وَ لَا تَتَّخِذُوۡۤا اَیۡمَانَکُمۡ دَخَلًۢا بَیۡنَکُمۡ فَتَزِلَّ قَدَمٌۢ بَعۡدَ ثُبُوۡتِہَا وَ تَذُوۡقُوا السُّوۡٓءَ بِمَا صَدَدۡتُّمۡ عَنۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ ۚ وَ لَکُمۡ عَذَابٌ عَظِیۡمٌ ﴿۹۵﴾
وَلَا تَتَّخِذُوٓاْ أَيۡمَٰنَكُمۡ دَخَلَۢا بَيۡنَكُمۡ فَتَزِلَّ قَدَمُۢ بَعۡدَ ثُبُوتِهَا وَتَذُوقُواْ ٱلسُّوٓءَ بِمَا صَدَدتُّمۡ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ وَلَكُمۡ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٞ
1574. Such conduct will weaken your power. (close)
The injunction contained in the previous verse has been repeated in the present one in order to bring home to Muslims the fact that although in principle it is not right to conclude treaties with dishonest motives, yet Muslims should particularly abstain from concluding such treaties, inasmuch as they are the bearers of the Divine Law and dishonest conduct on their part, even though it be in political affairs, will make men turn away from Islam. The words, or your foot will slip after it has been firmly established, mean that such conduct on the part of Muslims will weaken their power after it had become established in the earth. These words implied the great promise that although Muslims were being bitterly persecuted at Mecca by their opponents, yet the time was soon coming when God would establish their power on earth because such rules of conduct could only be laid down for a people who were destined to play a very prominent part in the politics of the world. The fulfilment of this prophecy under most unfavourable circumstances constitutes conclusive proof of the Quran being the revealed word of God. (close)
وَ لَا تَشۡتَرُوۡا بِعَہۡدِ اللّٰہِ ثَمَنًا قَلِیۡلًا ؕ اِنَّمَا عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ ہُوَ خَیۡرٌ لَّکُمۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۹۶﴾
وَلَا تَشۡتَرُواْ بِعَهۡدِ ٱللَّهِ ثَمَنٗا قَلِيلًاۚ إِنَّمَا عِندَ ٱللَّهِ هُوَ خَيۡرٞ لَّكُمۡ إِن كُنتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ
b. 3:78. (close)
1575. When people attain to power they generally fall victim to all sorts of temptations. Their enemies employ spies and informers among them and offer large bribes to know their State secrets. The Muslims are warned against succumbing to such temptations in the words: And barter not the covenant of Allah for a paltry price. (close)
a. 3:78. (close)
A great future was promised to Muslims in the foregoing verses. They were to attain power and glory. But, says the present verse, when people attain to power they fall victim to all sorts of temptations. Their enemies employ spies and informers from among them and offer large bribes to get possession of their State secrets. So Muslims are warned against succumbing to such temptations in the words: And barter not the covenant of Allah for a paltry price. They are warned that they would establish a republic at Medina, and their enemies would offer large bribes to some of their own members to disclose the secrets of the Muslim State to them, but these bribes, however large, would be quite a paltry thing compared with the boons which they would receive from God if they remained loyal to their State and led righteous lives.
The words, If you only knew, mean that Muslims could not even imagine, in the very difficult conditions under which they lived at Mecca, that they would ever rise to such great power as was ultimately theirs. (close)
مَا عِنۡدَکُمۡ یَنۡفَدُ وَ مَا عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ بَاقٍ ؕ وَ لَنَجۡزِیَنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ صَبَرُوۡۤا اَجۡرَہُمۡ بِاَحۡسَنِ مَا کَانُوۡا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۹۷﴾
مَا عِندَكُمۡ يَنفَدُ وَمَا عِندَ ٱللَّهِ بَاقٖۗ وَلَنَجۡزِيَنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ صَبَرُوٓاْ أَجۡرَهُم بِأَحۡسَنِ مَا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ
c. 11:12; 39:11. (close)
b. 11:12; 39:11. (close)
The verse means to say that the sums of money which will be offered to you as bribes will soon be spent but the boons and favours which God will confer on you will endure not only in this world but will extend to the next.
