3 That is, Beyond which neither men nor angels can pass (Djelal). The original word is also rendered, the Lote-Tree of the extremity, or of the loftiest spot in Paradise, in the seventh Heaven, on the right hand of the throne of God. Its leaves are fabled to be as numerous as the members of the whole human family, and each leaf to bear the name of an individual. This tree is shaken on the night of the 15th of Ramadan every year a little after sunset, when the leaves on which are inscribed the names of those who are to die in the ensuing year fall, either wholly withered, or with more or less green remaining, according to the months or weeks the person has yet to live.
4 The Sidrah is a prickly plum, which is called Ber in India, the zizyphus Jujuba of Linnæus. A decoction of the leaves is used in India to wash the dead, on account of the sacredness of the tree.
5 Hosts of adoring angels, by which the tree was masked.
6 Al-Lat or El-Lat, probably the Alilat of Herodotus (iii. 8) was an idol at Nakhlah, a place east of the present site of Mecca. Al-Ozza was an idol of the Kinanah tribe; but its hereditary priests were the Banu Solaym, who were stationed along the mercantile road to Syria in the neighbourhood of Chaibar.
7 When at the first recital of this Sura, the prophet had reached this verse, he continued,
These are the exalted females, [or, sublime swans, i.e., mounting nearer and nearer to God]
And truly their intercession may be expected.
These words, however, which were received by the idolaters with great exultation, were disowned by Muhammad in the course of a few days as a Satanic suggestion, and replaced by the text as it now stands. The probability is that the difficulties of his position led him to attempt a compromise of which he speedily repented. In the Suras subsequent to this period the denunciations of idolatry become much sterner and clearer. The authorities are given by Weil, Sprenger and Muir. See Sura [lxvii.] xvii. 74- 76.
8 Verses 26-33 are probably later than the previous part of the Sura, but inserted with reference to it. Some (as Omar b. Muhammad and 1tq.) consider verse 33, or (as Itq.36) verses 34-42, or (as Omar b. Muhammad) the whole Sura, to have originated at Medina.
9 Ex spermate cum seminatum fuerit.
10 The Dog-star, worshipped by the Arabians.
11 Compare the refrain in Sura lv. p. 74.
SURA LXX.-THE STEPS OR ASCENTS [XLVII.]
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
A Suitor sued1 for punishment to light suddenly
On the infidels: none can hinder
God from inflicting it, the master of those Ascents,
By which the angels and the spirit ascend to him in a day, whose length is fifty thousand years.2