The Qur'an as Scripture, Part III

Arthur Jeffery

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV]

Once a pattern of the nature of the prophetic mission had begun to form in Muhammad's mind, based on what he had learned from the People of the Book, it was but natural that he should develop his thought of his own mission in terms of this pattern of the prophetic succession. As they were warners, so is he a warner (mundhir, LXXIX.45; XIII.7/8; XXXVIII.4/3: nadhir, LI.50,51; LIII. 56/57; VII.188). As they were preachers of good tidings, so is he a mubashshir (XXV.56/58; XVII.105/106; XXXIII.45/44) and a bashir (XI.2; V.19/22; VII.188). As they have the office of witness (shahid), so is he a witness from Allah (XI.17/20; XXXIII.45/44). As their coming was a mercy from Allah to mankind, so he is sent as a mercy (XXI.107). As they were sent in the language of the people to whom their mission was, so he is sent with a message in Arabic (XLIV.58; XVI.103/105). As they were told that their responsibility was to proclaim clearly their message, he is told the same thing (III.20/19; V.92/93; XIII.40; LXIV.12). As they brought Allah's commands, so did he (LXV.5). As they pointed to the dread of the coming Day of Judgment, so did he (XXXIX.71; VI.130). As men made mock of them and called them impostors, so they made mock of him (XV.95; XXI.41/42; XXV.41/43; V.57/62), and treated him as an impostor (VI.147/148; III.184/181; XXII.42/43). As men disputed with them about their mission, so did they dispute with him (XXII.3,8,68/67; VI.25; VIII.6), and as men sought to lay violent hands on them, just so did they seek to do to him (XXII.72/71).

What, however, is of more interest to our present study is that the stories of the previous prophets, in whose succession he claims to stand, come to be accommodated to that same pattern. Vague and indefinite figures in the early Meccan passages, their stories gradually take form and as they appear in his later preaching, they tend more and more to fall into a stylized pattern, viz. the pattern which he has as the background of his thought of his own mission.

The Prophets are chosen (XXII.75/74; XXVII.59/60), and so we read that Adam was chosen (XX.122/120), also Noah (III.33/30), Abraham (XVI.121/122; II.130/124), Jacob (XXXVIII.47), Joseph (XIL.6), Jonah (LXVIII.50) and Moses (XX.13), while in the passage VI.84-87 Isaac, David, Solomon, Job, Aaron, Ishmael, Lot, Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, John Baptist and his father Zechariah are also enumerated as among those whom Allah chose.1 Muhammad is, of course, par excellence al-Mustafa. In a very special sense the Prophets are guided (XXXVI.21/20), and so we read of how Adam was guided (XX.122/120), as were Noah (VI.84), Abraham (XXVI.78; VI.80), Moses (XL.53/56), Isaac and Jacob (VI.84), and Jesus (V.46/50). To these the passage VI.84-86 adds Lot, David, Solomon, Job, Aaron, Ishmael, Jonah, Elijah, Elisha, John Baptist and his father Zechariah as those whom Allah guided to a straight path. Muhammad also has this special guidance (XXXIV.50/49; XCIII.7).

As Allah's messengers they were given, as a special grace from their Lord, bayyinat (evidentiary signs) (III.183/180), and so we read how Noah had a bayyina (XI.28/30), as did Shu'aib (XI.88/90; VIII.85/83), and Hud (IX.70/71), Salih (VII.73/71), Abraham and Lot (IX.70/71), Joseph (XL.34/36), Moses (XVII.101/103; II. 92/86) and Jesus (II.87/81, 253/254). Muhammad, likewise came with bayyinat (LXI.6).

The Prophets were faithful, so we find this said of Noah (XXVI.107), of Hud (VII.68/66; XXVI.125), of Abraham (LIII.37/38), of Lot (XXVI.162), of Elijah (XXXVII.132), of Salih (XXVI.143) and Shu'aib (XXVI.178), of Joseph (XII.54) and of Moses (XLIV. 18/17; XXVIII.26). In the Sira we read how Muhammad was familiarly called by his fellow townsmen al-Amin, "the Faithful" (Ibn Hisham, Sira, p.125).

In a peculiar sense the Prophets are the "righteous ones" (Salihun),2 (XXVII.19; XXXVII.100/98; XII.101/102), so this title is found in connection with the stories of Idris (XXI.86), Noah (LXVI. 10), Abraham (II.130/124; XVI.122/123); Lot (XXI.75; LXVI.10),3 Ishmael (XXI.86), Isaac (XXXVII.112), Jacob (XXI.72), Joseph (XII.101/102), Jethro (XXVIII.27), Elijah (VI.85), Dhu 'l-Kifl (XXI.86), Jonah (LXVIII.50), Solomon (XXVII.19), Jesus (VI.85; III.46/41), John Baptist (III.39/34) and his father Zechariah (VI.85).

The messengers come bi'lhaqq, "with the truth,"4 (II.213/209; VII.43/41), an expression which is often used of Allah's revelation (XLV29/28; XLII.17/16; XXXIX.41/42, II.213/209), and which we find in connection with the mission of Abraham (XXI.55/56), Moses (II.71/66; XL.25/26) and David (XXXVIII.26/25). So Muhammad is sent bi'l-haqq (II.119/113; IV.170/168; XXIII.70/72; XXXV.24/22; XXXVI1.37/36).

That Prophets were sent as "warners" to warn their contemporaries, we have already seen (XLVI.21/20; LIV.5; XXXV.24/22). In particular this is said of Hud (XXVI.136), of Salih (LIV.24 25), of Noah (LXXI.2), of Lot (LIV.33), and of course of Muhammad (X.2; VI.51; LXXIV.2). That they were bringers of good tidings is asserted in II.213/209; VI.48, and this is said in particular to have been the mission of Jesus (LXI.6) and of Muhammad (XXV.56/58; XLVIII.8).

As Allah's messengers they can claim obedience, so we find Salih claiming such obedience (XXVI.144, 150), as do Hud (XXVI.126, 131), Noah (LXXI.3; XXVI.110), Shu'aib (XXVI.179), Lot (XXVI.163), Jesus (XL1II.63; III.50/44) and the anonymous messenger of XXIII.34/36. Similarly Muhammad is to be obeyed (LXIV.12; VIII.1,20,46/48; XLVII.33/35; III.32/29). But they are to ask no reward from men, an injunction that is laid on Salih (XXVI.145), Hud (XI.-51/53; XXVI.127), Noah (X1.29/31; XXVI.109), Shu'aib (XXVI.180) and Lot (XXVI.164), just as Muhammad is to ask no reward of men (XXXVIII.86; XXIII.72/74; XXV.57/59; XII.104; XLII.23/22).

The Prophets were taunted with being merely men (XXXVI.15/14; LXIV.6; XIV.10/12) and this occurred to Salih (XXVI.154) to Hud (VII.69/67), to Noah (XI.27/29), to Shu'aih (XXVI.186), to Moses and Aaron (XXII.47/49) and to the anonymous messenger in XXIII.33/34,38/40. So this taunt was levelled against Muhammad (XXI.3). It is not surprising, therefore, that the common experience of the Prophets was to be rejected by their people.5 This was the experience of Noah (LIV.9; LXXI.5), of Salih (XCI.11), of Hud (XI.-53/56), of Abraham (VI.80 ff.), of Lot (LIV.33, 36), of Moses (LXI.5), of the anonymous messenger (XXIII.33/34 ff.) and of Jesus (III.52/45). That it was the experience of Muhammad when he preached at Mecca needs no elaboration.