The words, according to the best of their works, mean that while rewarding Muslims, God will take into consideration their best works and will reward them according to those works. In fact, the good works which a man does are of various degrees; some being of a higher standard of excellence than others. For the purpose of rewarding Muslims God will not consider their deeds of the lower type nor even of the middling standard, but will take into consideration their best works and will reward them according to these. Nay, God’s reward will exceed even their best works, for it will be at least ten times as much as their best deeds (6:161). But this great reward, it is added, will be conferred only on those who do not waver under hardships nor barter away their faith for a paltry price. (close)
مَنۡ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّنۡ ذَکَرٍ اَوۡ اُنۡثٰی وَ ہُوَ مُؤۡمِنٌ فَلَنُحۡیِیَنَّہٗ حَیٰوۃً طَیِّبَۃً ۚ وَ لَنَجۡزِیَنَّہُمۡ اَجۡرَہُمۡ بِاَحۡسَنِ مَا کَانُوۡا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۹۸﴾
مَنۡ عَمِلَ صَٰلِحٗا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوۡ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤۡمِنٞ فَلَنُحۡيِيَنَّهُۥ حَيَوٰةٗ طَيِّبَةٗۖ وَلَنَجۡزِيَنَّهُمۡ أَجۡرَهُم بِأَحۡسَنِ مَا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ
a. 3:196; 4:125; 20:113. (close)
1576. The verse recognizes the equality of the rights of men and women and promises both equal share in Divine favours. (close)
a. 3:196; 4:125; 20:113. (close)
Whereas on the one hand the verse recognizes the equality of rights of men and women and promises both equal share in the favours that God will confer on them, on the other it tells disbelievers that, as they have degraded women, dominion and authority would be taken away from them and would be given to a people—Muslims—who will give women their due rights. (close)
فَاِذَا قَرَاۡتَ الۡقُرۡاٰنَ فَاسۡتَعِذۡ بِاللّٰہِ مِنَ الشَّیۡطٰنِ الرَّجِیۡمِ ﴿۹۹﴾
فَإِذَا قَرَأۡتَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ فَٱسۡتَعِذۡ بِٱللَّهِ مِنَ ٱلشَّيۡطَٰنِ ٱلرَّجِيمِ
In v. 97 it was said that those who would remain steadfast under hard trials would be favoured with great rewards. The present verse tells believers that the best way by which they could guard heavenly boons is that they should seek the protection of God against the attacks of Satan. The reason why Muslims are bidden to seek the protection of God against Satan while beginning to recite the Quran is that it is a most precious treasure from which Satan tries to keep men away. Hence the necessity of seeking God’s protection against Satan while beginning the recitation of the Quran lest worldly gains and material comforts should make men oblivious of their great spiritual objectives. (close)
اِنَّہٗ لَیۡسَ لَہٗ سُلۡطٰنٌ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ عَلٰی رَبِّہِمۡ یَتَوَکَّلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۰۰﴾
إِنَّهُۥ لَيۡسَ لَهُۥ سُلۡطَٰنٌ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمۡ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
b. 15:43; 17:66; 34:22. (close)
a. 15:43; 17:66; 34:22. (close)
This verse gives the reason why it is necessary to seek God’s protection against Satan. Satan can have no access to those who entrust their affairs to God. Such persons are beyond his approach. Those who call God to their help need have no fear of him. This means that seeking God’s protection is a form of trust in Him. (close)
اِنَّمَا سُلۡطٰنُہٗ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ یَتَوَلَّوۡنَہٗ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ بِہٖ مُشۡرِکُوۡنَ ﴿۱۰۱﴾٪
إِنَّمَا سُلۡطَٰنُهُۥ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ يَتَوَلَّوۡنَهُۥ وَٱلَّذِينَ هُم بِهِۦ مُشۡرِكُونَ
c. 2:258; 3:176; 7:28. (close)
b. 2:258; 3:176; 7:28. (close)
According to this verse Satan can exercise his influence only on those who make friends with him. Those who seek the protection of God against him declare him to be their enemy, and so they get beyond his control. The verse incidentally proves that v. 99 did not refer to the Holy Prophet as is wrongly assumed by some. Satan could not possibly have power over him. (close)
وَ اِذَا بَدَّلۡنَاۤ اٰیَۃً مَّکَانَ اٰیَۃٍ ۙ وَّ اللّٰہُ اَعۡلَمُ بِمَا یُنَزِّلُ قَالُوۡۤا اِنَّمَاۤ اَنۡتَ مُفۡتَرٍ ؕ بَلۡ اَکۡثَرُہُمۡ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۰۲﴾
وَإِذَا بَدَّلۡنَآ ءَايَةٗ مَّكَانَ ءَايَةٖ وَٱللَّهُ أَعۡلَمُ بِمَا يُنَزِّلُ قَالُوٓاْ إِنَّمَآ أَنتَ مُفۡتَرِۭۚ بَلۡ أَكۡثَرُهُمۡ لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ
d. 2:107. (close)
