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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.'


Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 153; Qur’an 18:54-82, page 300 + 301 +302

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 300 Arabic Qur’an.

1.  Our Reading (Verse 54) begins by informing us of the value of ‘Similitude’ in the Qur’an, directing the Cognizant Human to pay heed to each, as an example of a wider Reality.  The verse ends by stating that, among God’s creatures, the Cognizant Human is the most ‘dialectic.’
Dialectic, or ‘jadal[i]جدل-’ means that we apply logical analysis and argument to explain and understand things, BUT (as our 1,000 year-old Lexicon seems to denote in the origin of the word), we also have a tendency to do so according to our predetermined views!. 

Our method of Reasoning is NOT flawed... unless we allow it to be, in letting our ‘tendencies’ overcome our wills. 
How do we keep it from becoming flawed? 
We attempt to maintain an open mind, while seeking refuge in God from deviance (see June 25th).    
We refrain from over-analyzing Qur’anic examples, which offer us lessons to learn from, and NOT material for argument. 

This is important to bear in mind, as we go through this Chapter.  We should take heed, and understand the GIST of each story- not spend time and effort delving into WHO these people were historically, or WHERE they were located geographically (remember the silly disputes regarding the Youths of the Cave, the name and color of their dog.. etc..?).  Such details would have been given to us in the Qur’an, had they been important.  Delving in unnecessary detail sidetracks us from the central theme and furthermore, leads us nowhere:
By such exercises, we would be following Conjecture- which is no substitute for Reality (HQ 10:36).
2.  Verses 55- 56- 57- 58- 59 show us the consequence of futile ‘jadal’ (dialectics/ argument)- as ‘Those who had Denied’ used Falsehood in an attempt to vanquish Reality.

3.  Verses 60- 82 contain the famous narrative of Moses’ journey (with his servant) which culminated in his meeting God’s ‘Worshipper.’  It is by traveling with God’s Worshipper that Moses, peace upon him, was given insightful lessons into the juxtaposition of Human Perception versus Reality.

I prefer NOT to include any commentary (Ali’s or Asad’s) as we attempt to understand these verses, to steer away from ‘preconception’ and supposition.  Isn’t this precisely what we were warned against?

I have used Yusuf Ali’s explanation, but the words in red are my amendments according to my understanding of the Arabic words, which offer a valid alternative to the present interpretations[ii]:

All indications are that Moses and his servant were on board a sea-vessel/ container, which may have been called a ‘hoot-حوت ’ from the root-verb ([iii]حوي)  meaning ‘to contain,’ OR as Lexicons say, that it is something ‘adept at maneuvering,’ and that they forgot to tether it upon landing, so it sailed out to sea without their noticing it. 
To understand this Reading, replace Yusuf Ali’s references to ‘the fish’ with ‘the vessel.’

This explanation would also reflect on (HQ 7:153)[iv].

Behold, Moses said to his attendant, "I will not leave position [v] until I reach the junction of the two bodies of water or (until) I spend years and years in travel."

But when they reached the Junction, they forgot (about) their vessel[vi], which took its course through the sea (straight) as in a channel.

PAGE 301 Arabic Qur’an.

When they had passed on (some distance), Moses said to his attendant: "Bring us our early meal; truly we have suffered much fatigue at this (stage of) our journey."

He replied: "Sawest thou (what happened) when we betook ourselves to the rock? I did indeed forget the vessel: Satan made me forget to keep in mind (to tether it): it took its course through the sea in a marvellous way!"

Moses said: "That was what we were seeking after:" So they went back on their footsteps, following (the path they had come).

So they found one of Our Worshippers, on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Our own Presence.

Moses said to him: "May I follow thee, on the footing that thou teach me something of the (Higher) Truth which thou hast been taught?"

(The other) said: "Verily thou wilt not be able to have Forbearance with me!"

"And how canst thou have Forbearance about things about which thy understanding is not complete?"

Moses said: "Thou wilt find me, if God so will, (truly) Forbearing: nor shall I disobey thee in aught."

The other said: "If then thou wouldst follow me, ask me no questions about anything until I myself speak to thee concerning it."

So they both proceeded: until, when they were in the boat, he scuttled it. Said Moses: "Hast thou scuttled it in order to drown those in it? Truly a strange thing hast thou done!"