The commonest charge against them was that they were impostors who must be given the lie (L.12, 13). This was the experience of Noah (LIV.9), of Hud (XXVI.123,139), of Shu'aib (XXIX.37/36), of Abraham (XXIX.18/17) and Lot (XXVI.160), of Moses and Aaron (XXIII.48/50), of Elijah (XXXVII.127) and of the anonymous messenger (XXIII.38/40). It was what happened to Muhammad also (VI.147/148; III.184/184; XXII.42/43). Sometimes they were considered as men bewitched. This was what they said of Noah (LIV.9; XXIII.25) of Salih (XXVI.153) of Shu'aib (XXVI.185) of Moses (XVII.101/103) and it was said of Muhammad (XVII.47/50; XXV.8/9). Sometimes they deemed them mad (LI.52), as they did Noah (LIV.9), Hud (XI.54/57; VII.66/64) and Moses (LI.39), or accused them of sorcery (LI.52), as they did both Moses (LI.39) and Jesus (V.110) and also Muhammad (XXXVIII.4/3). Sometimes their people go even further and plot against them to their harm, (XL.5; III.183/180). This they did to Salih (XXVII.48/49 ff.); to Abraham (XXIX.24/23), to Moses (XL.26/27) and to Jesus (III.54/47; IV.157/156; V.110). In like fashion they plotted against Muhammad (XXII.72/71). Yet Allah's peace is with them, (XXXVII.181; XXVII.59/60). It was with Abraham (XXXVII.l09) with Noah (XI.48/50; XXXVII.79/77), with Moses and Aaron (XXXVII.120), with Elijah (XXXVII.130), with Jesus (XIX.33/34) and with John Baptist (XIX.15). So the message of Muhammad guides to the way of peace (V.15/18).

Allah's aid was ever available to assist His messengers. When they called on Him in their distress He answered them. He answered the call of Noah (XI.45/47; XXI.76), of Moses (XX.25/26), of Job (XXI.83; XXXVIII.41/40), of Jonah (XXI.87; LXVIII.48) of Zechariah (XIX.2; XXI.89), while Sura XCIII recounts how Allah had come to the assistance of Muhammad in his need. It is Allah also who grants them their gift of miracles when they are challenged to produce a sign in evidence of their calling. Salih was so challenged (XXVI.154), as were Hud (XI.53/56), Shu'aib (XXVI.187) and Moses (VII.106/103), while Muhammad was constantly so challenged (XXI.5; XX.133; XVII.90/92 ff.). So Salih was given his miraculous she-camel (XVII.59/61), Moses was given nine special signs (XVII.101/103) besides the signs of his rod and his hand (XX.17/18ff.), the fire became cool so as not to burn Abraham (XXI.69), for David iron became tractable (XXXIV.10) to Solomon the winds were subject (XXXVIII.36/35) and also the birds (XXVII.16). Jesus miraculously healed the born blind and the leper and even raised the dead (III.49/43; V.100). Muhammad's miracle is his Scripture, the Qur'an.

It will already have been noticed that this pattern of the Lives of the Prophets draws its details almost as much from later legendary material as from the Scriptures of the People of the Book, though its general plan is Biblical. It is because Muhammad is in their succession that he is bidden recount their stories (XV.51; X1X.16,41/42,51/52,54/55,56/57; XXXVIII.17/16,41/40,45,48; X.71/72), and his claim is that Allah Himself recited to him their stories (XX.99; XI.120/121; XII.3; XXVIII.3/2; VII.10l/99; III.58/51), for it was Allah who had given the stories that were in the Scriptures of the Ahl a1-kitab. That is, his Scripture was by revelation as earlier Scripture had been by revelation.

The outstanding feature in the mission of the Prophets, indeed, was that Allah had spoken to them by revelation. This is said of Adam (II.37/35), of Noah (XXIII.27) of Abraham (XXI.51/52; IV.163/161), of Ishmael (II.136/130; III.81/78; IV.163/161), of Isaac (XXI.73; IV.163/161), of Jacob (XXI.73; IV.163/161), of Job (IV.163/161), of Joseph (XII.15), of Moses (XX.13), of David (XXXVIII.29/28), of Solomon (IV.163/161), of Jesus (IV.163/16l) and of John Baptist (XIX.12/13). In precisely similar fashion He is represented as speaking by revelation to Muhammad (XXXVIII.70; XLIII.43/42; LXXII.1; XXI.45/46,108; XVII.39/41,73/75,86/88; XVIII.27/26,110; XII.102/103).

The two significant technical words in this connection are nazzala "to send down" (with its cognate anzala and its verbal noun tanzil), and awha "to reveal," with the related noun wahy "revelation."

The nazzala series offers no problem. Since the gods inhabit the heavens above any message from them to creatures on earth has obviously to be "sent down." So in ancient Mesopotamia a dream, an oracle or a commandment was "sent down" from gods to men.6 In the Old Testament prophetic inspiration is by a coming down of Yahweh or His Spirit. The Lord "came down" to the place where Moses was to meet with Him and receive divine instructions (Numb. XI.17), but it was the spirit which "came upon" Baalam so that he prophesied (Numb. XXIV.2), upon Eldad and Modad to cause them to prophesy in the camp (Numb. XI.26-29), and upon Saul at his unexpected experience recorded in I Sam. X.6,10. The visions whereby Enoch had his revelations of the unseen "fell down" upon him (Eth.Enoch XIII.8). In the New Testament also it was the "descent of the Spirit" on the day of Pentecost which gave the apostles utterance (Acts II.1-4). In both Jewish and Christian literature of later times there is constant reference to this concept of "descent" in connection with revelation, but the notion was not confined to these two religions, for in Yasna, XLIV.1 we read the prayer of Zoroaster -

"so may the kindly Right his timely succour bring. And with heaven's Good Thought to upsward in his gracious power descend."

When, therefore, we read in the Qur'an that the Meccans deny that anything has been "sent down" by Allah (VI.91), we may assume that they were familiar, from their contacts with the people of the Book, with what Muhammad meant when he referred to his message as a "missive" (tanzil),7 or as something sent down (VI.114, munazzal). Indeed we find this same verb used in the stories of the ancient Arab poets whose verses are likewise said to be "sent down" to them. Hassan b. Thabit, for example, tells how verses of weighty import were sent down to him from heaven in the night season. (Diwan, ed. al. Barquqi, Cairo, 1929, p.335).

The situation with regard to the second term is somewhat more complicated; awha is Form IV of a verb waha "to indicate," "to signify," cognate with the Ethiopic wahaya. Muhammad does not use the simple form of the verb though his common word for "revelation," wahy, is properly the verbal noun of this simple form.

Awha is used in this primitive sense of "indicate" in XIX.11/12, where the afflicted Zechariah, who has been stricken dumb and cannot speak with his tongue, has to indicate by signs what is on his mind to say. Closely related to this is the meaning "to prompt," i.e., to give direction by an indication from within.8 Thus Allah prompts Moses to cast down his staff that it may become a serpent (VII.117/114), prompts him to strike the rock to produce water (VII.160), prompts him to lead out the Israelites by night (XX.77/79; XXVI.52), prompts him to smite the sea with his rod (XXVI.63), and prompts him and Aaron to make a qibla and appoint the prayer ritual (X.87). Likewise He prompted the mother of Moses to suckle the child (XXVIII.6), and later to send him forth in the ark (XX.38). Earlier He had prompted Isaac and Jacob to the doing of good deeds (XXI.73), and had prompted Noah to build the ark (XXIII.27). On the Day of Judgment He will prompt the Day to declare its news (XCIX.5). But it is not only Allah who thus directs by prompting from within, for Satans among Jinn and men may prompt each other to "tinsel speech" (VI.112). In the light of this we should probably interpret such a passage as XVI.123/124 as meaning that Allah prompted Muhammad to follow the creed of Abraham, i.e., it was not so much an express revelation as an inner prompting such as those felt by Noah or Isaac and Jacob.

