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Perfect Word Choice in the Quran – 4 الجناس

One of the many beautiful things in the Qur’an is it’s Miraculous nature in usage of words, the way the words are placed in the ayat, and the similarity between them is never incidental, but a choice by Allah swt, One of the themes that we see in many places in the Qur’an is called الجناس (Al-Jinaas – Paronomasia) in Arabic rhetoric,

Meaning using the same word or similar sounding word, with the same or different meaning giving us a different understanding according to it’s place of use,

In Qur’an Allah swt uses this for the beautification of the speech Allah swt says in the Qur’an in surah Rum – V55

30:55

“And the Day the Hour appears the criminals will swear they had remained but an hour….”

Here, in Arabic the first time the “Hour” is mentioned, it is actually hinting at the “Day of Judgement”, while the second “hour” is hinting at the Human experience of an hour, when the wrong doers will swear on that day that they have only spent an “hour” in the world.. (what seemed like merely an hour in it)

May Allah (swt) guide us towards the understanding of his book – Ameen

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An observation of Classical Arabic Poetry..

Antara ibn shaddad was a man from the Jahilia times, in pre-Islamic period, He was born to his slave mother and her master out of wedlock,

When he grew older, he turned out to be a very well known and eloquent poet as well as a very brave fighter,

His father refused to give him his name because he was the son of a slave mother, but after perseverance finally agreed on the condition that he fights for the honor of the tribe, he wrote a poem which was perhaps one of the poems that used to be strung from the wall of Ka’ba for the level of it’s eloquence and depth,

Here is one of the verses from that poem,

 

يَدْعُونَ عَنْتَرَ وَالرِّماحُ كأنَّها

ِأَشْطَانُ بئْر في لَبَانِ الأدْهَم

Meanings; They invite = يدعون
Poets name = عنتر
Spear = الرمح
Like certainly = كأنها
The rope used to get water out of a well, ( attached to the bucket that is used in lowering down = أشطان بئر
Horse’s chest = لبان الأدهم

I will try to translate this as best as I can

The poet says;

They invite عنتر (the poet, himself) and the spear as certainly they are…
(Rope attached in well) in the chest of the (war) horse,

Explanation;
The rope to get the water out of the well, is attached to a bucket, and when we lower it and pull again, the bucket is full of water, right? In the same use of it, by pulling water out, the poet has used the “same” rope to use around the chest of a war horse,
One has to wonder why? Meaning, so that it can be used in “drawing” blood of the enemies in the war, the poet intends to express the feeling of filling buckets with the enemies blood,

Also an indication of the importance of him getting his name recognized from his father,

While we observe much, like the violent feelings, and the actions of some one who doesn’t feel accountable to any, there is more to the contemplation, if some one as this can have this depth in understanding and the eloquence of the poets, somebody born as a slave, can speak such an eloquent language, would they have any problems understanding the Qur’an and its depth when it was being recited? we also see that the poems which were eloquent would be strung from the walls of Kaba’, so that they were honored and the common man could read and appreciate them,  It still surprises me the level of language skills their common people had, to be able to comprehend such deeper meanings

It tells one, the few who refused, refused out of arrogance.. and many still do!

May Allah help us understand and appreciate the depth of his language

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For those learning Arabic…

After completing the basic courses, it is very important to keep on progressing and preferably learn advanced grammar with a teacher,

However some books one can read on their own, the aim is to improve vocabulary and understand how text are written

Here is a book by the famous scholar Abu Hasal Ali Nadwi (r.a),
It is a collection of short stories, meant for Arabic students,

I would recommend reading a chapter at a time, initially an overview read, then underlining the words you need to look up in dictionary, then reading a third time with the meanings understood,

 
Let others know!

http://abulhasanalinadwi.org/Al-Qir%60atur.Rashida%20(1-2).pdf

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Perfect Word Choice in Qur’an – 3 الإطناب

As mentioned in the post linked, Allah swt often uses “extra” words to describe the same thing, this may be called Periphrases in English, in Arabic we call this إطناب and it has many functions and some types,

An example is in the Ayat below, so lets contemplate on this,

Allah swt says in Surah Nuh (aya 28) 

71:28

(My Lord, forgive me and my parents and whoever enters my house a believer and the believing men and believing women…….)

Contemplation….

If we look, by mentioning “who ever enters my house” the need for mentioning “my parents” becomes redundant, or by mentioning “believer” makes who ever enters my house is redundant, or by mentioning “believing men and believing women” the use of “believer” seems as mentioned extra, because Allah swt could have mentioned in this Ayat, “forgive all the believers” (some thing common among all),

We ask our selves, why does he mention the extra words specifying, when in the end he mentions forgive “all the believers”

Well, that is the discussion,

This type of sentence is called اطناب as there is excess of words to describe the same thing, well the question we have to ask ourselves is, why is this so..

If we look closely we see that Allah swt mentions our Parents (separately) to give the respect that they deserve from us, their status is elevated, their position in the Dua that we may ask is elevated..

