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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.'


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 185; Qur’an 26: 1-83, Page 367 - 370

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!
Wasn’t our last Reading interesting? 
The word we commonly translate as ‘eternity خلد-’ actually means ‘being inclined to, set-upon, or stead-fast!’  We’ll deal further with that whenever we encounter the word, God-willing. 
As for now:
Due to time constraints, we’ll be speeding up.
I promise to try, filling-in later, any important points I might miss. 
What a CHALLENGE this has turned out to be!

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.

سورة الشعراء
The Poets
From Yusuf Ali’s Introduction:
“This Surah begins a new series of four Surahs (26-29), which illustrate the contrast between the spirit of Prophecy and spiritual Light and the reactions to it in the communities among whom it appeared, by going back to old Prophet and the stories of the Past, as explained in the Introduction to Surah 17.
In this particular Surah we have the story of Moses in his fight with Pharaoh and of Pharaoh's discomfiture. Other Prophets mentioned are Abraham, Noah, Hud, Salih, Lut, and Shu'ayb. The lesson is drawn that the Quran is a continuation and fulfilment of previous Revelation, and is pure Truth, unlike poetry of vain poets.

Chronologically the Surah belongs to the middle Makkan period, when the contact of the Light of Prophecy with the milieu of Pagan Makkah was testing the Makkans in their most arrogant mood.


The conflict of Unbelief with Truth is vain; so was the conflict of Pharaoh with Moses; Pharaoh's magicians bowed to the Truth, and Pharaoh and his hosts were drowned (26:1-68, and C. 164).

Nor did Abraham's people gain anything by their resisting of the Truth he preached, and Noah's people perished by their Unbelief (26:69-122, and C. 165).

Hud warned his people against reliance on their material strength and Salih against sacrilege, but in both cases the evil ones were brought low (26:123-159, and C. 166).

Lut had to deal with unspeakable crimes, and Shu'ayb against dishonest dealings and mischief; their teaching was rejected, but the rejecters were wiped out (26:160-191, and C. 167).

S0, when the spirit of Prophecy came to Makkah, it was resisted by the votaries of evil: but Truth is not like vain poetry, and must triumph at last (26:192-227, and C. 168).”

From Muhammad Asad’s Introduction:
“THE WORD which suggested to the Companions of the Prophet the "title" of this surah is found in verse 224. Some of the commentators are of the opinion that the last four verses (beginning with this very key-word) were revealed at Medina, but all the available evidence shows that the entire surah belongs to the middle Mecca period, having been revealed about six or seven years before Prophet's hijrah. Similarly, there is no cogent reason to assume, as Suyuti does, that verse 197 belongs to the Medina period simply because it mentions the "learned men from among the children of Israel since references to the latter abound in many Meccan revelations.
The main purport of this surah lies in its stress on the unchanging character of man's weakness and proneness to self-deception, which explains why the great majority of people, at all times a in all communities, so readily reject the truth - whether it be the truth of God's messages or self-evident moral values and, in consequence, lose themselves in a worship of power, wealth what is commonly described as "glory", as well as in a mindless acceptance of slogans a prevailing fashions of thought. “

As we saw from the introductions above, this Chapter discusses several Messengers, their Messages, and their People.  When we put وما كان أكثرهم مؤمنين in Tanzil (or العزيز الرحيم) we notice the ‘closing statement which separates their stories.  These are the TWO recurrent verses which form those 8 closing statements:

“In this, behold, there is a Sign, even though most of them will not believe.
And indeed, your Sustainer - He alone – is the Almighty,
The Unceasingly Compassionate.”

إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً وَمَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُهُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ ﴿﴾
وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ ﴿﴾

PAGE 367 Arabic Qur’an.

