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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.'


Friday, October 1, 2010

Day 207; Qur’an 34:1-14; Page 428- 429

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!

What can I say about my delay in posting… except:
‘May God grant us His Blessings, and help us well-serve and maintain our Time, Family, and Health!’

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 سبأ

Sheba/ Saba’

From the Introduction of Yusuf Ali:

“Now we begin a series of Surahs, Surah 34 to Surah 39 which recapitulate some of the features of the spiritual world.  This Surah leads off with emphasis on God’s Mercy, power and Truth.”

From the Introduction of Muhammad Asad:

ALMOST certainly, this surah was revealed in the second half of the Mecca period, probably a short time before surah 17 ("The Night Journey"). The title is based on the reference in verses 15-20, to the people of Saba (the Biblical Sheba), who are cited as an example of impermanence of all human power, wealth and glory.”


PAGE 428 Arabic Qur’an.

1. Verse 1 assigns All Praise to God, not necessarily for His countless Bounties but rather because, regardless of anything, He is, in Himself, Worthy of ALL Praise. 

As Yusuf Ali indicates in his comments, this is the fourth Chapter to begin with the beautiful words ‘al Hamdulil-Lah الحمد لله(Chapters 1, 6, 18, 34, 35).

Let us elaborate:

‘Al Hamdu’ is a noun meaning THE praise, or ‘All Praise,’ from the root-verb ‘hamadaحمد- :’ to ‘praise.’ 
But as Arabs (who have forgotten so much of the language), we commonly miss out on the important distinction of this word.  We commonly understand the word ‘hamada’ to indicate showing gratitude for something given or done for us.  It is not so: 'Madaha' مدح would be THAT verb, not 'hamada' (see footnote*)!
‘Hamada’ is not related to bounties that might be given, but rather, to the inherent characteristics in someone… characteristics that are all deserving of acknowledgement on their own.

This is one reason why ‘The Opener,’ Al Faatiha, is the most important part of a worshipper’s prayer, as we begin by announcing that it is only rightful that God be glorified (for His Attributes), Al Hamdulil-Lah, even before we acknowledge that He is Sustainer of all, and even before we invoke His Unceasing Compassion towards Creation… and certainly before we announce our worship of Him and ask him to guide us:

In fact, WHO He Is, in itself, is sufficient reason for us to seek Him. 

It is also interesting to note that this verse declares that ‘…His is All Praise in the Hereafter…’ See also HQ 10:9-10;  28:70;  39:73-75 (to read Arabic, click on green numbers).  Heart-melting verses!


As mentioned on April 5th, we haven’t yet fully explained ‘The Openerالفاتحة-’ and are doing so little by little, as we go through the entire Qur’an together.  That way we can better understand -and feel- its meaning and beauty.  When the time comes, God-willing, we’ll put-together everything we have uncovered in one posting.

AND WHAT BEAUTY WE ARE UNCOVERING, much of what is in the Arabic language itself!

To recognize this, let us first familiarize ourselves with how certain Arabic verbs sound when they change into Subjects, simple Objects, Objects in the Superlative, and in the Absolute superlative[i]:

Verb: fa-‘a-laفَعَلَ – .                                 

· Simple object: maf’oolمَفعول- .
· Superlative object: mufa'al مُفَعَّل-
· Absolute superlative object: af'al أفعلَ-

Now back to the verb ‘hamada’ and the following IMPORTANT info!

As you know, ‘Hamada’ means to praise someone because of inherent, praiseworthy characteristics.
A person who is being praised may be either of these three:

· When simply being ‘praised’ by others/ praiseworthy for his commendable characteristics, he is ‘Mahmoodمحمود- .’ 
· When being ‘OFT-praised’ by others/ praiseworthy for his MANY commendable characteristics, he is ‘Muhammadمحمد- .’
· When being ‘MOST-praised’ by others/ praiseworthy for having the MOST commendable characteristics, he is ‘Ahmad- أحمد-.’

Did you get it, dear Reader? 

This is simple word structure, each word being a stronger form of the same (characteristic).
This piece of information will help us better understand the nature of Muhammad, peace upon him, and the fact that any defamation of his commendable character can be disproven, not just by evidence (readily available to those who seek it), but ALSO by his very ‘name.’

His ‘name’ IS his attribute (اسم- سمة):
Known to contemporaries as ‘Muhammad,’ he is known amongst other Messengers -and especially to Prophet Jesus, peace upon him, who spoke his name….. as ‘Ahmad’ (see HQ 61:6).

