is GOD who sendeth the winds and raiseth the clouds, and spreadeth the same in the heaven, as he pleaseth; and afterwards disperseth the same: and thou mayest see the rain issuing from the midst thereof; and when he poureth the same down on such of his servants as he pleaseth, behold, they are filled with joy; (48) although before it was sent down unto them, before such relief they were despairing. (49) Consider therefore the traces of GOD'S mercy; how he quickeneth the earth after its state of death: verily the same will raise the dead; for he is almighty. (50) Yet if we should send a blasting wind, and they should see their corn yellow and burnt up,, they would surely become ungrateful, after our former favours; (51) Thou canst not make the dead to hear, neither canst thou make the deaf to hear thy call, when they retire and turn their backs; (52) neither canst thou direct the blind out of their error: thou shalt make none to hear, except him who shall believe in our signs; for they are resigned unto us.

R 6/9.

(53) It is GOD who created you in weakness, and after weakness hath given you strength; and after strength he will again reduce you to weakness and grey hairs: he createth that which he pleaseth; and he is the wise, the powerful. (54) On the day whereon the last hour shall come, the wicked will swear (55) that they have not tarried above an hour: in like manner did they utter lies in their lifetime. (56) But those on whom knowledge hath been bestowed, and faith, will say, Ye have tarried, according to the book of GOD, until the day of resurrect-

(55) Have we tarried, i.e., in the world or is their graves. See note on chap. xxiii. 114.

(56) According to the book of God, "that is, according to his fore-knowledge and decree in the Preserved Table; or according to what is said in the Quran, where the state of the dead is expressed by these words, 'Behind them there shall be a bar until the day of resurrection' (chap. xxiii.101)."- Sale, Baidhawi.


tion; for this is the day of resurrection; but ye knew it not. (57) On that day their excuse shall not avail those who have acted unjustly; neither shall they be invited any more to make themselves acceptable unto God. (58) And now have we propounded unto men in this Quran parables of every kind: yet if thou bring them a verse thereof, the unbelievers will surely say, Ye are no other than publishers of vain falsehoods. (59) Thus hath GOD sealed up the hearts of those who believe not: (60) but do thou, O Muhammad, persevere with constancy, for GOD is true; and let not those induce thee to waver who have no certain knowledge.

(60) Persevere with constancy. "For God will surely call thee to triumph over all obstacles." See Tafsir-i-Raufi in loco.

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