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Sura XIX.[291] — Mary

by Rev. G. Margoliouth, M.A.

Mecca — 98 Verses

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

KAF. HA. YA. AIN. SAD.[292] A recital of thy Lord's mercy to his servant Zachariah;

When he called upon his Lord with secret calling,

And said: "O Lord, verily my bones are weakened, and the hoar hairs glisten on my head,

And never, Lord, have I prayed to thee with ill success.

But now I have fears for my kindred after me;[293] and my wife is barren:

Give me, then, a successor as thy special gift, who shall be my heir and an heir of the family of Jacob: and make him, Lord, well pleasing to thee."

—"O Zachariah! verily we announce to thee a son,—his name John:

That name We have given to none before him."[294]

He said: "O my Lord! how when my wife is barren shall I have a son, and when I have now reached old age, failing in my powers?"

He said: So shall it be. Thy Lord hath said, Easy is this to me, for I created thee aforetime when thou wast nothing."

He said: "Vouchsafe me, O my Lord! a sign." He said: "Thy sign shall be that for three nights, though sound in health, thou speakest not to man."

And he came forth from the sanctuary to his people, and made signs to them to sing praises morn and even.

We said: "O John! receive the Book with purpose of heart:"[295]—and We bestowed on him wisdom while yet a child;

And mercifulness from Ourself, and purity; and pious was he, and duteous to his parents; and not proud, rebellious.

And peace was on him on the day he was born, and the day of his death, and shall be on the day when he shall be raised to life!

And make mention in the Book, of Mary, when she went apart from her family, eastward,[296]

And took a veil to shroud herself from them:[297] and we sent our spirit[298] to her, and he took before her the form of a perfect man.[299]

She said: "I fly for refuge from thee to the God of Mercy! If thou fearest Him, begone from me."

He said: "I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a holy son."

She said: "How shall I have a son, when man hath never touched me? and I am not unchaste."

He said: "So shall it be. Thy Lord hath said: 'Easy is this with me;' and we will make him a sign to mankind, and a mercy from us. For it is a thing decreed."

And she conceived him,[300] and retired with him to a far-off place.

And the throes came upon her[301] by the trunk of a palm. She said: "Oh, would that I had died ere this, and been a thing forgotten, forgotten quite!"

And one cried to her from below her:[302] "Grieve not thou, thy Lord hath provided a streamlet at thy feet:—

And shake the trunk of the palm-tree toward thee:[303] it will drop fresh ripe dates upon thee.

Eat then and drink, and be of cheerful eye:[304] and shouldst thou see a man,

Say,—Verily, I have vowed abstinence to the God of mercy.—To no one will I speak this day."

Then came she with the babe to her people, bearing him. They said, "O Mary! now hast thou done a strange thing!

O sister of Aaron![305] Thy father was not a man of wickedness, nor unchaste thy mother."

And she made a sign to them, pointing towards the babe. They said, "How shall we speak with him who is in the cradle, an infant?"

It said,[306] "Verily, I am the servant of God; He hath given me the Book, and He hath made me a prophet;

And He hath made me blessed wherever I may be, and hath enjoined me prayer and almsgiving so long as I shall live;

And to be duteous to her that bare me: and he hath not made me proud, depraved.

And the peace of God was on me the day I was born, and will be the day I shall die, and the day I shall be raised to life."

This is Jesus, the son of Mary; this is a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt.

It beseemeth not God to beget a son. Glory be to Him! when he decreeth a thing, He only saith to it, Be, and it Is.[307]

And verily, God is my Lord and your Lord; adore Him then. This is the right way.

But the Sects have fallen to variance among themselves about Jesus: but woe, because of the assembly of a great day, to those who believe not!

Make them hear, make them behold the day when they shall come before us! But the offenders this day are in a manifest error.

Warn them of the day of sighing when the decree shall be accomplished, while they are sunk in heedlessness and while they believe not.

Verily, we will inherit the earth and all who are upon it. To us shall they be brought back.

Make mention also in the Book of Abraham; for he was a man of truth, a Prophet.[308]

When he said to his Father, "O my Father! why dost thou worship that which neither seeth nor heareth, nor profiteth thee aught?

O my Father! verily now hath knowledge come to me which hath not come to thee. Follow me therefore—I will guide thee into an even path.

O my Father! worship not Satan, for Satan is a rebel against the God of Mercy.

O my Father! indeed I fear lest a chastisement from the God of Mercy light upon thee, and thou become Satan's vassal."

He said, "Castest thou off my Gods, O Abraham? If thou forbear not, I will surely stone thee. Begone from me for a length of time."

He said, "Peace be on thee! I will pray my Lord for thy forgiveness, for he is gracious to me:

But I will separate myself from you, and the gods ye call on beside God, and on my Lord will I call. Haply, my prayers to my Lord will not be with ill success."