The second point to remember is that, if we concentrate on the word placement, in this ayah we notice that in the Dua we ask for our forgiveness first (this is to be kind to ourselves) and then we should be mentioning our parents (they are the next in our life closest to us, more deserving of our dua) then we mention those entering our homes, (this may be our siblings our friends, our children) and then we ask for the rest in the same order,

Subhanallah although the words may seem as if they are used as “extra” so much meaning can be taken from them when we ponder..

May Allah swt make us respect our parents and we ask him to teach us the etiquette of asking from him


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Perfect choice of words in the Quran – 2 الأطناب

Allah swt says in the Qur’an in Surah Qadar – ayat 4

97:4

The angels and Jibreel descend in it (night) by the permission of their Lord for every affair,

 
If we ponder, Allah swt mentions “the angels and Jibreel” separately yet we know that Jibreel a.s is from the angels himself
So why mention him separate?

This type of mention is called Al-Itnaab الإطناب in Balagha

For example in normal sentence the use could be as follows;

“All the students and Ali passed”

Here we know Ali is from the students so writing his name separately isn’t necessary but mentioning it does give rise to additional meanings

Allah swt uses jibreel’s name separately to give him a special status, meaning; The angels descend and Jibreel, giving us the impression as if he isn’t from them or is separate, which in this case is in his honour, his status being much greater so that his name is mentioned separately

Pondering on Qur’an opens much about its signs

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The Understanding of Tawheed from the Language

In Arabic (rhetoric) there are around 8 types of letters or words which can be used to call (summon) some one, some are used for near, and some for far, e.g يا , آي , او

The beautiful thing is that the widely used يا can be used for many purposes, but it is the only letter which is interchangeable into م

And the exclusivity then only belongs to Allah swt!

Tells us so much about tawheed (The oneness of GOD) , that none can be called upon other than ALLAH swt!

example : يا الله = اللهم notice the addition of م to the (word Allah – لفظ الجلالة)

اللهم اغفرنا وارحمنا وزدنا علما في كتابك يارب العالمين

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Lost in Translation – 6

In the name of Allah the extremely merciful

12:24

And she certainly determined [to seduce] him, and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the proof of his Lord. And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants.

 

Assalamualaikum Warehmatullah 

In Arabic rhetoric there are a few types of conditional sentences, I want to explain a few examples first to make it easy to understand the hidden beauty in the Ayat mentioned above… In’Sha’Allah (Allah willing),

Sentence example – 1

Imagine I invite you to my house for food!, and I cook the best food for you, but you don’t show up, so I eat the food on my own, the next day when I see you, I say to you,

“If you had come to my house you would most certainly have had the best food ever”

 

There is one condition attached here, a) if you had come
There is also one result attached to the condition b) you would certainly have had food
Notice that in the above sentence neither of these things happened,

  • you didn’t come
  • and you didn’t have food,

A point to note here is also that the word “certainly” appears with the second part (result of condition) of the sentence, this is the preferred way for this type of sentence

Sentence example – 2

Now imagine on some other day and this time in your house, I see a cake, I think I will eat in five minutes (with your permission of course) I look outside at your lovely garden and when I look back.. I see that you have already eaten the cake! I say to you;

“I would have certainly eaten the cake if you hadn’t finished it”!

There is one condition attached here a) If you hadn’t eaten it

There is also one result here as well b) I would have certainly eaten it,

In this example one thing happened and the other didn’t,

  • You ate it
  • I didn’t eat it

In what didn’t happen we again notice two things
first, what didn’t happen is called the “result” and
second, it had the word “certainly” attached, giving it emphasis,

This is the basic rule for sentences where the result doesn’t happen

 

Now let’s go back to the original Ayah (verse), and the beauty I wanted to explain in as simple terms as possible

We are told the story of Yusuf a.s (joseph peace be upon him) in the Qur’an, and how the wife of Aziz had tried to seduce him…

Allah swt says in Surah Yusuf ayat 24

 

12:24

 

“……….and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the proof of his Lord……..”

 

The same ayat can be translated in the keeping the pattern of sentence -2 above in mind as;
Condition: If he had not seen the proof of his Lord,       Result: He would (Certainly) have felt inclined

Notice the beauty here, Allah swt is mentioning a few things here, and I will only stick to the superficial explanation of only a part of this ayat

1)       Because Prophet Yusuf a.s was aware of his Lord, he didn’t incline to commit the sin,

2)       Notice that the word here for the action “as in فعل”   is not used, but a word for inclination is used, meaning that Yusuf a.s didn’t even incline towards something of a sin, if it were us, and lets say the best among us hadn’t committed an act, we still would have had the “inclination” to commit an act!, SubhanAllah, that Yusuf a.s didn’t even have this

3)       Notice that in all the “result” part of the sentence the word (Certainly) is used… this is done in Arabic with these type of condition sentence with a (ل), but I am amazed to notice that Allah swt doesn’t use this here, I wondered why, and then figured, SubhanAllah, Allah hasn’t used this to take the word (Certainly) out of the inclination of Yusuf a.s thus rendering him absolutely innocent, Because if (ل) – (certainly) had been used, it would have said he would have (certainly) felt inclined!

