Sources of the Quran

Revised by Montgomery Watt

 

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Sources of the Quran

Introduction

Chapter 1
The Historical Context

Chapter 2
Mohammed's Prophetic Experience

Chapter 3

The History of the Text

Chapter 4

The external form of the Quran

Chapter 5

The features of Quranic style

Chapter 6

The Shaping of the Quran

Chapter 7
The Chronology of the Quran

Chapter 8
The names of the revealed message

Chapter 9
The Doctrines of the Quran

Chapter 10
Muslim Scholarship and the Quran

Chapter 11
The Quran and Occidental Scholariship

 

 

Bell's Introduction to the Quran
Revised by Montgomery Watt

Chapter 8: The Names of the Revealed Message

 

The matters to be considered in this chapter rise out of the use of certain words in the quran Qurn to describe the book as a whole or parts of it. The words in question are: ayat yt, 'signs' or 'verses'; mathani mathn, 'oft-repeated' (?), and perhaps to be interpreted as 'punishment-stories'; quran al-qurn; kitab al-kitb, 'the book'; and tanzil tanzl, 'sending down', dhikr, etc., 'admonition', and al furqan al-furqn. In respect of the last three it is only the meaning and interpretation of the terms which will be discussed; but the others suggest further lines of investigation and further problems. Thus one may ask whether these terms occur throughout the period when the quran Qurn was being revealed or only at certain times within the period. Richard Bell has argued that there was a point at which the use of the term quran al-qurn ceased, and that in the latest revelations only the term 'the book' is used of the whole corpus of revelation. It is also to be asked whether the 'signs' of God's goodness and power belong to the earlier years only or to the whole of muhammad Muammad's prophethood. This line of investigation then opens out into another, namely, the extent to which the different terms indicate different types of material. This question applies chiefly to the first two terms. Punishment-stories, whether called mathani mathn or not, constitute a special type of material, and presumably do not belong to the earliest period of all. With these points in mind we may proceed to examine the use of the various terms.

1. Signs

There are many references in the quran Qurn to ayat yt (sing. aya ya), which are normally to be understood as 'signs' in a variety of connected senses. For the purposes of exposition four usages or applications of the word may be distinguished: (1) natural phenomena which are signs of God's power and bounty; (2) events or objects associated with the work of a messenger of God and tending to confirm the truth of the message; (3) signs which are recited by a messenger; (4) signs which are part of the quran Qurn or of the Book.

(1) In some passages which are probably early Meccan there are said to be signs for men 'in the earth . . . and in yourselves' [50.20f.], or 'in the heavens and the earth . . . and in your (mankind's) creation and the beasts he spreads abroad' [45.3/2f.]. Various phenomena are likewise said to be among God's signs [41.37, 39; 42. 29/8, 32/1]. Apart from the specific mention of phenomena as signs, however, there is a great number of passages in which phenomena of nature and human life are described as evidences of God's power or of the benefits he has bestowed on men. Although these passages do not contain the word 'sign' they may properly be considered 'sign-passages' in view of the verses quoted. Such sign-passages are an important type of quranic Qurnic material. The phenomena most frequently cited are: the creation of the heavens and the earth, the creation or generation of man, the various uses and benefits man derives from the animals, the alternation of night and day, the shining of sun, moon and stars, the changing winds, the sending of rain from the sky, the revival of parched ground and the appearance of herbage, crops and fruits, the movement of the ship on the sea and the stability of the mountains. Less frequently cited are: shadows, thunder, lightning, iron, fire, hearing, sight, understanding and wisdom. In four passages [2.28/6; 10.4; 22.66/5; 30.40/39] belonging to the Medinan or late Meccan period, the resurrection of men is included as one of the signs.

The enumeration of these signs in nature and in men serves various purposes. In some cases they embody a call for gratitude to God [16.14; 30.46/5; 36.73] or an invitation to worship him [6.104; 10.3]. Sometimes they are used as evidence of God's creative power as contrasted with the impotence of the false gods [16.10-20]. Sometimes they are used as evidence of God's power to raise the dead [22.5], or to inflict punishment. In general these passages set before us the idea of a powerful and exalted but beneficent deity. They are incompatible with the view that the quran Qurn attempted to bring men to accept Islam by describing the terrors of the coming Judgement. In such passages there is rather an appeal to men to respond to God's bounty.

Sign-passages occur in each of the periods into which the revelation may be divided. Since they refer to permanent objects and constant natural processes, no growth is to be traced in the list of phenomena mentioned as signs. Gardens and palms, vines and pomegranates were doubtless more common in Medina than in Mecca, and it would seem that they are not mentioned in the earlier sign-passages; but to argue that all passages mentioning these were revealed at Medina would be to go beyond the evidence. Another feature of the sign-passages is that there is the semblance of a fixed order in which the signs are mentioned, and there are certainly frequent repetitions. Careful examination, however, shows that there is no one definite order, and that therefore no significance can be attached to the rough semblance of an order. In each passage the signs mentioned are presumably those appropriate to the occasion of revelation.

Richard Bell, who gave much attention to the sign-passages, suggested that some of them were older than the suras in which they stand, such as: 2.21/19, 22/20, 28/6f.; 80.25-31; 88.17-20. Many of them, too, had been revised and adapted to their present position, such as: 6.95-99, 141/2-144/5; 10.102; 13.2-4, 12/13-15/16; 16.3-16; 41.37-40. Occasionally these revisions introduced a reference to resurrection, as in 23.12-16 and 35.9/10-14/15. The latter passage, like 7.57/5f., brings resurrection into connection with the sign of the revival of dead land by the coming of rain, a sign peculiarly apt in Arabia, where the effect of rain is almost miraculous. Other passages where the mention of resurrection was thought by Bell to have been added in the course of revision are 43.11/10, where a detachable rhyme-phrase seemed to have been inserted, and 30.48/7-5 1/0, where he thought that there was an addition in 49/8 and that the latter half of 50/49 had also been added. If the hypothesis of revision at these points is accepted, it would probably follow that the sign of the revival of dead land had first been used independently of the question of resurrection as a sign of God's power and bounty. It is the case that most passages including this sign use it in this latter way; e.g. 2.164/59; 16.65/7; 25.49/51; 32.27; 36.33; 43.11/10; 45.5/4. The use of the word rahma rama for 'rain' in 7.57/5 tends to support the view that this sign-passage is early, since rahma rama acquires a different meaning in later revelations which speak of Judgement and future reward.