And when he had separated himself from them and that which they worshipped beside God, we bestowed on him Isaac and Jacob, and each of them we made a prophet:

And we bestowed gifts on them in our mercy, and gave them the lofty tongue of truth."[309]

And commemorate Moses in "the Book;" for he was a man of purity: moreover he was an Apostle, a Prophet:

From the right side of the mountain we called to him, and caused him to draw nigh to us for secret converse:

And we bestowed on him in our mercy his brother Aaron, a Prophet.

And commemorate Ismael in "the Book;" for he was true to his promise, and was an Apostle, a Prophet;

And he enjoined prayer and almsgiving on his people, and was well pleasing to his Lord.

And commemorate Edris[310] in "the Book;" for he was a man of truth, a Prophet:

And we uplifted him to a place on high.[311]

These are they among the prophets of the posterity of Adam, and among those whom we bare with Noah, and among the posterity of Abraham and Israel, and among those whom we have guided and chosen, to whom God hath shewed favour. When the signs of the God of Mercy were rehearsed to them, they bowed them down worshipping and weeping.

But others have come in their place after them: they have made an end of prayer, and have gone after their own lusts; and in the end they shall meet with evil:—

Save those who turn and believe and do that which is right, these shall enter the Garden, and in nought shall they be wronged:

The Garden of Eden, which the God of Mercy hath promised to his servants, though yet unseen:[312] for his promise shall come to pass:

No vain discourse shall they hear therein, but only "Peace;" and their food shall be given them at morn and even:

This is the Paradise which we will make the heritage of those our servants who fear us.

We[313] come not down from Heaven but by thy Lord's command. His, whatever is before us and whatever is behind us, and whatever is between the two! And thy Lord is not forgetful,—

Lord of the Heavens and of the Earth, and of all that is between them! Worship Him, then, and abide thou steadfast in his worship. Knowest thou any other of the same name?[314]

Man saith: "What! after I am dead, shall I in the end be brought forth alive?"

Doth not man bear in mind that we made him at first, when he was nought?

And I swear by thy Lord, we will surely gather together them and the Satans: then will we set them on their knees round Hell:

Then will we take forth from each band those of them who have been stoutest in rebellion against the God of Mercy:

Then shall we know right well to whom its burning is most due:

No one is there of you who shall not go down unto it[315]—This is a settled decree with thy Lord—

Then will we deliver those who had the fear of God, and the wicked will we leave in it on their knees.

And when our clear signs are rehearsed to them, the infidels say to those who believe: "Which of the two parties[316] is in the best plight? and which is the most goodly company?"

But how many generations have we brought to ruin before them, who surpassed them in riches and in splendour!

SAY: As to those who are in error, the God of Mercy will lengthen out to them a length of days

Until they see that with which they are threatened, whether it be some present chastisement, or whether it be "the Hour," and they shall then know which is in the worse state, and which the more weak in forces:

But God will increase the guidance of the already guided.

And good works which abide, are in thy Lord's sight better in respect of guerdon, and better in the issue than all worldly good.

Hast thou marked him who believeth not in our signs, and saith, "I shall surely have riches and children bestowed upon me?"

Hath he mounted up into the secrets of God? Hath he made a compact with the God of Mercy?

No! we will certainly write down what he saith, and will lengthen the length of his chastisement:

And we will inherit what he spake of, and he shall come before us all alone.

They have taken other gods beside God to be their help.[317]

But it shall not be. Those gods will disavow their worship and will become their enemies.

Seest thou not that we send the Satans against the Infidels to urge them into sin?

Wherefore be not thou in haste with them;[318] for a small number of days do we number to them.

One day we will gather the God-fearing before the God of Mercy with honours due:[319]

But the sinners will we drive unto Hell, like flocks driven to the watering.

None shall have power to intercede, save he who hath received permission at the hands of the God of Mercy.

They say: "The God of Mercy hath gotten offspring." Now have ye done a monstrous thing!

Almost might the very Heavens be rent thereat, and the Earth cleave asunder, and the mountains fall down in fragments,

That they ascribe a son to the God of Mercy, when it beseemeth not the God of Mercy to beget a son!

Verily there is none in the Heavens and in the Earth but shall approach the God of Mercy as a servant. He hath taken note of them, and numbered them with exact numbering:

And each of them shall come to Him, on the day of Resurrection, singly:

But love will the God of Mercy vouchsafe to those who believe and do the things that be right.

Verily we have made this Koran easy and in thine own tongue, that thou mayest announce glad tidings by it to the God-fearing, and that thou mayest warn the contentious by it.

How many generations have we destroyed before them! Canst thou search out one of them? or canst thou hear a whisper from them?



