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Apr 11, 2010

Linguistic Miracle of Al-Qur'an

Asalaam alaikum warahmatulah wabarakatuh.
لِّيَجْزِيَ اللَّهُ الصَّادِقِينَ بِصِدْقِهِمْ وَيُعَذِّبَ الْمُنَافِقِينَ إِن شَاءَ أَوْ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

(Ahzaab 33:24)

That Allah may reward the truthful for their truth and punish the hypocrites if He wills or accept their repentance. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.


See how; Allah mentions His Name near the Saadiqeen [truthful], yet He does not mention His Name near the hypocrites.

This is done because Allah is close to the Saadiqeen [truthful to themselves and truthful to Allah] - so He mentions His closeness to them by mentioning His Name next to them, and is angry with the hypocrites, so He does not mention His Name near the hypocrites [i.e. He is distant from them].


But to give hope to those who have hypocrisy in their hearts, He mentions that the hypocrite can still reach that closeness to Allah, and that can only be reached by approaching His Forgiveness and Mercy.

He pictures this by placing His Names of Mercy (Ghafoor & Raheem) next to the Name; Allah, so the hypocrite will only get closer to Allah by approaching His Forgiveness & Mercy.

Point #1 is used many times in the Qur'an, sometimes in selected aayaat/verses [like above], sometimes in whole Surahs i.e. in Surah Tariq, Allah does not even mention His Name once in the whole Surah, due to His Anger and distance against the rejectors/disbelievers.


Allah Does Not Disappoint

In one of Shaykh Muhammad Mukhtar al-Shanqiti's tapes on 'Yaqin' (certainty), he mentions the story of a scholar who was once afflicted with poverty…

The scholar had just completed writing the tafseer of the Qur'an but due to his poor income, he was unable to publish his work. So he went and sought counsel from his brethren, students and teachers. They directed him to man who possessed much wealth and riches saying 'Go to so-and-so, he'll provide you with some money so you can publish your work.'

The scholar went and rented a ship, embarking on his journey and going by sea. However, it was by the Mercy and Divine Plan of Allah `azza wa jall that as he set off, he saw a man walking along the seashore. He ordered the captain of the ship to let this man get on and ride along with them. When the man got on, the scholar asked, 'Who are you?' He said, 'I am so-and-so (mentioning his name).' The man then asked, 'Where are you going (i.e. where is the ship destined?).' The scholar said, 'I am going to so-and-so in search of his assistance in publishing my book.' The man said, 'I hear you have interpreted the Qur'an?' He said, 'Yes.' The man said, 'Subhan Allah, how did you interpret the statement of Allah `azza wa jall,

إيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإيَّاكَ نَسْتعِينُ
'You do we worship and only in You do we seek Help.'
[Surah al-Fatiha]
The scholar provided the man with the tafseer of the verse, but he understood the intent that lay behind the question. So he said to the captain of the ship, 'Take me back to my house.'

May Allah have mercy upon him; despite his needy state, he returned to his house, but with his heart filled with certainty that Allah `azza wa jall would surely suffice him, take him out of this poverty and ease his affairs.

No more than 3 days had passed by when a man knocked on his door. He opened it and the man said, 'I've come with a message from so-and-so. News has reached him that you have authored a tafseer of the Qur'an which he would like to see.' Incredibly, this turned out to be the same man whom the scholar had set off to meet and get help from! So he gave the tafseer to the messenger who took it back with him. When the wealthy man read it, he was filled with amazement and admiration, causing him to return a pouch filled with gold and riches to the poor scholar.

We should never forget…

ما أيقن الإنسان بالله عز وجل فخيّبه الله سبحانه وتعالى
'A person has never held certainty in Allah `azza wa jall only for Allah to disappoint him.' Never will Allah disappoint those with yaqeen (certainty), tawakkul (reliance) and husn al-dhann (good opinion) of Him.

"Each of you should ask for his needs from Allaah, even if the strap of your sandal breaks, because if Allaah does not facilitate it, it will never be possible."


Apr 4, 2010

Miracle Sounds [Onomatopoeia] in al-Qur'an.

