و ما ينطق عن الهوى ان هو الا وحي يوحى
Nor does he speak out of [his own] desire, it is nothing except revelation that is revealed [to him] 1
This post is the third in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat’s book entitled, Amouzish Ulum Qurāni (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat and his works, click here. To read the previous post which discussed the phenomenon of revelation, click here.
As previously mentioned, there exist numerous traditions that are indicative of Satan’s interference during Revelation. These narrations are particularly associated with the revelation of Surah al-Najm and are referred to as myths of the cranes (for reasons that will soon become clear). They can be found in various works, particularly what is popularly known as Tafseer al-Tabari (Jami’ al-Bayan) and Suyuti’s Durr al-Manthur2.
These narrations are attributed to the likes of famous companions such as Ibn Abbas or Sa’eed ibn Jubair. Below, I have presented an abridged translation of one such narration and have thereafter offered some explanatory notes, in the next post I hope to offer some criticism that Allamah Ma’rifat brings forth for such narrations in the first volume of his al-Tamheed.
Hajjaj narrated from Abi Ma’shar who narrated from Mohammad ibn Ka’b al-Qurdhi and Mohammad ibn Qais who both said that:
The Prophet was sitting amongst a gathering from amongst the gatherings of the Quraysh in which many people were present. He was hoping that nothing would come to him from Allah on that day so that the people would not flee from him. However, Allah revealed Surah Najm unto him and he began to recite it until he reached the verses…
أَ فَرَءَيْتُمُ اللَّاتَ وَ الْعُزَّى وَ مَنَوةَ الثَّالِثَةَ الْأُخْرَى
Have you considered Laat and Uzza, and Manat, the third one?3
At which point Satan added some words to what was being revealed,
تِلكَ الغَرانِقَة العُلَى، و إنَّ شفاعتَهنَّ لترجى
“They are mighty cranes, and surely their intercession should be hoped for”
The Prophet recited it as such after which he recited the rest of the chapter. Then at the end of the chapter he knelt down in prostration and the people prostrated with him. The people were satisfied with what the Prophet had said and they said, “Now we have understood that Allah gives life and death, and he is the one who creates and provides sustenance, however our deities will intercede for us before him. Since you have given them a share (in Islam), we will follow you.
Then, in the evening, Jibraeel came to the Prophet and the Prophet read the chapter for him. When he reached the words that Satan had added to the Revelation, Jibraeel said, “I did not deliver these words to you”, upon which the Prophet replied, “I have fabricated something in relation to God and I have said something in relation to him which he has not said”. Thus God revealed upon the following verse upon him
وَ إِن كَادُواْ لَيَفْتِنُونَكَ عَنِ الَّذِى أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ لِتَفْتَرِىَ عَلَيْنَا غَيرَهُ وَ إِذًا لاَّتَّخَذُوكَ خَلِيلًا وَ لَوْ لَا أَن ثَبَّتْنَاكَ لَقَدْ كِدتَّ تَرْكَنُ إِلَيْهِمْ شَيْئًا قَلِيلاً إِذًا لَّأَذَقْنَكَ ضِعْفَ الْحَيَوةِ وَ ضِعْفَ الْمَمَاتِ ثمَّ لَا تَجِدُ لَكَ عَلَيْنَا نَصِيرًا
They were about to beguile you from what Allah has revealed to you so that you may fabricate against Us something other than that, whereat they would have befriended you.
Had We not fortified you, certainly you might have inclined toward them a bit.
Then We would have surely made you taste a double] punishment [in this life and a double] punishment [after death, and then you would have not found for yourself any helper against Us4 .
However, the Prophet did not cease to be worried and concerned until verse 52 of Sura al-Hajj was revealed upon him…
وَ ما أَرْسَلْنا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ مِنْ رَسُولٍ وَ لا نَبِيٍّ إِلاَّ إِذا تَمَنَّى أَلْقَى الشَّيْطانُ في أُمْنِيَّتِهِ فَيَنْسَخُ الله ما يُلْقِي الشَّيْطانُ ثُمَّ يُحْكِمُ الله آياتِهِ وَ الله عَليمٌ حَكيمٌ
We did not send before you any apostle or prophet but that when he recited] the scripture [Satan interjected] something [in his recitation. Thereat Allah nullifies whatever Satan has interjected,] and [then Allah confirms His signs, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise5.
Also, those who had migrated to Habsha received news that all of the people of Mecca had converted to Islam, thus they returned to their tribes in Mecca but found that the people of Mecca had declined Islam once Allah had abrogated what Satan had added.
I will briefly outline some explanatory points to provide some clarification for the narration.
- Laat, Uzza and Manat were all deities that the Arabs worshipped before the advent of Islam.
- The use of the word “cranes” for the deities of the Arabs is for metaphorical purposes. For example, they are birds that fly in the sky which is an allusion to their nearness to Allah (as those who intercede)6.
- Before the Prophet migrated to Yathrib, some Muslims migrated to Habsha due to the harsh circumstances present in Mecca due to confrontations with the polytheists.