Another sign frequently mentioned is that God originates a creature and then restores it [10.4, 34/5; 17.51/3; 21.104; 27.64/5; 29.20/19; 30.11/10, 27/6; 34.49/8; 85.18]. In most of these passages the reference to resurrection is clear, though in one or two it is doubtful. Thus in 29.19/18f. the natural interpretation of the phrase is of the return of vegetation without any reference to resurrection. Similarly in the recurring phrases 'he gives life and causes to die' and 'he brings the dead from the living and the living from the dead' the reference may originally have been to purely natural events.

There is bound to remain an element of hypothesis in the view that passages speaking of the revival of dead land as a sign of God's power and bounty have been revised to bring in a reference to the resurrection. If the arguments are sound, they add to the evidence for the existence of revision. For most purposes, however, the point to be emphasized is that the revival of dead land is both a sign of God's power and bounty and also an argument for the possibility of resurrection. It should also be emphasized that, while sign-passages are an important part of the contents of the quran Qurn, the word 'sign' is also used in other senses. Until the other senses have been discussed it is best to defer considering the question whether sign-passages were first made public as independent units.

(2) The word 'sign' is also applied to events or objects associated with the work of a messenger of God and tending to confirm the message he bears. Thus in 43.46/5 Moses is sent to Pharaoh and his nobles with God's signs. These are presumably the changing of the rod into a serpent and then the plagues, for it is said [43. 48/7] that every sign God showed them was greater than the previous one. The production of the sign is God's doing, and another verse [40.78] plainly asserts that to no messenger is it given to produce a sign. In this sense of the word signs are far from showing God's goodness, but may be described as being 'sent only to frighten' [17.59/61]. The signs of Moses are also mentioned in 20.17/18-24/5 (combined in verses 47/9 to 56/8 with the signs in nature of God's bounty), 27.12-14, 7.130/27-136/2 and other passages. Other messengers had special signs accorded to them as a confirmation of the truth of their message; with salih li was sent a she-camel as a sign to thamud Thamd [7.73/1; etc.], while Jesus brought as a sign the miracle of the bird of clay which became alive [3.49/3]. The destruction of unbelieving peoples is a sign [I 5.73-5; etc.], and similarly the deliverance of the believers [29.24/3; etc.]. In 54.15 Noah's ship (or, less probably, his story) is left as a sign to warn men that unbelievers and the disobedient are destroyed.

When muhammad Muammad's opponents demanded of him a sign it was presumably something of this kind that they wanted [6.37; 13.7/8; 21.5]. As already noted, the quran Qurn insisted that only God produced signs, and that no messenger could do this of his own volition. Such is the obstinacy of the opponents that, even if muhammad Muammad brought them a sign (presumably of this type)-so it is asserted in 30.58-they would still not believe, In the later years of muhammad Muammad's life some of his external successes could be referred to as signs, such as the anticipated gaining of spoils in 48.20 about the time of the treaty of hudaybiya al-udaybiya, and above all the victory of Badr [3.13/11]. The discussion below of the meaning of furqan Furqn is also relevant here. It was probably this demand for a sign during the Meccan period that led to the shift of meaning of the word aya ya to something like 'revealed message'. The messages which came to muhammad Muammad by the mysterious process of wahy way or revelation were the real signs of his truth. This process and the messages he received through it were the evidence (bayyina) on which he took his stand [6.57; 47.14/15]; at the same time the evidence was something to be recited [11.17/20].

In so far as the signs are events connected with previous messengers from God they are not far removed from the category of punishment-stories to be discussed in the next section. Signs in contemporary events like the battle of Badr are hardly in this category, though in a sense the underlying principle is the same, namely, God's punitive action in history. In what follows the term 'sign-passages' will be restricted to those which speak of signs in natural phenomena, but it must be insisted that these are not the only signs of which the quran Qurn speaks.

(3) There are many verses which speak of signs being recited. When God's signs are recited, the faith of the believers increases [8.2]. This reciting of signs is the work of messengers sent by God [as in 39.71]; but in most instances in which the phrase is used the reference is to muhammad Muammad himself [e.g. 31.7/6; 45.25/4; 46.7/6; 62.2; 65.11]. In 45.6/5 the signs are recited to muhammad Muammad by God himself or by the angels as his envoys. In a number of passages [8.31; 68.15; 83.13], when muhammad Muammad recites the signs, his opponents criticize them as 'old-world fables' (asatir asr awwalin al-awwaln). By itself this phrase suggests punishment-stories [especially 8.3 1 and 68.15]. On the other hand, there are a number of passages where the phrase is applied to 'what God has promised', that is, resurrection and judgement [e.g. 23.83/5; 27.68/70; 46.17/16;] and in these it might rather be interpreted of sign-passages. It is also possible there, however, that resurrection and judgement are thought of together, and punishment-stories would then be more appropriate. Thus the presumption is that 'the reciting of signs' is chiefly of punishment-stories, but sign-passages cannot be wholly excluded. Whatever the precise reference in the 'reciting of signs', the idea of reciting leads on to the next usage of the word aya ya.

(4) The signs may be part of the quran Qurn or of 'the book', and will then come close to having the meaning of 'verses'. The word aya ya, of course, regularly means 'verse' in later Arabic, but the modern scholar is justified in asking whether it ever has this meaning in the quran Qurn itself, or whether it has been read into the quran Qurn by later Muslims. The strongest evidence for the meaning of 'verse' in the quran Qurn itself is in passages which speak of an aya ya being cancelled or forgotten and a better or the like given instead [2.106/0] and one aya ya being substituted for another [16.101/3]; but even there the meaning might conceivably be a whole passage. The same may be said about 24.1 ('a sura in which we have sent down signs as evidences') and 3 1.2/1('the ayat yt of the wise book'). A further problem is raised by such a phrase as 'a book whose ayat yt have been made distinct' [41.3/2]. Some Muslim scholars thought that the last part, translating the word fussilat fuilat, should rather be rendered 'have been marked with fawasil fawil or rhyme-phrases', and there are several passages where ayat yt are connected with some part of fassala faala; the agent is God if any is mentioned. This rendering seems unlikely, however, in the light of such a verse as 6.119 where it is said of God fassala faala la-hum ma m harrama arrama alay kum alay-kum, 'he has made distinct for you what he has forbidden to you'. The word bayyana and its derivatives are also frequently connected with ayat yt, presumably with the sense of 'making clear or distinct'. Thus apart from-at most-one or two instances the word aya ya in the quran Qurn means 'sign' and not verse .

