Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
The Beautiful Attribute of 'FaaTter-فاطر ' is truly awe-inspiring!
Grasping what we could from this one, single word.... is worth all our delay!
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.
The Originator of Creation
From the Introduction of Yusuf Ali:
‘This Surah deals with the mystery of Creation and its maintenance, with various forces typified by the wings of Angels. Whether we look to outer nature or to man. God’s Grace proclaims His Glory, and protects His votaries from Evil.
It is an early Makkan Surah, but its chronology has no significance.’
Also, from his Introduction to the previous Chapter:
‘Now we begin a series of Surahs: Surah 34 to Surah 39 which recapitulate some of the features of the spiritual world….in Surah 35 we are told how angels manifest the Power of God, and how different is Good from Evil and Truth from Falsehood.’
From the Introduction of Muhammad Asad:
‘MOST of the authorities place this surah - which derives its title from God's attribute of "Originator of the heavens and the earth" in its first verse - chronologically between surahs 25 (Al-Furqan) and 19 (Maryam): that is, about seven or eight years before the Prophet's exodus from Mecca to Medina. Another title given to it by some of the Companions and several classical commentators is Al-Mala'ikah ("The Angels"), also based on verse 1.
Almost the whole of Al-Fatir deals with God's unique power to create and to resurrect, as well as with His having revealed His will through the medium of His prophets - but "only such as are endowed with [innate] knowledge stand [truly] in awe of God: [for they alone comprehend that,] verily, God is almighty, much-forgiving" (second paragraph of verse 28).
This Chapter, as indicated by its title, is related to Creation and the stages of existence on this earth.... from the very beginning, at the Origin of Life, to the very end when no life remains on the earth’s surface after it has reached its ‘defined term’ (أجل مسمّى).
The root-verb ‘FaTtara [i]’ (فطر), is defined by our 1,000 year old Lexicon as to OPEN and MAKE PROMINENT; its verb is still used to denote the celebrated ‘initiation’ of a period of normalcy after Fasting (and also at one time ‘the milking of ewes’). We call the 3 days of celebration after Ramadan ‘Eid al FiTtr,’ the word ‘fiTtr/ fuTtoor’ also denoting ‘breakfast.’
‘FiTrah’- refers to ‘initial creation.’
‘FaaTtir’-refers to ‘The Creator who initiated Creation,’ The Originator or Initiator.’
(We touched upon the noun ‘FiTtrah’ (فِطرة) and the verb ‘FaTtara’ on Sept 15th while discussing HQ30:30, which we translated then as ‘the natural disposition’ which God created in Cognizant Humans فطرة الله التي فطر الناس عليها.- This verse mentions the word TWICE, both as a noun and as a verb!)
There are 19 Verses in the Qur’an which mention this word in its various forms, and as we can see, they are all related to the Initiation of Creation:
· Mentioned 13 times, relating to Heavens/Earth (both their initial creation for this life, and their ‘opening’ or ‘cleaving asunder’ to initiate another existence!
· Mentioned 6 times related to us humans (3 in the singular, and 3 in plural!!).
There is another Qur’anic chapter with a title ALSO derived from this root-verb, Chapter 82, which Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad call ‘The Cleaving Asunder.’
PAGE 434 Arabic Qur’an.
1. This is the last of five Chapters which begin with the beautiful words ‘al Hamdulil-Lah الحمد لله’ (Chapters 1, 6, 18, 34, 35).
These words assign All Praise to God, not necessarily for His countless Bounties but rather because, regardless of anything, He is, in Himself, Worthy of ALL Praise.
From our Posting of Oct.1st:
“Al Hamdu’ is a noun meaning THE praise, or ‘All Praise,’ from the root-verb ‘hamadaحمد- :’ to ‘praise.’ It 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.”
(Read more, for the meaning of ‘Muhammad’ and ‘Ahmad.’)
2. Similar to our previous Chapter, our first verse also starts on a note of exaltation, -الحمد لله - All Praise to God!
Here however, similar to ‘The Opener/ Al Faatiha,’ these words are immediately followed by God’s Attributes:
‘All Praise is due to God, Originator of the Heavens and the Earth, Renderer of the Custodians/Angels into Messengers of ‘inclines/ leanings/ wings,’ in twos, and threes, and fours; He increases in Creation what He wills; indeed God Is over all things Capable.’
Q. How should we understand the plural word ‘ajnihah’ (أجنحة), which appears only this once in the Qur’an?
· Literally? Similar to when it appears in dual form (HQ6:38)–جناحيه- describing a bird with two wings?
· Figuratively, as when it describes us LEANING (towards peace)?
