Sources of the Quran

Revised by Montgomery Watt

 

Truthnet

Truthnet:Islam

Contact Truthnet

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 9: The Doctrines of the Quran

1. The doctrine of God 1

The doctrine of God is central to the quran Qurn. Like the Bible the quran Qurn assumes the existence of God and does not argue for it. In the earlier passages the points that are emphatically asserted are that God is good and that he is all-powerful. These points are supported by calling attention to the 'signs' in nature (as explained in the first section of the previous chapter). All sorts of natural phenomena have been ordered in such a way that they contribute to the maintenance of human life and to the comfort and convenience of individuals. It is in accordance with the emphasis on God's goodness that the suras of the quran Qurn commence with the formula 'In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate'.

God's omnipotence appears above all in his power to create. He is the creator of everything-of the heavens and the earth and what is between them [13.16/17; 50.38/7; etc.]. The alleged deities of the pagans are unable to create anything [25.3; 46.4/3], not even a fly [22.73/2]. The creation of a thing comes about when God says to it 'Be'; 'when he wills a thing, he simply says to it "Be" and it is' [40.68/70 and frequently]. This is not unlike the fiat ascribed to God in the Bible-'and God said, Let there be light; and there was light' [Genesis, 1.3]. It should be noted, however, that there is a great difference in emphasis at this point between the Bible and the quran Qurn. The Biblical doctrine of creation is essentially what is found in the first chapter of Genesis, that is, the initial or original creation of the universe. The six 'days' of creation are indeed mentioned in the quran Qurn [32.4/3; 41.9/8-10/l1; etc.]; but they are given far less prominence than in the Bible. Most of the descriptions of creation in the quran Qurn are of God's continuing activity in the present. What is usually regarded as the first revelation [96.1 f.] runs: 'Recite in the name of thy Lord who created-created man from a blood-clot' (or embryo). Thus God's creative power is regarded as being present in the origination of every human being. Moreover it is not restricted to origination, but also manifests itself in the various transformations which occur in the course of development; thus God 'creates' each stage of the embryo from the previous one. 2

The greater part of the quran Qurn (though not the early passages) emphasizes that God is the only deity and that he has no peers or partners. This insistence is in opposition to the beliefs of the Arab pagans of the time. Among these beliefs three strands may be noticed. Many of the nomads had scant belief in the traditional deities and are rather to be described as humanists of a kind. Then there appear to have been polytheists as these are commonly conceived; that is, they acknowledged a number of gods all roughly equal. It has commonly been assumed by students of Islam that this was the main form of paganism which was being attacked by the quran Qurn. Careful reading of a number of passages, however, shows that there was a third type of belief among the more thoughtful of muhammad Muammad's contemporaries. They acknowledged the existence of allah Allh as the supreme god, but regarded the other 'gods' as lesser divine beings. 3 In some cases they may have held that these lesser deities were intercessors with the supreme god [39.3/4]. The assertions of the quran Qurn about the idols vary in emphasis. Sometimes they appear to be regarded-doubtless because this was the view of the hearers-as angels or even jinn; 4 but at other times they are declared to be mere names employed by men without any authorization. 5 It should also be noted that the term 'daughters of God' applied to certain deities 6 does not imply the type of family relationship found in Greek mythology but stands for a more abstract relationship; the interpretation of the phrase is roughly 'lesser divine beings subordinate to the supreme deity', or 'lesser beings sharing in the quality of divinity'.

That God is one and unique is appropriately the first article of the Islamic Confession of Faith or Testimony (shahada shahda): 'there is no deity but God ' (la l ilaha ilha illa ill llahu llhu). This formula is found in the quran Qurn exactly in 37.35/4 [cf. 47.19/2]; and similar assertions, such as 'there is no deity but he', are frequent. The negative side of this doctrine is the insistence on the heinousness of shirk, 'giving partners' (sc. to God) or 'associating' (sc. other beings with him). In later Islam it was generally agreed that the one sin which excluded a man from the community of Muslims was shirk; by it he became a mushrik, an 'associater' or 'polytheist'. The word commonly translated 'infidel' or 'unbeliever' is kafir kfir, with the corresponding noun kufr. Since kufr seems to have meant originally 'ingratitude', it may be that the meaning of 'unbelief' came from the idea that not to acknowledge the signs of God's power and goodness and to worship him was a mark of in-gratitude. The opposite of the kafir kfir is the 'believer' or mumin mumin who acknowledges the signs and who has iman mn, 'belief' or 'faith', In the quran Qurn the common word for a follower of the quranic Qurnic religion is mumin mumin; the word muslim meaning 'one who surrenders or submits himself (to God)' is less frequent and only occurs in later passages.