It may well be that sign-passages, where natural phenomena are described as signs of God's power and goodness, were an important element in the early revelations. On other grounds these aspects are known to have been emphasized in the early period. On the other hand, many sign-passages tend to be dated 'late Meccan' or 'early Medinan', and they presuppose a measure of scepticism. The punishment-stories presuppose opposition, but are not clearly later in date than most of the sign-passages. In general the signs come to be spoken of as revealed messages which may he recited and are parts of 'the book', but are seldom, if ever, single verses.

al mathani

2. Stories of punishment; al-mathn

In dealing with the second usage of 'sign' it has been noted that punishment-stories constitute a definite type of material found in the quran Qurn, In the present section the punishment-stories will first be examined as a distinct category. Then the question will be considered whether they may be identified with 'the seven mathani mathn'. The stories under this head are as follows.

(A) The story of ad Ad. The name of this people occurs in pre-Islamic poetry, but no definite details are given. According to the quran Qurn, they were a great people of old, perhaps giants [7.69/7], who built 'signs' on eminences [26.128]; their buildings were still to be seen. Whether they are to be identified with Iram of the pillars, mentioned in 89.7/6, is a moot point which depends upon the reading and construction of that passage, and cannot be settled. It is, however, the simplest and most natural interpretation. To them the messenger hud d was sent; but they disbelieved and were destroyed by a wind which blew for seven nights and days and wiped out everything except the buildings. (See Index).

(B) The story of thamud Thamd. thamud Thamd was a real people of ancient Arabia. They are mentioned in an inscription of Sargon, in Ptolemy, Pliny and other classical writers, as well as in pre-Islamic Arab poetry. They seem to have been associated with the North West of Arabia, particularly with hijr hijra al-ijr (medain Medin salih li). They are spoken of as having bored the rock in the wadi [89.9/8], having built castles in level places and hewn out the mountain for houses [7.74/2]-presumably a reference to the remains of buildings and rock-hewn tombs to be found there. Their buildings were still to be seen [27.52/3; 29.38/7]. To them a messenger, salih li, one of themselves, was sent, and as a proof of the truth of his message a she-camel and a foal were miraculously produced, which were to be respected and given a share of the water. thamud Thamd, however, disbelieved, and hamstrung the camel. They were destroyed by an earthquake [7.78/6], by a thunderbolt of punishment [41.17/16; 51.44], or by a 'shout' sent upon them [54.31]. The unspecified people of 23.31/2-41/3, who were destroyed by the 'shout', are probably thamud Thamd, if they are to be identified at all, and are not merely a type.

(C) The men of hijr hijra al-ijr are probably thamud Thamd. Though the tribe and place are never definitely associated in the quran Qurn, in 15.80-84, the only passage in which they are mentioned, they are said to have hewn out houses from the mountains, and to have been overwhelmed in the morning by the 'shout' for having turned away from the 'signs'. This corresponds to what is said of thamud Thamd.

(D) The people of Midian. Of them little definite information is given. The only special item in their story is that shuayb Shuayb, the messenger sent to them, exhorts them to give full measure and just weight. Like other disbelieving peoples, they were destroyed-by an earthquake or by a 'shout'.

(E) The men of the Grove or Thicket referred to in 15.78f., 38.13/12 and 50.14/13, seem, from the only account given of them, 26.176-91, to be identical with the people of Midian, for their messenger is shuayb Shuayb, and they also are exhorted to give full measure and just weight. 1

(F) The men of ar-Rass are referred to in lists of disbelieving peoples who were destroyed, but no details are given [25.38/40; 50.12]. Rass is a word meaning 'well', but it is impossible to identify the place or the people.

(G) The people of tubba Tubba no doubt were a South Arabian people, since the title is held to be that of the kings of the himyarites imyarites. They are included in a list of peoples punished for unbelief [50.13], and are cited in 44.37/6; but no details of what happened to them are given.

(H) saba Sab (Sheba). Whether this is the same people under another name, we cannot say. A long account of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is given in sura 27, but, as a punishment-story, the fate of Sheba is dealt with only in 34.15/14-19/18, and it does not conform to the usual type. No messenger is mentioned as having been sent to them, but they had a sign given them-two gardens, evidently fruitful. They turned away, and the flood of the dam (sc. of marib Marib) came upon them and apparently ruined the fertility of their gardens. In the latter part of the story, there seems to be a reference to the decay of the Sabaean caravan trade; and this is apparently regarded as a punishment for the lengthening of the daily stages to be covered by the caravans.

(I) Noah. Something may have been known in pre-Islamic Arabia of the story of Noah and the Flood, though the references in early Arab poetry are doubtful. In the quran Qurn, the people of Noah are frequently referred to as having been destroyed for unbelief. As a developed story it is repeated in some ten places. Usually Noah is sent as a messenger to his people; and they disbelieve and are drowned, while he and those who believe are saved in the Ship (Ark). In some of the passages, however, particularly in 11.25/7-48/50, the story is expanded so as to include details of the Old Testament story and elements from extra-Biblical Jewish tradition. In another set of passages (e.g. 4.163/1) Noah appears as a prophet, and the punishment side of the story falls into the background.

(J) Abraham. As a hanif anf a prophet, and founder of the religion of Abraham, he is frequently mentioned. The story of his attacking the idol-worship of his father and people, and, when disbelieved, withdrawing from them is related in 19.41/2-49/50; 21.52/1-72; 26.69-102; and 37.83/1-101/99.

This last passage comes nearest to the form of a punishment-story, but though his people are twice referred to in lists of earlier unbelievers, who presumably were destroyed, their destruction is never stated. The most that is said is that they were made 'the worst losers' [21.70] or 'the inferior' [37.98/6]. The story is found in Jewish tradition.

(K) Lot. The story of Lot appears in several passages without any connection between him and Abraham being mentioned. It is possible that there may have been a local tradition of this sort, for in several passages it is indicated that the locality of the story is known and can be seen [15.76; 37.137; ?25.40/2]. It conforms to the type of the punishment-story in that Lot is said to have been sent to his people. He accuses them of indecency and sodomy. When they oppose and threaten to expel him, he and his household are delivered, all except his wife, who 'lingered'. The town was then overwhelmed by an evil rain sent upon it, or by a gravel-storm [54.34]. Where the story is associated with the angels' visit to Abraham, it departs from the usual form in that Lot is no longer a messenger to his people, but is troubled when the messengers come to him. In 29.26/5 Lot is one of those who believe in Abraham, and in 21.71 he is delivered along with Abraham. In 21.74f. he is given jurisdiction and knowledge, so becoming a prophet rather than the messenger in a punishment-story.

(L) mutafikat Al-Mutafikt, the overwhelmed or subverted cities referred to in 9.70/I, 53.53/4f., and 69.9 are probably to be identified with the cities of the Plain, Sodom and Gomorrah, since they seem to stand in place of the people of Lot. The Arabic word is probably, as Hirschfeld suggested, 2 adapted from the Hebrew mahpekha mahpekh, which, in the Old Testament, is associated with the destruction of Sodom.

