The Koran: Selected Suras

The Koran: Selected Suras

by Arthur Jeffery (Translator)


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ISBN-13: 9780486414256
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 12/21/2000
Series: Dover Thrift Editions
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 890,850
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)
Age Range: 14 Years

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The Koran

Selected Suras

By Arthur Jeffery

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1958 The George Macy Companies, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-11908-3


Early Meccan Suras

Sura 96

Surat al-Alaq: The Blood-Clots

Common tradition in Islam holds that the first five verses of this Sura comprise the earliest revelation given to Mohammed. The Masoretes, however, were by no means unanimous about this and suggest various other passages as having a claim to be considered the first to be revealed. Modern scholarship is inclined to agree that this is not the earliest, but was elected to that position after the notion of Gabriel's connection with revelation came to be emphasized. In any case it is early, and perhaps the first section is very early.

The second section comes from a later period when Mohammed had begun to organize regular prayer services for his followers. The commentators assert that it refers to Abu Jahl, who came to be pictured as the typical Meccan opponent of the Prophet and his early followers.


* Recite! O Mohammed, in the name of thy Lord, who has created, Created man from blood-clots. Recite! seeing that thy Lord is the most generous, Who has taught by the pen, Taught man what he did not know. Nay, indeed, man assuredly acts insolently Because he considers himself self-sufficient. Verily, to thy Lord is the return.

* Hast thou considered, O Mohammed, him who hinders A servant when he is saying prayers? Hast thou considered if he is in the way of guidance, Or is commanding piety? Hast thou considered if he counted the message false and turned away? Did he not know that Allah sees? Nay, indeed, if he desist not We shall drag him by the forelock, A lying, sinful forelock. So let him summon his party, We shall summon the Zabaniyya. Nay, indeed, obey him not, but do obeisance to Allah and draw near.

Sura 74

Surat al-Muddaththir: The enwrapped

A composite Sura, the first six verses of which were considered by some authorities to be the earliest revelation given to the Prophet. Parts of the Sura are very early but others are certainly Medinan additions. The opening address is doubtless to Mohammed, though the stories which explain why he was wrapped in a mantle, or cloak, were composed by Divines who no longer understood the Semitic association of a mantle with the mantic art. The dithar (mantle) here is the equivalent of the khimar of the old Arabian soothsayers, and familiar to us from the famous mantle of Elijah which fell on Elisha (II Kings ii, 13, 14). The wrath he is to flee from is the wrath to come.


* O thou who enwrappest thyself in a mantle, Arise! Warn! And thy Lord, magnify Him, And thy garments, purify them, And the wrath, flee from it, And do not do favours in order to seek increase, But for thy Lord wait patiently.

* So when there shall come a trump on the Trumpet, That then will be a difficult Day, For the unbelievers it will be far from easy.

* Leave Me alone with him whom I have created, Since I have appointed for him extensive wealth, And sons as witnesses, And I have smoothed out everything for him smoothly —Then is he covetous that I do more. Nay, indeed, he at Our signs was obstinate, But I shall overtake him with something grievously difficult.

* He, indeed, thought and pondered. Death to him! how he pondered. Then, death to him! how he pondered. Then he looked; Then he frowned and looked crossly; Then he turned his back and showed pride, And said: "This is naught but magic being employed; This is naught but human speech." I shall roast him at Saqar. And what will teach thee what Saqar is? It lets nothing remain, and desists not, Scorching the skins. Over it are nineteen. We have not set as masters of the Fire any save angels, nor have We fixed their number save as a testing for those who disbelieve, that those who have been given the Book [the Jews and Christians] may be certain, and that those who believe [the Moslems] may increase in belief, that those who have been given the Book and the believers may not be in doubt, and that those in whose hearts is disease, and the unbelievers, may say: "What does Allah mean by such a similitude as this?"

* Thus does Allah lead astray whom He will and guide whom He will. Yet no one knows the hosts of thy Lord save Him Himself, so this is naught but a reminder to humans.

* Nay, indeed, by the moon, By the night when it retreats, By the morning when it shines bright, It is one of the great things, A warning to humans, To whosoever among you wishes to push forward or to lag behind. Every soul for what it has gained is a pledge, Except the Companions of the Right Hand [the Blessed]. In celestial gardens they will be asking one another About the sinners. They will ask them: "What led you into Saqar?" They [the sinners] will say: "We were not of those who prayed, Nor were we feeding the unfortunate, But we were engaging in dispute with those who so engaged, And we were treating as false the Day of Judgment, Until the certainty came upon us." So the intercession of those who intercede will benefit them not.