A little further development of this notion of an indication from within is that in which Allah is said to have taught the bee in this manner where to build its house (XVI.68/70), and at the creation of the seven heavens and seven earths, He indicated to each what its 'amr should be (XLI.12/l1). From this it is but one step further to the more technical meaning of "revelation." Allah indicates His will in this way of revelation to the angels (VIII.12) and angel messengers mediate His revealed will to men (XLII.51). This was the case with all His human messengers (XIV.13/16) so that these messengers are characterized as those to whom Allah has given revelation (XII.109; XVI.43/45; XXI.7). This was so distinguished an honor that it led to imitation, some to whom Allah had not spoken falsely claiming to have had divine revelation granted them (VI.93).9 In IV.163/161 we have the statement that Allah spoke in this way to Noah and the prophets after him, to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob the Patriarchs (the Twelve) Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron and Solomon, as well as to Muhammad himself. Besides these we read of such revelation being given to Joseph (XII.15), to Moses (XX.77/79; XXVI.63; VIII 117/114), and to the disciples of Jesus (V.111).

That Allah is the source of this wahy both to Muhammad and to the various messengers who preceded him is expressly stated in XLII.3/1, and is implied in the claim of Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh to have received such a revelation (XX.48/50). Yet Allah is not the only source of wahy. The Satans in precisely the same way give revelations to their clients by this implication from within (VI.121), though in their case it is probably thought of as on the level of prompting from within rather than on the higher level where revelation is connected with a mission from the Unseen and is involved with Scripture.10

When Muhammad refers to his own reception of wahy it is quite clear that he places his experience in this matter on the same level as that of those previous messengers whom he mentions in his preaching, (XXXIX.65; XLII.3/1; IV.163/161). Yet it is equally clear that his experience of wahy belongs to both levels, that of prompting from within and that of revelation from without. When he feels the prompting to follow the creed of Abraham (XVI.123/124), when he is inspired by a spirit of new religious interest (XLII.52) when he feels guided by what his Lord suggests to him (XXXIV.50/49; cf.VI.50,106; XLIII.43/42; X.109; XXXIII.2), when he fears lest he may be neglecting somewhat of that to which he feels the prompting (XI.12/15), when he is under the urge of the call to become one of the "warners" (XXXVIII.70; cf.XLVI. 9/8), this seems to be nothing particularly different from the inner prompting felt by the mother of Moses (XX.38; XXVIII.7/6), nor indeed from that instruction from within which directed the bee where to set up its house (XVI.68/70). When, however, he speaks of his particular messages as the product of wahy (XXI.45/46; LIII.4; VII.203/202; VI.50; XLII.13/11; XVII.73/75; XIII.30/29; X.2), in particular the message concerning the limitlessness of Allah (XLI.6/5; XXI.108; XVIII.110), that message of monotheism which he says was revealed to each of the Prophets (XXI.25; XXXIX.65); when he asserts that it is a message that he cannot alter (X.15/16) seeing that it is God-given; when he learns by wahy that the Jinn listened and believed (LXXII.1 ff.) and feels that he has to be on his guard lest he be tempted to invent on his own (XVII.73/75), and run the risk of having Allah take away the gift of wahy (XVII.86/88) then we are dealing with something not prompted from within but given from without.

On this second level awha is practically identical with nazzala (anzala), and it is in this sense of the word that revelation is associated with Scripture. He says of it that it is some of the eternal Wisdom which Allah has been pleased to reveal to him (XVII.39/41), so that the regulations he lays down for the religious life of his community he can claim are revealed to him from the "Book", i.e., the heavenly archetype of Scripture (XXIX.45/44; cf. VI.145/146). Similarly the stories about ancient worthies and about Allah's judgment which he tells in his preaching. and says were given him by revelation (XI.49/51; XII.102/103; III.44/39), are doubtless meant to be understood as taken from the same source (XXXV.31/28). It is in this sense that he speaks of "Qur'an" being given to him by wahy.

"We shall narrate to thee the best of narratives in revealing to thee this Qur'an, even though thou wert before this one of the negligent" (XII.3).

"And thus we have revealed to thee an Arabic Qur'an11 that thou mightest warn the Mother of Cities and those around it, and mightest warn of the Day of Assembling, about which there is no doubt. One party (will be) in the Garden and one party in the Blazing Fire" (XLII.7/5). "Say: Allah is a witness between me and you. And this Qur'an has been revealed to me that by it I might warn you and whom-soever it may reach" (VI.19).

So he is bidden recite what has been put into his mind of the Book of his Lord (XVIII.27/26), and warned not to be too hasty in speaking till the revelation that is being given him is completed (XX.114/113).

When we ask, therefore, what was Muhammad's conception of the mechanism whereby the material of Scripture was revealed, we have to deal with two conceptions which, for convenience of reference, we may label inspiration and revelation, the former being concerned with a prompting from within, and the latter with a bestowal from without. The former conception belongs mainly to the earlier stages of his prophetic activity and the latter to his later years.

The environment in which he spent his early years was one in which inspiration, as above defined; was well understood. Both poets and soothsayers (kahin) in the Arabia of that day were known to produce their rhymed rhythmical utterances in response to an inner prompting. The popular explanation of this was that they were "possessed," and because of being possessed by a jinni or a Shaitan who forced them to utter their proclamations they were considered to be more or less mad.12 The interesting thing is that when Muhammad came forward with his earliest public pronouncements his contemporaries immediately recognized them as akin to those of the soothsayers and poets (LII.29,30; XXI.5; LXIX.41,42) judging him to be Jinn-possessed, and therefore somewhat mad (LXVIII.51; LXXXI.22; XV.6; XXXVII.36/35; XLIV.14/13). It is not strange that they should have so judged. The saj' style of rhymed rhythmical prose used in Muhammad's early pronouncements is hardly to be distinguished from that which we find preserved in the books of the later antiquarians as specimens of the pronouncements said to have come from the mouths of the ancient Arabian kahins.13 Moreover, the story preserved in the Sira and the Hadith telling of his "first revelation," pictures him as experiencing precisely what a poet was thought to experience when inspiration seized him. We read there how the angel came unexpectedly upon him, bidding him proclaim what is dictated to him. He resisted, so the angel seized him and choked him14 till he thought he would expire. This happened three times, till finally he submitted and recited at the angel's dictation (Ibn Hisham, Sira, pp.152,153). Now we read of the poet Hassan b. Thabit, who later became a sort of Court poet to Muhammad himself, that in his youth he had no thought of becoming a poet, but one day, in the streets of Madina, a female Si'lat-demon cast herself upon him, knelt on his chest, struggling with him and threatening to kill him, till she finally forced three verses out of him and started him on his career as a poet. (Suyuti, al-Muzhir, II, 247).

