Principles of Quranic Tafseer Summer 2010

Principles of Tafseer: Rules of Interpretation V (Summer 2010)

A study of the most important rules one should be familiar with to understand the Word of Allah properly. This session shall cover Arabic language and linguistic issues in tafseer.

Prerequisite: NONE (all topics are independent of previous sessions).

Time: Sundays 1:50 - 2:50 PDT

Required Textbook: None

Grading: Final Exam 100% (take home exam after final lecture)

2010-06-20 Class Notes

Basic Outline of the Class

Topic 1:  Principles related to Arabic

Topic 2:  Time permitting: Finishing up other general “rules” on interpretation

The material for this course is from 10 different textbooks and hence there is no one recommended text.

In this session, we will discuss principles related to Arabic language and we may move on to general principles. We will discuss couple of examples from the Quran to highlight the principles of tafseer. Verses which seem that they don’t contain much but we will see that there is more in depth matter when we perform the tafseer.

Definite v/s Indefinite article

Naakira is the indefinite article

Maarifah is known as specified article

Four possible combinations on how a word is used wrt definite and indefinite

The first noun is definite and the second noun is also definite. Definite article does not need the al in front of the word. For example, “his book” is definite, it does not have “the” in front of it. In Arabic you can have the idhafaa construct or possessive, for example “Allah’s messenger” is definite.

Principle: If word is repeated twice and if the first word is definite then the second occurrence is also definite, then the second occurence is referring to the same thing in general.

For example,  in Surah Al Fatiha, ihdinaas siratul mustakeem, sirat here is definite,and then the occurence of sirat again in this phrase  siratal ladheena an amta alaihim, it is an idhaafa construct, the path on which you have blessed. So both of the sirat are definite and they are referring to the same thing, the sirat.

Principle: If both are indefinite, the first and second occurrence are indefinite, then the general rule is that the second occurrence will not be the same as the first one.

For example Surah Rum verse 54

اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن ضَعْفٍ ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِن بَعْدِ ضَعْفٍ قُوَّةً ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِن بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ ضَعْفًا

Sahih International: Allah is the one who created you from weakness, then made after weakness strength, then made after strength weakness and white hair. He creates what He wills, and He is the Knowing, the Competent. (30:54)

اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن ضَعْفٍ ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِن بَعْدِ ضَعْفٍ قُوَّةً ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِن بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ ضَعْفًا وَشَيْبَةً ۚ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْقَدِيرُ

Sahih International

Allah is the one who created you from weakness, then made after weakness strength, then made after strength weakness and white hair. He creates what He wills, and He is the Knowing, the Competent.

Weakness is mentioned three times, it is indefinite in all of its occurrences. If it were the same weakness, then الضَعْف ad dhaafeen would be used. Allah is referring to different kinds of weakness. It is going against what you would expect. From the tafaseer: First ضَعْف is in the nutfaa, Second one is childhood and third one is what is in the old age.

The reason why the translation does not use that weakness or the weakness, it is there to imply that there are different weaknesses referred to in the ayat.

Another example: Surah Inshira  Fa inna mal usri yusra, al usri yusra

With difficulty comes ease and then it is repeated with difficulty comes ease.

Both difficulties (usr) are definite, and the ease (yusar) in both occurrences are indefinite, With one hardship you will get two aspects of ease. (Alhumdullillah).

Principle: When an indefinite word is repeated twice, then it refers to different things. However when definite word is repeated, then it refers to the same thing.

First occurrence is indefinite, and the second occurrence is definite, then the second occurrence is referring back to what was referred in the first occurrence.

Surah Muzzammil verse 15 and 16: Inna arsalna ...

إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ رَسُولًا شَاهِدًا عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ رَسُولًا

Sahih International

Indeed, We have sent to you a Messenger as a witness upon you just as We sent to Pharaoh a messenger.

فَعَصَىٰ فِرْعَوْنُ الرَّسُولَ فَأَخَذْنَاهُ أَخْذًا وَبِيلًا

Sahih International

But Pharaoh disobeyed the messenger, so We seized him with a ruinous seizure.

We have sent to you a messenger as a witness over you, as we sent to Pharaoh a messenger, but pharaoh disobeyed the messenger. (73:15,16)

So the “the messenger” is referring to the messenger who was sent to Pharaoh.