The omnipotence of God is sometimes asserted in what to the European appear to be extreme forms. Man's will is completely subordinate to God's will, so that man cannot do or will anything unless God wills it. With regard to accepting the Reminder or believing men are told that 'you will not so will except it be that God wills'. 7 In other respects also God's will overrides the wills of men. Sometimes it appears to be his previous decree or determination of something, as when it is said of Lot 'we delivered him and his household, except his wife, whom we had decreed (qaddarna qaddarn) to be of the lingerers' (27.57/8). On the other hand, God may be the real agent of events which appear to be the work of human agents. Thus God is asserted to be the author of the victory at Badr: 'you (Muslims) did not kill them, but God killed them, and you (muhammad Muammad) did not shoot (sc. arrows) when you shot, but God shot' [8.17]. The corollary of this belief in the overriding will of God is that no harm can come to a man except what God wills. When in muhammad Muammad's later years the Muslims complained if they suffered any misfortune, he was told to say to them: 'nothing will befall us except what God has written (decreed) for us' [9.51;cf. 57.22].

God's overriding control of events is also expressed through various subordinate conceptions such as his guidance, favour or help on the one hand, and on the other his leading astray (idlal ill) and abandoning (khidhlan khidhln) and placing a seal on the hearts. A few examples may be given:

If God wills to guide a man, he enlarges his breast for islam islm, surrender (to God), and if he wills to lead a man astray, he makes his breast narrow and contracted . . . [6.125]. Had God willed he would have made you one community; but he leads astray whom he will and guides whom he will [16.93/5].

If God helps you (yansur kum yanur-kum), there is none to overcome you; but if he abandons you (yakhdhul-kum), who indeed will help you after him? [3.160/54].

Had it not been for God's bounty and mercy (fadl fal, rama) towards you, you would have followed Satan except a few [4.83/5; cf. 24.21].

The teaching of the quran Qurn as a whole, however, maintains human responsibility at the same time as it asserts divine omnipotence. This is really implicit in the doctrine of the Last Judgement; and later Muslim theologians argued that God's justice (which the quran Qurn asserts) would not allow him to punish anyone for an act for which he was not responsible. There are also many passages which show that God's activity of guiding or leading astray follows upon unsatisfactory actions or attitudes on the part of the individuals concerned.

By this (simile God has coined) he leads astray many and by this he guides many; and he leads astray only the evildoers [2.26/4].

Those who do not believe in God's signs, God does not guide [16.104/6].

Truly I (God) am forgiving to him who repents and believes and acts uprightly, and who also accepts guidance (ihtada ihtad) [20.82/4].

How will God guide a people who disbelieved after believing?... God does not guide the wicked people [3.86/0].

In the end, then, the quran Qurn simply holds fast to the complementary truths of God's omnipotence and man's responsibility without reconciling them intellectually. This is basically also the position of the Bible, though many western Christians have placed the chief emphasis on man's responsibility where most Muslims would have placed it on God's omnipotence.

The names of God have tended to play a large part in later Islamic thought, following on the verses in the quran Qurn which state that to God belong the most beautiful names (asma al-asm husna al-usn) [7.180/79; 17.110; 20.8/7; 59.24]. A list was later compiled of ninety-nine names, and these were used as the basis of meditations, especially in association with the subha suba or 'rosary'. The names are found in the quran Qurn, though some are not in the exact form given in the list; and there are also names in the quran Qurn not usually included in the list, of which there are different versions. 8 A common feature of quranic Qurnic style is to have a verse ending with two names of God, such as 'Thou art the Knowing, the Wise' [2.32/0].

While the ninety-nine names are descriptive, there is also a proper or denotative name allah allh, which is added at the beginning or the end of the list of ninety-nine. It is probably contracted from the Arabic al ilah al-ilh, 'the god' or 'the deity', though some modern scholars have preferred to think that it was derived from the Aramaic or Syriac alaha alh. Inscriptions and pre-Islamic poetry show that the word was in use in Arabia before Islam. It could have stood for 'the god' of a particular tribe, or for 'the supreme god' in which men were coming to believe, or for 'God' in the monotheistic sense. 9 The quran Qurn presupposes that most men already believe in the existence of allah Allh, and by its teaching restricts the word to its monotheistic interpretation.

One of the other names ar rahman ar-Ramn, 'the Merciful', approaches at times in the quran Qurn the status of a proper name. It is also known from inscriptions to have been used in Arabia before muhammad Muammad's time, and seems to have been employed by at least some of the 'prophets' who appeared at the close of muhammad Muammad's life. A similar word is common in Jewish writings and is occasionally found in Syriac; but adoption from these sources is unlikely, since the form of the word could be a regular Arabic one. Moreover, the occurrence of the word as a proper name is most frequent not in the earliest passages but in the suras of Nldeke's second Meccan period, such as sura 19. 10 Hubert Grimme 11 suggested that the use of this name is associated with an emphasis on God's mercy, rahma rama, and also that this emphasis corresponded to the tensions arising among the Muslims from failure and persecution and indicated a growing knowledge of the Christian scriptures in particular. About this there can be no certainty. The sudden appearance of this name remains something of a mystery; but its disappearance may have come about because ignorant persons tended to think that allah Allh and ar rahman ar-Ramn were two separate gods, as is indeed mentioned as a possibility by Muslim commentators on 17.110:

Say: Call on God or call on the Merciful; however you call upon him, his are the beautiful names.