* Now what is the matter with them that they are turning from the reminder? As though they were startled asses Who flee from a lion. Yet every man among them desires that he be given scrolls unfolded. Nay, indeed, but they do not fear the hereafter. Nay, indeed, it [Mohammed's message] is a reminder, And he who wills will remember it, But they will not remember save should Allah so will. He is worthy of your piety, and He is worthy to forgive.

Sura 106

Surat Quraish: The Koreish

The Koreish (Quraish) were the dominant tribe in Mecca during the lifetime of Mohammed, and to all intents and purposes the city was ruled by their merchant aristocracy, men who had grown wealthy from the success of their caravan ventures both to the north and to the south. The central shrine at Mecca, the Kaaba, had been there long before the days of the Koreish, who were relatively newcomers, and Mohammed is here suggesting that it was the Lord of the Kaaba who had guarded them and was the real source of their prosperity, so they should worship Him. This has all the appearance of being a fragment from a longer passage, and must be very early, perhaps from the period when Mohammed was only tentatively feeling out his mission as a preacher.


* For the uniting together of Koreish, For their uniting for the winter and the summer caravan journey, So let them worship the Lord of this House, Who has given them provision of food against hunger, And made them secure from fear.

Sura 108

Surat al-Kawthar: Abundance

A fragment that has survived from some originally longer revelation. It belongs to the very early period when Mohammed was still taking part in the sacrifices offered at the Meccan shrine, for the verb nahara, which is normally used for sacrificing an animal ritually, is found only here in the Koran. The last verse suggests that the revelation was one of encouragement to Mohammed against his enemies.


* We, indeed, have given thee abundance, So pray to thy Lord, and offer sacrifice. Truly the one who hates thee is the one who will be childless.

Sura 104

Surat al-Humaza The Backbiter

An early piece from the days when Mohammed's preaching was being scoffed at and he himself maligned by the rich merchants of Mecca. Bell thinks the first four verses are original, and that then, because people did not understand the strange word Hutama, the remainder was added as explanation. This word is obviously meant to be a name for Hell-fire, but it occurs only here in the Koran, and seems to have been a word invented by the Prophet.


* Woe to every backbiter, maligner, Who gathers wealth and hoards it up. He thinks that his wealth has made him immortal. Nay, indeed, but he will assuredly be flung into al-Hutama. And what will teach thee what al-Hutama is It is Allah's kindled fire Which mounts up over the hearts. Verily it shall be a vault over them In outstretched columns of flame.

Sura 105

Surat al-Fil: The Elephant

It is customary to regard this short passage as an address to the Meccans, reminding them of how Allah had saved their city from an attack by Abraha's army of Abyssinians. The pronoun, however, is singular, and the piece is rather to be taken as an encouragement to the Prophet himself, reminding him of how Allah has ever been able to defeat the stratagems of the powerful and mighty. Abraha's expedition against Mecca is traditionally set at c. 570 A.D., and would seem to have failed because of an outbreak of smallpox among the troops, which may, of course, be what is referred to in the fourth verse. Since the Abyssinians did not use war elephants, Conti Rossini has suggested that the legend of Abraha's elephants arose from a misunderstanding of the name of Abraha's royal master, Alfilas, which, when the ending was dropped, sounded like al-Fil, "the elephant."


* Hast thou not seen, O Mohammed, how thy Lord dealt with the companions of the elephant? Did He not set their scheming all astray? He sent against them birds in flocks, Which pelted them with stones of hardened clay, And thus made them like grain stalks eaten down.

Sura 92

Surat al-Lail: The Night

This is a good example of Mohammed's early preaching at Mecca. He begins, with the swearing formula customary among the old Arabian soothsayers, by calling attention to the might of Allah as revealed in creation, then introduces the matter of the two ways of life, and goes on to emphasize this by bringing in the fear of Hell-fire. It is possible that the original message ended at the break near the middle of the Sura, and that the rest is a later, perhaps a Medinan, addition, in which Mohammed himself, and not Allah, is the speaker.


* By the night when it spreads its veil, By the day when it brightly shines, By Him who created the male and the female, Your course, indeed, is diverse. So as for him who gives in charity and acts piously And puts his trust in that which is best, His path to ease We shall facilitate. But as for him who is niggardly, yet boasts in his riches And treats the best as a lie, We shall facilitate his path to lack of ease, And not a whit will his wealth profit him when he falls. It is Ours to give guidance, For to Us, indeed, belong both the Last and the First.