He answered: "Did I not tell thee that thou canst have no Forbearance with me?"

Moses said: "Rebuke me not for forgetting, nor grieve me by raising difficulties in my case."

Then they proceeded: until, when they met a young man, he slew him. Moses said: "Hast thou slain an innocent person who had slain none? Truly a foul (unheard of) thing hast thou done!"

4.  In Verse 65 we notice that the Worshipper had received Mercy from God and Knowledge from His Presence.  This information is VERY important, as the ‘Worshipper’ will play a role which seems to represent God’s Knowledge and Mercy.
Moses, on the other hand, represents Humanity’s Knowledge and rule of Law.  Moses was absolutely right in finding fault with what the ‘Worshipper’ had done.  His ‘lack of Forbearance’ was due to his indignation at the ‘unjustified’ acts he was witnessing- his human perception.

PAGE 302 Arabic Qur’an.

He answered: "Did I not tell thee that thou canst have no Forbearance with me?"

(Moses) said: "If ever I ask thee about anything after this, keep me not in thy company: then wouldst thou have received (full) excuse from my side."

Then they proceeded: until, when they came to the inhabitants of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused them hospitality. They found there a wall on the point of falling down, but he set it up straight. (Moses) said: "If thou hadst wished, surely thou couldst have exacted some recompense for it!"

He answered: "This is the parting between me and thee: now will I tell thee the interpretation of (those things) over which thou wast unable to hold Forbearance.

"As for the boat, it belonged to certain men in dire want: they plied on the water: I but wished to render it unserviceable, for there was after them a certain king who seized on every boat by force.

"As for the youth, his parents were people of Faith, and we feared that he would overwhelm[vii] them by Transgression and Denial.

"So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange (another) better in purity (of conduct) and closer in affection.

"As for the wall, it belonged to two youths, orphans, in the Town; there was, beneath it, a buried treasure, to which they were entitled: their father had been a righteous man: So thy Lord desired that they should attain their age of full strength and get out their treasure - a mercy (and favour) from thy Lord.
I did it not of my own accord.
Such is the interpretation of (those things) over which thou wast unable to hold Forbearance." 

5.  Read Muhammad Asad’s notes, for another take on this topic.

6.  What The ‘Worshipper’ had done was an example of what takes place every day, as Faithful, hardworking people’s property gets damaged….as innocent youngsters of Faithful parents get killed…and as cruelty is seemingly rewarded.

How often have people asked, ‘Where is God?’  ‘Why does He allow such things to happen?’

Even if we were given the reasons for everything that takes place on earth, we would not be able to stand still and accept these occurrences, nor should we.  Moses, peace upon him, showed us both the impossibility and the inhumanity of standing still in the face of seeming injustice. 

Then the ‘Worshipper’ showed us how Human Perception cannot grasp Reality.

What if any damage that touches the property of such hardworking people only helps them evade much larger loss?
What if every child to such parents is actually saved by premature death, and his parents are replaced with even more purity and love?
What if the ‘rewards’ which are granted to unkind persons, are only ‘covers’ hiding veritable treasures and keeping them safe until the time when they can be claimed by others, who are truly deserving?

Remember Verse 49: 
“….. they will find all that they did placed before them: And not one will thy Lord treat with injustice!”

Our hard work today …prevents future loss.
Our faith… brings us compassion in our old age.
We can die in peace …Our good deeds guarantee our orphaned children an honorable life.

The thread holding these three examples together and culminating in a favorable outcome is made up of: Faith and Good Deeds.

Faith and Good Deeds.

This is a lesson which ties the past to the present to the future; one from which we can learn volumes! 

Enough said!
Our next Reading is from HQ 18: 83-110 –end of Chapter!

Peace unto all!

[i] (جدل) من باب استحكام الشيء في استرسالٍ يكون فيه، وامتدادِ الخصومة ومراجعةِ الكلام. وهو القياس الذي ذكرناه.
والجَدْوَل: نهر صغيرٌ، وهو ممتدٌّ، وماؤُه أقْوى في اجتماع أجزائه من المنبطح السائح. ورجلٌ مجدولٌ، إذا كان قَضِيف الخِلْقة من غير هُزَال. وغلام جادِلٌ إذا اشتدّ.