Another example Surah Shuraa verse 52 and 53

وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ رُوحًا مِّنْ أَمْرِنَا ۚ مَا كُنتَ تَدْرِي مَا الْكِتَابُ وَلَا الْإِيمَانُ وَلَٰكِن جَعَلْنَاهُ نُورًا نَّهْدِي بِهِ مَن نَّشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا ۚ وَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِي إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

Sahih International

And thus We have revealed to you an inspiration of Our command. You did not know what is the Book or [what is] faith, but We have made it a light by which We guide whom We will of Our servants. And indeed, [O Muhammad], you guide to a straight path -

صِرَاطِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ أَلَا إِلَى اللَّهِ تَصِيرُ الْأُمُورُ

Sahih International

The path of Allah , to whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Unquestionably, to Allah do [all] matters evolve.

Sirat is referring back to the path that was described earlier

Principle: First occurrence is definite and the second occurrence is indefinite. The rule is that there is no default case, you have to look at surrounding case or evidence to determine whether it is referring to the same thing or not.

Surah Rum verse 55

وَيَوْمَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ يُقْسِمُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ مَا لَبِثُوا غَيْرَ سَاعَةٍ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ كَانُوا يُؤْفَكُونَ

Sahih International

And the Day the Hour appears the criminals will swear they had remained but an hour. Thus they were deluded.

Is the hour referring to the same thing? Yes it is the same thing because it is obvious.

Another example, Surah Ghaffir verse 53 and 54

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْهُدَىٰ وَأَوْرَثْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْكِتَابَ

Sahih International

And We had certainly given Moses guidance, and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit the Scripture

هُدًى وَذِكْرَىٰ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Sahih International

As guidance and a reminder for those of understanding.

The translator has dropped “the” guidance in the first occurrence of guidance, because in English it is okay to drop the the definite article. In English you can say “Teaching is a noble profession”, you do not have to say “The Teaching”.

So the question is that the first occurrence of huda is definite and the second occurrence is indefinite. Here the huda is not the same guidance.

We gave Musa the guidance, Allah swt gave Musa guidance. All of the inspiration that prophet musa received is the huda. And the children of Israel received many prophets and guidance, but we cannot say as a rule of tafseer, that the two guidance's are the same.

Another example: Surah Baqarah verse 217 (2:217)

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ ۖ وَصَدٌّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَكُفْرٌ بِهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَإِخْرَاجُ أَهْلِهِ مِنْهُ أَكْبَرُ عِندَ اللَّهِ ۚ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَكْبَرُ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ ۗ وَلَا يَزَالُونَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَرُدُّوكُمْ عَن دِينِكُمْ إِنِ اسْتَطَاعُوا ۚ وَمَن يَرْتَدِدْ مِنكُمْ عَن دِينِهِ فَيَمُتْ وَهُوَ كَافِرٌ فَأُولَٰئِكَ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

Sahih International

They ask you about the sacred month - about fighting therein. Say, "Fighting therein is great [sin], but averting [people] from the way of Allah and disbelief in Him and [preventing access to] al-Masjid al-Haram and the expulsion of its people therefrom are greater [evil] in the sight of Allah . And fitnah is greater than killing." And they will continue to fight you until they turn you back from your religion if they are able. And whoever of you reverts from his religion [to disbelief] and dies while he is a disbeliever - for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and the Hereafter, and those are the companions of the Fire, they will abide therein eternally.

They ask you about inviolable month and fighting therein, say fighting therein is a major sin.

Kitaal is indefinite in both occurrences, however are they referring to the same thing?

The general principle is that they should refer to different things, however this is an exception, since a question is being asked and the same words are used in the answer and from the context it is clear that they are referring to the same thing. So this is an exception to the rule, because the answer is quoting the people who asked the question.

Another example

illah in the heavens and illah in the earth.

Here illah is indefinite in both cases, but it is referring to the same illah, Allah is the illah both in heavens and on the earth.

Another example: Zumar verse 27 and 28

وَلَقَدْ ضَرَبْنَا لِلنَّاسِ فِي هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ مِن كُلِّ مَثَلٍ لَّعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ

Sahih International

And We have certainly presented for the people in this Quran from every [kind of] example - that they might remember.

قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا غَيْرَ ذِي عِوَجٍ لَّعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ

Sahih International

[It is] an Arabic Quran, without any deviance that they might become righteous.

An Arabic Quran

Definite first and indefinite second, the Arabic Quran is indefinite and it is referring to the same Quran as mentioned in the first occurrence.

Question about “the boat” which I failed to capture.......

2010-06-27 Class Notes

2010-07-04 Class Notes

Question from last week about  لَقَدْ   qad. It means almost but not quite.

وَلَوْلَا أَن ثَبَّتْنَاكَ لَقَدْ كِدتَّ تَرْكَنُ إِلَيْهِمْ شَيْئًا قَلِيلًا

Sahih International

And if We had not strengthened you, you would have almost inclined to them a little.

Muhsin Khan

And had We not made you stand firm, you would nearly have inclined to them a little.

Today we will discuss the concept of Taqdeem wa ta’kheer (Fronting and Backing)

It means Fronting and Backing, and the reason they occur is for the following reasons:

1. Grammatical Flexibility

Word Ordering

Subject verb object - fixed in English language, you cannot change the word ordering.

However in Arabic, we have case markings on the words and they tell you the role the word plays in the sentence, and as a consequence, the word order can be very flexible in Arabic language. You can have the following word orderings in Arabic:

Subject Verb Object

* Verb Subject Object (Default word ordering in Arabic language)

Verb Object Subject

Then you have stylistic ....

2. Sequence of Narrative etc

It is independent of grammar, it has to do with the narration of a story.

3. Sequence of Specific Words

If you change the word order, then it has to be easy to recognize. If it is not clear, then it will be confusing and clarity would be lost. Quran is a clear book. The fronting and backing occurs due to reasons #1 and #2.

Now we will study the examples from the Quran. Many times things become clear after we study the examples.

Reasons for Fronting a Clause

So if you have this flexibility, why do we front the verb before in certain cases or back it in certain cases.

The purpose behind fronting, has to do with the following principles:

  1. Particularization

  2. Emphasis

  3. Clarity of Meaning

  4. Artistic Beauty

Surah Ghafir verse 28

وَقَالَ رَجُلٌ مُّؤْمِنٌ مِّنْ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَكْتُمُ إِيمَانَهُ أَتَقْتُلُونَ رَجُلًا أَن يَقُولَ رَبِّيَ اللَّهُ وَقَدْ جَاءَكُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ وَإِن يَكُ كَاذِبًا فَعَلَيْهِ كَذِبُهُ ۖ وَإِن يَكُ صَادِقًا يُصِبْكُم بَعْضُ الَّذِي يَعِدُكُمْ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ مُسْرِفٌ كَذَّابٌ

Sahih International

And a believing man from the family of Pharaoh who concealed his faith said, "Do you kill a man [merely] because he says, 'My Lord is Allah ' while he has brought you clear proofs from your Lord? And if he should be lying, then upon him is [the consequence of] his lie; but if he should be truthful, there will strike you some of what he promises you. Indeed, Allah does not guide one who is a transgressor and a liar.

Muhsin Khan

And a believing man of Fir'aun's (Pharaoh) family, who hid his faith said: "Would you kill a man because he says: My Lord is Allah, and he has come to you with clear signs (proofs) from your Lord? And if he is a liar, upon him will be (the sin of) his lie; but if he is telling the truth, then some of that (calamity) wherewith he threatens you will befall on you." Verily, Allah guides not one who is a Musrif (a polytheist, or a murderer who shed blood without a right, or those who commit great sins, oppressor, transgressor), a liar!

Is there something strange about the following words from the translation:

Normally you would say “a believing man who hid his faith”

If you said a man who hid his faith from the tribe of Firaun, then you don’t know whether he is from the tribe of Fir,aun, so the fronting of the tribe of Firaun and then backing the clause of one who hid his faith, makes the meaning clear, that the individual is from the tribe of Firaun and he hid his faith.