2. Other spiritual beings

Even if the ordinary nomadic Arab did not take belief in the gods seriously, he was fully convinced of the existence of jinn (singular jinni jinn, 'genie'). 12 These were shadowy spirits who seldom assumed a distinct personality or name. They were associated with deserts, ruins and other eerie places, and might assume such forms as those of animals, serpents and other creeping things. They were vaguely feared, but were not always malevolent. Though created from fire and not, like man, from clay [55.14/13f.; 15.26f.], their end is likewise to serve or worship God [51.56]. Messengers are sent to them from God [6.130], and they may become either believers or unbelievers [72.11, 14; etc.]. It is asserted that on one occasion a company of jinn listened to muhammad Muammad proclaiming the quran Qurn and that some of them became Muslims [72.1-19; cf. 46.29/8-32/1]. The unbelievers among them may go to Hell [6.128; 11.119/20; 32.13; 41.25/4], but it is not explicitly stated that the believers may go to Heaven.

A madman was majnun majnn, that is, affected by jinn; but jinn sometimes assisted men to special knowledge [cf. 37.36/5]. The word for 'poet ', shair shir, seems to imply that he was inspired by some such being, since it means 'one who is aware' or 'one who perceives'. The kahin khin or 'soothsayer' may have had his own special prompter, a spirit or genie, who inspired him to give answers on all sorts of questions. The oracles which the kahin khin gave his clients were often cryptic, garnished with oaths to make them more impressive, and usually couched in saj saj (rhythmic and assonanced prose) resembling the earlier passages of the quran Qurn. The oracles might give prognostications for the future, the solution of past mysteries, or decisions on litigious questions. 13 Superficially muhammad Muammad was not unlike men of this class, and the quran Qurn therefore finds it advisable to deny that he was a kahin khin or inspired by jinn [52. 29; cf. 69.42]. Many varieties of jinn were known to the Arabs, but only the ifrit ifrt is separately mentioned in the quran Qurn [27.39].

Angels are frequently mentioned, though not in the earliest passages. The Arabic word, malak malak, and more particularly its plural malaika malika, is thought to have been derived from Ethiopic, but was probably familiar to the Arabs before muhammad Muammad's time. In the popular mind angels and jinn were roughly identified: and it is instructive that at one point the quran Qurn says Iblis was one of the jinn [18.50/48] whereas elsewhere he is spoken of as a fallen angel [2.34/2; 7.11/10; etc.]. The quran Qurn speaks as if the conception of angels had been accepted by some pagans, since they are said to demand an angel as messenger [41.14/13; cf. 43.53], or had adopted angels as objects of worship or goddesses [43.19/18f.; cf. 37.149-53; 53.28]; but it is also possible that it is only the quran Qurn (and not the pagans) which asserts that the beings worshipped by the pagans are in fact angels.

The angels are subordinate and created beings [21.26]; they are messengers of God [15.8; 35.1] and in particular the bearers of the revelation, a function which sometimes is said to be performed collectively [16.2; 97.4] and sometimes by Gabriel especially [2.97/1; cf. 81.19-25]. The angels are also watchers over men and recorders of their deeds [13. 11/12; 82.10-12], and they call in the souls of men at death [16.28/30, 32/4]. It is presumably as recorders that they are present on the Day of Judgement [2.210/06; 39.75; 69.17]. They also surround the throne of God and sing his praises [40.7; 42.5/3]. Apart from Gabriel the only angel named is Michael in 2.98/2. There is also mentioned, however, along with the angels a mysterious being called 'the Spirit', ar ruh ar-r, or 'the faithful Spirit' [only in 26.193]. Where it is associated with the angels it is best regarded as one of them [as in 16.2; 40.15; 70.4; 78.38; 97.4]. Later Muslim exegetes take the Spirit to be Gabriel, and in view of its special connection with muhammad Muammad himself and with revelation in general there would seem to be no objection to this identification [42.52]. The quranic Qurnic use of the word ruh r, however, raises many problems which cannot be dealt with here. 14

Contrasted with the angels are the demons or satans (shayatin shayn, sing. shaytan shayn). Just as the believers have angels as guardians and helpers [8.9, 12; cf. 6.61], so a demon is assigned to each unbeliever and prompts him to evil [19.83/6; 43.36/5-39/8; cf. 23.97/9f.; 7.27/6; 41.25/4]. There are some references to a contemporary belief that the demons tried to observe the inhabitants of Paradise by stealth and were driven away by stones which appear to men as shooting stars [15.16-18; 37.6-10].