[ii] Commentators were puzzled by Moses’ exclamation that he won’t ‘leave position’ (abrah-أبرح ) until he ‘arrives at the junction of the two bodies of water.’  (How can he not leave his position and be travelling at the same time?)  The Commentators’ problem was that they had envisaged him to be traveling on foot. 
They were also puzzled by the ‘hoot’ taking to the sea, after Moses and his servant had forgotten about it.  Their problem was that they had envisaged the ‘hoot’ to be a cooked fish.  (I will not get into the absurdity of the many explanations available to this story!)

[iii]  (حوي) أصل واحد، وهو الجمع يقال حوَيْتُ الشيءَ أحويه حَيَّاً، إذا جمعتَه. والحَوِيَّة: الواحدةُ من الحوايا، وهي الأمعاء، وهي من الجمع. ويقولون للواحدة حاوياء. والحيُّ من أحياء العرب. والحِواء: البيت الواحد، وكلُّه من قياس الباب.

[iv] In the story of the Sabbath violators; the Qur’an says ‘THEIR’ ‘heetaan’ (حيتانهم-plural of ‘hoot’).  Traditionally, this verse meant that ‘their large fishes came to them at full sail on the Sabbath,’ which is improbable as the fish in the ocean cannot be called “anyone’s” fish.  I suspect it was ‘their VESSELS’ which came to them in full sail شرعا on the Sabbath, unlike other days.

[v] (برح) أصلان يتفرّع عنهما فروعٌ كثيرة. فالأول: الزَّوال والبروزُ والانكِشاف.
والثاني: الشِّدَّة والعِظَم وما أشبههُما.

أمّا الأول فقال الخليل: بَرَحَ يَبْرَحُ بَرَاحا إذا رَامَ مِن موضِعِه، وأبرحته أنا. ويقول: ما برِحْتُ أفْعَلُ ذلك، في معنى مازِلْت. قال الله تعالى حكايةً عمَّن قال: {لَنْ نَبْرَحَ عَلَيْهِ عَاكِفِينَ} [طه 91] أي لن نَزَالَ. قالوا: البارحة الليلة التي قبلَ لَيْلَتِك، صفةٌ غالبةٌ لها. حتّى صار كالاسم. وأصلها من بَرح، أي زال عَنْ موضعه.

والأصل الآخرُ قال أبو عُبيدٍ: يقال ما أبْرَحَ هذا الأمرَ، أي أعجَبَه. وقالوا: معناه أعظَمْتِ، والمعنى واحدٌ. قال ابنُ الأعرابيّ: يقال أبْرَحْتُ بفلانٍ، أي حَمَلْتَه على ما لا يُطيق فَتَبَرَّحَ به وغَمَّه.
والتّباريح: الكُلْفة والمَشَقّة. وضربَهُ ضَرْباً مُبَرِّحاً. وهذا الأمر أبْرَحُ عليَّ مِن ذَاكَ، أي أشق.

[vi] In all the Lexicons the word is explained as ‘large fish/ whale’ or something of great movement but I have my doubts about ‘great fish’ since that word came into the Lexicons hundreds of years after the Qur’an was revealed, showing how people understood it at the time of putting it to writing.

[vii]   (رهق)  أصلان متقاربان: فأحدهما غِشيان الشّيءِ الشيءَ، والآخر العَجلة والتأخير.
  فأمَّا الأوّل فقولُهم: رَهِقَه الأمرُ: غَشِيَه. والرَّهُوق من النُّوق: الجوادُ الوَسَاعُ التي تَرْهَقُك إِذا مددتَها، أي تغشاك لسَعَة خَطْوها. قال الله جلّ ثناؤه: {وَلاَ يَرْهَقُ وُجُوهَهُمْ قَتَرٌ وَلاَ ذِلَّةٌ} [يونس 26]. والمرَاهِق: الغلام الذي دَانَى الحُلُم. ورجلٌ مُرَهَّق: تنزل به* الضِّيفَانُ. وأرهق القومُ الصّلاةَ: أخَّروها حتى يدنُوَ وقتُ الصّلاةِ الأُخرى. والرَّهَق: العَجَلة والظُّلم. قال الله تعالى: {فَلاَ يَخَافُ بَخْساً وَلاَ رَهَقاً([24])}[الجن 13]. والرَّهَق: عجلةٌ في كذب وعَيب.

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