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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.'


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 145; Qur’an 17:8--17, page 283

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!
This section needs a lot of thought, so we’re doing only one page today.

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 283 Arabic Qur’an.

First, we’ll discuss a few pending issues:

1.  Readers who know Arabic may have noticed that our new chapter ‘The Night Journey’ started by glorifying ‘Him Who transported His ‘ABD’ عبده…’

We know that the meaning of ‘abd’ could either be understood as ‘servant/’ or as ‘worshipper,’ depending on context, and we already discussed the fact that their plurals are different, meaning that the plural of the first concept is ‘abeedعبيد- ’ while the plural of the second concept is ‘ibaadعباد- .’ We also know that God never addresses us in life as ‘Servants,’ but rather calls us ‘My Worshippers عبادي.’  However, it is interesting (and scary) that on Judgment Day we are called ‘abeed’ as, at that point, we would have no control over anything, including our own actions!  Even so however, God does not wrong His servants (....و ما ربك بظلّام للعبيد).

The Qur’an addresses the Messenger Muhammad as His ‘Abd’ 6 times.  Copy + paste the following words all-together in Tanzil: عبده -فاعبد -زكريا -نعبد (notice that when we add a minus sign before other options (-) we narrow down the results).
2.  Regular Readers know my opinion regarding the importance of precision in translating Qur’an, and how corruptive it has been, to the Arabic original, when we’ve added our own words or pre-conceptions. 
The Qur’an is precise, and what it says should not be colored by what we see, nor framed within our parameters!  This is why I disagree with Yusuf Ali’s statement that “the Farthest Mosque must refer to the Temple of Solomon.”  Muhammad Asad also did the same, by stating that this is “reference to the Prophet’s mystic experience of the ‘Night Journey’ to Jerusalem…” and then adding that the ‘Farthest House of worship’ “denotes the ancient Temple of Solomon.”  
There is absolutely no Qur’anic evidence for either, and such accounts are colored by Biblical narrative.
Furthermore, there ARE other narratives both by Christians and Muslims, such as renowned historians Kamal Salibi and Ahmad Daoud.  They agree on another set of locations thousands of miles away… but once again:  the Qur’an did not specify, so neither should we.

Please note, dear Reader, that I am not debating what Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad have concluded, but how they could have ascertained something without Qur’anic evidence.
Despite that, my hat goes off to these two brilliant commentators.  It is only upon one generation’s labor that another can rise!
3. Now we can continue to page 283:

As we have seen, Verses 4-7, which seem to be addressed to Bani- Isra-eel, refer to what THEY had been told in the (earlier) Compilation. 
After Verse 7 had stated that whoever does Good, benefits his own Self and vice versa, Verse 8 continues with their Lord’s Mercy being available (for any who seek it), and a dire warning:
“…and if you return, so shall We, and We have rendered Hell a Confinement حصيرا for Deniers.”

4.  Immediately afterwards, in Verse 9, THIS Qur’an is mentioned, as guidance to ‘that which is most straight/ upright,’ aqwam أقوم-, from the same root verb as the term ‘mustaqeem:’  The Qur’an guides to the ‘Straightest’ of courses.  It also offers Glad Tidings to Those who attain Faith and do Good Deeds, and informs any who do not believe in the Hereafter (Verse 10) of the severe suffering prepared for them.
Asad says about the term ‘aqwam,’ that the Qur’an is, “conformable to ethical rectitude and beneficial to man’s individual and social life.” 

I disagree with Yusuf Ali’s note 2183, where he mentions what he calls “the instability and crookedness of the Jewish soul...” 
I not sure what he means, as I cannot see different ethnicities having different souls, but if he means character-traits, then we should not generalize about that either.  At a time when we are suffering from stereotyping, we should be the last persons to condone this.  The Qur’an is always specific; it condemns erroneous BELIEFS and ACTIONS, no matter who the perpetrator is.  The onus is upon each one of us- in our time- to prove ourselves regardless of the successes or failings of our forefathers.  But Yusuf Ali does seem to end his commentary on that note, mentioning the Hope and the Danger for every soul…. seeing that God judges each of us individually by our own deeds. 

