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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!


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A BREAKTHROUGH project which helps understand the Qur'an AS REVEALED -not just 'as explained.'


Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 216; Qur’an 37:1-24; Page 446

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.

سورة الصافات
‘Those Ranged in Ranks’ (Ali/ Asad)
‘The Self-Aligning/ The Self-Arraying’

From the Commentary of Yusuf Ali:

“As explained in the Introduction to Surah 34, this is fourth of a series of Surahs in which the mysteries of the spiritual world are manifested in different ways, tending to the defeat and final expiration of Evil. The defeat of Evil is throughout connected with Revelation, and here the ranged fight is illustrated by a reference to the angels in heaven and to the earlier Prophets in our earthly history, from Noah to Jonah. In chronology, this Surah belongs to the early middle Makkan period.”

From the Commentary of Muhammad Asad:
“ALL authorities agree in that this surah was revealed in its entirety in Mecca, most probably about the middle of that period.
Like the preceding surah, this one deals mainly with the prospect of resurrection and, hence, the certainty that all human beings will have to answer before God for what they have done on earth. Since man is apt to err (cf. yerse 71 - "most of the people of old went astray"), he is in constant need of prophetic guidance: and this explains the renewed reference (in verses 75-148) to the stories of some of the earlier prophets, as well as the frequent allusions to the message of the Qur'an itself, which centres in the tenet that "your God is One" (verse 4), "above anything that men may devise by way of definition" (verses 159 and 180).”


The title derives itself from the first verse in this Chapter, where (al Ssaaffaat) are mentioned in a vow: 
“Wal Ssaaffaati saffaa!والصافات صفا ” which I translate as:

By those Self-Aligning/Arraying in perfect formation/ in equal array!”

Commentators have speculated as to who/what ‘al Ssaffaat’ (and the next two nouns) are. 
Yusuf Ali says:

“Two questions arise:
1.     are the doers of the three things noted in verses 1-3 the same persons, whose actions or qualities are differently described, or are they three distinct sets of persons?
2.      in either case, who are they?
As to 1 the most authoritative view is that the three clauses describe the same set of persons in different aspects.
As to 2 some take them to refer to angels, and others understand by them the good men, the men of God, who strive and range themselves in God’s service.
The words are perfectly general, and I interpret them to refer to both classes. “

Muhammad Asad says:

“Most of the classical commentators assume that verses 1-3 refer to angels - an assumption which Abu Muslim al-Isfahani (as quoted by Razi) rejects, stating that the passage refers to the true believers among human beings. However, Razi advances yet another (and, to my mind, most convincing) interpretation, suggesting that what is meant here are the messages (ayat) of the Qur'an, which - in the commentator's words - "deal with various subjects, some speaking of the evidence of God's oneness or of the evidence of His omniscience, omnipotence and wisdom, and some setting forth the evidence of [the truth of] prophetic revelation or of resurrection, while some deal with man's duties and the laws [relating thereto], and yet others are devoted to the teaching of high moral principles; and these messages are arranged in accordance with a coherent system above all [need of] change or alteration, so that they resemble beings or things standing 'in serried ranks'."

Firstly, I am inclined towards Yusuf Ali’s view rather than Asad’s because the Qur’an does mention the verb ‘saffa’  [i](صف) as pertaining to living creatures (angels, people, birds) placing themselves in equal formation/ array, whereas it never mentions the ‘ayaat’ or verses of the Qur’an performing such a verb themselves. 
This also applies to the consecutive nouns (with the root-verbs ‘zajara’ and ‘talaa’) which denote someone/something that is Cognizant.

Therefore, after rereading the entire Chapter several times and doing some research, I believe that these three subjective feminine plural nouns ‘Ssaaffaat; zaajiraat; taaliyaat’ are related to agents that inspire good deeds, perhaps ‘angelic,’ but also related to HUMAN Cognizance in either or both our ‘quloob: hearts/minds’ and our ‘nufoos: selves’ (both feminine plural).

But, as always, I am open to your thoughts and findings, dear Readers.

PAGE 446 Arabic Qur’an.

1.  Here are Verses 1-5, rendered in my explanation:

‘By the Self-aligning, in perfect Formation,
then, the Dischargers of Deterrents,
then, the Pursuers of the Remembrance:
Indeed your God is One!
Lord Sustainer of the Heavens and the Earth,
and Lord Sustainer of the points of sunrise[ii].’