Surah Muminun verse 33

وَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ مِن قَوْمِهِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَكَذَّبُوا بِلِقَاءِ الْآخِرَةِ وَأَتْرَفْنَاهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا مَا هَٰذَا إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يَأْكُلُ مِمَّا تَأْكُلُونَ مِنْهُ وَيَشْرَبُ مِمَّا تَشْرَبُونَ

Sahih International

And the eminent among his people who disbelieved and denied the meeting of the Hereafter while We had given them luxury in the worldly life said, "This is not but a man like yourselves. He eats of that from which you eat and drinks of what you drink.

Muhsin Khan

And the chiefs of his people, who disbelieved and denied the Meeting in the Hereafter, and to whom We had given the luxuries and comforts of this life, said: "He is no more than a human being like you, he eats of that which you eat, and drinks of what you drink.

Here مِن قَوْمِهِ  has been moved to the front.

So the two examples we have discussed are for the sake of clarity. If the clause min qawmihi had been moved to the back where it should exist, it would reduce the clarity, hence it has been moved to the front.

Sometime we find fronting and backing for artistic beauty.

Surah Taha verse 66 - 68

قَالَ بَلْ أَلْقُوا ۖ فَإِذَا حِبَالُهُمْ وَعِصِيُّهُمْ يُخَيَّلُ إِلَيْهِ مِن سِحْرِهِمْ أَنَّهَا تَسْعَىٰ

Sahih International

He said, "Rather, you throw." And suddenly their ropes and staffs seemed to him from their magic that they were moving [like snakes].

Muhsin Khan

[Musa (Moses)] said: "Nay, throw you (first)!" Then behold, their ropes and their sticks, by their magic, appeared to him as though they moved fast.

فَأَوْجَسَ فِي نَفْسِهِ خِيفَةً مُّوسَىٰ

Sahih International

And he sensed within himself apprehension, did Moses.

Muhsin Khan

So Musa (Moses) conceived a fear in himself.

قُلْنَا لَا تَخَفْ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْأَعْلَىٰ

Sahih International

Allah said, "Fear not. Indeed, it is you who are superior.

Muhsin Khan

We (Allah) said: "Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand.

For the purpose of artistic beauty, the ending of each ayat has the taqdeem wa taqeer.  So in verse 67, Musa is put at the end for artistic beauty.  There is no reason to even mention Musa, except for artistic beauty.

Surah Taha verse 70

فَأُلْقِيَ السَّحَرَةُ سُجَّدًا قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِرَبِّ هَارُونَ وَمُوسَىٰ

Sahih International

So the magicians fell down in prostration. They said, "We have believed in the Lord of Aaron and Moses."

Muhsin Khan

So the magicians fell down prostrate. They said: "We believe in the Lord of Harun (Aaron) and Musa (Moses)."

Here the word Musa is later since it rhymes with the end of verse 69.  

The Arabs of the time of the prophet would have recognized it and appreciated it, in terms of skill of the author.

Surah Baqarah verse 14 and 15

وَإِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا إِلَىٰ شَيَاطِينِهِمْ قَالُوا إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُونَ

Sahih International

And when they meet those who believe, they say, "We believe"; but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say, "Indeed, we are with you; we were only mockers."

Muhsin Khan

And when they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe," but when they are alone with their Shayatin (devils - polytheists, hypocrites, etc.), they say: "Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking."

اللَّهُ يَسْتَهْزِئُ بِهِمْ وَيَمُدُّهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ

Sahih International

[But] Allah mocks them and prolongs them in their transgression [while] they wander blindly.

Muhsin Khan

Allah mocks at them and gives them increase in their wrong-doings to wander blindly.

The munafeeqeen (hypocrites) are saying that they are ridiculing and mocking the believers. The answer to them comes in the next verse.

In verse 15, the subject “Allah” is in the front. It is showing that Allah (swt) is the subject and he mocks them and prolongs their transgression. He is going to take care of the hypocrites who are ridiculing the early Muslims.  This is the case of taqdeem wa takheer

In Surah Fatiha, there is taqdeem wa takheer, in verse 5

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

Sahih International

It is You we worship and You we ask for help.

Muhsin Khan

You (Alone) we worship, and you (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).

It should have been “Nabadu” instead of “Iyyaka nabadu”.

The above examples of taqdeem wa takheer are without any controversies, every one accepts them.

