Story of the Cranes (al-Gharaniq) “The Satanic Verses”

When the Quraysh heard this, they rejoiced greatly. Allah’s Messenger proceeded with his recitation until the end of the Sura, at which point he prostrated, and the Muslims prostrated with him as well as all those of the pagans that were in the mosque. There remained no-one in the mosque, neither believer nor non-believer, except he prostrated, but for al-Walid ibn al-Mughira and Abu Uhayha Sa`id ibn al-`As who took a handful of earth and applied it to their foreheads, prostrating on it, for they were aged old men who could not prostrate. Then the Quraysh dispersed in elation at the way they had heard their gods mentioned, saying: “Muhammad has mentioned our gods in the best way possible.” They also said: “We definitely know that Allah gives life and gives death as well as creates and sustains, but these our gods intercede for us before Him, so if Muhammad gives them their share, we are with him.” When evening came, Gibril came to Allah’s Messenger – Allah bless and greet him – and said: “O Muhammad! What have you done? You have recited to the people something which I never brought you from Allah Exalted and Almighty.” Hearing this, the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – was deeply grieved and feared much from Allah (swt). So Allah revealed to him the following verse in which he consoled him , as He was ever merciful towards him:

{ Never sent We a messenger or a Prophet before thee but when He recited (the message) Satan proposed (opposition) in respect of that which he recited thereof. But Allah abolisheth that which Satan proposeth. Then Allah establisheth His revelations. Allah is Knower, Wise} (22:52)

Meanwhile those of the Prophet’s Companions who were in Abyssynia heard the news of the prostration of the Quraysh and the rumor that the Quraysh and the Meccans had accepted Islam, so most of them returned to their kindred. But when they neared Mecca the news reached them that what they had heard of the Islam of the Meccans was false. So no-one actually entered Mecca except under protection or stealthily. When the above verse was revealed, the Quraysh said: “Muhammad regrets his words about the status of our gods before Allah and has now changed them.” The two phrases that the devil had interjected upon the tongue of Allah’s Messenger – Allah bless and greet him – by then were in the mouth of every idolater, and their hostility increased in intensity against those who had accepted Islam.

3. Al-Tabari (d. 310) said in his commentary entitled Jami` al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an (30 vols.) Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1405/1985, reprint of the Bulaq 1322-1330/1904-1911 ed. vol. 17:

[p. 186] The sayings concerning the interpretation of the verse:

{ Never sent We a messenger or a Prophet before thee but when He recited (the message) Satan proposed (opposition) in respect of that which he recited thereof. But Allah abolisheth that which Satan proposeth. Then Allah establisheth His revelations. Allah is Knower, Wise} (22:52):

It was said that the reason for which this verse was revealed upon the Messenger of Allah – Allah bless and greet him – is that the devil had interjected upon the Prophet’s tongue – Allah bless and greet him – during some of his recitation of the Qur’an as it had been revealed to him by Allah, something which Allah had not revealed. Then this bore heavily on Allah’s Messenger – Allah bless and greet him – who became despondent, whereupon Allah Almighty comforted him by revealing to him the above….

[Then al-Tabari proceeds to narrate reports to that effect, all of them weak, but the collective weight of which suggests authenticity as stated by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (see below).]

[p. 190] The gist of the interpretation of the verse is: “We never sent before you any Messenger nor Prophet except that, when he uttered Allah’s Book in recitation, or discoursed and spoke, the devil interjected something into what he uttered of Allah’s Book in recitation or into his discourse and speech, { But Allah abolishes that which the devil interjects} , i.e. He removes whatever suggestion the devil interjects upon the Prophet’s tongue and nullifies it.”

[Al-Tabari goes on to state that the verses that follow make explicit the fact that the reason for this incident was to test the belief of those who harbored a disease in their hearts and increase the belief of those who were rightly-guided - and this test continues until our time:

22:53 { That He may make that which the devil proposeth a temptation for those in whose hearts is a disease, and those whose hearts are hardened. Lo! the evil-doers are in open schism.}

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