1.  We begin today’s Reading with Verses 1-9.  Verse 1 consists of the 'disjointed letters (Tt-S-M).  We had already discussed similar beginnings on April 6th, where we indicated that such letters usually introduce the 'Compilation -كتاب' – and we noted that they are in reality 'sounds' not letters. 
We also noted on June 16th that, those combinations which stand alone (as they do here), are likely to be the ‘Seven Foldsالسبع المثاني-’ mentioned in HQ 15:87, that is, the seven patterns of stand-alone introductory verses after which their corresponding Chapters unfold (see footnote[i]).

(Actually, the ‘Seven Folds/ Oft-Repeated’ verses are commonly believed to refer to ‘al Faatiha,’ the Opening Chapter of the Qur’an, HOWEVER different schools of thought have different opinions as to its first verse: 
The initial invocation ‘Bismil-Lah’ is not considered a verse of 'al Faatiha' by the Medenite, Basra, and ‘Shaam’ Scholars (which the Hanafi school of thought follows) and they do not say it aloud in prayer, whereas the Meccan and Kufa Scholars (which the Shaaf’i school of thought follows) consider it the first verse of ‘al Faatiha’ and say it aloud in prayer[ii].) 

2.  Back to Verses 1-9:
Addressed to Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, these verses seem to show his feelings of defeat at his people’s lack of faith (لعلك باخع نفسك ألا يكونوا مؤمنين).  Here, he is told that those who disregard Al Rahmaan’s newly-revealed/ fresh’ Reminder (Ali/ Asad) shall soon realize what it was that they had belied and ridiculed!  These verses end by drawing their attention to the Signs around them:

“In this, behold, there is a Sign, even though most of them will not believe.
And indeed, your Sustainer - He alone – is the Almighty,
The Unceasingly Compassionate.”

Muhammad Asad considers these two verses ‘refrains:’

‘The above two verses appear eight times in this sūrah. Apart from the present instance, they conclude, like a refrain, each of the subsequent seven stories of earlier prophets, which – by means of their, in places, almost identical phrasing – are meant to stress the essential identity of the ethical teachings of all the prophets…’

Narrating the stories of past Messengers begins with Verses 10- 15, as ‘your Lord’ calls upon Moses.  This helps us realize that these verses still address Muhammad directly, peace upon both Messengers, so it is interesting to note that Moses twice says ‘Indeed, I fear…’ showing his uncertainty and initial doubt in his own capability, requesting that his brother assist him.  God assures Moses and Aaron of His Presence with them. 
These narratives did not only provide information, but they also served to strengthen their Recipient’s resolve!  

PAGE 368 Arabic Qur’an.

3.  Verses 16- 28 narrate the exchange that took place between Moses and Pharaoh, a rich dialogue indeed.  In Verse 23 Pharaoh asks WHAT the Lord of the Worlds is, and Moses responds beautifully in Verses 24, 26, 28, as Pharaoh interrupts him!

4.   Verses 29- 37 show us Pharaoh threatening Moses with prison if he takes a ‘god’ other than himself.   Moses mentions that he can show him evidence, and when asked to do so, throws his staff which becomes a serpent, and pulls out his hand, which is shining white.  To this evidence, Pharaoh responds with accusations of sorcery, consults with his Chieftains, and sends notice to all the sorcerers in the land to meet at a certain known time. 
Regular Readers would be familiar with the story of Moses, the Sorcerers, AND the reality of what ‘Magic’ is, discussed on April 13th, as well as the aftermath, and the Sorcerer/Martyrs beautiful prayer for Forbearance (April 14th) in anticipation of the suffering and death to come:

ربنا أفرغ علينما صبراً وتوفنا مسلمين
‘Our Lord! Pour-out upon us Patient Forbearance,
and deliver us unto You, Pure (in reverence/ Muslimeen)!’

PAGE 369 Arabic Qur’an.

5.   Verses 38- 51 describe what took place on the day of the confrontation.  It is interesting to note how the Sorcerers began the challenge by invoking Pharaoh (Verse 44), and ended it (Verses 47- 48) by announcing their faith in the ‘Lord of the Worlds,’ identifying Him as ‘Lord’ of Moses and Aaron! 
Here we realize how true their faith was, because when Pharaoh threatens to cut off their limbs and crucify them, they say, ‘No matter/ No harm,’ (Ali/ Asad).  “..Indeed we, to our Lord, shall return!’  Then they seek God’s forgiveness, presenting themselves to Him as the FIRST Believers.