I think these verses emphasize the importance of agents for Goodness as they align themselves with the worship of God, with the universe, discharging their energy (by sound and deed) to deter from what is harmful, and to pursue Remembrance.. fulfilling the requisites primordially instilled in them.   

When we reflect upon this issue, we realize that, were it not for Humans, there would be no Deviant/ Sheytaan… no polarity or opposites.  As we already know (see April 6th), it is God’s creation of the Adaptable Earth-being (Adam) which brought about the disobedience of the Unforthcoming Downcast’ (Iblees), and resulted in the emergence of negative agents to give OUR freedom of choice its meaning: 
We MUST have the choice to do good or do bad, so as to exercise free will. 
This Meccan Chapter is about the interaction of Positive and Negative agents as they relate to Human Cognizance; it is a call to all who seek other deities: 
God Alone Is Worthy of your worship!

It is Human Cognizance which the entire chapter speaks to: Human Cognizance in line with the universe and restraining itself from negativity; Human Cognizance looking around and Remembering what we had primordially undertaken as a responsibility upon ourselves:
To acknowledge our Creator.

And there are many indicators to that:

Firstly, it is in this chapter alone that we find discouraged Prophets described as ‘saqeem/ سقيم[iii] : Prophet Abraham gives this description of himself while searching for answers -describing himself as ‘sick of heart/ discouraged’ in Verse 89, AFTER the Qur’an had already told us that his heart was sound in Verse 84.  This indicates that questioning is a positive sign, although we might not initially feel or think it so!  
(We are also informed in Verse 145 that Prophet Jonah was ‘sick of heart’ after his ordeal, may God’s peace and blessings be upon both.)

Secondly, it is in this Chapter that Prophet Abraham receives God’s acknowledgement that he ultimately achieved what he had been calling for (in HQ 26:89):  The perfect قلبٍ سليم , the sound  Heart/Mind, which is pure of all defect. 

Thirdly, it is in this Chapter alone that we find the Qur’an acknowledging ‘OUR Faithful Worshippers’ عبادنا المؤمنين …4 times.

Fourthly, it is in this Chapter alone that we find mention of a category of worshippers called ‘the Sincere Worshippers of God’عباد الله المخلصين .
It is interesting to find the latter mentioned 4 times too, and a final time (5th) in Regret when a group of Cognizant Beings states that, had they received a Reminder from their predecessors, they would have become sincere worshippers of God.

Finally, it is in this Chapter that we find affirmation of the Recompense which God grants to the Doers of Good (beyond their duty), the ‘Muhsineen,’ repeated 5 times too .....إنا كذلك نجزي المحسنين 

And so Cognizance completes its course, from Searching and Questioning, to Faith and Sincerity, to Performing Goodness beyond duty, to Recompense:

‘Cognizance’ is one vein which works its way throughout this beautiful Chapter; the positive and negative forces which pull it, the responsibilities it fulfils and the rewards it enjoys. 
I am sure we’ll see others as we proceed together.

2.  Verse 2 is the first time we encounter a word which has ‘zajara’ [iv](زجر) as its root-verb.  ‘Zajara’ denotes an emphatic vocal or physical deterrent, which serves to repel (oneself or others) from one position, and conduct into another. 
In various forms, this word appears 5 times in the Qur’an (in three Chapters): HQ37:2, 19; 54:4, 9; 79:13, and we notice that ‘one zajra’ is all it takes on Judgment Day to place everyone in position!

Here, if these subjects, these ‘forces of Good,’ are ‘angels,’ then they ‘deter’ others, but if we are talking of the ‘Human Cognizance,’ then the verse is emphasizing and glorifying our own self-deterrence, especially after we’ve received ‘deterring knowledge مزدجر.’  

3.  In Verse 3, we have the words ‘talu’ and ‘thikr’ together.

Fortunately, because ‘thikr/ Reminder/ Remembrance,’ is now clear in our minds, we are able to better explain the word ‘yatlu.’ 