(M) Pharaoh is sometimes referred to, without mention of Moses, as an example of one who suffered for his unbelief (e.g. 54.41f.). In two passages he is described as dhu l awtad l-awtd, 'possessor of the pegs' or 'stakes' [38.12/11; 89.9]. What this refers to is unknown. It is improbable that, as Horovitz suggests, 3 it should refer to his buildings, and there seems to be nothing in Jewish tradition to explain it. It may be that some story about Pharaoh was current in Arabia, but the evidence is slender. Usually the quranic Qurnic version accords with the Biblical story of Moses and Pharaoh. Sometimes it is reduced to the type of a punishment-story as in 23.45/7-48/50, but more often it is extended and has further details parallel to the Biblical account or to extra-Biblical Jewish tradition. In some of the versions the punishment of Pharaoh is a mere side-issue, the main object being to give an account of Moses and the Children of Israel.

(N) In 29.39/8f. and 40.23/4-25/6 Korah and Haman are associated with Pharaoh. In 28.76-82 Korah figures as one of the people of Moses who is given great wealth, but because of his pride and arrogance is destroyed through the earth sinking with him and his dwelling.

When these stories are examined, it will be seen that A to H inclusive belong to Arabian tradition, and perhaps also details from the others, especially M. Midian, of course, is mentioned in the Bible, and in two suras of the quran Qurn [20.40/2; 28.22/1-28, 45] is connected with Moses; but the stories in D and E are Arabian and not Biblical, though 28.45 may be taken as connecting the two. Other Arabian material is referred to in 105 (the repulse of the expedition of the elephant) and perhaps also in 85.1-9, if that is interpreted of the massacre of Christians in najran Najrn. Since no messenger is present in these cases, however, they do not have the form of a punishment-story. The remaining stories, I to N, are parallel to Biblical stories but differ from these at various points. The quran Qurn usually presupposes some knowledge of its stories among the first hearers, and so the presumption is that the stories were current in Arabia in the form implied by the quran Qurn.

When one further considers the manner in which the stories are employed in the quran Qurn, it appears that there are seven main stories; and these are in fact included in a list in 22.42/3-44/3. They are: Noah (I), ad d (A), thamud Thamd (B), the people of Abraham (J), the people of Lot (K), Midian (D), the people of Moses (M). It may further be noted that C is a duplicate of B, E of D and L of K. For F and G there are only references, not a story. There is only one occurrence of H; and N, though not a duplicate of M, may be called an outgrowth from it, since it is also connected with Moses. The case for considering the punishment-stories a separate element in the quran Qurn is strengthened when it is noticed that they commonly occur together in groups, though the constituents of the group vary, This is clearest if set out in tabular form; to make the relative lengths more obvious only the Flgel verse-numbering is given.

sura surah Sra 7: Noah [57-62]; ad d [63-70]; thamud Thamd [71-77]; Lot [78-82]; Midian [83-91].

Sura 9 [list, V. 71] Noah, ad d, thamud Thamd, Abraham, Midian, the mutafikat Mutafikt.

Sura 11: Noah [27.51]; ad d [52-63b thamud Thamd [64-71]; Abraham and Lot [72-84]; Midian [85-98].

Sura 21: [brief reference, v. 9] Noah, ad d, thamud Thamd.

Sura 22: Moses and Aaron [49-51]; Abraham [52-73]; Lot [74f.]; Noah [76f.]; David and Solomon, Job, Jonah, Zacharias, Mary, etc. [78-94; not punishment-stories].

Sura 23: Noah [23-31]; unnamed, perhaps thamud Thamd [32-43]; others unnamed [44-46]; Moses [47-50].

Sura 25: Moses, Noah, ad d, thamud Thamd, ar-Rass [37-42].

Sura 26: Moses [9-68]; Abraham [69-104]; Noah [105-22]; ad d [123-40]; thamud Thamd [141-59]; Lot [160-75]; Midian [176-91].

Sura 27 Moses [7-14]; Sheba ['5-45]; thamud Thamd [46-54]; Lot [5 5-59].

Sura 29: Noah [13f.]; Abraham [15-26]; Lot [27-34]; Midian [35f.]; ad Ad, thamud Thamd [37]; Moses [38f.].

Sura 37: Noah [73-79]; Abraham [81-113]; Moses [114-22]; Elias [123-32]; Lot [133-38]; Jonah [139-48].

Sura 51: Abraham [24-37]; Moses [38-40]; ad d [41f.]; thamud Thamd [43-45]; Noah [46].

Sura 53: ad d, thamud Thamd, Noah, the mutafikat Mutafikt [51-54].

Sura 54: Noah [9-17]; ad d [18-21]; thamud Thamd [23-32]; Lot [33-40]; Pharaoh [41f.].

Sura 69: thamud Thamd, ad d, Pharaoh, the mutafikat Mutafikt [4-10].

Sura 89: ad d, thamud Thamd, Pharaoh [5-13].

It is interesting to look at the slight differences in the versions of a single story, but space does not permit this here. It is more apposite to note that in some suras (e.g. 26) the stories with the exception of those of Moses and Abraham are assimilated to one another, and may also be marked off from one another by a refrain. The triad of Noah, ad d and thamud Thamd appears nearly everywhere. In so far as any conclusions can be based on the dating of the suras, it would seem that 53, 54, 69 and 89 are early; and these contain besides this triad the stories of Pharaoh (without Moses) and that of Lot or the mutafikat Mutafikt. It would also seem that the fuller stories of Abraham and Moses occur only in later passages. That is to say, stories current in Mecca or in Arabia preponderate in the earlier passages and suras, and it is only at a later date that Biblical material is introduced. A further point to note is that the stories are almost exclusively of temporal and not of eschatological punishment. Exceptionally in sura 11 there are references to 'the day of resurrection' in some of the stories, namely, in that of ad d [60/3] and of Pharaoh [98/100f.], while the series of stories is followed by a passage on the Last Judgement [103/5-108/10]. Resurrection and Judgement are also mentioned in the story of Abraham and his people (for whom there is no obvious temporal punishment) in 26.82-5.