 

Besides the ordinary demons there is ash shaytan ash-shayn, who might be taken to be the demon par excellence, and so the Devil or Satan. In the quran Qurn shaytan ash-shayn or Satan is apparently the same person as iblis Ibls. He is an angel deposed for his pride in refusing to worship the man whom God has just created [2.34/2-36/4; 7/11/10-22/1; etc.]; the one who refused to worship is always iblis Ibls, but Satan is often mentioned in a later verse. After his refusal, however, he is allowed by God to tempt men, to urge them to evil and unseemliness, and to make evil deeds seem fair to them [17.61/3-64/6; 2.168/f; 8.48/50; 16.63/5]. He whispers in the breasts of men [7.20/19; 20.120/18; 114.4-6], and may even insinuate something into the messages revealed to prophets [22.52/1]. His footsteps are not to be followed for he is a betrayer of men [25.29/31], and will repudiate their service at the last [14.22/6f.]. There has been much discussion of whether shaytan shayn is an Arabic word or not, and no agreement has been reached. It is clear that the word was in use in Arabic in pre-Islamic times, but it may have meant a snake or a being something like the jinn. Even if the word is Arabic, the singular seems to have been influenced in meaning by the Hebrew satan Sn, probably through the Ethiopic shaytan Shayn. This development may also have been pre-Islamic. 15

3. Prophethood; other religions

The quranic Qurnic conception of the messenger (rasul rasl) and prophet (nabi nab) has already been described in chapter 2, section 3. It was an essential part of this conception that the message brought to muhammad Muammad from God by the angels was basically the same as messages brought to other prophets, especially those named in the 'punishment stories'. In some passages the impression is given that each messenger is sent to a different community, and that when the community rejects the message and is punished it disappears. This holds in the case of the Arabian prophets, the 'people of Lot', and others. On the other hand it is recognized that there is at least a genealogical continuity in the case of some of the prophets: 'God chose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham and the family of imran Imrn above the worlds, descendants one of the other . . .' [3.33/0]. Further problems arose for the community of Muslims as they had further contacts especially with the Jews of Medina and heard these deny the similarity of the quran Qurn and their scriptures, In the last year or two of muhammad Muammad's life as his rule expanded northwards the Muslims experienced comparable hostility from Christians.

When muhammad Muammad first went to Medina he received messages for 'the people of the Book' (that is, primarily the Jews), as in 5.15/18 and 19/22. When it became clear that the Jews were not going to recognize his prophethood, he was encouraged by the thought that they had in the past rejected and killed messengers who had been sent to them [3.181/77-184/1; 5.70/4]. Another point was that the Jews and Christians put themselves in a false position by rejecting one another 'though they both recite the Book' [2.113/07]. The difficulty that there were basic differences between the quran Qurn on the one hand and on the other the scriptures of the Jews and Christians (usually called the Torah and the Evangel or Gospel), and the further difficulty of differences between the Torah and the Evangel, were met apparently by regarding these scriptures as only part of the Book [3.23/2; 4.44/7, 51/4], and even holding that they had divided up the quran Qurn [15.90f; cf. 23.53/5]. The Jews in particular were also accused of concealing part of the scriptures [2.4 2/39, 76/1, 140/34, 146/1, 159/4, 174/69; 3.71/64; 5.15/18; 6.91]. In some cases this seems to have meant that they concealed verses in the Bible foretelling the coming of muhammad Muammad as a prophet [7.157/6; 61.6]. In other passages the Jews are accused of deliberately 'corrupting' or 'altering' the scriptures [2.75/0; 5.13/16,41/5], and from the examples given in 4.46/8f. this seems to mean playing with words to make fun of the Muslims. 16 In later times this doctrine of the 'corruption' (tahrif tarf) of the Jewish and Christian scriptures was developed in such a way that Muslims generally came to regard the existing texts as valueless.