 ‘…bringing glad tidings of a Messenger coming after me whose name/attribute is Ahmad (THE MOST praised/ praiseworthy).’

2.     Verse 2 assigns all Knowledge to God; I like Asad’s comment:

“This definition comprises things physical and spiritual: waters disappearing underground and reappearing; the metamorphosis of seed into plant, and of decaying plant into oil and coal; traces of old artifacts and entire civilizations buried in the earth and then reappearing within the sight and consciousness of later generations of men; the transformation of dead bodies of animals and men into elements of nourishment for new life; the ascent of earthy vapours towards the skies, and their descent as rain, snow, or hail; the ascent towards the heavens of men’s longings, hopes, and ambitions, and the descent of divine inspiration into the minds of men, and thus a revival of faith and thought and, with it, the growth of new artifacts, new skills, and new hopes: in short, the endless recurrence of birth, death, and re-birth which characterizes all of God’s creation.”

Doesn’t the fact that the verse ends with these two attributes of God (Unceasingly Compassionate and Oft-Forgiving) allude to our deeds being part of ‘..what ascends the heavens..’!!?

3. Verse 3 mentions the Deniers’ announced disbelief in ‘the Hour,’ and commands the Messenger to promise them, ‘…by My Lord..’ its certain arrival upon them.  He is also to describe God as ‘Knower of the Unseen/what is beyond perception.’  Notice that he is also to tell them that everything ‘…is in a Compilation…’ everything… even that which is smaller than the atom.

Some of you may be familiar with Gary Miller’s lecture ‘The Amazing Qur’an,’ which –I think- was delivered sometime in the late 1990’s.  Do read it. 
He discusses several topics, among which is the following:

“Many centuries before the onset of Muhammed's Prophethood, there was a well-known theory of atomism advanced by the Greek philosopher, Democritus. He and the people who came after him assumed that matter consists of tiny, indestructible, indivisible particles called atoms. The Arabs too, used to deal in the same concept; in fact, the Arabic word dharrah commonly referred to the smallest particle known to man. Now, modern science has discovered that this smallest unit of matter (i.e., the atom, which has all of the same properties as its element) can be split into its component parts. This is a new idea, a development of the last century; yet, interestingly enough, this information had already been documented in the Qur'an which states:

" He [i.e., Allah] is aware of an atom's weight in the heavens and on the earth and even anything smaller than that..."

Undoubtedly, fourteen centuries ago that statement would have looked unusual, even to an Arab. For him, the dharrah was the smallest thing there was. Indeed, this is proof, that the Qur'an is not outdated.”  End quote.

4.  Verses 4- 5 show us the contrasting recompense of ‘Those who have attained Faith and performed good deeds’ on one hand, and ‘Those who have Striven against God’s Signs, so as to thwart them,’ on the other.

Verses 6- 7 show us the contrasting positions of ‘Those to whom Knowledge has come’ on one hand, and ‘Those who have Denied,’ on the other.

PAGE 429 Arabic Qur’an.

Verse 8 continues with the allegations (of Those who have Denied) against the Messenger Muhammad, peace upon him, accusing him of lying in God’s name, or being mentally deranged…and the verse then concludes with their recompense.

Note that ‘mental’ derangement, of the ‘unseen’ is called ‘jinnahجِنَّة- ’ (put the word ‘janna’ in Search this Site).
This exact accusation (به جِنّة) was also mentioned in HQ 23:25, 70, but we did not draw attention to this earlier (see all verses).  

Verse 9 questions (Those who have Denied) about what they observe of their own surroundings, then warns them, and finally announces that in such (occurrences) are Signs for every Worshipper who wholeheartedly returns to God (put ‘Muneeb’ in ‘Search this Site).
5.  Verses 10- 11 mention Prophet David, peace upon him, alluding to the mountains and birds ‘…reverberating with him…’ magnifying and echoing his beautiful praise! 
Here we learn that God made the iron pliable for him (as he learnt a new craft, which was the manufacturing of chain-armor, for ‘FULL COVERAGE’ of the body, literally ‘saabighaat’ (for definition of ‘sabagha-سبغ' see Sept. 20th). 

On July 29th, when we discussed his ‘crafting’ coats of mail, I disagreed with Asad’s interpretation of that verse, as I also do today with regard to this verse.