Surah Baqarah verses 67-72 / Taqdeem wa takheer wrt Sequence of Narrative

The order of the story is change. The beginning of the story comes at the end.   Here the verses are showing the disobedience of the Bani Israel, who raised objections to the slaughter of the cow and they murdered a person and tried to hide it.  This is an example of  taqdeem wa takheer of sequence of narrative (the second case)

Abu Hayan who wrote an excellent tafseer of the quran, says that there is no taqdeem wa takheer of this nature in the quran. He says in this verse (67-72) there is nothing that says that the killing took place first and then asked them to slaughter the cow.  He says that Allah swt used their disobedience to bring to light their murder of a human being.

The burden of proof is on the one who says that the taqdeem wa takheer has taken place.

Majority of the scholars say that the killing took first.

Tafseer of Mufti Mohamed Shafi

He says that chronological order has been inverted, This rearrangement has a subtle significance. It shows two misdeeds one of murder which they tried to hide it and they raised uncalled for objections to divine commandments.  Present arrangement shows that both misdeeds are equally highlighted.

Syed Qutb says, the narrative takes us on a short mystery tour of sacrifice of the cow without at first telling them or us the reason for the sacrifice. They have to perform the sacrifice as obedience to the command of Allah swt.

This example of taqdeem wa takheer does not have any impact wrt the legal rulings of the Quran.  However we will study next time, examples which do indeed have an impact on the shariah rulings.

2010-07-18 Class Notes

We discussed the concept of taqdeem wa takheer in the previous class. It is part of the Arabic language and style of the Arabic language, flexibility of arabic language allows it to take place, it is much more flexible of word ordering because of the case markings on the word.

It exists in the Quran.  Grammatical taqdeem wa takheer is done for emphasis and no one objects to its existence in the Quran. Another taqdeem wa takheer is with respective to narrative, which we discussed in Baqarah, where we discussed the story of Musa and slaughter of cow, some say the murder took place before the command for slaugher was ordered.

Taqdeem wa takheer that have an impact on fiqh

We willl next discuss Surah Mujadilah verse 3 and 4, which discusses the concept of thihar. It was a practice of jahiliyah, where husband proclaims that his wife is like my mother’s back. And stops intimate relationship with his wife. It is not a divorce and it leaves the woman hanging. This practice is considered haraam. These ayat discused their ramnifications.

وَالَّذِينَ يُظَاهِرُونَ مِن نِّسَائِهِمْ ثُمَّ يَعُودُونَ لِمَا قَالُوا فَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَتَمَاسَّا ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ تُوعَظُونَ بِهِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ

Sahih International

And those who pronounce thihar from their wives and then [wish to] go back on what they said - then [there must be] the freeing of a slave before they touch one another. That is what you are admonished thereby; and Allah is Acquainted with what you do.

Muhsin Khan

And those who make unlawful to them (their wives) (by Az-Zihar) and wish to free themselves from what they uttered, (the penalty) in that case (is) the freeing of a slave before they touch each other. That is an admonition to you (so that you may not return to such an ill thing). And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.

فَمَن لَّمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ شَهْرَيْنِ مُتَتَابِعَيْنِ

مِن قَبْلِ أَن يَتَمَاسَّا ۖ فَمَن لَّمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَإِطْعَامُ سِتِّينَ مِسْكِينًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ لِتُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ۚ وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ ۗ وَلِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

Sahih International

And he who does not find [a slave] - then a fast for two months consecutively before they touch one another; and he who is unable - then the feeding of sixty poor persons. That is for you to believe [completely] in Allah and His Messenger; and those are the limits [set by] Allah . And for the disbelievers is a painful punishment.

Muhsin Khan

And he who finds not (the money for freeing a slave) must fast two successive months before they both touch each other. And for him who is unable to do so, he should feed sixty of Miskin (poor). That is in order that you may have perfect Faith in Allah and His Messenger. These are the limits set by Allah. And for disbelievers, there is a painful torment.

When they want to go back to their wives they have to do the expiation as described in the ayat. Majority of the scholars who say there is no taqdeem wa takheer understand it that expiation is required only if the husband wants to go back to their wife.

However those who say there is taqdeem wa takheer say that the portion that says that they wish to go back is fronted. So if you move that passage to the end of the verse. So now it means that you have to expiation of the sin simply for committing thihar and then you have to free a slave before you want to go back to her.