[291] Comp. the first 37 verses of this Sura with Sura iii. 35-57 with reference to the different style adopted by Muhammad in the later Suras, probably for the purpose of avoiding the imputation of his being merely a poet, a sorcerer, or person possessed. Sura lii. 29, 30; xxi. 5; lxviii. 2, 51. This Sura is one of the fullest and earliest Koranic Gospel Histories, and was recited to the Nagash or King of Æthiopia, in the presence of the ambassadors of the Koreisch. His. 220; Caussin, i. 392; Sprenger (Life of M.) p. 193.

[292] See Sura lxviii. I, p. 32. Golius conjectured that these letters represent coh ya'as, thus he counselled, and that they were added by some Jewish scribe. Sprenger (Journ. of As. Soc. of Bengal, xx. 280) arranges them as Ain, Sad, Kaf, Ha, Ya, and supposes them to be taken from the Arabic words for Aisa (Jesus) of the Nazarenes, King of the Jews. But we can hardly imagine that Muhammad would ascribe such a title to our Lord, and the word which Dr. Sprenger uses for Jews is not the form peculiar to the Koran.

[293] Lest they should desert the worship of the God of Israel.

[294] Ar. Yahia. It may be true that the name in this form had never been given. Otherwise, we have in this passage a misunderstanding of Luke i. 61, as well as ignorance of the Jewish Scriptures. Comp. 2 Kings xxv. 23; 1 Chron. iii. 16; Ezra viii. 12; Jerem. xl. 8. Some commentators try to avoid the difficulty by rendering samiyan, deserving of the name.

[295] Or, with firm resolve. See Sura [xcvii.] iii. 36. The speaker is God.

[296] To an eastern chamber in the temple to pray. Or it may mean, to some place eastward from Jerusalem, or from the house of her parents.

[297] Thus the Protev. Jac. c. 12 says that Mary, although at a later period, [greek text] But Wahl, she laid aside her veil.

[298] Gabriel.

[299] See Sura [lxxxix.] vi. 9.

[300] It is quite clear from this passage, and from verse 36, that Muhammad believed Jesus to have been conceived by an act of the divine will. Comp. Sura [xcvii.] iii. 52; see also note at Sura [xci.] ii. 81.

[301] Or, the throes urged her to the trunk of, etc.

[302] This was either the Infant which spoke as soon as born, or Gabriel. Comp. Thilo Cod. Apoc. 136-139 on this passage. Beidhawi explains: from behind the palm tree.

[303] See Thilo Cod. Apoc. N. T. p. 138, and the Hist. Nat. Mar. c. 20, which connects similar incidents with the flight into Egypt. Thus also Latona, [greek text], Call. H. in Apoll. and [greek text], H. in Delum.

[304] Or, settle, calm thine eye, refresh thine eye. The birth of a son is still called korrat ol ain.

[305] The anachronism is probably only apparent. See Sura iii. 1, n. Muhammad may have supposed that this Aaron (or Harun) was the son of Imran and Anna. Or, if Aaron the brother of Moses be meant Mary may be called his sister, either because she was of the Levitical race, or by way of comparison.

[306] See Sura [cxiv.] v. 109.

[307] From the change in the rhyme, and from the more polemical tone of the following five verses, it may be inferred that they were added at a somewhat later period.

[308] The title Nabi, prophet, is used of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as depositaries of the worship of the one true God, but with a mission restricted to their own families; whereas Houd, Saleh, Shoaib, etc., are designated as (Resoul) apostles and envoys, charged with a more extended mission to the tribes of Arabia. In Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, etc., are united the office and gift both of prophet (nabi) and apostle (resoul).

[309] Made them to be highly praised. Beidh.

[310] Enoch. Beidhawi derives the name Edris from the Ar. darasa, to search out, with reference to his knowledge of divine mysteries. The Heb. Enoch, in like manner, means initiated.

[311] Comp. Gen. v. 24, and the tract Derek Erez in Midr. Jalkut, c. 42, where Enoch is reckoned among the nine according to other Talmudists, thirteen (Schroeder's Talm. und Rabb. Judenthum)—individuals who were exempted from death and taken straight to Paradise. It should be observed that both here and Sura xxi. 85, Edris is named after Ismael.

[312] Maracci and Beidhawi, in absentid. Sale, as an object of faith. Beidhawi ad f. in reward for their secret faith. Ullmann für die verborgene Zukunft.

[313] This verse is to be understood as an answer on the part of Gabriel to Muhammad's complaints of the long intervals between the revelations.

[314] The idolaters called their deities Gods, but as Polytheists were unused to the singular Allah, God.

[315] Even the pious on their way to Paradise are to pass the confines of Hell.

[316] The Koreisch, or the Muslims.

[317] Or, glory, strength.

[318] To call down judgments upon them.

[319] As ambassadors come into the presence of a prince. Sale. This is implied in the original.


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