1577. The meaning is: "When We avert or delay punishment on account of a change for the better on the part of those who are threatened with it." There is no reference here to the abrogation of any of the verses of the Qur’an. There is no verse in the Qur’an which clashes with any other verse of the Book and which may therefore have to be regarded as abrogated. All parts of the Qur’an support and corroborate one another. There is nothing in the context either to suggest any reference to the idea of abrogation. (close)
c. 2:107. (close)
Before proceeding to explain this verse it is necessary to understand the real meaning of the word ایة which, primarily means "a sign". Unless there is something in the context to show that a word is taken in any of its secondary senses, we must take it in its primary sense. The verses of the Quran are called ایات (signs) because every one of them constitutes a sign of guidance. The preceding verses spoke of the punishments which were in store for disbelievers. This fact lends support to the view that the word ایة is here used in its original sense, viz. in the sense of a sign. Now the fulfilment of the prophecies of punishment depends on the attitude of those concerning whom they are made. If they are obstinate and persist in rejecting the signs of God, the threatened punishment overtakes them. But if they show repentance it is averted, deferred or delayed, for God is Merciful and His attribute of Mercy predominates over all His other attributes. The case of the people of Jonah is a well-known instance for understanding the nature and purpose of the prophecies of punishment. Jonah predicted destruction of the people of Nineveh, but they repented and renounced their evil ways. So God had mercy on them and averted the impending punishment (10:99), and in place of the sign of punishment, He showed a sign of mercy. On such occasions, i.e. when God averts or delays a predicted punishment in consonance with His attribute of Mercy, the sons of darkness accuse their Prophet of falsehood and declare that his prophecy has not been fulfilled. These critics conveniently ignore the fact that there is a vast difference between a promise and a threat. If a person does not keep his promise, he is rightly regarded as guilty of breach of a solemn undertaking but if he does not carry into actual effect his threat, he cannot be accused of any breach of promise. On the contrary, it will be regarded as an act of generosity and kindness on his part not to have done so. According to Arabic idiom also, whereas the non-fulfilment of a promise is called a breach of promise, the non-fulfilment of threat is regarded as an act of generosity. The Arabs say الخلف فی الوعد عند العرب کذب وفی الوعید کرم i.e. the breach of promise is a lie but the non-fulfilment of a threat is an act of generosity. God is Merciful, and if a person repents, His Mercy demands that punishment should be averted from him, and in such a case it will be foolish to accuse the Prophet of falsehood. The words, and Allah knows best what He reveals, mean that God knows best what kind of sign is required to be shown under particular circum-stances. He shows His signs according to the requirements of the time. If He sees that disbelievers have given up their evil course and are penitent, He refrains from punishing them and changes the form of the sign. In that case the threat of punishment is not carried out, and under such circumstances it is foolish to accuse the Prophet of falsehood. So the expression واذا بدلنا ایة مکان ایة would mean, When We avert or delay punishment on account of a change for the better on the part of those who are threatened with such punishment…
Taking the word ایة in the sense of Law, this expression would mean that when in certain matters the Law of Islam is found to differ from Laws previously revealed, disbelievers regard it as evidence of the Quran’s being a forgery. This meaning is in perfect harmony with the context. It is argued that when the Quran declares previous Laws to have been revealed by God, it should not have differed from them. But the admission that previous Laws have been revealed by God does not mean that none of their ordinances could be replaced by new ordinances. According to the Quran, the previous Laws were meant for particular peoples and for particular times. They were suited only to the requirements of the peoples for whom they were revealed. The Quran, on the other hand, constitutes a universal Law, meant for all peoples and all times, and therefore if it is found to contain certain teachings which differ from the teachings of previously revealed Scriptures, that is no evidence of the Quran’s being a forgery. On the other hand, it is but natural and necessary that the perfect and universal Law—the Quran—should differ in some of its ordinances from temporary and provisional Laws previously revealed.