Ibn Hisham was writing when the theory of angel mediation of all revelation was the orthodox theory, and so the choking is done in his story by an angel. Muhammad himself, however, would seem at first to have feared that his experience was a case of Jinn possession which had come upon him as suddenly and as unexpectedly as the coming of the Si'lat-demon on Hassan b. Thabit. In the earliest account we have of this experience of his15 we read that it left him in a terror of apprehension lest it should mean that he was possessed, so that he even contemplated suicide - by casting himself down from the mountain side. Hurrying home to Khadija he buried his head in her lap, and to her inquiry as to what had happened he said: "He of whom no one would ever have believed it has become a poet or one Jinn-possessed." But Khadija comforted him, assuring him that Allah would never permit such a thing to happen to a person of his reputation one who ever spoke the truth, returned not evil for evil, kept faith with his fellows, lived a good life and was always kind to relatives and friends. She then questioned him more closely, the story goes on to say, about the portentous thing which had terrified him, and when he told her about it she first gave him a word of cheer, suggesting that this experience might be something quite other than what he feared, and then sought counsel from her cousin Waraqa b. Naufal. This Waraqa who was well acquainted with the People of the Book and with their Scriptures, immediately recognized that this experience of Muhammad was the same as was told of in those Books in connection with the descent of the Namus which came down upon Moses.

Though the tendential character of this story about Waraqa is quite obvious it may well embody a memory of the transition in Muhammad's own thought from the concept of inspiration to that of revelation. The idea of inspiration belonged to the environment of his childhood and youth, the idea of revelation was something learned from fuller contact with the People of the Book. The Qur'an itself shows how he needed assurance that he was not mad (LXVIII.2). Perhaps those biographers are right who think that Muhammad had begun to produce "effusions" such as those we now have in Suras CVI; CV; LXXXVI.1-10; LXXXVII.1-9; C; XCIII; XCIV; CIII etc., before the great experience that gave him his call to his mission.17 That would mean that he had two experiences,18 the first which was much the same as the experience of a poet or a kahin, and then the great experience which convinced him that he had something more than just the message of a kahin. It is then that he insists that his message is not something spoken but of mere impulse (LIII.3). He knows well that the Satans inspire wicked, lying persons and poets (XXVI.221-224), but declares that this message of his is not the word of a poet (LXIX.41), is not something the Satans have heard and have brought down (XXVI.210-212). It was from contact with the People of the Book that he had learned the distinction, so that the story about Waraqa may preserve a memory of this fact. Muhammad knows that other messengers before him among the communities known to the People of the Book had been considered by their contemporaries as Jinn possessed madmen. In particular he refers to this charge as levelled against Noah (LIV.9), and against Moses (XXVI.27/26; LI.39), just as the Rabbinic tales tell of the mockery made of Noah's madness in building such a thing as the Ark,19 and of the three occasions when the Israelites made protest at the madness of Moses' command to them,20 when he led them into the waters of the Red Sea, when he took them into the waterless wilderness, and when, in spite of the report of the spies, he insisted that they march into the land of Canaan. In LI.52 he says that no messenger had ever come to any people in earlier times without their having called him either a madman or a sorcerer, which reminds one of the popular judgment on the prophets in Hos. IX.7:

"the prophet is a fool: the man of the spirit is mad."

It will be remembered how Sheinaiah the Nehelemite wrote to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest reminding him of his duty to punish with prison and the stocks "every man that is mad and maketh himself a prophet" (Jer. XXIX.25-27). Likewise in the New Testament we find that the contemporaries of Jesus reacted to his preaching by saying: "He hath a devil and is mad. Why hear ye him?" (Jno. X.20), and even his friends are represented as having at one time thought that he was "beside himself" (Mk. III.21 ff.).21

But not all prophetic experience was on this level. In every case it was concerned with a breaking through of the Unseen with a message to be delivered. That message might be nothing more than information about the whereabouts of someone's stray asses (I Sam. IX.6 ff.), or it might be a matter of oracles of blessing and cursing (Numb. XXIII,XXIV), or a prediction of coming woe (Jonah III.4), but it might be on the level of the impassioned utterances of an Amos or a Jeremiah. If the Prophet were a true prophet it was always a message from God, however humble a matter it might seem in our judgment. It might be the Holy One Himself who broke through from the Unseen and without any intermediary gave the message. He spoke with Adam in the earthly Paradise (Gen. III.8 ff.). He spoke personally to Abraham when He called him to go out on his great venture of faith (Gen. XXIV.7). He spoke with Moses at the bush (Ex. III.4 ff.), with Samuel at Shiloh (I Sam. III.4-14), and with David about the Jerusalem temple (I Ki. V.5). More commonly, however, it was by the Spirit as intermediary that He spoke. It was the spirit which came upon Gideon to give him guidance in the days of the struggle against the Midianites and the Amalekites (Judg. VI.34), which came upon Samson to move him (Judg. XIII.25; XIV.6,19), and upon Saul to make him prophesy (1 Sam. X.6,10; XVIII.10), just as later it came upon the writing prophets to give them their message (Isa. LXI.1; Ezek. XI.5). This spirit is the Holy Spirit which the Psalmist pleads may not be taken away (Ps. LI.11), and which inspired Moses during the carrying out of his mission (Isa. LXIII.10,11). That it was the special agent of prophecy appears quite clearly in the story of how Moses appointed the seventy elders (Numb. XI.25), where we read how the Lord took of the Spirit which was already upon Moses and gave it to these seventy elders whom Moses had chosen, whereupon, as soon as it rested upon them, they began to prophesy.22

Muhammad knows that it is the Spirit who is the agent of revelation. He tells his audience that Allah sends down His Spirit upon whom He wills among His servants that he may undertake the task of warning (XL.15; XVI.2). Consequently it is this Spirit who brings down Muhammad's message from the Lord (XVI.102/104; XXVI.193ff.; XLII.52), that he also may warn (XXVI.194).

The word he uses here for "Spirit" is ruh, which, of course, is the Heb. ruah, Aram. ruha of the Old Testament and the Rabbinic writings, which like the Syr. ruha, representing the of the New Testament, is the word that is always used of the spirit which is active in connection with the inspiration of men of God. In XL.15; XVI.2 and XLII.52 this spirit is said to be min'amrihi (or min'amrina), which may mean no more than that it is connected with Allah's affairs, as Bell translates it. If, however, as has been more than once suggested,23 it represents the Rabbinic memra, it is curious to note, i) that in IV.171/169 Jesus is referred to as "a spirit from Him (minhu),"24 ii) that on the Day the Spirit will stand25 apart from, yet with, the angels (LXXVIII.38); iii) that the Spirit along with the angels is concerned with every 'amr "affair" (XCVII.4).

In his Meccan period Muhammad is conscious that he knows very little about the Spirit (XVII.85/87) save that it has some connection with Allah's 'amr, and is angelic in nature. Later on he identifies it with the Holy Spirit (ruh al-Qudus, XVI.102/104) which (or who) was the strengthener of Jesus (II.87/81,253/254; V.110/109). The reason is clear. In the Old Testament it is, as we have seen, the "spirit" which is the agent in mediating the prophetic message. Yet often enough in the Old Testament it is a special angelic visitant who speaks with the prophets. It was such an angel of the Lord who spoke with Hagar and the child Ishmael in the wilderness (Gen. XVI), who spoke with Abraham at the test of sacrificing Isaac (Gen. XXII.11ff.), who spoke to Balaam (Numb. XXII.35),26 to Gad (I Chron. XXI.18), to Elijah (II Ki. I.3) and to Zechariah (Zech. I.9ff.). In the Book of Daniel this angel is identified with Gabriel (IX.21ff.), and it is Gabriel who in the Gospel is the messenger from the Lord to announce the birth both of John the Baptist and of Jesus (Lk. I.19,26). In Sura XIX.17 it was Allah's Spirit who made the announcement to Mary, so that we have the ground for the identification of the Spirit with Gabriel, and are prepared for II.97/91 where it is Gabriel who brings down the message to Muhammad's heart,27 and LXVI.4 where he is Muhammad's angelic patron.