A. Let us check out its singular form ‘janaah’ (جناح).
When we put the following sequence in Tanzil: جناح -ليس -علي –جناحيه –we notice that this word is mentioned four times in singular (HQ17:24, 20:22, 26:215, 28:32):
· Twice referring to one of Prophet Moses’ Signs, to be presented by him as evidence to Pharaoh.
· Twice addressed to Prophet Muhammad directly and to Believers indirectly, telling him to ‘lean with tenderness/ lower his wing’ to the Believers, and also to ‘lower, in Mercy, the wing of humility’ to elderly parents. We spoke of that in ‘The Marriage Union,’ explaining how our mercy for each other has ‘many wings’ facets/ aspects to it, one of which is humility which must be shown to elderly parents.
Therefore this word here, describing Custodian ‘Angel’ Messengers is less likely to be referring to their ‘shape’ (having literal ‘wings’) and is most likely to be referring to their function as Messengers, especially when taken in context.
After the first verse said that All Praise was due to God, Originator of the Heavens and the Earth, Renderer of the Custodians/Angels into Messengers of ‘leanings/ wings,’ in twos, and threes, and fours…. We note that the second verse is about His Mercy to Mankind/ Cognizant Humans, and that the third verse calls upon us, Cognizant Humans/ ‘Naas,’ to remember God’s Bounty granted to us from the Heaven and the Earth. The description of the Angels/ Custodians MUST therefore be related to their MINISTERING roles in delivering God’s Mercy to His Creation in general, and to us specifically.
Remember HQ33:43 which told us that it is God Himself Who is ‘connecting’ to us, and supporting of usيصلي عليكم- AND His Angels!
‘It is God Himself and His Angels Who are in constant ‘connection/ relationship to you / supporting you (all)’ so that He may take you (all) out of the Darkness-es into the Light, and He is, to the Believers, Unceasingly Compassionate.’
See HQ40:7: Even those ‘Angels’ whose role it is to maintain/carry the ‘structure’ of Creation…even such ‘angels’ are constantly praying to Their Lord, asking Him to forgive the Believers.
Don’t you agree, dear Reader, that whether angels have wings or not is ‘gheyb’ AND immaterial? Reread our Posting of March 24th to find out more about angels and Biblical Influences on our explanation of Qur’an.
The description of 'Angelic Custodians' seems related to their roles in delivering God’s Mercy:
It is about Function, rather than form.
PAGE 435 Arabic Qur’an.
3. The next verses are self-explanatory:
Verse 4 is addressed to Prophet Muhammad, Peace upon him, while Verses 5- 6 are addressed to Cognizant Humans 'Naas,' warning us of temptation.
Verse 7 contrasts the recompense of Deniers with that of Believers.
4. Verse 8 speaks of those whose bad deeds ‘were embellished’ for them so that they saw such deeds as good ones (put ‘embellished’ in ‘Search this Site’).
And how were their deeds embellished?
Verse 6 helps us realize ‘who/ what’ our true ‘enemy’ is, while HQ6:43 tells us outright (see March 22nd):
The inner whispers, the negative prodding that seeks to corrupt us, the Deviant/ Sheytaan. No sooner than listened to and obeyed, it will work on hardening our hearts/minds, seeking to hinder us from thriving and growing! (See also 8:48, 27:24.)
This verse also consoles the Messenger, peace upon him, who felt sorrowed by such persons’ misguidance, and could do nothing to show them that they were wrong.
The verse ends by saying that ‘God is Knowing of what they fabricate/devise,’ a VERY important expression (put it in ‘Search this Site’).
Dear Reader: This verse deserves much thought!
How many truly bad/harmful/spirit-defeating deeds have become so ‘embellished’ today that they are believed by many people to be ‘good’ ones?
There are many good people out there doing truly good deeds, but because people with disruptive intentions are more likely to speak out and amplify the voices of their similarly disruptive opponents so they can validate themselves, it is because of such disruptive voices on all sides that no one else gets heard!
Read this verse in Asad’s interpretation, where he refers the hidden pronoun (in ‘he’ willsيشاء-) to the person, and not to God, as is common. Actually, context agrees with his interpretation: This verse IS telling the Messenger that God lets stray whomever wills (to stray) and guides whomever wills (to be guided), so that he wouldn’t sorrow over a fate people chose freely. This is quite obvious in HQ13:27 and 42:13, where (من يشاء-man yashaa’) is opposed to (من أناب/ من ينيب- man uneeb/ anaab), clearly showing the choice of either remaining in pursuit of one’s loss of direction, or ‘returning home’ to God.
But God Knows what they devise!