At certain points the details of the stories appear to be adapted to the experiences of muhammad Muammad and his followers. The stories were presumably already familiar to the Muslims, and the main points are told briefly. In many suras the stories are then filled out by accounts, varying from version to version (but often similar in the same sura), of what was said by the messenger and by his opponents. In these accounts there are parallels to what is elsewhere set down as having been said by muhammad Muammad and his Meccan opponents. There is thus some justification for thinking that other details in the stories may reflect what was happening to muhammad Muammad. When salih li, for example, is said by his opponents to have been one of whom they had good hopes [11.62/5], this may be taken as confirming the statements that muhammad Muammad, before beginning to receive revelations, had a respected position in Mecca. The account [in 27.48/9-51/2] of the plot against salih li has features which are probably parallel to those of the Meccan plot to assassinate muhammad Muammad which is described in Tradition. Again, the account of Noah's preaching to his people in 71.1-20/19, especially the promise of rain as a blessing in 11/10, is more appropriate to the case of muhammad Muammad than to that of Noah; the distinction between proclaiming publicly and speaking secretly [8/7f.] would then confirm the Tradition that for a time he communicated revelations privately before 'proclaiming publicly', 4 and the passage would also support the suggestion that muhammad Muammad's early appeals were accompanied by the promise of material prosperity.

After this examination of the punishment-stories the question of the interpretation of the mathani mathn may be considered. The word occurs twice in the quran Qurn. In 15.87 God says to muhammad Muammad that he has bestowed on him 'seven of the mathani mathn and the mighty quran Qurn', while in 39.23/4 it is stated that 'God has sent down the best discourse, a book, self-resembling (consisting of or containing) mathani mathn, at which (book) the skins of those who fear their Lord do creep, but afterwards their skins and their hearts grow soft to the remembrance of their Lord'. There has been much discussion about the interpretation of these passages.

The Muslim commentators mostly take mathani mathn as the ordinary Arabic plural of mathna mathn, a word which occurs several times in the quran Qurn with some such meaning as 'twofold'. In the two instances of the plural they hold the meaning to be 'things doubled' or 'things repeated'. The favourite interpretation is then that the seven mathani mathn are the seven verses of the fatiha Ftia, which are frequently repeated in formal worship and other occasions. Alternatively they may be the seven long suras, namely, suras 2 to 7 along with another whose identity is disputed. These two interpretations-the fatiha Ftia and the seven long suras-may also be justified by taking a singular (muthni muthn or muthna muthn) from the fourth stem of the root with the idea of 'praise'; the mathani mathn are then recited to God's praise or contain it. These interpretations by Muslim scholars, though giving some sense to the number seven, do not explain the rest of the description of the mathani mathn.

Some European scholars inclined to the view that the Arabic word was borrowed, either from the Hebrew mishna mishn, 5 or more probably from the Syriac or Jewish-Aramaic mathnitha mathnth. 6 The Jewish oral law as a whole is called mishna mishn, and the term may also be applied to any particular part of it; but this does not explain why the skins of those who fear the Lord should creep, and only explains the number seven on the assumption that mishna mishn can mean 'verse'. The majority opinion, however, has favoured the interpretation of 'punishment-stories' either on the ground that mathani mathn means 'things repeated' 7 or because it represents mishna mishn in the sense of 'story'. 8

There is thus much to be said for the view that the mathani mathn are to be understood as the punishment-stories. It was noted above that there were seven main ones; and the existence of other minor ones is exactly in accordance with the implication of the phrase 'seven of the mathani mathn' that these were not all. The punishment-stories also fit the description in sura 39, for the punishments cause fear, while the deliverance of the messengers and their followers may be said to soften the heart. Some scholars (e.g. Horovitz) have hesitated to accept this interpretation because 15.87 distinguishes the mathani mathn from the quran Qurn. It is not impossible, however, that the punishment-stories originally had a separate existence. The assumption that this was so gains some support from the Tradition that a Meccan called nadr an-Nar, wanting to bring muhammad Muammad into derision, procured stories of Persian kings and recited them in opposition to him. The Persian stories, if compared with most of the contents of the quran Qurn, would be inept; but if they were contrasted with the punishment-stories, they would be more interesting and more varied, The quranic Qurnic stories resemble one another in two ways. Firstly, the general scheme is the same: a messenger is sent to a people; he delivers his message, but is disbelieved and the message rejected; the punishment of God then falls upon the people for their unbelief. Secondly, the form of words is often similar. If this point is thought important, 39.23/4 may be translated 'a book where the mathani mathn resemble one another'.

quran

3. The Qur'n

The word quran qurn occurs frequently in the text and has several distinct meanings. It may be the verbal noun of qara'a and then denotes the act of reciting, presumably from memory as in 17.78/80; 75.17f. The sense of 'reading' given in dictionaries is not appropriate to the conditions of Mecca in muhammad Muammad's day. It is probable that at first no attempt was made to write down the revealed messages, and writing presumably became the rule only after the Hijra to Medina. Even if the messages were written down, the writing of the time appears to have been little more than a mnemonic device to supplement the memory. The word quran qurn may also denote a single passage recited, as in 10.61/2 and 13.30/1, and perhaps also 10.15/16 and 72.1. Mostly, however, it seems to refer to some larger whole containing a collection of such passages already delivered or in process of being delivered. It should not be assumed, nevertheless, that this collection is identical with the quran Qurn as we now have it. It has just been noted that at one point the quran qurn is distinct from the mathani mathn, while its relation to 'the book' will be considered in the next section.

'This quran Quran', then, in whatever sense is to be given to the word when it denotes a collection, has been revealed by God [12.3] and sent down from him [4.82/4; 16.102/4; 27.6; 76.23]. It could not have been produced otherwise [10.37/8; 17.88/90]. It is to be recited by the Messenger [10.61/2; 16.98/100; 17.45/7; 27.92/4; 87.6; 96.1, 3], and to be listened to with respect [7.204/3; 47.24/6; 84.21]. It was sent down not all at once, but in separate pieces [17.106/7f.; 25.32/4]. High claims are made for it: it is glorious [50.1; 85.21], mighty [15.87], noble [56.77/6], and clear [15.1; 36.69].

It is evident from such assertions that the quran Qurn referred to had a special position and was of great importance. The implications of some passages should be noted, however. The frequent phrase 'this quran Qurn' must often mean not a single passage but a collection of passages, and thus seems to imply the existence of other quran Qurns. Similarly the phrase 'an Arabic quran Qurn' seems to imply that there may be quran Qurns in other languages. (The phrases occur in proximity in 39.27/8f.) When it is further remembered that the verb qaraa qaraa is probably not an original Arabic root, and that the noun quran qurn almost certainly came into Arabic to represent the Syriac qeryana qeryn, meaning the scriptural reading or lesson in church, the way is opened to the solution of the problem. The purpose of an Arabic quran Qurn was to give the Arabs a body of lessons comparable to those of the Christians and Jews. It is known, too, not only from Tradition and continuing practice, but also from the quran Qurn itself that it was thus used liturgically [17.78/80; 73.20]. It is also implied that this Arabic quran Qurn was not merely comparable but essentially identical with the previous revelations, for it confirmed these [10.37/8]. Its teaching was to be found in them [26.196; 5 3.36/7; 87.18f.], and this agreement was a proof that muhammad Muammad was a messenger [20.133].