In the later theological tractates it is Gabriel who, as the angel of revelation, is entrusted with the task of transmitting from the heavenly archetype of Scripture the message that was given to each Prophet as he appeared to undertake his mission, and it was Gabriel who for the twenty odd years of Muhammad's prophetic activity visited him from time to time to transmit to him the "words of Allah" he was to proclaim in his preaching and leave as his Scripture for his community. This particular association of Gabriel with the matter of revelation is peculiar to Islam,28 but there can be little doubt that it was suggested by the activity of Gabriel in delivering messages from heaven as pictured in the Book of Daniel and the Gospel of Luke. Some steps in this direction had been taken already in the Rabbinic writings, where pious fancy had seen Gabriel in the messenger who in Gen. XXVII.15 showed the way to Joseph,29 taught him the seventy languages (Sota 36b), and cared for and instructed Moses in Egypt (Exod. R.i,67b).

Having come thus far in our discussion we are in a position to answer the question of how Muhammad conceived the mechanism of revelation whereby Scripture became available to men. In Sura VI.93 we read -

"Who has done greater wrong than he who has invented a falsehood about Allah, or says: 'I have received a revelation,' when nothing has been revealed to him; and he who says: 'I shall have sent down (to me) the like of what Allah has sent down'?"

and again in XLII.51/50 we read -

"It is not for a human that Allah should speak to him save by wahy, or from behind a veil, or should send a messenger to reveal by His permission what He wills and thus have We revealed to thee a spirit (ruh.) from Our affair ('amr), for thou didst not know what Scripture (kitab) or Faith ('iman) was. But We have made it a light to guide whom We will of Our servants, and thou, indeed, wilt guide to a straight path."

In these two passages we have all the essential elements. Scripture is necessary that men may be rightly guided (VI.157/158; III.4/2) to that "straight path," may know and understand the "way of God" they could never have found by the exercise of their own intelligence. To know and walk this way is to walk in the safety of true religion, to be in the Faith. It is the function of Scripture to record what Allah has been pleased to reveal about this Faith. The initiative in the matter is with Allah. He could have left men without guidance, but in His mercy He has at various points in history chosen humans to whom He has revealed messages which He wished them to set forth as guidance for their fellows. These chosen servants are His messengers, His prophets, and so significant is their office that evil-minded men will falsely pretend to have also had such a revelation for human guidance. No greater wrong than this can be conceived, for instead of guiding men such pretenders would be leading them astray from the "straight path." There are three ways in which Allah can convey such a message to His chosen messenger.

(i) He may speak with him in personal converse at a personal interview, when there is naught but the Veil between Allah and His Servant (II.253/254). It was thus that He spoke with Moses (IV.164/162; VII.144/14l),30 and thus did He speak with Muhammad on the famous night of the Mi'raj or Heavenly Journey.31 Perhaps we are also meant to understand that He spoke thus with Adam in personal converse in the Garden (II.31/29.37/35).32

(2) Or He may speak by wahy, giving inspiration from within much as He inspires the bees in the matter of house building, or inspires the heavens and the earth as to their cosmic functions. In manner this is not very different from the way in which the poets and soothsayers are inspired, though in the case of Allah's messengers the source is divine not demonic and the material given is heavenly instruction.

(3) Or He may send a celestial messenger. There seems to have been some confusion at first in Muhammad's mind as to whether this was just any angel or a special celestial being. Later he identifies this messenger with the Holy Spirit, and finally with Gabriel.

In all this we are dealing with matters commonly discussed among those People of the Book with whom Muhammad was in contact during his formative period. Among them all three methods were associated with God's revelation of Himself to men. He spoke directly to Adam and Eve in the Garden (Gen. III), and He spoke to Moses (Ex. XXXIV.34)33 both at the Bush (Ex. III,IV) and at Sinai (Ex. XIX), as well as to others among His servants such as Abraham (Gen. XXVI.2), Jacob (Gen. XXXV.15) and David (I Ki. VI.12). At a later period reverence for the Divine introduced the notion of the Veil that hung between the Divine Presence and creatures who drew near.34 But God also prompted from within those servants whom He sent, thus giving them what they were assured was the word of the Lord. Ezekiel says of his experience -

"Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thy house .... but when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them: Thus saith the Lord God. He that heareth let him hear," (Ezek. III.24,27).

And the Lord also sent His angels with His heavenly message to His servants. He so sent His message to Gideon (Judg. VI.11ff.), to Manoah (Judg. XIII.3ff.), to Abraham and Lot (Gen. XVIII.XlX), to Elijah (I Ki. XIX.5ff.) to the unnamed prophet of Bethel (I Ki. XIII.18), and we read in the Gospel that when a heavenly voice answered the cry of Jesus the people said: "An angle hath spoken to him" (Jno. XII.29). That there was understood to be a connection between the angelic messengers and the moving of the spirit is quite clear both in Judg. XIII.20-25 and Luke I.13-17. Finally in Daniel and in the Gospel of Luke the angelic messenger is named Gabriel, so that in later writings there is a strong tendency to identify the celestial being who appears in the Old Testament theophanies with Gabriel.35

There is thus no escape from the conclusion that though Muhammad began with a concept of inspiration hardly, if at all, distinguishable from that of the poets and soothsayers in the Arabia of his day, yet as he developed his interpretation of his mission to bring to the Arabs the content of the religion of the People of the Book his thinking expanded from this limited concept of inspiration to a fuller concept of revelation connected with a Scripture. In this development of his thinking36 it is now clear that he took over from the People of the Book a theory of the mechanism of revelation as well as a theory of the nature of Scripture and a theory of the prophetic succession through which that Scripture was communicated to Allah's creatures.

Since Muhammad thought of himself as in the succession of these men sent of God, and since the Qur'an as a revelation to him from Allah was to take its place beside previous Scriptures, it is of some importance to consider what the Qur'an has to say about these previous Scriptures.

In his thinking about the messengers it was part of the office of a messenger to be sent with Scripture (LVII.25; XVI.36/38; X.47/48; XXXV.25/23; III.184/181),37 and in V.44/48 we read that the function of doctors and teachers among the people was to guard Scripture. The necessity for such guarding is obvious. Scripture is the ultimate authority in matters of religion,38 given that men may be rightly guided (XXIII.49/51; VI.157/158), and so something over which men should meditate, and which the intelligent should ever keep in mind (XXXVIII.29/28). It is not strange, therefore that belief in Scriptures sent from Allah should be laid down as a fundamental belief for Muhammad's followers (II.177/172; IV.136/135). But ultimately all Scripture is one, for there was one archetypal Book of which the Scriptures of the various Prophets were but portions (XVIII.27/26; III.23/22; II.231; XXXIII.6; XXIX.45/44; XXXV.31/28; IV.44/47,51/54). Therefore Muslims are to believe in the entire Book (III.119/115; cf. V.59/64), as Muhammad himself was bidden believe in whatever Scripture Allah had sent down (XLII.15/14).