Verse 11 illustrates the nearsightedness and impatience of undeveloped Human Nature, while Verse 12 shows us Night and Day as two of God’s Signs, rendered for our benefit, so that we can seek God’s Bounty and keep accurate calendars and time-tables.

5.  Verses 13- 14 give us a glimpse into the Hereafter, to the Time of Judgment when each of us has the ‘noose’ of our deeds tied around our necks.  ‘Ta’erطائر-  from root verb ‘tayara- طَيَرَ[i] refers to our deeds, and denotes flight and speed, according to our 1000 year old Lexicon.  It is also sometimes used to denote a fear, or ‘bad omen,’ in which case it would point to ‘the worst of our fears’ our deeds literally tied around our necks.  Zamakhshari tells us that this indicates the deeds ‘flying forth' even as we commit them, to be taken into account upon our arrival at the Day of Account. 
On that Day, we shall find them compiled- and each of us would be given to read our own compilation/ ‘kitaab.’ (That IS something to fear, indeed!)

Verse 15 is a statement, bearing concepts we’ve already discussed in HQ 10:108 (regarding harming or benefiting our own selves), and HQ 6:164 (regarding our responsibility for our own deeds, and no one else’s). 
The verse ends by stating that God would not cause anyone to suffer (for their misdeeds) before sending Messengers (to guide and warn).

6.  Verse 16 is an important verse which shows us God’s Laws in how communities eventually break down.  When we read the word as ‘ammarna أمّرنا- we realize that the signs of a community’s impending destruction, is when those of its members who are living in excess, become its rulers and leaders (in command).  Such persons will then breach the faith of the people they lead or govern, committing ‘Fusooq’ in their community.  It is this ‘breach of faith’ which ultimately causes its destruction.  (Regular Readers may remember the definition of ‘fisq-فسق’ mentioned in Posting of April 1st).  I found Arberry’s interpretation easiest to understand. 

Notice how the topics flowed smoothly, from Human Impatience, to seeking God’s Bounty, to keeping track of Time, to our deeds forming nooses around our throats and being compiled for us, to our free choice of Guidance or Loss, to a community’s destruction!

Verse 17 indicates that this has been the way communities have broken down ever since Noah’s time, peace upon him.. and that God suffices as One Who Informs of, and One Who Sees, His worshippers’ misdeeds and shortcomings.

Enough said!
Our next Reading is from HQ 17:18-39.

Peace unto all!

[i] (طير) يدلُّ على خِفّة الشَّيءِ في الهواءِ. ثمَّ يستعار ذلك في غيرِهِ وفي كلِّ سُرعة. من ذلك الطَّير: جمع طائر، سمِّيَ ذلك لما قُلناه. يقال طارَ يَطير طَيَراناً. ثمَّ يقال لكلِّ مَنْ خفَّ: قد طار. قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم: "خيرُ النَّاسِ رجلٌ مُمْسِكٌ بِعِنان فرسِهِ في سبيل الله، كلَّما سمِعَ هَيْعَةً طار إليها".
ويقال مِنْ هذا: تَطَايَرَ الشَّيءُ : تفرَّق. واستطار الفجر: انتشر. وكذلك كلُّ منتشِر. قال الله تعالى: {يَخَافُونَ يَوْمَاً كانَ شَرُّهُ مُسْتَطِيراً} [الدهر 7]. فأمَّا قولهم: تطيَّر من الشيء، فاشتقاقه من الطَّيرِ كالغراب وما أشبهه. ومن الباب: طائر الإنسانِ، وهو عمَلُهُ. وبئر مُطارَةٌ، إذا كانت واسعة الفم. ومن الباب : الطَّيْرة: الغضَب، وسمِّي كذا لأنَّه يُستطَار له الإنسان.

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