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UNCOVERING the original message of the Arabic Qur'an by using Lexicons compiled more than 1,000 years ago.

ISOLATING Fact from Fiction.

RECOVERING Hope and regaining the perspective where Humanity is one, God's Message is one, and our Future CAN become one we all look forward to!


Image: 14th C. Qur'an, Mamluk origin, Library of Congress; Rights obtained.

A BREAKTHROUGH project which helps understand the Qur'an AS REVEALED -not just 'as explained.'


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 135; Qur’an 15: 16-50, page 263 + 264

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!
We know well that we must familiarize ourselves with our past in order to understand our present, and since we are interested in ‘Language,’ dear Readers, today we shall make a 'detour' together.
We’ll take a look at an important coin minted in Europe in the year 774 A.D. during the reign of King Offa, ruler of Mercia. 
As you can see, the coin is mostly inscribed in Arabic.  In the center (right) we read in Arabic:  ‘There is no god but God, and that Muhammad is His Messenger,’ while on the other side it says ‘Offa Rex. Note that there is no image of the king engraved here.  It also bears the date 157 A.H. of the Islamic Calendar, and around its edges (we can’t read it clearly but) it is said to be engraved with the 4 short verses of Chapter 112 of the Qur’an (Suratul Ikhlaas) as explained by Asad:

“SAY: "He is the One God:
"God the Eternal, the Uncaused Cause of All That Exists.
"He begets not, and neither is He begotten;
"and there is nothing that could be compared with Him.”
During the reign of King Offa, the Arab/Islamic culture in Spain was flourishing, and Arab Historians such as Hisham Ibn Al-Kalbi (737 AD - 819 AD) believe that he had accepted Islam by his own choice.  This offers one explanation for minting and circulating such a coin, and also perhaps for there not being any treaties between him and the Muslims, despite the obvious interaction.  But Western historians strongly dispute that conclusion.
To us, this is all beside the point; it is not King Offa’s faith which concerns us.  We are only interested in his Language, and ‘YES!’ dear Readers: 
We ARE talking about the English Language!  King Offa is the Anglo-Saxon King of Mercia, known today as the ‘English Midlands,’ along the valley of the River Trent.  (This coin is in the British Museum, which allows use of the photo for educational purposes, and it has not escaped us that they have called it an 'imitation of a dinar.') 
Which brings us back even more urgently today, to state that:
We cannot call ourselves 'educated' if we dismiss the possibility that many English words find their roots in Arabic:

From the Arab/Muslim Civilization in Spain, the rays of learning carried Arabic terminology into the rest of Europe, at a time when Europe was in its Dark Ages, and Arabic was the language of information, innovation, architecture, science, and art.  European languages, which were still in development, incorporated these Arabic words. 

Ignoring this influence is no less than a Linguistic and Historic travesty.

If you haven’t already read ‘Classical Arabic’ please do so before you continue, to see how the English language was still developing when Arabic was already mature and spreading worldwide. 
During those days a Gothic princess traveled to Damascus for audience with the Caliph, seeking his help to uphold her right to inherit according to Muslim Law.  (Compare that to someone today pleading such a case before the highest International Court.  In Damascus, Princess Sara married a Muslim gentleman of the Caliph’s court, and returned with him to Seville where she bore him two sons, and then, after his death, married another Muslim.)
Recently, westerners have begun to publicly acknowledge the influence of the Arab/Muslim Civilization on western progress, but scholars are still silent as to the influence of Arabic in their languages.  And only recently have Muslim scholars begun to be generous in offering the Qur’anic Text to others, after having held onto it as if it was theirs alone.  How can this eloquent Compilation speak to Mankind at large when no one is allowed to touch it?  And both sides still find it difficult to be self-critical. 
YET, in all urgency, everyone today is attempting to ‘bridge the cultural gap!’ 
I suggest that we search in the languages we speak AND the faith we profess for the cultural bridges that have always been there, connecting us all to each other, in spite of ourselves.

Yusuf Ali’s Translation of this Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s Translation of this Chapter.
Their commentaries can only be read in verse by verse view.