What then does the Qur'an have to say about these portions of the archetypal Scripture which were sent down to his predecessors, and in which he and they are to believe? In XIII.138 we read that each age had its Scripture,39 but in VI.156/157 the Arabs seem to know that Scripture has been sent down to only two previous peoples, an idea which would fit in very well with passages we have already considered, such as II.136/130; LVII.26; IV.54/57, which suggest that the receiving of Scripture was a matter confined to the two groups of the Ahl al-Kitab.37 Thus the regulation for Muslims is that they believe in what was sent down to the People of the Book (XXIX.46/45; II.4/3; IV.136/135; cf. XLII.13/11; V.59/64). This assumes that they were in a position to discover what was in those previous Scriptures, just as the injunction to Muhammad to consult those who read Scripture when he is in doubt about what is being revealed to him (X.94) assumes that such Scripture readers were readily available. Yet the only Scriptures mentioned by name in the Qur'an, apart from two early references to the Scrolls (suhuf) of Abraham and Moses (LXXXVII.19; LIII.36/37,37/38), whose meaning is doubtful,41 are the Taurah of Moses, the Zabur of David and the Injil of Jesus.

i) Of the Taurah we read that it was "sent down" like other revelation material (III.3/2,65/58,93/87; V.44/48 etc.), to be the Scripture for the Children of Israel (XLV.16/15; XL.53/56; II.4I/38,44/41), giving them Allah's guidance (XVII.2; XXXII.23; XL.53/56). It was later than the time of Abraham (III.65/58), and is specifically the Book of Moses (XI.17/20; XLVI.12/13),42 though Aaron's name is associated with his in this matter (XXI.48/49; XXXVII.117). It is described as a light and a warning to the God fearing (XXI.48/49; cf. XL.54/56), for it was given for men's enlightenment (XXVIII.43). It is called an Iman (XI.17/20; XLVI.12/1l) and a mercy (VI.154/155; XI.17/20; XLVI.12/11), a dhikra (XL.54/56), a light (VI.91; V.44/48) and a guidance (VI.91,154/155; IV.44/48).48 It contains the huk of Allah (V.43/47), is a tafsil44 of every matter (VI.154/155; VII.145/142), teaching the Children of Israel much that neither they nor their fathers knew (VI.91). It is a completion (tamam) for everyone who would do right (VI.154/155), and contains Allah's pledged promise of Paradise for such as will devote their persons and their substance to Him (IX.111/112). Nevertheless it is but a portion of the Kitab of Allah (V.44/48). In particular it contained the Law for the Children of Israel, for it was the Taurah which contained the law of retaliation (V.45/49), the food regulations they had to observe (III.93/87), the prohibition of usury (IV.161/159; V.42/46), etc.45 It is doubtless what is meant by the Tablets written out by Allah for Moses,46 since they also are called a guidance and a mercy, a monition concerning all things which Moses is to command the people to observe (VII.145/142, 154/553).

After the time of Moses this Taurah was inherited by the Prophets among the Children of Israel who judged the people according to it (V.44/48). Later Allah taught it to Jesus (III.48/43) for Jesus came to confirm it (LXI.6; III.50/44; V.46/50) as it was read and studied by his contemporaries (III.79/73). Later still it was inherited by the doctors and teachers of the Jews,47 who were its keepers and witnesses to it, and who judged the people of their community according to it (V.44/48). Finally it came down to the Jews of Arabia, Muhammad's contemporaries, who had copies which he challenged them to bring out and read (III.93/87), for he claimed that in it was a word-picture of the perfect Muslim (XLVIII.29), a teaching with regard to that Day of Meeting about which the Arabs laughed when he preached of it (VI.154/155), and a description of himself as the expected prophet (VII.157/156). His Jewish contemporaries used to read in it (II.44/41,75/70ff.; V.43/47; VII.169/168), knowing that it was something revealed from the Lord (II.76/71), but obstinately they say that they will believe in it but in nothing that has come after it (II.91/85). Sura V.45/49 quotes Exod. XXI.23-27, and it is possible that parts of V.32/35 and XVII.2,4,7 are meant to be quotations from the Taurah.

ii) The Zabur was the Book given to David (XVII.55/57; L.163/161), a "blessed Book" sent down to him (XXXVIII.29/28), since he was one of Abraham's rightly-guided progeny (VI.84,87) and thus among those to whom Allah gave the gifts of Scripture, Wisdom and Prophecy (VI.89). As such he was taught by Allah (II.251/252). The Zabur is actually quoted in Sura XXI.105, where the words "My righteous servants shall inherit the earth" is a quotation from Ps. XXXV11.29. When Sura V.78/82 says that the unbelieving among the Jews were cursed by the tongue of David this may possibly be a reference to certain imprecatory Psalms, though it is more likely to be a generalization.

iii) The Injil is the revelation given to Jesus, who was taught it by Allah (III.48/43; LVII.27; V.46/50). Like other Scriptures it was "sent down" (III.65/58; V.47/51), and like them it was intended to give guidance and light (V.46/50; cf. III.3/2),48 and to give warning (V.46/50). It agrees with the Taurah in giving a word-picture of the perfect Muslim (XLVIII.29), in containing Allah's pledged promise of Paradise (IX.111/112), and in having in it a description of Muhammad as the coming Prophet (VII.157/156).49 This agreement is not strange since it was intended as a confirmation of the Taurah (V.46/50). From Jesus the disciples received it and believed in it (III.53/46), and the Christians are to judge according to it (V.47/51).

In each case, it will have been noticed, the Scripture is thought of is a body of material given from without to one individual. Moreover the Injil is thought of as, like the Taurah, something to be observed, being thus the Law for the Christian community as the Torah was the Law for the Jews. The names used for these three Scriptures are words borrowed from the religious vocabulary of the Ahl al-Kitab. Taurah is the Heb. Torah, meaning "instruction," which among the Jews early came to be to be used as a technical term for the Law 50 and by extension for the whole of the Old Testament.51 Zabur is an Arabic corruption of the Hebrew word mizmor,52 doubtless under the influence of the genuine Arabic word zubur. Injil is , but passed on to Arabic through the Ethiopic wangel.53 Both the names Muhammad uses for his own "lessons" of Scripture are likewise words taken from the technical religious vocabulary of the People of the Book, Qur'an being the Syriac qeryana, used in the 5yriac speaking Church for the "readings" used as Scripture lessons,54 and Sura being a distortion of another Syriac word.55 The more general word for Scripture, viz. Kitab was also derived from the same source,56 as was the word furqan which in II.53/50; XXI.48/49 is associated with Moses, in III.4/2 with both the Taurah and the Injil, and in XXV.1; II.185/181 with the revelation to Muhammad.57