Asalaam alaikum warahmatulah wabarakatuh

The use of delicate sounds.. exhibits the Qur'an's ability to express meaning and images via the sound of its text:

The Still Night..

وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَىٰ

wallayli izaa sajaa..

"And by the Night when it is still.." [Qur'an 93: 2]
The way the Qur'an uses the word 'when it is still' produces a tranquil tone and a smooth sound. This indicates the peace, stillness and serenity that night time provides.

The Striking of Rocks to Produce Sparks:

The Qur'an also uses sound to build intense images, for example,

فَالْمُورِيَاتِ قَدْحًا

Faalmooriyaati Qad-han

"And the producers of sparks striking" [Qur'an 100: 2] (really referring to war horses galloping and their hooves striking rocks to produce sparks [refer to the tafseers on this verse])

The word for sparks striking, 'Qad-han', that is used here emits a sound that develops the sense of this image, the proximity of the Arabic letters Qa - striking the 'daal' and rebounding the 'ha' is responsible for this sound.

Splattering and Scattering..

In another example,:

وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ الْمُعْصِرَاتِ مَاءً ثَجَّاجًا

Waanzalna mina almu'siraati maa'an thajjaja

And sent down, from the rain clouds, pouring water.[Naba' 78:14]

The use of the word 'thajjaja' in this verse, with its series of vowels emits a sound of splattering and scattering, which expresses the image of the drama.

For example in the verse below the Qur'an uses words that imitate the sound they denote. This rhetorical device called Onomatopoeia is widely used throughout the Qur'anic discourse.

Saaaakhah.. the loud deafening noise.
فَإِذَا جَاءَتِ الصَّاخَّةُ

Fa-itha jaa'ati-ssaaakhah

But when there comes the Deafening Blast. [Abasa 80:33]

The word for 'deafening noise', 'alssaakhah,' chosen here produces a sound eluding to its meaning.

The Arabic letters 'kha' connected with a 'ta' [marboota = a 'ha' sound] emanate harsh sounds which conform to the meaning of the text.

The Waswasa Whispering..

فَوَسْوَسَ إِلَيْهِ الشَّيْطَانُ

Fa Wasswassa ilayhi-shaytaan.. [Ta-Ha 20:120]

So Satan whispered to him [Adam]...

The word Wasswassa = Repeated Whispering which is targetted at someone, paused, and then comes back again.

The word is repeated twice [Wass-Wassa] because satan's whispering is targetted at a person - to make them doubt/fear/get confused etc. then he will go away and come back again to whisper again another time...

[Also See Surah al-Naas 114.]

The utilisation of sounds in the Qur'an also play a rhetorical role.

Sounds in the Qur'an are employed to increase the effect of its message. The Arabic language has many words for a single meaning, but yet the Qur'an selects and arranges the words to portray the intended meaning in addition to create sounds to conform to the image, scene and message the book conveys. This is not only done by selecting the right words but also arranging them in a specific way to develop sounds and rhythms. Just by touching upon a few simple examples it can be seen why Pickthall was lead to believe that the Qur'an had an "inimitable symphony".

A famous Orientalist Arberry comments on his personal experience with the rhythm of the Qur'an:

"Whenever I hear the Quran chanted, it is as though I am listening to Music, underneath the flowing melody there is sounding… insistent beat of a drum, it is like the beating of my heart."

Arthur J. Arberry. 1964.The Koran Interpreted. Oxford University Press

Refer to this link for more Comments of non-muslim Orientalists on the Qur'an's miraculousness;
Divine - Linguistic Miracle..: Al Quran - the Linguistic Miracle - Hamza Tzortis. And what the Orientalists said about it.

Refer to the following Aayaat/verses for more Onomatopoeias' in the Qur'an.

[al Waqi'ah 56:4], [Nazi'at 79:6-7], [Ta-Ha 20:120], [Zalzala 99:1].


Apr 3, 2010

Rhyming Scheme in Surah Maryam

In Surah Maryam the rhyming pattern is very distinct and consistent throughout the beginning of the Surah all the way up until the point that it begins to address Isa (alayhis Salam).