On the basis of his general quranic Qurnic studies and an examination of the passages where the word itself occurs Richard Bell put forward the hypothesis of what he called 'the quran Qurn period', which followed 'an early period', from which only a few sign-passages and fragmentary exhortations to worship God have survived, and preceded the final or 'Book period'. The quran Qurn-period included the latter part of muhammad Muammad's residence at Mecca and his first year or so at Medina; and it is characterized by the fact that the revelations received or revised during this time envisage the production of an Arabic quran Qurn giving the gist of previous revelation. 9 The detailed account of the quran Qurn-period is derived from a list of passages and suras which Bell regarded as belonging to this period. 10

He considered that the quran Qurn-period began about the same time as the institution of the salat alt or formal worship, or at least after muhammad Muammad had gained some adherents. This was a point marking a new orientation in his religious activity, and it was with this point and not with the beginnings of his mission that the passages traditionally regarded as early should be associated. Such are: the command to recite [96.1-5], the command to rise and warn [74.1-7], the exhortation (in Bell's interpretation) to compose the quran Qurn carefully [73.1, 2, 4b-8], and the assurance of aid in reciting [87.1-6, 8, 9]. These passages, Bell considered, were originally for muhammad Muammad himself, but exemplified the style in which the quran Qurn was to be composed. Founding on the reference to 'the coming wrath' in 74.5 (and the implications of 96.4f. and 73.5), Bell held that the early passages of the quran Qurn-period consisted mainly of proclamations of coming Judgement to be followed by rewards or punishments in the future life.

A feature of the quran Qurn-period is the appearance of edifying Biblical stories, such as that of Joseph. It is suggested in 12.3 that muhammad Muammad had previously been neglectful of these, presumably in the sense of not realizing their relevance. These stories of religious personalities differ from the punishment-stories, since their point is not the overthrow of unbelieving peoples but the example and consequent reward of the person. Even where persons from punishment-stories are referred to the emphasis is different; in 37.75/3-82/0 the transformation of the story of Noah from one type to the other may be observed. These personality-stories may also he grouped together and linked by introductory phrases or closing refrains (e.g. 21; 38).

The process of grouping might also be applied to short didactic-pieces, sign-passages and even punishment-stories. Bell considered sura 80 a good example of this, since it consisted of five pieces separate in origin yet when put together forming a unity. In sura 55 and the latter part of sura 77 refrain is used to unify the material. It was probably to the results of this process of grouping that shortly before or after the Hijra the word sura surah sra came to be applied [cf. 24.1]. If, as suggested above (p. 58), sura is derived from a Syriac word meaning 'writing' or 'text', this would imply that the grouped material was written. The mysterious opening letters also imply something written, and it is curious that in several cases the next words are a phrase such as 'by the glorious quran Qurn' [50; cf. 36, 38]. Following the letters other forms of reference to the quran Qurn are found in suras 15, 20, 27 and 41; and it is an important fact, noted by Bell but perhaps not emphasized sufficiently, that in nearly all the suras where there are letters the first verse or two of the sura contains a reference to the quran Qurn or 'the book' or something similar. This suggests that the letters are somehow connected with the process of grouping short passages which Bell postulated.

Bell further held that the quran Qurn was 'definitely closed' about the time of the battle of Badr. One piece of evidence is that the word quran qurn is seldom found in revelations dated after this period. Where the word occurs in a passage which appears to be of later date [such as 9.111/2 and 73.20] the meaning can be taken to be 'a collection of recitations already completed' and not 'a collection of revelations still in process of being received'. This would apply also to the refrain in 54.17, 22, 32, 40, if these verses are late. This collection of recitations is not something to be communicated by the Messenger, but something to be used by the Muslims in the ritual of prayer. While it is conceivable that the passages mentioned may refer to a quran Qurn still in process of delivery, it is difficult to interpret 2.185/1 in this way. It is a command to fast during 'the month of ramadan Raman, in which the quran Qurn was sent down as guidance for the people, and as evidence of the guidance and of the furqan furqn'. Muslim commentators take this to refer either to the beginning of the revelation to muhammad Muammad or to the sending down of the heavenly quran Qurn from the presence of God to the nearer heaven so as to be available for transmission to him.

There are other passages, too, in which, though the quran Qurn is not specifically mentioned, something seems to be sent down or revealed as a whole: 'we have sent it down on a blessed night' [44.3/2] or 'on the night of the qadr qadr [97.1]; 'what we sent down to our servant on the day of the furqan furqn, the day the two parties met' [8.41/2]. The last phrase refers to the day of Badr, and the furqan Furqn is thus associated with the victory. The battle took place in ramadan Raman, and the fast is probably to be regarded as one of thanksgiving. 11 'What was sent down' was doubtless some form of the quran Qurn. The admonition to muhammad Muammad in 20.114/3 not to be in a hurry with the quran Qurn 'until the revealing of it to him is completed' may also refer to this event. Perhaps a written form of the collection of recitations was now produced as 'evidences of the guidance and of the furqan furqn'; but if this had been so, it is strange that it has left not even a passing trace in Tradition.

Bell's hypothesis of a 'Qurn-period' is worthy of fuller consideration from scholars than it has so far received. It is based on careful scrutiny of the quran Qurn in minute detail and contains many acute observations. Even if the hypothesis as a whole is not accepted, scholars must still come to terms with the underlying facts. The points of strength in Bell's view may be summarized as follows, (1) There is certainly a move from the general use of quran al-Qurn in earlier passages to the almost exclusive use of kitab al-kitb in the latest passages. (2) There is much to commend the suggestion of a gradual change in the meaning of quran al-qurn. Some change of meaning is universally admitted, since the word may mean either a single short passage or the complete collection of revelations. It is by no means impossible that there was also an intermediate meaning, namely, a collection of passages suitable for liturgical use. (3) There are certainly passages which speak of the sending down of the quran Qurn as a whole, and it is improbable that the original meaning was that it was sent down to the lowest heaven. It is perhaps worth asking whether this sending down in the month of ramadan Raman could refer to a series of revelations in which there was a repetition of previous revelations now collected into groups or suras; such a repetition, even with modifications or additions, could easily have come in a single day or within a few days. (4) Also to be commended is the view that originally isolated passages were grouped together with some measures of adaptation. This grouping need not have been by muhammad Muammad's conscious effort, but could have come about through wahy way or revelation.