It is not surprising therefore to see how closely Muhammad's thought of his own Book follows this picture he had formed from what he had learned about the Scriptures of the Ahl al-Kitab. Like them his Scripture is derived from the celestial archetype (XLIII.4/3; LVI.78/77ff.; and cf. LII.2,3; XVIII.27/26), from which, like them, it is "sent down" (LVI.80/79; XLIV.3/2; XCVII.5; II.185/181; XXVI.192; XXXIX.1; XX.4/3), though it also consists of only portions of that divine original (XXIX.45/44; XXXV.31/28). It was brought down, as they were, by angelic mediation (XXVI.193; XVI.102/104). Thus it is truly wahy (LIII.4). Its message, like theirs, is something taught by the Merciful One Himself (LV.1ff.),58 so it is a book of warning (X.57/58; XXVI.194; XXV.1; XXXII.3/2; XXXVI.70), as well as of good tidings (XXVII.2;II.97/91; XVI. 89/91,102/104). Like its predecessors it is a mercy (XXVII.77/79; XLV.20/19; XVI.64/66,89/91), and a light (XII.52; LXI.8; IV.174) to give men guidance (LXXII.13; XVIl.9; XXVII.2; II.97/91; XVI.89/91,102/104; XII.111) leading them out of darkness into light (XIV.1) and into the paths of Allah (XIV.1; XXXIV.6). It contains Allah's command (LXV.4,5,8), so that like the earlier Scriptures it is a book of Law, containing Allah's legal prescription (farida, IV.11/12,24/28; IX.60), His ordinance (wasiyya, IV.12/16), His precepts (hudud, IV.13/17; II.l87/183,229-230; IX.97/98), and His injunctions (kitab, IV.24/28; cf. 66/69). That is, it contains Allah's instructions for the Muslim community (IV.127/126) just as the Torah contained those for the Children of Israel and the Gospel those for the Christians. So Muhammad is to give judgment according to it (V.48/52,49/54) as the Children of Israel were to be judged by the Taurah and the Christians by the Injil. For this reason the Qur'an is placed on a level with those two Scriptures (IX.111/112; cf. XXVIII.48,49; II.136/130),59 and as the Gospel came to confirm the Torah so the Qur'an has come to confirm them both (II.89/83; XII.111; X.37/38; XXXV.31/28).

It is thus clear that as Muhammad claimed to be in the succession of the earlier Prophets as messengers called to summon men to the "way of God," so his Book, the Qur'an is considered to be in the succession of the earlier Scriptures which men read to find what had been revealed from heaven as to that "way of God." It remains to see how both his conception of his own office and his conception of a Scripture connected with that office went beyond the teaching of the People of the Book.


Columbia University, New York City


1 Three different verbs are used for "to choose" in connection with Allah's messengers, viz ikhtara, ijtaba and is istafa, but for the purposes of our discussion here they are synonymous and cou1d each translate the Biblical bakhar. In the Qur'an Allah's choosing is not confined to choosing the prophetic succession. He chooses Saul to be king over Israel (II.247/248), and the Virgin Mary was "chosen" (III.42/37). This is consonant with Scriptural usage.

2 This word, which Bell translates "upright," is also used of the faithful followers of a Prophet. Since the salihun of the Qur'an obviously represent the saddiqim of the 0ld Testament, (the of the Greek Bible), perhaps we should include here the title siddiq given in the Qur'an to Abraham (XIX.41/42), to Idris (XIX.56/57), to Joseph (XII.46), to the Virgin Mary (V.75/79), and used of certain faithful believers in IV.69/71; LVII.19/18. On the word see my Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an. pp. 194, 195.

3 That Lot should be included among the righteous bespeaks Christian influence. It is only in very late Jewish documents that we find Lot included in such a fellowship, whereas as early as the Second Epistle of Peter (II.8) we find Lot referred to in Christian circles as

4 So the angelic messengers came bi'l-haqq (XV.55,64).

5 It is because each prophet is chosen from among his own people that they are commonly referred to as "their brother." This is said of Salih, who was the "brother" of Thamud (XXVII.45/46). Of Hud who is the "brother" of 'Ad (XI.50/52), of Shu'aib who is the "brother" of Midian (XXIX.36/35). So also Noah is the "brother" of his people (XXVI.106) and Lot of his (XXVI.161).

6 In Sumerian the compound verb a2.......ag3 means both "to send" and "to command", and the corresponding noun a2-ag2 (-ga2) means "a message".

7 Cf. LXIX.43; LVI.80/79; XX.4/3; XXVI.192; XLI.2/1; etc. In the Quran tanzil is used only for the messages sent down to Muhammad, never for the message sent to any other prophet, though the verb is used of the message in the Torah and of that in the Gospel (III.3/2; IV.136/135; etc.).

8 R. Bell in his translation of the Qur'an always renders awha by the verb "to suggest", which will cover all the meanings: "to indicate," "to prompt," "to reveal."

9 Similarly in the Old Testament the false prophets are rebuked for claiming that God had spoken to them when He had not spoken (Jer. V 31; XIV.14; XXIII.21ff; Mic.III.11), and the New Testament in its turn warns of the coming of such false prophets (Matt. VII.15; XXIV.11,24; Mk.XIII.22; I John IV.1).

10 Perhaps this distinction should not be pressed. Mani, it will be remembered, was said to have taught that the Law and Prophets were produced under the inspiration of the Evil Spirits. (Acta Archelai, caps.x,xi-xiii,xxxix; Serapion of Thumuis Adversus Manichaeos. xxxvi; Titus of Bostra, Contra Manichaeos, III.5), so that it is not impossible that in Muhammad's environment revelation even at the Scripture level may have been thought of as possible through Satanic inspiration.

11 Qur'an in each of these passages means not the whole book which we know as the Qur'an but rather "Scripture lesson," i.e., it has the original meaning of the Syriac word from which it is derived. Similarly the stories about the ancient worthies in the passages previously mentioned might each be taken as a Scripture lesson, for they are the stories of Noah (XI.49/51), of Joseph (XII.102/103) and of the Virgin Mary (III.44/39).

12 Goldziher has gathered material on this in an essay "Ueber die Vorgeschichte der Higa-Poesie," in Bd. I of his Abhandlungen zur arabischen Philologie, Leiden, 1896. It will be remembered that in quite another area we have the statement of Democritus that it is impossible to produce good poetry without an inspiration akin to madness, (Diels, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, II. 66).

13 Specimens are given in al-Jahiz. Kitab at-Bayan wa't-Tabyin, (Cairo, 1926). I,203; al-Qalqashandi, Subh al-A'sha, I,211; al-Ibshihi, al-Mustatraf, II,105. The lexicons say that this word saj' meant originally the prolonged yearning-cry of a female camel (a1-Sihah, sub. voc.), or the cooing of a pigeon (Lane, p. 1309), and then was applied by a figure to the utterances of the soothsayers. It is worthy of note that the cognate Heb. meshugga' is used in connection with the ecstatic utterances of the prophets (Hos. IX.7; II Ki. IX.111, Jer. XXIX. 26), and also in I Sam. XXI.14 (15) ff. for the kind of madness David simulated at the Court of Achish of Gath.

14 "Choked" is perhaps the best word to use here. Ibn Hisham has the verb ghatta, but al-Bukhari Sahih, I.5 has ghatta with th instead of t. Both verbs have the meaning "to plunge deep into water," though ghatta is used also of the gurgling sound of a cooking-pot. In al-Athir, Nihaya, III, 68 says that both words mean the same thing and suggests that we are to understand a choking for breath.

15 It is quoted from the early biography of Ibn Ishaq by Tabari. Annales, I,115off. In the bowdlerized edition of Ibn Hisham the account of Muhammad's fear and a considerable part of Khadija's words of comfort have been omitted. The story was known, however, to the canonical Traditionists, (cf. al-Bukhari I.5; IV.347), though there also considerations of reverence for the prophet have caused the deletion of all reference to his particular fear and to the thoughts of suicide. Sprenger, Leben, I,336-339, translates the whole passage from his copy of Tabari. The pleasant tale told in the Sira of Ihn Hisham of how Khadija thought out a device to prove whether Muhammad's visitor from the Unseen were demonic or angelic obviously arose after the identification of the source of revelation with Gabriel had been made.

16 The thought of suicide is seen by some writers in such Qur'anic passages as XVIII.6/5; XXVI.3/2, but these passages must in any case refer to events later in his ministry, and have no relevance to this "first revelation."