Corresponding to these criticisms of the People of the Book is the positive conception of 'the religion of Abraham'. The essence of this religion is surrender or submission (islam islm) to the Lord of the worlds [2.130/24f.]. The person who practises it is a hanif anf or-which is practically the same thing-a muslim (as noted on p. 151 above). {Editor's note: the original book referenced "p. 15", but that is not the right text; page 151 seems to have been the author's intent.} Thus it can be said that Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian but a hanif anf and muslim [3.67/0]. This leads to the conception of three parallel religions [as in 5.44/8-50/5], firstly that of the Torah given to Moses, then that of the Evangel given to Jesus, and then that of the quran Qurn given to muhammad Muammad. The Evangel 'confirms' the Torah, and the quran Qurn 'confirms' the previous two scriptures; but Jews, Christians and Muslims will each be judged by their own revelation. Apart from the charges of concealment and corruption of the scriptures already mentioned, the quran Qurn seems to be criticizing Jews and Christians for 'dividing up their religion and becoming sects' [6.159/60]. muhammad Muammad and his followers are certainly following the true religion of Abraham [4.125/4; 6.161/2; 16.123/4; 22.78/7]; and this virtually implies that Jews and Christians are not, though the developed form of the doctrine that they had 'corrupted the scriptures' did not appear until some time after muhammad Muammad's death.

In general the teaching of the quran Qurn is in accordance with that of the Old Testament. Such differences of detail as there are in the story of Joseph and in ceremonial matters are peripheral. There is no mention of the writing prophets, though their concern for social justice is present. The Biblical title of 'Messiah' (masih mas) is accepted and applied to Jesus, but there appears to be little realization of its original significance. Indeed the chief point of difference between the quran Qurn and the Old Testament is the absence from the former of any profound conception of sacrifice and a sacrificing priesthood.

On the other hand, there are considerable differences between the quran Qurn and the New Testament. It should be noted, however, that so far as the actual statements of the quran Qurn are concerned, the differences are not so great as they are sometimes supposed to be. Modern scholars, Christian and Muslim, tend to read later controversies into the wording of the quran Qurn. Thus the rejection of the doctrine that 'God is one of three' [5.73/7] is usually taken to be a denial of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity; yet strictly speaking what is rejected is a doctrine of tritheism which orthodox Christianity also rejects. Similarly the rejection of the fatherhood of God the Father and the sonship of God the Son is strictly speaking a rejection of fatherhood and sonship in a physical sense; and this Christianity would also reject. The Virgin Birth is taught [19.16-33/4], but is interpreted simply as a miracle. The denial that Jesus died on the cross [4.157/6-159/7] is primarily a denial that the crucifixion was a Jewish victory; but, in line with the absence of the conception of sacrifice, it means that the quran Qurn never speaks of the atonement or saving work of Jesus. 17

4. The doctrine of the Last Judgement

After the doctrine that God is one the doctrine of the Last Judgement may be reckoned the second great doctrine of the quran Qurn. In essentials this is the doctrine that on the Last Day men will be raised to life and will appear before God to be judged and to be assigned to Paradise or Hell according as their deeds are mainly good or mainly bad. In some respects this Judgement, as affecting the world as a whole, corresponds to the catastrophe which overtakes particular unbelieving communities in the punishment-stories. The designation of muhammad Muammad as a 'warner' may refer either to the temporal catastrophe or to the eschatological Judgement, but the emphasis varies from time to time. The eschatological Judgement is implied by such early verses as 'to thy Lord is the return' [96.8] and 'rise and warn . . . the Wrath flee' [74.2, 5]; but the vivid pictures of the terrors of the Last Day come first in later Meccan passages, especially in those of what Bell called 'the early quran Qurn period'.

The climax of history, when the present world comes to an end, is referred to in various ways. It is yawm ad din ad-dn, 'the Day of Judgement', al-yawm akhir al-khir, 'the Last Day', yawm qiyama al-qiyma, 'the Day of Resurrection', or simply as saa as-sa, 'the Hour'. Less frequently it is yawm fasl al-fal, yawm jam al-jam or yawm at talaqi at-talq, that is, 'the Day of Distinction' (when the good are separated from the evil), 'the Day of the Gathering' (of men to the presence of God) or 'the Day of the Meeting' (of men with God). The Hour comes suddenly [6.31; 7.187/6; 12.107; 22.55/4; 43.66; 47.18/20]. It is heralded by a shout [sayha aya, 36.53], by a thunderclap [sakhkha khkha, 80.33], or by the blast of a trumpet [69.13; 74.8; 78.18; in 39.68 a double blast]. A cosmic upheaval then takes place. The mountains dissolve into dust, the seas boil up, the sun is darkened, the stars fall, and the sky is rolled up. God appears as Judge, but his presence is hinted at rather than described. He is in the midst of the angels arranged in ranks [78.38; 89.22/3] or circling his throne and praising him [39.75]. Many of the details mentioned have parallels in Jewish and Christian literature, though there are also specifically Arabian features, like the neglect of the ten-month-pregnant camels in 81.4; but there is nowhere a parallel to the quranic Qurnic picture as a whole.