* So I give you warning of a Fire that blazes, None will be roasted thereat save the one, most wretched, Who has counted the message false and has turned away. But the one who is truly pious will avoid it, He who gives his wealth in charity to purify himself, And is under obligation to no one for a favour that is to be recompensed, Desiring only the face of his Lord, the Most High, So anon he will assuredly be well-pleased.

Sura 90

Surat al-Balad: The Land

The land here referred to may be the Hejaz area in which Mecca is situated, though some think that balad means "town" rather than "land" and take the reference to be to Mecca itself, of which Mohammed was a free citizen by birth. The swearing formula introduces again the doctrine of the Two Paths and the duties of religion, enforcing the lesson by the threat of Hell-fire. It is clearly an early Meccan passage in which the Prophet is preaching to his fellow-citizens, though it is possible that it was worked over during the Medinan period.


* I swear not by this land, And thou art a free inhabitant in this land, Nor by a parent and what he has begotten. We, indeed, have created man in trouble. Does he think that no one will ever have power over him? He says; "I have squandered enormous wealth." Does he think that no one saw him? Did We not give him his two eyes, And a tongue, and two lips? And give him guidance to the two highways? But he has made no attempt at the steep. And what will teach thee what the steep is? It is the setting free of someone in bondage, Or feeding someone in a day of famine, An orphan who is near of kin, Or some unfortunate person in destitution. Then to be, besides, one of those who believe, and who counsel one another to endure patiently, and counsel one another to compassionateness. These are the Companions of the Right Hand. But those who disbelieve in Our signs, they are the Companions of the Left Hand, Upon whom will come a fire that is closed in.

Sura 94

Surat Ash-Sharh: The Expanding

Mohammed is here given encouragement that he may not lose heart. This was a danger during those early years when there were so many things to discourage him. The Prophet is reminded of all that Allah has done for him, and he is encouraged to persevere, with a hint that difficulties are but preliminary to easier times. Since sharh may mean "opening up," the opening verse has provided a basis for the famous legend of the "Opening of the Breast," which tells how celestial beings came and opened up the breast of the youthful Mohammed and cleansed his heart in preparation for his mission.


* Have We not expanded for thee, O Mohammed, thy breast? And removed from thee thy burden of guilt Which was breaking thy back? And have We not raised for thee thy reputation? Now, verily, along with difficulty there comes ease, Verily along with difficulty there comes ease, So whenever thou art free, prosecute diligently thy task, And to thy Lord make supplication.

Sura 93

Surat ad-Duha: The Bright Morn

This is another message of encouragement to the Prophet during the early days of his struggle to get his mission started, and at a time when he was so often despondent. Beginning with the soothsayer's swearing formula, it encourages the Prophet by reminding him of Allah's constant and continuing care, which will surely lead him to success, and it urges him to continue in the good way.


By the bright morn, And by the night when all is still, Thy Lord has not left thee, nor come to dislike thee. So the latter situation will be better for thee than the former, And thy Lord anon will assuredly give to thee that which thou desirest, so that thou wilt be well content. Did He not find thee an orphan and shelter thee? Did He not find thee erring and guide thee? Did He not find thee poor and enrich thee? So as for the orphan, treat him not harshly, And as for the beggar, do not drive him away, And as for thy Lord's bounty, tell of it.

Sura 97

Surat al-Qadr: The Decree

Qadr means "power" but is a technical Moslem word for the Decree which predestines everything whether for good or for ill. So in the title of the Sura it is rendered "the Decree," but in the body of the Sura by the more commonly used "power," for that Night of Power which is said to be the night towards the close of the month Ramadan when the celestial powers descend with all the "fates" that have been fixed and decreed for the ensuing twelve months. The "it" in the opening verse is generally taken to mean the Koran, which was sent down during the month of Ramadan. As this passage, however, is merely a fragment surviving from some longer revelation, the "it" would refer to something previously mentioned, possibly the Record of the decrees.


* We, indeed, sent it down on the Night of Power. And what will teach thee what the Night of Power is The Night of Power is better than a thousand months; The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by permission of their Lord, about every matter. Peace it is till the breaking of the dawn.


Excerpted from The Koran by Arthur Jeffery. Copyright © 1958 The George Macy Companies, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Page,
Index of Suras,
Al-fatiha: The Opener,
Early Meccan Suras,
Middle Meccan Suras,
Late Meccan Suras,
Medinan Suras,
Al-Mu'awwidhatan: The Two Refuge Charms,

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