It must be clearly understood that the verse contains no reference to the abrogation of any of the verses of the Quran. The Holy Prophet has not been reported to have ever declared any verse of the Quran to have been abrogated by another verse. Nor are there any verses in the Quran which clash with other parts of the Book and which may therefore have to be regarded as abrogated. All parts of the Quran support and corroborate one another. Moreover, there is nothing in the context to suggest any reference to the abrogation theory.
It is also worth remembering that the passage under comment was revealed in Mecca. In fact, the whole Surah belongs to the Meccan period. And the Surahs of the Meccan period deal with teachings pertaining to morals and matters of belief, and about these there can be no question of abrogation or revocation. (close)
قُلۡ نَزَّلَہٗ رُوۡحُ الۡقُدُسِ مِنۡ رَّبِّکَ بِالۡحَقِّ لِیُـثَبِّتَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ ہُدًی وَّ بُشۡرٰی لِلۡمُسۡلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰۳﴾
قُلۡ نَزَّلَهُۥ رُوحُ ٱلۡقُدُسِ مِن رَّبِّكَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ لِيُثَبِّتَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَهُدٗى وَبُشۡرَىٰ لِلۡمُسۡلِمِينَ
a. 2:98; 26:194. (close)
b. 12:112. (close)
b. 10:38; 12:112. (close)
The verse continues the theme of the previous verse and in fact constitutes an argument in favour of the non-fulfilment of the prophecy of punishment. It purports to say that the medium through which the Quran has been sent is the Holy Spirit and not an angel of destruction. Therefore the object of the prophecies revealed is reformation and not destruction. So, if a person or persons, regarding whom prophecies of punishment are made, repent, the decree of God is changed accordingly, for the real object of prophecies is the material and spiritual well-being of the people, and God’s decrees are fulfilled in the way in which that object is best served.
As for changes in previous Laws, they too are made through the Holy Spirit and consequently what we have to see is whether the changes made are for the better and whether they satisfy human reason and conscience and lead to success and happiness. If the new teachings conduce to the improvement of the spiritual condition of the people, they should be accepted as heavenly teachings and should not be criticized and rejected. (close)
وَ لَقَدۡ نَعۡلَمُ اَنَّہُمۡ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ اِنَّمَا یُعَلِّمُہٗ بَشَرٌ ؕ لِسَانُ الَّذِیۡ یُلۡحِدُوۡنَ اِلَیۡہِ اَعۡجَمِیٌّ وَّ ہٰذَا لِسَانٌ عَرَبِیٌّ مُّبِیۡنٌ ﴿۱۰۴﴾
وَلَقَدۡ نَعۡلَمُ أَنَّهُمۡ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّمَا يُعَلِّمُهُۥ بَشَرٞۗ لِّسَانُ ٱلَّذِي يُلۡحِدُونَ إِلَيۡهِ أَعۡجَمِيّٞ وَهَٰذَا لِسَانٌ عَرَبِيّٞ مُّبِينٌ
1578. Names of different persons have been mentioned in the traditions who, according to the allegations of the disbelievers, helped the Holy Prophet in composing the Qur’an—Jabr, a Christian slave, ‘Aish or Ya‘ish, a servant of Al-Huwaitib Ibn-e-‘Abdul-‘Uzza and Abu Fuqaih who was known as Yasar and ‘Adas or ‘Addas, a slave of Aus bin Rabi‘ (Ma‘ani & Fath). The names of ‘Ammar, Suhaib, Salman, ‘Abdullah bin Salam and of Sergius, a Nestorian monk, have also been mentioned in this connection. In fact, the Qur’an here makes reference to two objections of disbelievers, one relating to certain slave converts from whom the Holy Prophet is alleged to have received help in composing the Qur’an which is mentioned in 25:5-7, and the other relating to what he heard of the Gospels from a certain Christian slave convert to Islam, and which was incorporated in the Qur’an to which this verse refers. Now with regard to the second objection, did the slave in question read the Arabic version of the Gospels or their Greek or Hebrew version? If he read the Arabic version then it will have to be proved that the New Testament had been translated into Arabic in the Holy Prophet’s time and the translation was so common that even slaves read it while working at their shops. But up to the time of the Holy Prophet, translations of the Gospels had not been made in any language. The Jewish tribes of Medina had not even translated the Torah into Arabic by that time, and whenever he needed a reference to this Book, he consulted ‘Abdullah bin Salam a great Hebrew scholar. Dr. Alexander Souter, M.A., LL.D., writes