The central interest, of course, is in the gathering of all mankind before the Judge. The graves are opened and human beings of all ages, restored to life, join the throng. The quran Qurn, however, does not assert a natural immortality of the human soul, since man's existence is dependent on the will of God; when he wills he causes man to die, and when he wills he raises him to life again. To the scoffing objection of the Meccan pagans that former generations had been dead a long time and were now dust and mouldering bones, the reply is that God is nevertheless able to restore them to life, though they will have no knowledge of the time that has elapsed. The statements in 2.154/49 and 3.169/3f. that those who died fighting in God's cause are alive and present with him raise some difficulties; but the simplest solution is to suppose that God has willed to restore them to life before the general resurrection and has admitted them to Paradise.

The actual Judgement is also described, and different details are given prominence. The books with the record of a man's deeds will be opened. His account will be handed to him and he will be asked to read it-perhaps as happened in Meccan business practice. The good man is said to be given his book in his right hand and the bad man given his behind his back or in his left hand [84.7-12; 69.19-32]. In the earlier passages the criterion by which men are judged is apparently the relative weight of their good and bad deeds when weighed in the balance [101.6/5-9/6; 7.8/7f.]. The Judgement, too, is passed on the individual and the Judge is not influenced by a man's wealth or powerful kinsmen [82.19; cf. 31.33/2; 35.18/19; 44.41; 5 3.38/9; 99.6]. In earlier times, indeed, it seems that whole communities have gone to Hell as communities because they have shown solidarity in rejecting the prophet sent to them. In later passages of the quran Qurn, however, the criterion tends to be belief or unbelief, though this is fundamentally a moral and not an intellectual act. To accept a messenger and his message is, in the quran Qurn, a moral act and the gateway to real uprightness of life and conduct.

The result of the Judgement is either everlasting bliss or everlasting torment. There is no intermediate condition. One passage has sometimes been taken to imply a middle state [7.46/4-49/7], but this probably rests on a misinterpretation; 18 and the word barzakh [23. I 00/2], which was given a similar meaning in later times, in the quran Qurn probably only means 'barrier'. Another passage says that all men shall go down to hell-fire and that the pious shall then be delivered from it [19.71/2f.], While this could imply a Purgatory in which the believers expiated or were purified from their evil deeds before passing to their reward, it might mean only that all men are brought face to face with the pains of Hell, though the pious as a result of the Judgement are exempted from them. There are thus only the two destinations, Paradise and Hell; but it is sometimes hinted that there are distinctions within Paradise. In 56.88/7-95/4 three classes are named: those who are brought near, the people of the right and those who count false (and who are consigned to Hell); and in 8.4 'degrees in the presence of their Lord' are said to await the true believers.

The abode of those who are condemned at the Judgement is jahannam, Gehenna or Hell. Other names applied to it are al jahim al-jam, 'the Hot Place', saqar (meaning unknown), sair sar, 'the Blaze', laza laz, perhaps also 'Blaze' [70.15]. Most common of all names, however, is an nar an-nr, 'the Fire'. The torments in it of the damned are depicted with a great wealth of imagery. Many of the details can be paralleled in Christian literature, such as the idea that the overseers of Hell and those who administer punishment are angels (good beings commissioned by God to do so), and the idea that the inmates of Hell will ask the inmates of Paradise for water [7.50/48]. On the other hand, there are distinctively Arabian features, such as being given hot water to drink (probably) and being made to eat from the tree of zaqqum zaqqm; the latter is said to be a tree which grew in the hijaz ijz and had very bitter fruit.

In contrast the abode of the Just is al-janna, 'the Garden', often described as 'a Garden through which rivers flow'. It is also designated jannat adn adn, 'the Garden of Eden', or jannat naim an-nam, 'the Garden of delight', or simply an naim an-nam. In some late passages firdaws occurs, a singular form perhaps derived from the presumed plural faradis fards representing the Greek paradeisos, or perhaps introduced into Arabic directly from Persian which is the ultimate source of the Greek word. In Paradise the blessed enjoy luxuries of many kinds; they recline on couches, they eat fruit, they have wine served to them by ever-youthful boys. The latter point, which has Christian parallels, is interesting in the light of the later quranic Qurnic prohibition of wine-drinking. There are also milk and honey and ever-flowing springs. In addition to these material joys the reward of the pious has more spiritual aspects. They experience forgiveness, peace and the satisfaction of the soul in God. Above all they are given the vision of God. 19

Western thought has made much of the houris (Arabic hur r) of Paradise, and indeed so also has the Muslim popular imagination. These 'wide-eyed houris' are mentioned only four times in the quran Qurn by name [44.54; 52.20; 55.72; 56.23/2]; but there are one or two other passages [especially 37.48/7; 38.52; 55.56-8; 56.35/4-40/39; 78.33] which describe the maidens who are to be companions of the blessed. They are 'spotless virgins, amorous, like of age'; resembling hidden pearls or ruby and coral, with swelling breasts, untouched by men or jinn, who modestly keep their eyes cast down and are enclosed in pavilions. All these references are usually dated in the Meccan period, In the Medinan period there is mention of 'purified spouses' [2.25/3; 3.15/13; 4.57/60], but it is not clear whether these are the houris or the actual believing wives. It is certainly the teaching of the quran Qurn that believing men, women and children shall enter Paradise as families [13.23; 40.8; cf. 36.56; 43.70]. Since these images are attempts to suggest what is essentially beyond man's capacity to conceive it is unnecessary to seek a single consistent picture. The fundamental assertion of the quran Qurn is that the life of Paradise is one which satisfies man's deepest desires and which involves warm human relationships.