Regular Readers will remember that we initially defined ‘yatlu’ as ‘to recite in sequence.’  Then, when we discussed the difference between ‘kitaab’ and ‘qur’an,’ we explained that the Messenger and the Believers are never commanded to ‘recite in sequence/ yatlu’ any ‘kitaab’ or static compilation (see Sept 5th)… but that when these two words appeared together the sentence was in the PASSIVE voice (the subject unnamed). 
We added that the ‘objects’ which are mostly ‘yutla/ recited in sequence’ are the Signs of God (14 times), the Qur’an (10:61; 27:92), and ‘Thikr’ (3:58; 18:83).

But we missed THREE important points at the time:

·   When the word ‘alaa/ على/ upon’ is mentioned after the verb ‘yatlu,’ it usually denotes accountability/ responsibility entailed upon the recipient (see the 23 times this combination appears in the Qur’an.  This accountability requires a response from the recipient, which is also mentioned in these verses- almost 2/3rd of the responses being negative). 

·   The word ‘yutla’ which denotes one thing being ‘successive’ to another, or literally following it, is not limited to recital ‘in sequence,’ but also includes ‘pursuit,’ as we ‘follow’ by action what we learn or come to know. 

These points become quite clear after we study the definition of Al-Ragheb Al-Asfahani[v] (deceased 1109), who informs us that while someone might ‘recite’ something to us ‘in sequence,’ when this occurs UPON us, it is WE who need to pursue it, or ‘follow it through.’

·   Now listen to this:
When The Compilation is ‘recited’ upon people, some of them will believe in it and follow it through.  People who fulfill that responsibility are the only ones who shall find in it Mercy and Remembrance.  
This verse (HQ29:51), dear Reader, shows us how the Compilation should be received AND pursued when first delegated to us.
What a responsibility.. and an honor.

Sadly however, when Muslims diminished both ‘yatlu/ tilaawah’ and ‘rattala/ tarteel’* so that they became no more than ‘well-enunciated recital’ of the Compilation in ‘measured rhythmic tones’ … and did to these two important concepts what they/we had also done to most aspects of ‘faith,’ obsessing over Form and forgetting Substance … it then quite logically followed that ‘Muslims’ are where they/we are today, with:
Many Qur’anic words… misunderstood.
Many original concepts… VOIDED!

3.  Back to our Chapter.
Verse 6 describes the lowest ‘sky/ heaven,’ embellished with planets/ spheres (similar to HQ15:16).
We defined the word ‘kawkab’ on May 27th saying:

Kawkab’or ‘planet’ is from the root-verb ‘kabbaكبَّ- ’- which is related to something gathered together/ thrown swirling, as if down into a hollow (تدهور الشيء في هوَّة). 
This description is related to everything ball-shaped, as in a ball of wool (kabkabaكبكبة-), a ball of meat (kubba and kebobكبّة- كباب- ), AND the hollow rounded utensils in which we pour liquids  (akwaab- أكواب)…singular ‘koobكوب-’ YES, dear Reader.  You guessed right: 
This Arabic word is the origin of our English CUP, but as usual, we will NOT find any reference to that in its Etymology:
O.E. cuppe, from L.L. cuppa, from L. cupa "tub," from PIE *keup- "a hollow."

4.  In Verses 7- 10 we learn that the skies/ heavens were ‘secured’ from every ‘sleek’ Transgressor/ Deviant.  Here we find indication that no one and nothing can venture to certain parts of them without perishing; it seems that whatever gets through one level shall be pelted to destruction from all sides (however, there may be those who can ‘listen in’ at times, to a part of what is going on at levels beyond physical reach). 
NASA, with its space probes would probably make more out of this description than any of us!
Al Asfahani[vi] says that a human or non-human Deviant/ sheytaan ‘mared’ could be either human or ‘jinn/ unseen.’  That piece of information, given a thousand years ago, is VERY important:  If some of us are ‘shayateen’ too, how is it that so many Muslims today are so superstitious?

This is the only time we encounter the description ‘maared,’ although we are familiar with ‘mareed.’  As the definition tells us, this denotes someone or something ‘sleek’ (like a leafless tree, a hairless person, a polished stone).  
Anyway, Al-Asfahani notes other derivations of the word appearing in other verses of the Qur’an, but thinks that a ‘sheytaan maared’ compares to the leafless tree by being ‘bare of all goodness.’ 