in his book, "The Test and Canon of the New Testament" (Second Edition, 1925, p. 74), under the caption, "Arabic Versions"… 'The oldest manuscript goes no further back than the 8th century. Two versions of the Arabic are reported to have taken place at Alexandria in the 13th century.' And if the Christian slave-convert read to the Holy Prophet Hebrew or Greek Gospels, how could he benefit by listening to a Book which he could not understand and how could the man from whom he was alleged to have received help for composing the Qur’an being ‘Ajami (foreign and defective in speech) explain to him in his defective Arabic those great eternal truths which the Qur’an comprises and for explaining which a sound and deep knowledge of Arabic was essential? See also "The Larger Edition of the Commentary" under this verse. (close)
1904. Important Words:
یلحدون (they unjustly incline in making this insinuation) is derived from لحد. They say لحد المیت i.e. he buried the corpse. لحدالسھم عن الھدف means, the arrow deviated from the target. الحد الی فلان means, he inclined towards such a one. They say الحد فی الدین i.e. he deviated or swerved from the right way with respect to religion; he impugned religion. الحد فی الحرم means, he desecrated the haram and violated its sanctity. The Quranic expression لسان الذی یلحدون الیه means, the tongue of him unto whom they incline (Lane & Aqrab).
اعجمی (foreign) is derived from عجم (‘ajama) which means, he bit it: and he chewed it. عجم (‘ajuma) means, he had an impotence or an impediment or a difficulty in his speech or utterance and a want of clearness, chasteness, or correctness therein. They say اعجم الکلام i.e. he made the speech or language to want or be without or to have a quality the contrary of clearness, perspicuous-ness or distinctness or to want or be without chasteness or correctness. اعجم الکتاب means, he dotted the book or pointed it or he removed its want of clearness by means of diacritical points. The Arabs say, اعجم البابi.e. he closed the door. عجم means, foreigners as meaning others than Arabs; such as are not Arabs, especially Persians. عجمی signifies one who is of the race of the عجم though he may be chaste or correct in Arabic speech. قوم اعجم means, a people not of the Arabs. اعجم means, one having an impotence or impediment or difficulty in speech though he may be clear, perspicuous, chaste or correct in speaking a foreign language; and not clear, perspicuous, chaste or correct in speaking Arabic though he may be an Arab; and اعجمی signifies the same, (Lane, Aqrab & Mufradat).
Names of different persons have been mentioned in the traditions from whom disbelievers alleged the Holy Prophetreceived help in composing the Quran. According to some reports, it was a Christian slave named Jabr, who read the Christian Scriptures while making swords. The Prophet used to go and sit with him. According to another report, it was ‘Aish or Ya‘ish, a servant of al-Huwaitib Ibn ‘Abdul-‘Uzza, who knew the previous Scriptures and had embraced Islam and held firmly to the Faith. According to yet another report a slave named Abu Fuqaih who was also known as Yasar and was a Jew assisted the Holy Prophet in preparing the Quran. He was subjected to much persecution for his adoption of Islam and probably died sometime before the Hijrah. Again, ‘Abdullah bin Muslim al-Hadrami is reported to have said that his two Christian slaves named Yasar and Jabr, natives of ‘Ain at-Tamar, followed the trade of sword-cutters at Mecca. They used to read the Gospels while engaged in their work. When the Holy Prophet passed by their shop and saw them reading the Gospels he would stop there for a while. A report says that when one of them was asked whether he taught Muhammad the Bible he replied, ‘No, but he teaches me.’ Ibn ‘Abbas reports that the Holy Prophet gave instruction in Islam to a Roman slave named Bal‘am. The Quraish taunted the Prophet that he learned many things from him. The same is said of ‘Adas or ‘Addas, a slave of Ausa bin Rabi (Ma‘ani & Fath). The names of sundry other persons have also been mentioned from whom the Prophet was alleged by the Quraish to have received help, among them being ‘Ammar and Suhaib. The names of Salman, the Persian, and of ‘Abdullah bin Salam and of the Nestorian monk, Sergius, who according to Mas‘udi is the well-known Buhairah, have also been mentioned in this connection.
