Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
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 279 Arabic Qur’an.
1. We ended our last Reading with mention of God’s Signs, and the statement that it was the Holy Spirit who had delivered it to the Messenger Muhammad, peace upon him. Verse 103 states God’s knowledge of what the detractors against this Message were alleging, in that it was ‘taught to him’ by a mere human. The verse responds by saying that such an alleged teacher would be of ‘incoherent tongue- Ajami لسان أعجمي-’ whereas THIS is a ‘clearly coherent’ Arabi tongueلسان عربي مبين -.
As noted, Arabi is the opposite of Ajami; the latter has been translated as ‘foreign /outlandish’ by Ali and Asad, which is only the common interpretation (not the authentic, linguistic meaning of the word).
Actually, this is the first time that the word ‘ajami’ appears in the Qur’an; it denotes ‘ujmahعجمة- ’[i] or incoherence and lack of articulation, and the Lexicon below offers the following example (presumably from the point of view of approaching visitors):
“The house is said to be ‘ustujima,’ when its inhabitants depart and there is no ‘areeb’ left, to answer coherently.”
As our older than 1,000 years Lexicon tells us[ii] :
“An eloquent/ articulate adult would be one who “a’ra’b” ((أعرب about himself, whereas a child who has not spoken yet would be ‘a’jam, ((أعجم, unable to express or articulate.”
(Also, check out our Posting of May 5th where we mentioned the meaning of ‘araba عرب-’, and showed how it related to the proper, uncorrupted Arabic spoken by the Desert Arabs.)
So, whenever the Qur’an is mentioned as being ‘Arabi’ we must NOT limit the connotation to language, but must remember that it means ‘coherence’ and ‘self-expressive eloquence and articulation.’
2. Furthermore, when we put عربي in ‘Tanzil’ and read more about this VERY IMPORTANT aspect of the Qur’anic Message we realize that ‘Arabi,’ is mentioned 11 times and is a DIRECT CHARACTERISTIC of:
· The Qur’an (7 times).
· The Ordinance ‘hukmحكم- ’ (once).
· The ‘Tongueلسان- ’ or ‘language’ of:
a) This Messenger (delivering the Message) HQ 26:195.
b) These Signs being delivered (HQ 16:103).
c) This Compilation , confirming that of Moses (HQ 46:12).
What did we just notice, dear Readers?
We just noticed that ‘Arabi’ is NOT the direct characteristic of the Compilation, but characterizes the ‘tongue’ in which the Compilation was delivered! This is because the Compilation is a static entity, which is ‘inarticulate.’ Its major characteristics however, are that it is ‘mubeenمبين- ’ or ‘clarifying’, and ‘mubarakمبارك- ’ or of abiding benefit, both reasons for it to be sought by someone who seeks enlightenment.
This might seem confusing to anyone who does not understand the difference between ‘kitaab’ and Qur’an,’ but to us, it is only further evidence of the unique definition of Qur’an. A Compilation, on its own, without the ‘Qare’ قارئ or READER who interacts with its contents, is like a house void of its inhabitants[iii].
It is the LIVE, interacting person, who activates the dynamic of ‘IQRA,’ so that the Compilation becomes Qur’an!
(For difference between Kitaab/ Compilation and Qur’an, see Posting of June 14th.)
Therefore, verse 103 is responding to allegations as to the authenticity of this Revelation, in that it is indeed from God, and is not a dictate of any scholar ‘well-versed’ in theology or in his knowledge of previous Revelation etc..
Actually, when we think of it, we realize that such a scholar would have dictated something ‘ajami’ and not ‘arabi,’ something static and not alive, something antiquated which has already served its purpose, like walls which echo the calls of those who approach, offering no ingenuity.
What a beautiful verse!
Records indicate that in pre-Islamic Arabia, ‘Friday’ used to be called the ‘Day of Aruba’ (Articulation?)يوم العروبة- ’ Later, it became ‘Yawm-al-Jum’a’ or ‘the Day of Assembly.’
3. Verses 104- 105- 106- 107- 108- 109- 110 are well-explained by Yusuf Ali, and they mention earlier-discussed concepts.
It is interesting to see how persons who start out disbelieving in God’s Signs are also considered Liars. Also, those who have chosen this immediate lowly life above the Hereafter, are considered to be denying God. Their denial blocks their senses, and they become The ‘Heedlessالغافلون-’!
4. Notice (in verse 110) God’s Forgiveness and Compassion to those who had to forsake their homes after the severe suffering they underwent, when they were ‘tried by fire’- and had to emigrate, after which they exerted themselves (meaning of jihad), and practiced Forbearance! Remember this “Fitnah’ or ‘trial by fire,’ as it will help us understand future verses.
PAGE 280 Arabic Qur’an.
5. Verses 111- 112- 113- 114 are well-explained by Asad. Note that ‘shukr’ (in the last verse), which he translated as ‘render thanks,’ was explained in his commentary on Verse 113, where he explained that ‘shukr’ has to do with conforming to the ethical and social standards inherent in man’s bond with God.
Yusuf Ali translated ‘shukr’ as ‘be grateful,’ but he too elaborated on it, showing that gratitude is proven by action.
These verses are indeed powerful: They teach us important lessons in preserving God’s bounties by Conscious Consumption and Productivity, and end by making our adherence to these directives a CONDITION FOR worshipping Him:
“…if indeed it is He whom you worship.”
"....إن كنتم إياه تعبدون."
6. Verse 115 repeats the injunction on Forbidden foods, mentioned in HQ 2:173, 5:3, and 6:145 (see March 7th and April 1st), but here, the context is different. It is related firstly to the concept (understood from the preceding Verse 114) that our abstention is an ‘act of worship,’ which necessitates NO EXPLANATION, and secondly from the warning (in the following Verse 116) that we are NOT to lie by allowing our tongues to pronounce something ‘lawful’ or ‘unlawful,’ ascribing falsities to God.
7. Take a look at the verse-ending, as well as Verse 117: Together, they are indicative of why certain people will NOT attain success in life, although they might see limited benefit: They lied in God’s name- and theirs is the painful Suffering.
Our next Reading is from HQ 16:118-128; 17:1-8, a new Chapter!
This would start us on section 15/30 of the Qur’an.
(We are running a little behind schedule, but we might be able to catch up towards the end- God-willing!)
Peace unto all!
[i]العجمة: خلاف الإبانة، والإعجام: الإبهام، واستعجمت الدار: إذا بان أهلها ولم يبق فيها عريب، أي: من يبين جوابا. (الراغب الأصفهاني، المتوفى 503 للهجرة)
العربي: المفصح، والإعراب: البيان. يقال: أعرب عن نفسه. وفي الحديث: (الثيب تعرب عن نفسها. وإعراب الكلام: إيضاح فصاحته.
[ii] ‘Mu’jam al Maqayees fil Lugha’ by Ibn Fares, 329-395 A.H./940-1004 A.D.
[iii] Not only ‘void of inhabitants,’ but even abandoned! See HQ 25:30 where ‘the Messenger’ tells His Lord in the Hereafter, that his people have taken this Qur’an as ‘mahjoorمهجورا-’ or ‘abandoned.’ Hopefully, he is only talking about the people of his time, and not later people as we definitely do NOT wish to be counted among them!