SubhanAllah how can one think that this Qur’an has been written by a man, its depth in Arabic is in need of understanding, we need to lift this miracle off the book shelves and read and ponder at each ayat…. In’Sha’Allah

 

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Lost in Translation – 5

Bismillah aRehman aRaheem

Assalamualikum Warehmatullah,

Well another ayat (verse has been on mind) some thing that I couldn’t wait to share..

Allah (swt) chooses words to describe some thing in the Qur’an, not by picking and choosing without a purpose, but because of specific reasons, it is in the end down to us, to figure those meanings out and understand what the deeper meaning is.

I wanted to share an example similar to this today,

Why not that  word and why this?

Allah swt says in the Qur’an in Surah Nur

24:39

But those who disbelieved – their deeds are like a mirage in a lowland which a thirsty one thinks is water until, when he comes to it, he finds it is nothing but finds Allah before Him, and He will pay him in full his due; and Allah is swift in account.

Here the scholars say the word رئي   (It was felt/he felt) [ He felt or presumed the  water is there….] could have been used and there is still balagha in the ayat, and this would have explained the feeling of those disbelieved as hoping to get reward from what good they might have done,  but Allah swt chose  the word الظمآن  which is also in سيغة المبالغة  has the connotation of “extreme” thirst associated to it, meaning, while those who may then think, that there is some good reward waiting for them and that they might benefit from it, they feel this like a person who feels extreme thirst, or on the day of judgement they have an extreme hope that some reward would help them.

Meaning that the ones who disbelieves they are eager, in extreme need to get to the their deeds, that they think will be beneficial to them too, (they can either think this in this world or even in the Akhira when they may hope that it will benefit them, (They are feeling all this like an extreme thirst in a desert when a person sees a mirage) but when they reach there, they won’t find any good deeds but will find Allah in front of them!

SubhanAllah how perfect are the choice of words… how can this book be written by a man.. when these are the versus that we read!
May Allah guide us to correct our selves and save us from the punishments

 

 

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Perfect Choice of Words in the Qur’an – 1

Bismillah aRehman aRaheem

Assalamu Alaikum Warehmatullah

I have been giving some serious thought into exploring the ayat (verses) of the Qur’an, and the conclusions I have come to is perhaps a constant study of the noble book at least for me is far overdue, so I have decided In’Sha’Allah to keep studying the Ayat and keep posting from time to time the Ayat that may interest you on here..

I am hoping to expand on the themes of the Qur’an, Although all are related to speech and the linguistic beauty in them, my main division would be focusing around rhetoric, grammar and choice of words that Allah (swt) uses to give us the message

I have been writing some the grammatical forms under the headings of “Lost in Translation” which will continue as we go along by the will of Allah, May Allah make it a success and keep my intentions pure – Ameen

This post is the first one in the categories on the “Perfect word choice in the Qur’an”, I also hope for this to have many more In’Sha’Allah

Allah swt explains to us the day of judgement and its adjectives in the Qur’an many times, for example  it’s a hard day , it’s a tough day, there is no respite that day etc etc ,We all know that, but look at the delivery in the Qur’an about this, Allah (swt) doesn’t just say it’s a hard day.. He (swt) also gives it eloquence; there are idioms and similes used to explain this, this is what makes Qur’an an eloquent book,  Allah swt says this in surah al-hajj

22:2

“On the Day you see it every nursing mother will be distracted from that [child] she was nursing, and every pregnant woman will abort her pregnancy, and you will see the people [appearing] intoxicated while they are not intoxicated; but the punishment of Allah is severe.” Qur’an Hajj 2

The Scholars of language says that it would have sufficed if Allah swt had just said..

                                                                                                                 يوْمَ تَرَوْنَهَا تَذْهَلُ كُلُّ مُرْضِعَةٍ على ولدها

On the day you see it, every Nursing mother is distracted from her child

This explanation would have been good enough, and there is Balagha in it – but the ayat (verse) doesnt say tha, instead it expands more, remember that one of the qualities are that Qur’an is very precise, what is said in the ayat  is more than this….

                                                                                                                                                                   يَوْمَ تَرَوْنَهَا تَذْهَلُ كُلُّ مُرْضِعَةٍ عَمَّا أَرْضَعَتْ

“On the Day you see it every nursing mother will be distracted from that [child] she was nursing,

The compassion is highlighted as this is more so when a mother is nursing, while in the first sentence, she was nursing but not at that very time,  so the severity of the day comes more to light, a nursing mother is always attached to the little one, she is unaware of her day, and of her night, because of the child that she is nursing, in sickness and in difficulty she looks after him, on the day of judgement she is distracted even from the child that she is actively nursing!

SubhanAllah how eloquent is the speech of Allah that it shows us the intensity of the situation in words being mentioned… and that we would have thought were un-necessary!

To Be Continued In’Sha’Allah

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