The chief weakness in Bell's hypothesis is that it makes a sharp distinction between the quran Qurn-period and the book-period without showing precisely in what the distinction consists (apart from the name). Some of the evidence rather suggests that there was a gradual transition from the one usage to the other. Bell allows that the period when opening letters appeared spanned the change-over; and some of the verses following the letters have both words, e.g. ha ', mim Mm. A revelation from the Merciful, the Compassionate, a Book whose ayat yt have been made separate (or distinct) as an Arabic quran Qurn for a people who have knowledge' [41.1-3/2; cf. 15.1; 27.1; 28.85f.; 58.77/6f.]. A gradual change would also explain how quran al-qurn could always be interpreted as equivalent to 'the Book', except where it clearly means a single passage or the act of reciting. Another point in which some might find difficulty is the assertion that from an early date the quran Qurn spoke of eschatological punishment, whereas Bell usually insisted that eschatological punishment was not early. This difficulty is more apparent than real; it presupposes that the punishment-stories, which speak of temporal punishment, belong to the period before the quran Qurn-period. There is also some difficulty about the idea of an early period, but this is lessened when it is realized that the view that 96.1-5 is the first revelation is probably only the conjecture of a later Muslim scholar, based on the appropriateness of the opening word iqra iqra. The real difficulty about the conception of an early period is the tentative character of most of the assertions about it.

4. The Book

Whatever view is taken of the hypothesis of a distinct quran period Qurn-period, it is a fact that the word quran qurn is seldom used in the latest passages. Instead there are references to 'the Book' (kitab al-kitb), and it is implied that this is still in process of being revealed. Perhaps the contrast between 'the Book' and 'the quran Qurn' or 'recitation' also implies that the revelations were now written down shortly after they came to muhammad Muammad. Certainly his function is now represented not as that of warning people of punishment but as that of producing a book. Thus in sura 19 he is commanded: 'in the Book mention Mary . . . Abraham . . . Moses . . . Ishmael . . . idris Idrs' [verses 16, 41/2, 51/2, 54/5, 56/7].

The special sense just mentioned must be distinguished from other meanings of the word kitab kitb. It may simply mean 'something written', 'a letter' [24.33; 27.28f.]. In connection with the Last Judgement it may mean the record of a man's deeds, no doubt suggesting to the hearers the kind of account that was kept in Meccan business circles. Thus each man is given his kitab kitb in his right or left hand according as it shows a credit or a debit balance [17.71/3; 69.19, 25; 84.7, 10]. What is written may also be a kind of ledger kept by the angels who watch over the actions of men [82.10-12]. On the Day of Judgement the book will be produced [18.49/7], and the pages spread open [81.10]. The word is also specially associated with God's knowledge, perhaps in a metaphorical sense; e.g. 'there is no beast on earth but God provides its sustenance; he knows its lair and its resting-place (or its resting in the womb and its time of birth); all is in a clear book' [11.6/8]. 12 The dead are said to remain in the book of God until the resurrection [30.56]. What God has decreed is in a book before it happens [57.22].

It has been suggested that the application of the word kitab kitb to the written scriptures of Jews, Christians and Muslims is derived from this conception of the book of God's knowledge, and in some Medinan passages it is difficult to say whether the reference is to God's knowledge or to actual written scriptures [8.75/6; 17.4; 33.6]. It is unlikely, however, that this suggestion is correct. When kitab al-kitb is used in connection with Jews or Christians, it always refers not to any heavenly book, but to the scriptures actually in their hands in written form. Confirmation of the truth of muhammad Muammad's revelations is to be sought from those who 'recite the Book' [10.94], or 'have knowledge of the Book' [13.43]. The phrase is indeed parallel to hak kathubh hak-kthbh among the Jews and he he graphe graphe among Greek-speaking Christians, This is doubtless what is intended when those who hold that angels are female are asked to produce 'their Book' [37.157; 43.21/0; cf.35.40/38]. The Book is thus the source and authority for religious belief [cf. 22.8].

In the case of the religion of Islam the term 'the Book' became more appropriate at Medina when the revelations to muhammad Muammad came to include appeals, exhortations and regulations which were not so suitable for recitation in public worship. At the same time the Muslims were doubtless learning more about the contents of the Book in the hands of the Jews. The controversy with the Jews and the assertion that Islam was a religion distinct from Judaism and Christianity further made it essential that the Muslims should have a Book comparable to that of the other monotheists, This is implicit in such a verse as: 'He has sent down to you (muhammad Muammad) the Book with the truth, confirming what was before it; and he sent down the Torah and the Evangel previously as guidance for the people. . .' [3.3/2; cf. 2.89/3; 3.7/5; 4.105/6; 5.48/52; 6.92; 16.64/6; 46.12/I1, 30/29].

The point at which the function of the messenger came to be spoken of as the production of a Book cannot be precisely determined, since the word kitab kitb is frequently used in various ways, and the transition from quran qurn to kitab kitb may have been gradual. In so far as 'the Book' came into existence, the beginning of it may have been sura 2, which opens with the words: alif 'Alif, lam Lm, mim Mm. That is the Book, in which there is no doubt, guidance for the pious. . . .' After an introduction of a general nature addressed to believers, and mentioning unbelievers and Hypocrites, the story of Adam is given, followed by an appeal to the Israelites (that is, the Jews of Medina). This would be appropriate as the commencement of the Book. It is also to be noted that in suras, 37, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15-all those up to this point which have opening letters-the letters are immediately followed by an assertion about 'the Book'. It may well be, then, that these suras were given something like their present form as parts of the Book. Sura 2 contains material which must have been revealed before the break with the Jews, and therefore before the battle of Badr. Since the sending down of the quran Qurn is connected with the battle of Badr, it is unlikely that the Book can have been explicitly begun until some time later, unless the quran Qurn and the Book were thought of for a time as distinct and independent of one another. Once the production of the Book was under way, the presumption is that earlier material was incorporated into it.

It can be safely asserted that the Book was never completed. Indeed it is possible that the work of producing it was abandoned, that is, the arranging in an appropriate order of the previously revealed passages. The necessities of a community fighting for its life against external enemies and the constant demand for administrative decisions about its internal affairs and the structure of its social life meant that the rearrangement of earlier revelations could be given only a low priority. It is likely that the larger part of our present quran Qurn was left by muhammad Muammad in the form in which we have it, as suggested above. The present text would then substantially represent the Book, and so the Book must have contained (in principle) all that had come to muhammad Muammad by revelation. On Bell's assumption of a quran Qurn limited to certain passages suitable for liturgical recitation, passages which had been included in this limited quran Qurn might have been further revised to fit them for inclusion in the Book. He suggested that this might have happened in the case of suras 13 and 14; in sura 12 he thought that the two openings-verse 3 and verses 1 and 2-belonged to the quran Qurn and the Book respectively. The Book was thus to be the complete corpus of his revelations, comprising the sign-passages, the punishment-stories, the restricted quran Qurn and any further passages which might be revealed to him. Thus the conception of 'the Book' is in fact the conception of the quran Qurn as we now have it.