5. Verse 9 speaks of Revival after death.
Verse 10 is well explained by both (Ali/Asad), except for the word ‘glory’ ‘izza’ (عزَّة)- which is really more about Invincibility (see definition March 1st).
It is interesting to note what happens to our WORDS and DEEDS after we bring them into effect: whatever is GOOD …ASCENDS!
Let us recall our Posting of June 12th where we discussed HQ14:24 and said:
“Let us read Verses 24- 25- 26, and better grasp the importance of the choices we make WHEN WE SPEAK, both in manner and content.
One is positive and elicits benefit, and the other is negative and elicits harm; ‘wholesomeطيِّب- ’ versus ‘unwholesomeخبيث- ’.
The ‘wholesome’ word is likened to a wholesome tree: Roots firm and steady, branches high IN the sky… (what a beautiful image)… ever-bearing fruit by its Lord’s leave.
The contrasting image is that of an ‘unwholesome’ word, likened to an unwholesome tree, torn out of the earth, with no base.
An entire book can be written about this. Many of us are already familiar with the concept of positivity generating positivity and vice versa, about positive psychology and its effect on life, well-being and happiness.
Positive interaction in ANY relationship is crucial to its success, from siblings, to friends, to spouses, to teams, to governments and international relations.
And yes. Our relationship with our Creator, which when nursed back to health, can generate the well-being necessary to repair other broken relationships or neutralize their damage.”
6. Verse 11 is better explained by Ali than Asad. I must, however, explain two words as they will affect the entire interpretation:
- NuTtfah[ii]: Both Ali and Asad explainedنطفة as ‘sperm’ but in doing so, they limited its broad meaning! ‘NuTtfah,’ from the root-verb ‘naTtafa,’ bears two connotations:
· A ‘pearl:’ I found this VERY interesting!
· Clear water; also rain and sweat- and any moisture.
So, when we look to our more than 1,000 year old definition of ‘nutfah’ and compare it to the common explanation, we realize that those who explained it as 'sperm' were relating these stages to pregnancy AND forgetting the 'nutfah' on the mother's side.
I leave my mind open to another explanation:
As we can see from the sequence in this vese, the 'nutfah' stage seems to have taken place long before 'pregnancy.' Pregnancy in this verse comes two stages AFTER 'nutfah.'
I think that 'nuTtfah' in this verse describes a second stage of creation taking place in clear water.
-Kitaab: Compilation (put ‘kitaab’ in ‘Search this Site’).
I would translate the last part of this verse as:
‘……and none will age further, who is aging, nor will his age decrease except in a Compilation; indeed that is easy for God.’
A person might age further, or s/he might decrease in age, as per their personal Compilation.
Compilation of what?
A Compilation of age-impacting FACTORS!
And for each of us to have our own, and for all the variables to be constantly changing, until the Compilation is brought to an end… is a simple matter to God!
This time it seems, NOT enough was said- so I had to add to it!
Our next Reading is from HQ 35:12-30.
Peace unto all!
[i] فطر: يدلُّ على فَتْح شيء وإبرازهِ. من ذلك الفِطْرُ من الصَّوم. يقال: أفْطَرَ إفطاراً. وقومٌ فِطْرٌ أي مُفْطِرُون. ومنه الفَطْر، بفتح الفاء، وهو مصدرُ فطَرْتُ الشاةَ فَطراً، إذا حَلبْتَها. ويقولون: الفَطْر يكون الحلبَ بإصبعَين. والفِطْرَة الخِلْقة.
[ii] (نطف) أصلان* أحدهما جنسٌ من الحَلْي، والآخَر نُدُوَّة وبَلَل، ثم يستعار ويُتوسَّع فيه.
فالأوَّل: النَّطَف. يقال هو اللُّؤلؤ، الواحدة نَطَفة.
والأصل الآخر النُّطْفة: الماء الصافي. وليلةٌ نَطوفٌ: مَطَرَتْ حتَّى الصَّباح. والنِّطَاف: العرَق. ثم يستعار هذا فيقال النَّطَف: التّلطُّخ.
‘Contrary to popular belief, pearls hardly ever result from the intrusion of a grain of sand into an oyster's shell. Instead, a pearl forms when an irritant such as a wayward food particle becomes trapped in the mollusk. The animal senses the object and coats it with layers of aragonite ("ah-RAG-uh-nite") and conchiolin ( "KON-kee-uh-lin"). These two materials are the same substances the animal uses to build its shell.
Any mollusk that produces a shell can produce a pearl. Nevertheless, naturally occurring pearls are rare, found in perhaps one of every 10,000 animals.’