From the verse under comment, it appears that Meccans accused the Prophet of receiving help from a certain person in preparing the Quran and the verse answers the allegation by saying, But the tongue of him to whom they unjustly incline in making this insinuation is foreign, while this is Arabic tongue, plain and clear. The Christian critics say that this answer is irrelevant, for, as Arnold says: "admitting they were foreigners, they might nevertheless supply him with material" (Sherr’s Commentary of the Bible). It was the necessary material or subject matter, they allege, with which the foreigners supplied the Prophet and to say in reply that the tongue of the person who was alleged to teach him was not Arabic betrayed the irrelevancy of the answer. But these reverend gentlemen seem conveniently to ignore the patent fact that this was not the only objection with which the Quran was assailed. It has not hesitated to mention many other similar objections of disbelievers and has refuted them thoroughly. If the Quran could successfully rebut so many other objections of disbelievers, it could answer this one also. In fact it has adequately done so even in the verse under comment, but the reverend gentlemen themselves have not been able to understand the answer. Moreover, if the reply given in the Quran was so manifestly irrelevant as Christian critics pretend to find it, why did not the Meccans of the Prophet’s times who first made this objection, failed to detect this manifest irrelevancy and why did they not express their dissatisfaction with the answer? But not the slightest reference is to be found in any tradition to this so-called irrelevancy of this answer of the Quran. If Meccans had signified their dissatisfaction with this answer and had pointed out its absurdity and irrelevancy, the traditions would have mentioned it as they have mentioned so many other incidents calculated to impugn the Quran and render its position apparently indefensible.
The fact is that these critics themselves have not understood the objection. The traditions quoted above bring to light two objections of the Meccans. One was that Christian and Jewish slaves who had been converted to Islam secretly helped the Holy Prophet in composing the Quran. They furnished him with the necessary material which was subsequently rendered into Arabic. The other was that he listened to certain non-Muslim slaves while they recited the Gospels and incorporated into the Quran what he heard from them.
Thus Meccans made two objections. One of these the Quran has answered in this verse, while the other has been answered in vv. 25:5, 6, 7. This second objection along with its answer runs thus: And the disbelievers say, It is nothing but a lie which he has forged and at which other people have assisted him. But they have been guilty of a great injustice and have uttered an untruth. And they say: These are legends of the ancients; he has got them written down and they are dictated to him morning and evening, Nay, He Who knows the secrets in the heavens and the earth has revealed it. He truly is Most Forgiving and Merciful. The difference between these verses and the verse under comment is quite manifest. In the verse under comment disbelievers refer to a single man as having taught the Holy Prophet, while in Surah 25, it is not one man but many who are alleged, by disbelievers, to have assisted him in writing the Quran. To both these allegations different answers suiting the nature of the allegations have been given. Thus it is clear that Meccans had made two distinct and separate objections and both these have been answered in the Quran at different places, and traditions support this conclusion. It was with regard to several of the slave converts to Islam that it was alleged that they furnished material to the Prophet. To this allegation of the Meccans, chapter 25 refers in the words, at which other people have assisted him. From the same chapter it also appears that those who were alleged to have assisted the Prophet were Muslims, for the passage in question says: They are dictated to him morning and evening. Now it is an historical fact that while at Mecca Muslims assembled in the morning and evening in the house of Arqam for prayers and sat round the Holy Prophet with doors closed in order to avoid interference by disbelievers. Disbelievers alleged that the meetings were held to compose the Quran in secret, when the slave converts from Judaism and Christianity would tell the old histories of their religions, and the Prophet would have these accounts written down by his Companions. This is how disbelievers declared the Quran to be a forgery which was prepared by many persons, incidentally admitting by implication that a work of the unique excellence of the Quran could not be prepared by one man. Some Christian critics even in our own time have identified themselves with this allegation and have the hardihood to suggest that the letters with which some of the chapters of the Quran begin are the initial letters of the names of the Companions who composed them.
The objection gives rise to two inevitable questions: (a) whether those slave converts who were alleged to have assisted the Holy Prophet in writing the Quran were so learned and intelligent as to teach the Prophet what they were alleged to have taught him and (b) whether the Quran is a human production.