5. Other names

Certain other words are also used in the quran Qurn for what is revealed. These emphasize different aspects of the message, but are not so central as the terms already considered.

(a) tanzil tanzl. The word tanzil tanzl is the verbal noun from nazzala, 'to send down', and so means 'the sending down'. It is noteworthy that the phrase tanzil tanzl l kitab l-kitb occurs in the headings of suras 32, 39, 40, 45, 46, all of which except 39 have mysterious letters. The heading of 41, however, runs: ha mim Mm, a tanzil tanzl from the Merciful . . . a Book...; and tanzil tanzl might therefore mean 'what is sent down' or 'a revealed message'. There is something similar in 20.4/3 and 36.5/4 (where it is perhaps an alternative heading) and also in 26.192, 56.80/79 and 69.43. In so far as this word may be regarded as a name for the quran Qurn or part of it, it emphasizes its revealed character. It usually occurs in proximity to the terms 'quran Qurn' or 'Book' or both.

(b) dhikr, dhikra dhikr, tadhkira. These nouns are from the verb dhakara, 'to remember, to mention', which in the second stem dhakkara has the meaning 'to remind, to admonish'. In several passages muhammad Muammad is instructed to remind or admonish people, and in 88.21 he himself is called an admonisher, mudhakkir. The three nouns cited are often used in association with this sense of the verb; dhikr is thus found in 7.63/1; 69/7; 12.104; 38.87; 68.52 and 81.27; dhikra dhikr is found in 6.69/8, 90; 11.114/6, 120/1 and 74.31/4; tadhkira is found in 69.48; 73.19 and 76.29. In so far as these words are applied to the revealed message or a part of it the aspect intended is obvious and was certainly present. Indeed in 38.1 the quran Qurn is described as dhu dh dh-dhikr, 'having the reminder'. It should be noted, however, that these words have a rich semantic development in Arabic religious writing. Even in the quran Qurn dhikr has sometimes [as in 2.200/196 5.91/3; 62.9; 63.9] the sense of public or private worship. This usage might be influenced by Hebrew or Syriac where words from cognate roots are used to denote parts of or kinds of religious service; but it could be a simple development of one of the meanings of dhikr Allah in Arabic, namely, man's remembrance of God.

(c) furqan furqn. The word furqan furqn, which occurs seven times in the quran Qurn, appears to be derived from the Jewish-Aramaic purqan purqn or, more probably the Syriac purqana purqna with the basic meaning of 'salvation'. 13 The Arabic root faraqa, 'to separate', however, may have affected the precise connotation of the word. It is mostly associated with revelation, and for this reason has often been regarded as an alternative name for the quran Qurn. The occurrences of the word may be classified as follows:

(1) the furqan Furqn as something given to Moses

2.53/0: . . . when we gave Moses the Book and the furqan Furqn.

21.48/9: We gave Moses and Aaron the furqan Furqn and illumination and a reminder for those who show piety.

(2) the furqan Furqn promised to the Muslims (before Badr)

8.29: O believers, if you show piety towards God, he will appoint for you a furqan Furqn and will absolve you from your evil deeds and will forgive you.

(3) the furqan Furqn is sent down to muhammad Muammad on the day of Badr 8.41/2: . . . if you have believed in God and what we sent down to our servant on the day of the furqan Furqn, the day the two parties met.

2.185/1: . . . the month of ramadan Ramadn in which the quran Qurn was sent down as guidance for the people and as Evidences of the guidance and of the furqan Furqn.

(4) other references to the sending down of the furqan Furqn to muhammad Muammad

3.3/2: he has sent down to thee the Book with the truth, confirming what was before it, and he sent down the Torah and the Evangel aforetime as guidance for the people, and he sent down the furqan Furqn.

25.1: Blessed be he who has sent down the furqan Furqn upon his servant that he may be to the worlds a warner.

These occurrences of the word appear to come in revelations which may be dated shortly before and after the battle of Badr. 14 In 8.29 (which on general grounds is dated about the time of Badr) the furqan Furqn has not yet been received by the Muslims, whereas 8.41/2 identifies the Day of the furqan Furqn with the Day of Badr. The passage containing 2.53/0 is an appeal to the Jews to prepare for the Last Judgement by accepting the guidance from muhammad Muammad, and must be much earlier than Badr; and 2 1.48/9 is probably of similar date. The root faraqa is used in 5.25/8 in a prayer to God to 'separate' or 'discriminate' (fa-fruq) between Moses (with Aaron) and the reprobate people, where the implication probably is that the brothers are not to suffer for the sins of the people. In another account [7.145/2-156/5] of the giving of the tablets of the Law to Moses and the incident of the calf (with which the furqan Furqn is connected in 2.53/0), the worshippers of the calf are treated differently from those who did evil and repented [151/0-153/2]; and this is a discrimination, even if the root faraqa is not used. In view of the words in 156/5 'we have become Jews (in devotion) towards thee', it is further possible that the furqan Furqn is to be thought of as the separation of a community of believers from the unbelievers. Just before Badr the Muslims had been concerned to distinguish themselves from the Jews as a community, and at Badr a 'separation' was made between the Muslims and the Meccan pagans. 15

In the last resort, however, the meanings suggested, such as 'salvation', 'deliverance' and 'separation' do not wholly fit the last three passages in the above list in that these include the word 'sent down' (nazzala, anzala). By this time these words had become almost technical terms for 'revelation' of a message by an angel intermediary; and it is difficult to see how an event such as a victory in battle could be 'sent down' in this way. Could it perhaps be the conviction of divine approval and acceptance which came to muhammad Muammad on the day of Badr, though not necessarily in any form of words other than the quran Qurn? If so, it is also possible that it was in the same month of ramadan Ramadn that the quran Qurn as a whole was 'sent down' in a single night (as discussed above); and this might explain the connection of the quran Qurn and the furqan Furqn. The interpretation of the verses mentioning the furqan Furqn is highly speculative, however, and not altogether relevant to the present subject. In so far as there is a conclusion here, it is that, if the furqan Furqn is a part of the quran Qurn, it is the aspect of it expressing the significance of the victory of Badr-the deliverance of the Muslims and their separation from the unbelievers, the assurance of divine approval, the establishment of the Muslims as a distinct community. It can also be asserted with confidence that the term furqan furqn continued in use for only a short period; and the reason for this is presumably that the significance of Badr for the Muslims changed somewhat after the reverse at uhud Uud and again after the later successes.

quran