Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Yusuf Ali’s Translation of our new Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s Translation of our new Chapter.
Their commentaries can only be read in verse by verse view
PAGE 292 Arabic Qur’an.
1. Verse 101 takes us back to the story of Prophet Moses, peace upon him, and Pharaoh. I prefer Yusuf Ali’s interpretation here, because Muhammad Asad sees the nine ‘signs’ (Aayaatآيات- ) possibly as ‘commandments’ or ‘ethical principles,’ and he translates the word as ‘messages.’
I counted seven of the nine ‘signs’ in the following verses: HQ 7:130, 133, 134, and they become nine with the addition of the ‘radiant hand’ and the famous ‘staff’ or ‘rod.’ Yusuf Ali’s calculation of nine is somewhat similar, except that he counted 2 signs in Verse 130 (instead of the drought and shortage of crops being one and the same) and he did not count the plague, or ‘rijz’ in Verse 134.
PAGE 293 Arabic Qur’an.
2. After Prophet Moses’ story concludes, revelation of Truth is mentioned in Verse 105- 106, and Prophet Muhammad is addressed directly, peace upon both, as ‘Bearer of Glad Tidings,’ and ‘Warner.’ And then the Qur’an is described as being disseminated, so that ‘you would taqra’ahu upon Cognizant Humans at intervals,’ and it was ‘revealed by stages/ bestowed from on high, step by step as (one) revelation’ (Ali/Asad).
This verse is important in helping us define what ‘Qur’an’ is (as compared to Kitaab): Qur’an is what the Messenger ‘yaqra’ (يقرأ)- or actively approaches with the 6 components of ‘iqra,’ with the aim of delivering it to Cognizant Humans ‘Naas,’ plural of ‘insaan.’
If we put قرأ قرآن –and then قرأ كتاب in Tanzil we’d find out that not once is the Messenger Muhamad, peace upon him (or the Faithful) mentioned as ‘reading/ reciting/ perusing’ any ‘Kitaab.’ It is the Qur’an, and ONLY the Qur’an which the Messenger (and the Faithful) ‘read/ recite/ peruse.’
Compare that to other instances; to People of earlier Compilation, or (to the Hereafter) when everyone ‘reads’ the Compilation of their Deeds… ‘kitaab.’
In other words, Qur’an (unlike ‘kitaab’) is THIS revelation- when approached by the Messenger and the Faithful in life, with the 6 components of ‘iqra.’
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3. Verse 110 begins by telling us that the ‘words’ Allah and ‘al Rahmaan’ are of equal merit, and that whichever ‘word’ we call upon God with, to Him belong the most beautiful Attributes.
This is a VERY important piece of information, which will help us understand many important issues as we proceed. Therefore bear in mind, dear Reader, that both ‘Allah’ and ‘al Rahmaan’ are NOT attributes.
(In Arabic, a ‘name’ is ‘ism’ (اسم) or (سمة)which is always ‘descriptive.’ This is why the ‘word’ Allah is NOT considered a ‘name’ in Arabic, but rather: a word or utterance denoting The Magnificence’ (لفظ الجلالة) - This verse indicates that al Rahmaan is akin to Allah, and is not a ‘descriptive name/attribute’ similar to ‘Raheem,’ or ‘Aleem.’)
The verse continues with advice, as to what constitutes an exemplary prayer.
Verse 111 brings this entire Chapter to an end, with beautiful Praise of God.
This is a well-known Chapter, which is most-recited on Fridays.
According to Yusuf Ali:
“This particular Meccan Sura may be called a lesson on the brevity and mystery of Life.”
Muhammad Asad tells us that this Chapter:
“…is almost entirely devoted to a series of parables or allegories built around the theme of faith in God versus an undue attachment to the life of this world…..The story of the Men of the Cave - from which the surah takes its title - illustrates (in verses 13-20) the principle of world-abandonment for the sake of faith, and is deepened into an allegory of death, resurrection and spiritual awakening.”
Similar to our last Chapter which started with (سبحان الذي أسرى بعبده) ‘Glory to Him Who took His Worshipper on a Journey by night..’ our new Chapter also starts on a note of exaltation, (الحمد لله الذي أنزل على عبده الكتاب...) “All Praise to God Who sent down, upon His Worshipper, the Compilation…”
In both instances God is glorified, and in both instances the Recipient of His favor is His Worshipper, Muhammad, peace upon him. But here (unlike there), it is WE who are ALSO Recipients of His favor, whether in the ‘warning’ to mankind in general, or preferably in the ‘glad tidings’ to the Faithful who perform good deeds, to abide therein forever!
PAGE 294 Arabic Qur’an.
5. But then Verses 4- 5 show us that the warning also is to those who ascribe to God a child… and we soon notice Prophet Muhammad’s distress over their misguidance, in Verse 6, and his desire that they would believe in this message and return to unpolluted faith in God!
The Qur’an is not just for ‘those who have attained Faith!’ As we have mentioned earlier: The Qur’an is for everyone.
Verses 7- 8 tell us about this earth, embellished for us so that we may compete in performing good deeds in this, our temporary existence.
6. And then the Story of the ‘Companions of the Cave ‘starts to unfold.
I have included Hyperlinks to both Yusuf Ali’s and Muhammad Asad’s explanations. Make use of this excellent example to see how two Commentators could deal so differently with identical material!
7. Verses 13- 14 continue, where we notice that God ‘gave strength to their hearts/minds.’ This concept الربط على القلب – to literally ‘securely-fasten the heart/mind together,’ indicates that, without God’s help, their hearts/minds would have become unraveled- they would have mentally and emotionally ‘lost it!’
If we put ربط in Tanzil we’ll find the 3 times in which God ‘strengthened/secured the hearts/minds’ in the Qur’an:
· HQ 8:11, with regard to the few early Believers facing the decisive Battle of Badr, discussed on April 21st.
· HQ 18:14, with regard to the Youths of the Cave, who stood up to authority, announcing their Faith.
· HQ 28:10, with regard to the Mother of Moses who had just thrown her infant into the water.
I prefer Asad’s explanation for 15, as Ali seems to have set a ‘Biblical’ background for the incident.
I love Yusuf Ali’s comment on Verse 13; indeed, Faith IS ‘cumulative’!
Our next Reading is from HQ 18:16-29.
Peace unto all!