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Account of the Medina Suras

I PROPOSE here to complete, or rather to amend, the chronological enumeration, as given at the close of the Second Volume, of those Suras which were composed by Mahomet at Medina.

Reason why they cannot be accurately arranged in chronological sequence

Many of them are very long, some containing so many as from two to three hundred verses. Few relate to a single subject. Several of them traverse over many years. For, as before explained, the amanuenses of Mahomet, under his direction, ordinarily placed new verses, as they appeared, with previously formed Suras, or collections of passages, relating to the same topic. The subjects in all the longer Suras being various, and each having been in this manner gradually enlarged, the whole have assumed their present miscellaneous form. On the other hand, there are one or two which relate to a single scene or subject, as the Fifty-ninth to the siege and expulsion of the Bani Nadhir, and the Sixty-third to the treasonable conduct of Abdallah and the disaffected."

But the main periods and subjects indicated below

It will be apparent from these remarks, that it is not possible to assign to the longer Suras any precise chronological place and order. But in the following Statement, I will endeavour ~ indicated to explain to what main periods or subjects each Sura refers.

SURA XCVIII.; 8 verses.---A short Sura with nothing determinate to mark its chronology.

SURA II.; 287 verses. In this Sura are collected the passages composed in the first two or three years of Mahomet's stay at Medina. The greater part relates to the Jews, with biblical and rabbinical stories, notice of the change of the Kibla, &c. The disaffected citizens are also denounced in it. There is likewise much matter of a legislative character produced during the first Medina stage, with additions and interpolations from the Revelations of later stages.

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SURA III.; 200 verses.---A portion was composed shortly after the battle or Badr, (A.H. 2,) which is described in it. Another and longer portion relates to the battle of Ohod, A.H. 3. The Second expedition to Badr, A.H. 4, is also spoken of. The Jews are largely referred to in a spirit of bitter hostility. And the interview with tite Christian deputation from Najran described, which belongs to a much later period, A.H. 9. There are also some very late passages relating to the Farewell pilgrimage, A.H. 10, introduced in relation to others referring to the Meccan rites.

SURA VIII.; 76 verses.---This was composed in part immediately after the battle of Badr, A.H. 2 ; and the greater portion appears to be of an equally early date. The Coreish are frequently referred to, and sometimes in the old Meccan style.

SURA XLVII.; 88 verses.-Fighting strenuously inculcated; and the Infidels bf Mecca threatened.

SURA LXII.; 11 verses. -- The Jews reprobrated for their ignorance; and greater regularity at prayers inculcated on Believers.

SURA V.; 120 verses. - A great part consists in denunciation of the Jews. The obnoxious doctrines of Christianity are also controverted. The opening portion, relating to the rites of Meccan pilgrimage, is of a later period. Part of it may possibly belong to the Sixth year of the Hegira, when Mahomet set out for Hodeibia. But a portion also appears to appertain to the last pilgrimage, A.H. 10, - as v.4. "This day have I perfected your Religion for you," &C There are also miscellaneous instructions and legislative provisions.

SURA LIX.; 24 verses. - A.H. 4. Siege and expulsion of the Bani Nadhir.

SURA IV.; 175 verses. --- Numerous injunctions on the treatment of women and the various relations of the sexes. A great part occupied with animadversions on the Jews. References to the Idolaters of Mecca. General instructions, social and political.

SURA LVIII.; 22 verses. --- On Divorce and certain other social questions. The Disaffected are reprobated for favouring the Jews.

SURA LXV.; 13 verses. - On Divorce and other social matters.

SURA XXIV.; 65 verses - The vindication of Ayesha, after the expedition against the Bani Mustalick, A.H. 5. Miscellaneous injunctions, social and religious.

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SURA LXIII.; 11 verses. - Belongs to the same period. Menaces against Abdallah ibn Obey and the Disaffected for their treasonable threats on the expedition against the B. Mustalick.

SURA LVII.; 29 verses. - Strenuous exhortations to fight, and to obtain the merit of joining the cause of Mahomet before the final victory.

SURA LXI.; 14 verses. --- Like the preceding; as v.4, "Verily God loveth those that fight in his cause, drawn up in line as if they were a well-compacted building." Speedy victory is promised.

There remain only five Suras which belong exclusively to the five last years of Mahomet's life. They are -

SURA XLVIII.; 29 verses. - Refers to the Truce of Hodeibia, towards the close of A.H. 6.

SURA LX.; 13 verses. - Subsequent to the above. It relates to the treatment of the women who during the Truce came over from Mecca.

SURA LXVI.; 13 verses. - Mahomet's intrigue with his slave girl Mary, the Copt-subsequent to the embassy to Egypt-probably A.H. 7 or 8.

SURA XLIX.; 18 verses. - An unimportant Sura, relating partly to the Bedouin Arabs, whose profession of Islam was stigmatized as insincere.

SURA IX.; 131 verses. --- The final Sura, declaring the antagonism of Islam to every other system, excluding all but Mussulmans from Mecca and the rites of pilgrimage, referring to the battle of Tabuk, &c.


The Life of Mahomet, Volume III [Table of Contents]