It is not difficult to find answers to both these questions. It does not require extraordinary intelligence to understand that those who helped the Prophet in producing and preparing the Quran and to whom he was indebted for what the Quran contained could not believe it to be the word of God and could not, for his sake, undergo willingly those inhuman cruelties and tyrannies which they suffered at the hands of disbelievers. Could these accomplices of the Holy Prophet in forging the Quran possibly endure the most cruel persecution for believing in a book which they themselves had fabricated? Are these Christian critics unaware of the persecution which these so-called forgers of the Quran bore without wavering and flinching?
With regard to the second question, viz. whether those great truths which are alleged to have been taught to the Prophet by the slave converts could possibly have been taught by them, the Quran says that what are spoken of as 'the legends of the ancients' and what are represented as being taught by the slave converts from Judaism and Christianity are not legends but great truths and mighty prophecies which have been made by Him 'Who knows the secrets in the heavens and the earth, and which it is beyond the power of any mortal to foretell'.
Now, if the objection mentioned in the verse under comment was the same as had been quoted and answered in 25:5-7 (which by common consent was revealed before the present Surah) viz. that some other persons had supplied the Prophet with material, the same convincing answer should have been given here also. But the answer given here is quite different from the one given in chapter 25. This shows that the objection referred to in the verse under comment has not been understood by these critics of the Quran. The present verse does not refer to the objection that a certain man provided material for the Quran. It refers to the second allegation of disbelievers viz. that the Prophet incorporated into the Quran what he heard from the Christian slave when the latter read the Gospels at his shop. The tradition says that there were two Christian slaves, Jabr and Yasar, who worked as sword-cutters at Mecca and read the Gospels at their shop and, when the Prophet passed by them, he used to stop there and listen to them. But on closer scrutiny it appears that really there was only one slave, Jabr, who was alleged to teach the Prophet. Another tradition, to which reference has already been made, supports this view and gives the name of Jabr only. Yet another tradition tells us that only one of the two Christian sword-cutters was asked whether he taught the Prophet, and he replied that, far from his teaching the Prophet, it was the Prophet who taught him. This not only shows that it was only one slave who read the Gospels, but also throws light on the purpose for which the Prophet sometimes stopped at his shop. He did not stop there to learn but to teach the man whom he considered to be religious-minded.
It has now been clearly established that the Quran refers to two objections of disbelievers, one relating to certain slave converts from whom the Prophet is alleged to have received help in preparing the Quran which is mentioned in chapter 25 and the other relating to what he heard of the Gospels from Jabr and incorporated in the Quran.
This second objection has been answered in the verse under comment. The verse purports to say that the tongue of him to whom they attribute the teaching of the Prophet being اعجمی i.e. foreign and defective, he could not impart to the Prophet in his faulty Arabic those great and eternal truths for explaining which the possession of sound and deep knowledge of Arabic was essential.
Other pertinent questions which arise here are, did the slave in question read an Arabic version of the Gospels and were the Gospels translated into Arabic in the Prophet’s time and were the Arabic versions so common that even slaves read them while working at their workshops? The original language of the Gospels was, according to Muslims, Hebrew, and according to Christians, Greek. If the existence of an Arabic version of the Bible in the time of the Prophet cannot be proved, it would follow that the slave in question read either a Hebrew or a Greek version. But if he read a Hebrew or a Greek Gospel, the question arises, how was the Prophet able to understand him, since he did not know either of these languages? Hence in order to understand the significance of the verse under comment, it has to be seen whether the Gospels had been translated into Arabic at the time of the Holy Prophet. That they had not been translated into Arabic is clear from the following facts:
Up to the time of the Prophet translations of the Gospels had not been made in any language. It was in the 13th or 14th centuries of the Christian era that the Gospels first began to be translated into other languages. The study of the Commentaries of the Quran by Muslim scholars also shows that Arabic versions of the Bible were not available to them, because when in their Commentaries they quote the New or the Old Testament they make very serious mistakes. They ascribe to these books stories which are not found in them. This clearly shows that Arabic versions of the Bible did not exist in their time, otherwise they would not have made such blunders.