5. Regulations for the life of the community

In addition to its doctrinal teaching the quran Qurn contains liturgical and legal or social prescriptions for the life of the community of Muslims. These rules were greatly elaborated by Muslim jurists in later times to constitute what is now known as 'Islamic law' or 'the sharia Shara'. The present section indicates the general tenor of these rules without entering into details. The first four to be mentioned belong to the fundamental 'religious' obligations which are often called 'the Five Pillars of Religion'. The remaining pillar, usually the first to be named, is the shahada Shahda or Confession of Faith which has already been described (p. 25, 149).

(a) Prayer or worship. Prayers in the sense of formal public worship (salat alt) seems to have been part of the practice of muhammad Muammad's followers from the first. Opponents are said to try to stop the practice [96.9f.]. The details of this formal worship were settled by the actual custom of muhammad Muammad and the first Muslims rather than by quranic Qurnic prescription. The worship is essentially adoration and consists of a series of physical acts accompanied by certain forms of words. The climax is when the worshippers touch the ground with their foreheads in acknowledgement of the might, majesty and mercy of God. When the rules were standardized, it became a duty for Muslims to perform the worship five times a day; but the five times are not mentioned clearly in the quran Qurn. Evening, morning, twilight and noon are said to be commanded in 30. 1/16f., and the afternoon prayer is held to be intended by the 'middle prayer' in 2.23 8/9. Daybreak, sunset and night are mentioned in various places [11.114/6; 17.78/80f.; 20.130; 50.39/8f.]. It is known from sura 73 that prayer for a large part of the night was a practice of the Muslims at Mecca, but that this rule was later abrogated (by verse 20) so that rising at night ceased to be obligatory. At first prayer was made facing Jerusalem, but at the time of the break with the Jews the qibla or direction of prayer was changed to Mecca. 20 Special emphasis was placed on the midday prayer on Fridays [cf. 62.9]. Prayers are always preceded by ablutions [4.43/6].

(b) Legal alms or poor-tax. This prescription, the zakat zakt, was perhaps originally a kind of tithe, as much for the purification of the giver's soul as for the relief of the needy. The practice began at Mecca. In Medina it was made incumbent on Muslims, presumably because of the difficult circumstances of the poorer Emigrants and perhaps also because of necessities of state. The essential demands on nomadic groups and others who wanted to become Muslims and allies of muhammad Muammad was that they should perform the salat alt and give the zakat zakt. 21

(c) The fast of ramadan Raman. Fasting is not mentioned in the Meccan passages, but soon after the Hijra to Medina the Jewish fast of the ashura shr is held to have been prescribed for the Muslims by 2.183/79. 22 This would be part of the process by which the Islamic religion was assimilated to Judaism. After the break with the Jews the fast of the month of ramadan Ramadn was substituted [2.185/1], possibly as a thanksgiving for the victory of Badr. 23 The fast consists of total abstinence from food, drink, smoking and sexual intercourse from before sunrise until after sunset on each of the thirty days of the month.

(d) The pilgrimage to Mecca. A pilgrimage to places in the neighbourhood of Mecca and perhaps also to Mecca itself (hajj ajj, umra umra) was a pre-Islamic practice. About the time of the break with the Jews this was taken into 'the religion of Abraham' [22.26/7-33/4; cf. 2.196/2]. After the slaughter at Badr it was presumably dangerous for Muslims to go to Mecca. muhammad Muammad was prevented by the Meccans from making the pilgrimage in 628 as he had hoped, but was allowed to do so in 629 by the treaty of hudaybiya al-udaybiya [cf. 47.27]. Shortly after the conquest of Mecca in 630 the idolaters were forbidden to approach the kaba kaaba Kaba [9.28]; and Tradition says that they were debarred from the pilgrimage a year later. The detailed regulations for the pilgrimage are not recorded in the quran Qurn. 24

(e) Marriage and divorce. There are several passages in the quran Qurn dealing with marriage and divorce. 25 The matter is complicated by the fact that previously some of the Arabs who became Muslims had followed a matrilineal system of kinship. Associated with this were forms of polyandry in which a woman had several 'husbands' and physical paternity was neglected. Thus the permission for a man to have four wives [based on 4.3] is not the limitation of a previous unlimited polygamy but an attempt to deal with the problem of surplus women (originally after the numerous male deaths at uhud Uud) while at the same time limiting a woman to one husband at a time. The Islamic system may be considered a reform in that, when it was observed, the physical paternity of a child was always known. Divorce was easy, but it was enjoined that after divorce a woman should spend a waiting-period (idda idda) before remarriage, and this enabled one to know whether she was pregnant by the previous husband [2.226; etc.].