6.  Verses 12- 13 tell us of Prophet Solomon, peace upon him, of what was under his command, and of the magnificent artistry they all accomplished together:  Here we find mention of the ‘Wind,’ of ‘Molten brass/ copper,’ and of unseen Beings (see July 30th for meaning of ‘jinn’).  I’ve hyperlinked Arberry’s interpretation because I do not think that these verses should be placed within a preconceived frame (both Ali and Asad have placed it in Biblical frame).
Actually, it is best to learn the timeless lessons offered by such verses, reading them devoid of ALL explanation, since it is such traditional explanations which have furnished mythology with its material (‘The Flying Carpet,’ ‘The Time-Machine,’ ‘Aladdin and the Genie of the Lamp’ … and many other stories are all based on misinterpreted verses and traditions).   

At the end of Verse 13, David’s ‘Aal’/ kin[ii] are told/ announced to ‘work in Appreciation/ Productivity,’ and we are told that few of God’s Worshippers are Productive ‘Shakoor!’ See June 10th, where we said:
“When we work, we enhance the value of what we are working with, and it increases further in value.  ‘Appreciate’ here is not simply about thankfulness, but is the opposite of ‘depreciate,’ or ‘to lose value’.
Unfortunately, many Muslims of recent generations have taken ‘shukr’ to mean ‘thankfulness by word of mouth,’ as in saying ‘al Hamdulil-Lah.’  Misinterpreting this word– on its own- has set us back 1,000 years.” 

7.   Verse 14 tells us that nobody on earth knows ‘gheyb’ –which in this example, was the time of Death of the ‘commander’ who had been prodding his laborers to hard work.  Had they known that he had died, they could have had respite from their hard labor.

Interestingly, there are other Readings قراءة of this verse[iii], which is why I’ve discussed this verse in brief as you see above; the less we say the better: Elaboration is Deviance!

‘Minsa’ah,’ from the root-verb ‘nasa’a-نسأ ‘which denotes ‘coming after something,’ or ‘delaying it’ (see Jan 30th),  seems to be a Rod which is used to keep others away – or to conduct them (and is not a ‘magic wand’ used to activate a ‘Time Machine!’).

Enough said!

Our next Reading is from HQ 34:15-30

Peace unto all!

* حمد: يدلّ على خلاف الذمّ. يقال حَمِدْتُ فلاناً أحْمَدُه. ورجل محمود ومحمّد، إذا كثُرت خصاله المحمودة.... ولهذا [الذي] ذكرناه سمِّي نبينا مُحَمَّداً صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم. ويقال أحمَدْتُ فلاناً، إذا وجدتَه محموداً.
.لراغب الأصفهاني:
فإن المدح يقال فيما يكون من الإنسان باختياره، ومما يقال منه وفيه بالتسخير، فقد يمدح الإنسان بطول قامته وصباحة وجهه، كما يمدح ببذل ماله وسخائه وعلمه، والحمد يكون في الثاني دون الأول
ويقال: فلان محمود: إذا حمد، ومحمد: إذا كثرت خصاله المحمودة، ومحمد: إذا وجد محمودا وقوله عز وجل: }ومبشرا برسول يأتي من بعدي اسمه أحمد{ [الصف/6]، فأحمد إشارة إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم باسمه وفعله، تنبيها أنه كما وجد اسمه أحمد يوجد وهو محمود في أخلاقه وأحواله، وخص لفظة أحمد فيما بشر به عيسى صلى الله عليه وسلم تنبيها أنه أحمد منه ومن الذين قبله، وقوله تعالى: }محمد رسول الله{ [الفتح/29]، فمحمد ههنا - وإن كان من وجه اسما له علما - ففيه إشارة إلى وصفه بذلك وتخصيصه بمعناه ...

[i] I have tentatively ‘Anglicized’ these grammatical forms, pending confirmation.  I’d appreciate the help of grammarians with what might correspond in English, if applicable.

[ii] (أول) ابتداء الأمر وانتهاؤه.. وآلَ يَؤُول أَي رجع. ورجل آيل مالٍ، مثال خائل مال، أي سائسه.  وآلُ الرّجلِ شخصهُ من هذا أيضاً. وكذلك آلُ كلِّ شيء. وذلك أنَّهم يعبِّرون عنه بآلِه، وهم عشيرته، يقولون آل أبي بكر، وهم يريدون أبا بكر. ومن هذا الباب تأويل الكلام، وهو عاقبتُهُ وما يؤُولُ إليه، وذلك قوله تعالى: {هَلْ يَنْظُرُونَ إلاَّ تَأْوِيلَهُ} [الأعراف 53]. يقول: ما يَؤُول إليه في وقت بعثهم ونشورهم.

[iii] الزمخشري:
. وفي قراءة أبيّ: تبينت الإنس.

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