Listen to [or read] Surah Maryam [surah/chapter 19], starting from verse [19:]2, all the way to verse 33. This is a narrative of the story of Prophet Zakariyyah, and Maryam/Mary (peace be upon them.) Then it begins briefly on the birth of Prophet 'Eesa/Jesus.

So at the end of every aayah/verse, there is an "iyya" sound at the end. I.e. زَكَرِيَّا [Zakariyyah] (in the 2nd verse), with شَقِيًّا [Shakkiyya] (on the 32nd verse), حَيًّاHayya [meaning 'Life'] (on the 33rd verse). With the 33rd verse referring to Jesus talking whilst being a baby.

Suddenly, a Drastic change takes place - the Rhyming Scheme changes totally:

ذَٰلِكَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ ۚ قَوْلَ الْحَقِّ الَّذِي فِيهِ يَمْتَرُونَ
That is Jesus, the son of Mary - the word of truth about which they are in dispute. [Maryam 19:34]

The last word now is 'yamtaroon'.

Why is this rhyming scheme changed?

Part of the characteristics of the Quran is that it is something meant to be recited and heard by the people. When someone is listening to this, and they notice an abrupt change they will automatically pay more attention. The rhyme scheme is not beautification only, but it serves a very real purpose in drawing attention to a very important point in the Surah.

This important point in the Surah is clearing the doubts on the character Jesus son of Mary, about whom they are in dispute. This abrupt change makes you notice a difference in rhythm and tune, it must be really big news for the tune/rhythm/theme to change totally after so long.. It gives focus, and clears the doubts of the sincere listener.

Rhythm continues...

After that part is finished, Allah starts talking about Ibrahim/Abraham (alayhis Salam) and his story [from Surah Maryam 19:34 onwards], it returns back to the original pattern (with 'Iyya' at the end of the verses again).. To continue the flow of what was being mentioned previously of the narratives of the righteous.

Quranic Incoherence? 2 Miracles Respond |

Mohammad Salih

Apr 1, 2010

The Secret Happiness

Asalaam alaikum Warahmatulah Wabarakatuh

So important is the concept of 'happiness' in our lives that many people – even dating back to the days of the Greek philosophers – considered its pursuit to be the very purpose of existence.

Indeed, the Qur'an itself speaks of happiness as being one of the rewards of those whom Allah chooses to admit to Paradise. He says of the martyrs in Aal-'Imraan, verse 170,

فَرِحِينَ بِمَا آَتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ
They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounty

And of the reward of the pious believers [al-Insaan, verse 11],

فَوَقَاهُمُ اللَّهُ شَرَّ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ وَلَقَّاهُمْ نَضْرَةً وَسُرُورًا
So, Allah saved them from the evil of that Day and gave them a light of beauty and joy.

What becomes immediately apparent upon reading the Arabic text (but once again obscured in the translation) is that two very different words have been used to convey the idea of happiness: فَرِحِينَ fariheena, which is conjugated from the noun فَرَح farah, and سُرُور suroor, and this is prevalent throughout the Qur'an. This is because there are two very different types of happiness being referred to.

فَرَح farah generally refers to transitory delights or pleasures, as is the case in bodily or worldly pleasure. For this reason, most times that فَرَح farah appears in the Qur'an, it is being censured, as in the story of Qarun [al-Qasas, verse 76],

إِنَّ اللهَ لا يُحِبُّ الَفِرحِينَ
Indeed, Allaah does not like the fariheen

But when the source of the farah is specified in the Qur'an, as in the verse from Aal-'Imraan mentioned above, the meaning becomes restricted (muqayyad) and it is no longer censured.

But perhaps a greater distinction between the two lies in the manifestation of the happiness. Whereas the expression of farah is external and with clear outward signs, suroor refers to the expansion of one's heart with delight or pleasure wherein is quiet or tranquility, and as such it has no external sign. This is indicated by the root from which the word stems – س ر seen raa' – the same root as the word سرّ sirr, or secret. So suroor is a secret happiness, known to one's heart but not always seen by others, as Ibn 'Abbas said in reference to the above verse from al-Insaan, "The نضرة nadrah is on their faces, and the سرور suroor is in their hearts."

Such distinctions exemplify yet another example in which the translation fails and the original prevails.

Mohammad Salih