I think, however, that it could indicate:
·  In objects, literal ‘sleekness/ smoothness’ as in HQ27:44 -the glass floor in Prophet Solomon’s palace:….. ....صرح ممرد من قوارير-
·  In cognizant beings, being ‘polished' or groomed as in HQ9:101- groomed for Hypocrisyوَمِمَّنْ حَوْلَكُم مِّنَ الْأَعْرَابِ مُنَافِقُونَ وَمِنْ أَهْلِ الْمَدِينَةِ مَرَدُوا عَلَى النِّفَاقِ  وَمِمَّنْ حَوْلَكُم مِّنَ الْأَعْرَابِ مُنَافِقُونَ وَمِنْ أَهْلِ الْمَدِينَةِ مَرَدُوا عَلَى النِّفَاقِ….. مَرَدُوا عَلَى النِّفَاق

5. Verses 11- 18 recount the familiar arguments and ridicule which the Messenger had to contend with  from Qureish; that this was ‘magic,’ that neither they nor their predecessors shall be raised from the dead.

Verses 19- 21 give them the single vocal deterrent ‘Zajra,’ after which they shall become observant.  They cry, ‘wailing ويل’ upon themselves (‘wail’ is Arabic!  See July 15th) ..they wail because THIS is the time of Accountability/ Deen يوم الدين); the day of ‘sorting out/ distinction’ (Ali/ Asad). 

New Readers:  Please check out all references and put ‘deen accountability’ in ‘Search this Site.’  This is very important.

6.  Verses 22- 24 mention gathering the wrong-doers with their ‘azwaaj/ counterparts’ (NOT spouses, as we mentioned earlier), PLUS their objects of worship, and ‘guiding’ them all to the path of the blazing fire.
Note: Of the 45 times the word ‘siraat’ appears in the Qur’an, this is the only time it is used ironically.

7.  Our Reading today ends with a powerful command: After commanding that they be ‘guided’ to the path of Hell:

And HALT them!  They shall indeed be questioned!

Enough said!

Our next Reading is from HQ 37:25-76.

Peace unto all!

[i] صف: هو استواءٌ في الشيء وتساوٍ بين شَيئين في المَقَرّ. من ذلك الصَّفُّ، يقال وقفَا صفَّاً، إِذا وَقَفَ كلُّ واحدٍ إلى جنْب صاحبه. واصطفَّ القومُ وتصافُّوا. والأصل في ذلك الصَّفْصَف، وهو المستوي من الأرض، فيقال للمَوقِف في الحرب إِذا اصطفَّ القومُ: مَصَفٌّ، والجمع المصافّ.

الراغب الأصفهاني:
الصف: أن تجعل الشيء على خط مستو، كالناس والأشجار ونحو ذلك. قال تعالى: }إن الله يحب الذين يقاتلون في سبيله صفا{ [الصف/ 4]، }ثم ائتوا صفا{ [طه/64]، يحتمل أن يكون مصدرا، وأن يكون بمعنى الصافين، وقال تعالى: }وإنا لنحن الصافون{ [الصافات/165]، }والصافات صفا{ [الصافات/1]، يعني به الملائكة. }وجاء ربك والملك صفا صفا{ [الفجر/22]، }والطير صافات{ [النور/41]، }فاذكروا اسم الله عليها صواف{ [الحج/36]، أي: مصطفة، وصففت كذا: جعلته على صف. قال: }على سرر مصفوفة{ [الطور/20]، وصففت اللحم: قددته، وألقيته صفا صفا، والصفيف: اللحم المصفوف، والصفصف: المستوي من الأرض كأنه على صف واحد. قال: }فيذرها قاعا صفصفا لا ترى فيها عوجا ولا أمتا{ [طه/106]، والصفة من البنيان، وصفة السرج تشبيها بها في الهيئة، والصفوف: ناقة تصف بين محلبين فصاعدا لغزارتها، والتي تصف رجليها، والصفصاف: شجر الخلاف.

[ii] The plurality of sunrise points, or ‘easts’ is true, due to the Earth's axial tilt.

[iii] سقم: أصلٌ واحد، وهو المرض: يقال سُقْمٌ وسَقَمٌ وسَقامٌ.

الراغب الأصفهاني:
السقم والسقم: المرض المختص بالبدن والمرض قد يكون في البدن وفي النفس ويقال: مكان سقيم، إذا كان فيه خوف.