Traditions also show that in the time of the Holy Prophet the Gospels were to be found only in Hebrew or Greek. In Bukhari we have the following about Waraqah bin Naufal; "He had become Christian in the days of ignorance and he used to write the Gospels in Hebrew." True, another tradition gives Arabic in place of Hebrew, as the language in which Waraqah wrote the Gospels but preference must be given to the tradition quoted from Bukhari because if the Arabic versions of the Bible could be available in the days of the Prophet many Muslims would have read them. But no such scholars of the Bible among early Muslims were to be found. We are even inclined to the view that the reporter had, by mistake, substituted the word "Hebrew" for "Greek" in the above tradition, because only Greek versions were current in those days and Hebrew versions had almost ceased to exist. That the Christian Scriptures had not been translated into Arabic by the time of the Prophet receives further support from the fact that even the Jewish tribes of Medina had not translated the Torah into Arabic by that time, and whenever he needed a reference to this book, he consulted ‘Abdullah bin Salam, a great Hebrew scholar. This view is also supported by the following testimony of a well-known Christian writer, Dr. Alexander Souter, M.A., LL.D., who writes in his book, "The Text and Canon of the New Testament" (Second Edition, 1925 p. 74), under the head, 'Arabic Versions': "These come partly and directly from Greek, and partly through Syriac and partly through Coptic. Mohammad himself knew the Gospel story only orally. The oldest manuscript goes no further back than the 8th century. Two versions of the Arabic are reported to have taken place at Alexandria in the 13th century." In short, there is no doubt about the fact that the Gospels had not been translated into Arabic at the time of the Prophet and those who had to consult them used the Greek or Hebrew version.
Thus it is clear that when Jabr, the Christian slave, read the Gospels, he must have read the Greek or the Hebrew version. And how could the Holy Prophet benefit by listening to a book in a language which he did not understand? The fact seems to be that when disbelievers saw the Prophet standing at Jabr’s shop they imagined that he must have learnt something from him. The Quran removes these doubts by saying, the tongue of him to whom they unjustly incline in making this insinuation is foreign, while this is Arabic tongue plain and clear, meaning that the man from whom the Prophet was alleged to have received material for the Quran must have read the book in Hebrew or Greek because his "tongue being foreign" he could not explain to the Holy Prophet in his defective Arabic those great truths which the Quran comprises. But the Prophet knew only Arabic and so he could not follow him, much less incorporate in the Quran what he heard from him.
In short, disbelievers brought two distinct charges against the Prophet. First, that he listened to a Christian slave while the latter read the Gospels at his workshop, and incorporated into the Quran what he heard from him. Secondly, that he received help from those slaves who had been converted to Islam from Judaism and Christianity and who met him in secret in the house of Arqam. Both these objections have been separately answered by the Quran, the first in the verse under comment and the second in 25:5-7.
It would be of some use to mention here the following facts which are relevant to the objections stated above.
1. The Quran has either abrogated or improved upon the teachings of former Scriptures. The Holy Prophet must have derived the knowledge of the teachings of those Scriptures from the same source—from God—from which he had derived the knowledge of the new teachings of the Quran which have supplanted previous Scriptures.
2. It has condemned some of the fundamental teachings of Christianity and has improved upon others. There is no known Christian sect with which it has not disagreed on one point or other. Now it is for Christian critics to say to which sect that man who is supposed to have "taught" the Holy Prophet belonged and how he could teach him things which were against his own beliefs. Certainly the Prophet’s so-called helpers could not have helped him in abrogating the teachings of their own religious Scriptures.
3. It has corrected many Biblical statements. For instance, it declares that Aaron did not take part in the worship of the calf. It clears David, Solomon and Noah of the sinful acts ascribed to them in the Bible. These are facts to the truth of which even Christian writers have had to bear witness today when more than 1350 years have passed since these truths were, for the first time, proclaimed by the Quran. Surely, no Christian slave could teach the Prophet these historical truths.
4. The Quran has made some very important prophecies with regard to some of the events mentioned in the Bible. No Jewish or Christian sect had any knowledge of them. But their truth has now come to light. For instance, the Quran states that God preserved the body of Pharaoh so that it might be a sign for the generations to come. No Christian slave could impart this knowledge to the Prophet.
5. It appears from the traditions that the Holy Prophet used to visit Jabr’s shop in the fourth or fifth year of the Call, when he was boycotted by Meccans. But chapters 18, 19, 20 and 25 of the Quran which deal with Jews and Christians had been revealed before that time. Ibn Mas‘ud who was one of very early converts to Islam says that chapters 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 belong to the early Meccan period (Bukhari, Kitabut-Tafsir). All these Surahs abound in facts relating to Jews and Christians. How could the Prophet know these facts if the source of his information was the Christian slave, Jabr, the sword-cutter of Mecca? (close)