17 Wm. Muir, Life of Mohammed. (Edinburgh. 1912), p. 42.

18 Sura LIII.1-18 distinctly mentions two experiences of visitation from the Unseen. This double "calling" is met with elsewhere in that area. It will be remembered that the angelic being visited Mani when he was just emerging out of childhood to teach him how to prepare for his mission, and then came and "called" him again when it was time for his mission to commence (Fihrist, p. 328).

19 Lekach Tob, ed. Buber, p. 36; Midrash Tanhuma Noah; and cf. Book of the Bee, XX.

20 In the Quran. however, it is Pharaoh who brands Moses as mad.

21 This N.T. word "to throw out of position" fits well with what the Qur'an says of the reception of the prophet Hud by his people, for they said that it was clear that one of the gods must have smitten him (XI.54/57), and this throwing him off his balance was the cause of his safaha "craziness" (VII.66/64). Here we are reminded at once of Homer's picture of Hector, smitten by the god Ares, rushing with foaming mouth and blazing eyes towards the Greek ships (Iliad XV.605), and of the smitten Cassandra in the Agamemnon of Aeschylus who cries (II.1214-1216):

"Oh! Oh! the agony?
Once more the dreadful throes of prophesy
Whirl and distract me with their ill boding onset."

22 In Deut. XXXIV.9 we read that the spirit of wisdom which Joshua had was passed on to him from Moses.

23 Grimme, Mohammed, II, p. 51; Hirschfeld, New Researches, p. 15.

24 This spirit of Allah was breathed into Mary (XXI.91; LXVI.12), just as Allah's spirit was breathed into Adam (XV.29; XXXVIII.72; XXXII.9/8).

25 So in LXX.4 the Spirit is distinguished from and yet functions along with the angels.

26 It is perhaps worth remembering that where in the Hebrew text of the chapters of Numbers it is an angel who speaks to Balaam, in the Aramaic Targums it is a Memra from God who meets Baalam in the way.

27 Thus the "faithful spirit" of XXVI.193 is identified with Gabriel, likewise the "one strong in power" of LIII.5, and the "noble messenger" of LXXXI.19 (unless the noble messenger here refers to Muhammad himself, as in LXIX.40). It will be noticed that the phrase "beside Him of the Throne established" in LXXXI.20 is much the same as Gabriel says of himself in Lk. I.19 6 , a phrase to which Strack-Billerbeck II.97 bring Rabbinic parallels.

28 It is common to both Sunni and Shi'a Islam. For the Shi'a doctrine see Ibn Babawaihi as translated by A. A. Fyzee. A Shi'ite Creed, pp. 82,83.

29 Targ. Yer. I on the passage.

30 The reference is to the theophany at Sinai (Ex. XIX.20).

31 See Hashiyat al-Dardir 'ala Qissat al-Mi'raj, pp. 22,23.

32 The older Commentators on the passage II.253/254, e.g., al-Baidawi, mention only Moses and Muhammad as those to whom Allah spoke face to face. Later writers, however, such as al-Alusi, Ruh at-Ma'ani III,2, and al-Khafaji, 'Inayat al-Qadi, II.332, add Adam to them.

33 The New Testament writers also note this, cf. Mk. XII.26; Jno.IX.29.

34 The Qur'anic hijab corresponds to the wilon and the pargod of the Rabbinic texts (Hag. 13a; Gen.R. iii,4; Lev.R. xxxi,7; Midrash Tehillum at end of Ps. XI; III Enoch XLV,1.6), the bar goda of the Mandaean texts, and the of the early Christian and Gnostic tractates (see the Index to Miss Baynes' Coptic Gnostic Treatises, p. 197). This same word hijab is used for the veil before the Presence in the Arabic text of the Samaritan Molad Mosh, (ed. S. Miller, p. 133).

35 The evidence for this is assembled in Strack-Billerbeck II,91.

36 It is significant that in XXVIII.86 we have the statement that he had had no expectation that Scripture would ever be given him, cf. in this connection also XXIX.48/47.

37 In this connection we may also note II.213/209 which states that whenever Allah sent a Prophet He sent him with Scripture, and remind ourselves that in connection with the covenant with the Prophets III.81/75 regards the giving of Scripture and Wisdom as part of Allah's Covenant obligation.

38 Cf. the oft repeated taunt at the Meccans that they can produce no Scriptural authority for their religious ideas and practices (XXXVII.157; LXVIII.37; XXXIV.44/43).

39 When in XLV.28/27 it says that on the Day every nation will be summoned to its own Book, this might seem to carry out this idea that each group will have to give an accounting of its response to the Scripture sent for its guidance. Kitab in this verse, however, may not mean Scripture, but may refer to the Record Book in which the records of nations as well as of individuials are written.

40 This is the strongest argument in favour of the idea that such messengers as Hud, Salih, Shu'aib must be meant to represent Old Testament characters.

41 If it is insisted that these suhuf must have been writings circulating under the names of Moses and Abraham, one can only suggest that the reference may be to some such works as the Apocalypse of Abraham and the Apoca1ypse of Moses, or the Testament of Abraham and the Testament of Moses. In XX.133, however, as-suhuf al-'u1a apparently means nothing more than "previous Scriptures." so that the reference in LXXXVII.19 and LIII.37/38ff. may be merely to the Old Testament Scriptures.

42 So we are to understand that the Taurah is meant in numerous passages such as XXIII.49/51; XXV.35/37; XVII.2 etc. which speak of the Book that was given to Moses.

43 Possibly it is meant by "the truth" in VII.159.

44 Bell translates tafsil as "a clear setting forth." It is said of the Qur'an in X.37/38 and XII.111.

45 XVI.118/119 says that Allah had told Muhammad about the things He had made forbidden to the Jews, where the reference would be to the Torah.

46 In later Rabbinic teaching the Tablets given to Moses at Sinai contained not merely the Ten Commandments but the whole Torah. See on this Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews, III.97.197; VI.60.

47 The words he uses here are two technical words of Jewish origin, rabbaniyun and ahbar, the plurals of Rabban and Hibr, both derived from words in common use among the Jews for their teachers. See Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an pp. 137 and 49.

48 Thus it may be the Gospel that is meant by the "enlightening Book" in XXXV.25/23

49 Since in this passage Allah is speaking to Moses this is a reference to a Book not yet in existence among men, unless we are to believe, as has sometimes been suggested, that Muhammad at one time believed that Moses and Jesus were roughly contemporary, and only later learned that Jesus was a much later prophet.

50 Since was given to Moses (cf. Jno. I.17) this is doubtless the origin of the Namus in the Waraqa story already mentioned.

51 Isaiah is quoted as the Law in I Cor. XIV.21, and the Psalms similarly in Jno. X.34; cf. also Jno. XII.34; XV.25; IV Ezra XIV.21, and the Talmudic passages Sanh. 91 b, and Mo'ed Kalon 5a.

52 See Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, p. 149.

53 Ibid. p. 72.

54 Ibid. p. 234.

55 In Foreign Vocabulary, p. 182, I favored the derivation from surta "writing," but scholars now seem more inclined to think that it is a corruption of sbarta, "preaching."

56 Ibid. p. 249.

57 Ibid. pp. 225-229.

58 That it was "from the Lord of the Worlds" is often emphasised (XXVI.192; XXXII.2/1; X.37/38).

58 Cf. in this connection such passages as II.4/3; III.84/78; IV.60/63,136/135,162/160; V.59/64,66/70,68/72.

The Muslim World, Volume 42 (1950), pp. 185-206.

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