In Verses 52- 56 God tells Moses to depart by night WITH His Worshippers (Bani Isra-eel), after which Pharaoh prepares to avenge himself.

Verses 57- 59 are an interpolation, describing the pleasures and treasures which Pharaoh and his people were ultimately cast out of, as others ‘inherited’ them, namely, Bani Isra-eel; a LESSON for all wrong-doers!

PAGE 370 Arabic Qur’an.

6.  Verses 60- 66 narrate how Pharaoh goes after them at sun-rise, and ends with him and his hosts drowning.
(Yusuf Ali’s numbering is a bit off here, since he presented Verse 49 of the Arabic Qur’an as two distinct verses.  Regardless, I preferred his explanation because Asad was framing his geographically, in specific, present-day locations.)

And then, in Verses 67-68, comes the Conclusion:

“In this, behold, there is a Sign, even though most of them will not believe.
And indeed, your Sustainer - He alone – is the Almighty,
The Unceasingly Compassionate.”

7.  Verse 69 starts a new story; that of Prophet Abraham, peace upon him, who argues with his people (Verses 72- 76), trying to convince them, through logic, as to the irrationality of worshipping idols.

After he announces to them that (of whatever they worship) everything is hostile to him except The Lord of the Worlds, he sets about defining Him.

Read Abraham’s beautiful definition of ‘Rabb al Aalameen’ which is unlike Moses’ definition because, while Moses gave Pharaoh a majestic, sweeping description* (suited to the occasion), Abraham defines Him with a personal and intimate perspective, perhaps more suited to one’s argument with family members!

Thankfully, Recipients of the Qur’an get both Moses’ and Abraham’s perspectives, forming a coherent whole (note below that illness is NOT of God’s doing, but we fall ill on our own).

Verses 78- 82:

“They are all hostile to me, except the Lord of the worlds,
He Who created me, and shall therefore guide me,
And He it is Who feeds me and gives me to drink,
And when I fall ill, it is He Who cures me,
And He Who will cause me to die, and then revive me,
And He Who,
(with all my heart) I hope [iii], will forgive me my failing
on the Day of Accountability!”

Enough said!

Our next Reading is from HQ 26:83-184.

Peace unto all!

·          2:1, 3:1, 29:1, 30:1, 31:1, 32:1 ( الم-A. L. M.)
·          7:1 (- المصA. L. M. Ss.)
·          19:1 (- كهيعصK.H.Y.3.Ss)
·          20:1 (- طهTt.H)
·          26:1, 28:1 (- طسمTt.S.M.)
·          36:1 (- يسY.S.)
·          40:1, 41:1, 42:1, 43:1, 44:1, 45:1, 46:1 (- حمHh.M.)  
·          Note that there are 11 different sounds.

[ii]  الزمخشري:
قرّاء المدينة والبصرة والشأم وفقهاؤها على أنّ التسمية ليست بآية من الفاتحة ولا من غيرها من السور، وإنما كتبت للفصل والتبرك بالابتداء بها، كما بدىء بذكرها في كل أمر ذي بال، وهو مذهب أبي حنيفة - رحمه الله - ومن تابعه، ولذلك لا يجهر بها عندهم في الصلاة. وقرّاء مكة والكوفة وفقهاؤهما على أنها آية من الفاتحة ومن كل سورة، وعليه الشافعي وأصحابه رحمهم الله، ولذلك يجهرون بها.
*In HQ 20:50 Moses defined ‘Our Lord(see Posting of July 21st).
[iii]  طمع: يدلُّ على رجاءٍ في القلبِ قويٍّ للشَّيء. يقال طَمِعَ في الشيءِ طَمَعاً وطَمَاعة وطماعِيَة.

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