[iv] زجر: كلمة تدل على الانتهار. يقال زَجَرت البعيرَ حتَّى مضَى، أزجُره. وزجَرْت فلاناً عن الشيء فانْزَجر.

الراغب الأصفهاني:
الزجر: طرد بصوت، يقال: زجرته فانزجر، قال: }فإنما هي زجرة واحدة{ [النازعات/13]، ثم يستعمل في الطرد تارة، وفي الصوت أخرى، وقوله: }فالزاجرات زجرا{ [الصافات/2]، أي: الملائكة التي تزجر السحاب، وقوله: }ما فيه مزدجر{ [القمر/4]، أي: طرد ومنع عن ارتكاب المآثم. وقال: }وقالوا مجنون وازدجر{ [القمر/9]، أي: طرد، واستعمال الزجر فيه لصياحهم بالمطرود.

[v] الراغب الأصفهاني:
التلاوة تختص باتباع كتب الله المنزلة، تارة بالقراءة، وتارة بالارتسام لما فيها من أمر ونهي، وترغيب وترهيب. أو ما يتوهم فيه ذلك، وهو أخص من القراءة فكل تلاوة قراءة، وليس كل قراءة تلاوة، لا يقال: تلوت رقعتك، وإنما يقال في القرآن في شيء إذا قرأته وجب عليك اتباعه. }هنالك تتلو كل نفس ما أسلفت{ (وهذه قراءة حمزة والكسائي وخلف وقرأ الباقي }تبلو{ ) [يونس/30]، }وإذا تتلى عليهم آياتنا{ [الأنفال/31]، }أو لم يكفهم أنا أنزلنا عليك الكتاب يتلى عليهم{ [العنكبوت/51]، }قل لو شاء الله ما تلوته عليكم{ [يونس/16]، }وإذا تليت عليهم آياته زادته إيمانا{ [الأنفال/2]، فهذا بالقراءة، وكذلك: }واتل ما أوحي إليك من كتاب ربك{ [الكهف/27]، }واتل عليهم نبأ ابني آدم بالحق{ [المائدة/27]، }فالتاليات ذكرا{ [الصافات/3].
وأما قوله: }يتلونه حق تلاوته{ [البقرة/121] فاتباع له بالعلم والعمل، }ذلك نتلوه عليك من الآيات والذكر الحكيم{ [آل عمران/58] أي: ننزله، }واتبعوا ما تتلو الشياطين على ملك سليمان{ [البقرة/102]، واستعمل فيه لفظ التلاوة لما كان يزعم الشيطان أن ما يتلونه من كتب الله. والتلاوة والتلية: بقية مما يتلى، أي: يتبع.

*For us at IQRATHECHALLENGE, the commonly accepted definition of ‘rattil’ requires further research, because it is only the Qur’an which God is‘rattalnahu’ (HQ 25: 32) PLUS the Messenger is only commanded to ‘rattil’ the Qur’an (HQ 73:4)! Put رتل in Tanzil.مرد
This means that the issue is more than the mere ‘structured delivery’ of the Qur’an, or its ‘well-enunciated reception!’
The reputable lexicon (Lisaan al Arab) clinches it for us, when it tells us (among other things) that the noun Tarteel, from the verb ‘rattilرتل-’ is:
a combination of Realization-تحقيق, Identification/ Clarification-تبيين, AND Confirmation تمكين
Amazing. This further illustrates the distinctiveness of Qur’an versus Kitaab

-[vi]  قال الله تعالى: }وحفظنا من كل شيطان مارد{ [الصافات/7] والمارد والمريد من شياطين الجن والإنس: المتعري من الخيرات. من قولهم: شجر أمرد: إذا تعرى من الورق، ومنه قيل: رملة مرداء: لم تنبت شيئا، ومنه: الأمرد لتجرده عن الشعر. ومنه قيل: مرد فلان عن القبائح، ومرد عن المحاسن وعن الطاعة. قال تعالى: }ومن أهل المدينة مردوا على النفاق{ [التوبة/101] أي ارتكسوا عن الخير وهم على النفاق، وقوله: }ممرد من قوارير{ [النمل/44] أي: مملس. من قولهم شجرة مرداء: إذا لم يكن عليها ورق.

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