PAGE 263 Arabic Qur’an.
1. Our Reading today begins with Verse 16, which mentions The Creator’s installation of towering celestial compositions, or ‘burooj’ (singular: ‘burj’ برج.- With diacritic marks: ‘burjun-برجٌ, which is the origin of several English words, such as the verb ‘burgeon,’ the nouns ‘berg’ and ‘burg’- but we already know that Etymology records will NOT reflect that linguistic fact, saying it is Germanic or of ‘uncertain origin’ [i]):

‘Early 14c., from O.Fr. borjoner "to bud, sprout," from borjon "a bud, shoot, pimple," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Germanic.’

2. The next verses discuss how these celestial compositions – stars/ constellations- were made beautiful so as to offer visual pleasure to onlookers.  They were also protected from every transgressor.  It is interesting to note that, although we are not able to physically ‘transgress’ to these planets, we can ‘eavesdrop,’ and listen to the sounds emanating from them EXACTLY like the verse states.  As for ‘being followed by discernible ‘shihaabs-شهاب ’ which are comet-like bodies or particles, we’ll leave that to scientists and cosmonauts.  (Do ionic particles flare-up, I wonder?) 
See Muhammad Asad’s explanation of these verses, and his notes 17- 18.  Yusuf Ali offers a more traditional explanation.

3. Then, Verses 19- 20- 21 discuss the earth and its bounties, which are released in due measure.
Verse 22 mentions other bounties, such as the fertilizing winds, and the rains for us to drink, while  Verse 23 is about Life and Death and God’s existence above and after all His Creation.

Verse 24 tells us that God knows the Former, and He knows the Latter, which could refer to precedence in good deeds, or simply in historic precedence.  At any rate, all shall be gathered to Him 25.

4. Then we arrive at the story of the Creation of the Cognizant Human.  See April 6th where we discussed it in detail.
For Asad’s explanation and notes see: 26- 27- 28- 29 -30- 31.
PAGE 264 Arabic Qur’an.

5.  In Verse 32 Iblees is asked why he did not honor Adam, to which he responds in Verse 33.  After that, Verses  34- 35- 36- 37- 38 recount an interesting exchange which took place between Iblees and his Lord (he addresses God as ‘My Lord-Rabbi’).  Here, we notice that Iblees asked for respite (postponement of facing the consequences of his actions) till the Day of ‘their,’ meaning our Human Resurrection.  We notice that Iblees did not ask for a second chance, which leads us to conclude that the Realm of the Unseen, with its positive versus negative forces, functions very differently from ours.  To try and understand the Unseen is futile, but we are nevertheless given a reassuring glimpse which should guide us towards fulfilling our better Selves, even as we rely on God to help us neutralize any negativity in our path.

6.  We see this quite clearly in Verses 39- 40- 41- 42. 
Well-explained by Asad, except that ‘Ibaad’ means ‘worshippers,’ not ‘servants.’

7.  Verses 43- 44 are fiery Dissuasion (ترهيب), while Verses 45- 46- 47- 48 are heavenly Persuasion (ترغيب) . 
Isn’t the Brotherhood in verse 47 heart-warming?  Why wait for Heaven to enjoy it- let’s be brothers and sisters now, and create a ‘heaven-on-earth!’

Our Reading today concludes with Verses 49-50; an announcement God asks His Messenger to deliver to His Worshippers:

‘Inform my Worshippers that I, I alone am The Forgiving, The Unceasingly Compassionate.  And that ‘my’ suffering (imposed upon any who deserve it) is indeed the painful suffering!  

Enough said!
Our next Reading is from HQ 15: 51-89.

Peace unto all!

[i] See German-English words and note that in Middle English, the word variation is BURCH, which suggests that the ‘g’ sound was a soft sound, more like ‘j.’

The timeline of what is called ‘Old English’ (450-1500) and ‘Middle English’ (1100-1500) coincide in larger part with the period of Arab/Muslim culture in Spain (711-1492), which was the CENTER of learning.

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