(f) Inheritance. The rules for inheritance were complex, doubtless because of the complexity of the social situation. It was probably customary among the Arabs, or at least among the Meccans, to give instructions before death about the disposal of the property [cf. 36.50]. In 2.180/76 the making of a will becomes obligatory for Muslims; the will has to be witnessed, but it is not stated that it has to be written. A few verses give succinct rules for the division of estates [4.11/12-14/18, 176/5]. The shares of parents, children, brothers and sisters are laid down. No special privilege is given to the firstborn. The right of women to hold property (of which there are instances in pre-Islamic times) is recognized, and shares are prescribed for women-usually half of a man's share. No share is assigned to a widow, but it was a duty to make provision for her [2.240/1]. The aim of these regulations was probably to ensure that property which had hitherto been partly communal was fairly divided among the nearest kin and was not appropriated by a strong individual.

(g) Food-laws. Several Meccan passages are directed against pagan food-taboos, and characterize as ingratitude the refusal to partake of the good things provided by God. The Jewish regulations about clean and unclean animals and similar matters must have come to the notice of the Muslims after the Hijra, and were doubtless found irksome. While the accession of the Jews to Islam was hoped for it was laid down that food allowable for the People of the Book was allowable for the Muslims [5.5/7]. Later, as tension with the Jews increased, the quran Qurn asserted that the food-laws were a punishment laid on the Jews by God for their rebelliousness, and so not applicable to the Muslims [4.160/58; etc.]. Muslims were in fact given simple rules (especially 5.3/4) which are reminiscent of those given to Gentile Christians in Acts, 15.29, but also include the prohibition of pork.

(h) Wine-drinking. Pre-Islamic poets boasted of their feats in wine-drinking. It was conspicuous luxury-consumption, since wine made from grapes had to be brought from considerable distances and was expensive. Apart from the fact that the trade was largely in the hands of Jews and Christians, muhammad Muammad had disagreeable experiences with followers who came drunk to public worship [cf. 4.43/6]. Though wine had been mentioned as one of the delights of Paradise, its evil effects were also realized [cf. 2.219/6], and it was finally forbidden altogether [5.90/2].

(i) Usury. In a commercial centre like Mecca the taking of interest was presumably a normal practice. The quranic Qurnic disapproval of interest belongs to the Medinan period and appears to be directed against the Jews rather than against the Meccans. In 4.161/59 the Jews are accused of having taken usury although they had been forbidden to do so. The most natural explanation of this would be to suppose that in the first year or so after the Hijra the Jews had refused to give contributions in response to muhammad Muammad's appeal but had said they were willing to lend money at interest. By adopting this position they were refusing to acknowledge muhammad Muammad's claim to be proclaiming a religion identical with theirs; and this was probably a large part of the reason for the prohibition of usury [10/2f.; cf. 2.275/6-28I]. 26

(j) Miscellaneous regulations. There are quranic Qurnic prescriptions on many other matters, some important, others apparently of less moment, though none is treated at any length. Slavery, which had been common in Arabia, was accepted as an institution, but it was laid down that slaves should be treated kindly [4.36/40],and provision was made for the liberation of a slave, which was regarded as a pious act [24.33]. 27 Contracts are to be fulfilled [5.1], and debts are to be recorded in writing [2.282]. Adultery and fornication are to be severely punished, but a charge of adultery must first be proved by four witnesses [4.2-4, 13]; theft is punished by the cutting off of a hand [5.38/42]. There is the prohibition of the gambling practice called maysir, in which lots were drawn for the various portions of a camel which was to be slaughtered [2.219/6; 5.90/2]. Appropriate conduct is indicated for those who meet the Prophet in public audiences or private interviews [49.1-5; 58.12/13; etc.]. There are rules for the division of the spoils after razzias [8.1, 41/2; 59.6-10]. In short the quran Qurn gives, at least in outline, a solution of the practical difficulties of the growing community in so far as previous custom was inapplicable. 28

When later Muslim scholars worked out a complete system of law, they had to take into consideration muhammad Muammad's practice as well as the prescriptions of the quran Qurn. In many cases muhammad Muammad had adopted some practice without any specific revelation as a basis and probably by modifying previous custom. In this way, although there are many legislative passages in the quran Qurn, it is not the sole source of Islamic law.

quran