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opponents of the prophets in former ages, for a time will come when the infidels shall:—

Know the time when they shall not be able to keep the fire of hell from their faces, or from their backs, neither shall they be helped!
But it shall come on them suddenly and shall confound them; and they shall not be able to put it back, neither shall they be respited.
Other apostles have been scoffed at before thee; but that doom at which they mocked encompassed the scoffers. Sura Al-Anbiya' (xxi) 40-3.

The Sura As-Saffat (xxxvii) seems to belong to a time when the opposition was not quite so active, a time when stolid indifference took the place of actual antagonism. It shows how the Meccan infidels followed in the steps of those who, in former ages, had rejected Noah, Moses, Aaron, Elias, Lot and Jonah, whose stories are told at some length. The Meccans excused themselves by saying:—

Had we a revelation transmitted to us from those of old,
We had surely been God's servants. 168-9.

The Prophet is then told to turn aside from them for a time and behold, for their doom is certain. 179-80.

A late Meccan Sura is in the same strain and the same retribution is described, and how even no place of repentance will be found:—

And when their apostles had come to them with the tokens of their mission, they exulted in what they possessed of knowledge: but that retribution at which they scoffed, encompassed them.


And when they beheld our vengeance they said, 'We believe in God alone, and we disbelieve in the deities we once associated with Him.'
But their faith, after they had witnessed our vengeance, profited them not. Such the procedure of God with regard to His servants who flourished of old. And then the unbelievers perished. Sura Ghafir (xl) 83-5.1

He also points out how former prophets were aided in spite of all opposition:—

Our word came of old to our own servants the apostles,
That they should surely be the succoured,
And that our armies should procure the victory for them. Sura As-Saffat (xxxvii) 171--3.

So in like manner he would succeed.

Another striking Sura of the middle period is the Sura Sad (xxxviii), the first ten verses of which were revealed on one of the occasions when the Quraish begged Abu Talib to withdraw his protection from Muhammad which he absolutely declined to do. This they did once about the year A. D. 615. Other Traditions refer it to a time when Abu Talib was on his deathbed, in the year A.D. 620. The earlier date is the more probable one. In any case the Quraish are warned by the fate of the generations of scorners who have passed away, and are reproved in a passage of much force and vigour:—

By the Qur'an full of warning! In sooth the infidels are absorbed in pride, in contention with thee.

1 In speaking of other prophets Muhammad rarely refers to their prophetic gifts; but rather represents them as warning against idolatry and wickedness.

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