Unless you have to clear evidence to show that taqdeem wa takheer is taking place before you can justify it happening.

Abu Hayan opposes this kind of taqdem wa takheer, he says Quran is clear or mubeen and he says that if do not have evidence then it makes the Quran unclear.  He acquiesces if there is evidence to show that taqdeem wa takheer is taking place.

A common example for taqdeem wa takheer  is from Surah Furqan verse 74

وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

Sahih International

And those who say, "Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous."

Muhsin Khan

And those who say: "Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqun" (pious - see V.2:2 and the footnote of V.3:164)."

They say it should be make muttaqun leaders for us and not make us leaders for muttaqun.  So what is the evidence for it?

Since there is no strong evidence and we should reject it.

Another example of taqdeem wa takheer from Surah Hud verse 71

وَامْرَأَتُهُ قَائِمَةٌ فَضَحِكَتْ فَبَشَّرْنَاهَا بِإِسْحَاقَ وَمِن وَرَاءِ إِسْحَاقَ يَعْقُوبَ

Sahih International

And his Wife was standing, and she smiled. Then We gave her good tidings of Isaac and after Isaac, Jacob.

Muhsin Khan

And his wife was standing (there), and she laughed (either, because the Messengers did not eat their food or for being glad for the destruction of the people of Lout (Lot). But We gave her glad tidings of Ishaque (Isaac), and after him, of Ya'qub (Jacob).

Why did she smile? If there is no taqdeem wa takheer then the reason she smiled because the messengers did not eat their food or she heard about the destruction of the people of Lout.

Scholars say that this is a much stronger example of taqdeem wa takheer, she smiled because of the glad tidings of Isaac and Yaqub. She smiled because of her age and she received the good news of two sons.

One of the evidences against taqdeem wa takheer is the use of the conjecture fa. If the wa is used then it strengthens the possibility of tadqeem wa takheer.

Again there is no strong evidence for it.

Next we will discuss an example narrated by ibn Abbas. Surah Taubat verse 55

فَلَا تُعْجِبْكَ أَمْوَالُهُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُهُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُم بِهَا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَتَزْهَقَ أَنفُسُهُمْ وَهُمْ كَافِرُونَ

Sahih International

So let not their wealth or their children impress you. Allah only intends to punish them through them in worldly life and that their souls should depart [at death] while they are disbelievers.

Muhsin Khan

So let not their wealth or their children amaze you (O Muhammad SAW); in reality Allah's Plan is to punish them with these things in the life of this world, and that their souls shall depart (die) while they are disbelievers.

According to ibn Abbas, the meaning is by adding fil hayatad duniyaفِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا after the first clause فَلَا تُعْجِبْكَ أَمْوَالُهُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُهُمْ

Do not be impressed by their wealth and their children in this duniya. The end result is that they will be punished in the hereafter.

Surah Ali Imran verse 55

إِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَىٰ إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ فِيمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ

Sahih International

[Mention] when Allah said, "O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ.

Muhsin Khan

And (remember) when Allah said: "O 'Iesa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you [of the forged statement that 'Iesa (Jesus) is Allah's son] of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you (Monotheists, who worship none but Allah) superior to those who disbelieve [in the Oneness of Allah, or disbelieve in some of His Messengers, e.g. Muhammad SAW, 'Iesa (Jesus), Musa (Moses), etc., or in His Holy Books, e.g. the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), the Quran] till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute."

مُتَوَفِّيكَ means to take something in full does not mean die.

When does the purification take place?  According to the translation, it takes place after ...

In some books of tafseer it happens after ......

Surah Kahf verse 25

وَلَبِثُوا فِي كَهْفِهِمْ ثَلَاثَ مِائَةٍ سِنِينَ وَازْدَادُوا تِسْعًا

Sahih International

And they remained in their cave for three hundred years and exceeded by nine.

Muhsin Khan

And they stayed in their Cave three hundred (solar) years, and add nine (for lunar years).

Most of the translators are not really concerned about it.  Take a look at the grammar of clause that describes the duration ثَلَاثَ مِائَةٍ سِنِينَ

Normally you would use the singular form of 300.  You could say siniin thalata miah and it would be supported by the arabic grammar, it is still the same amount of duration

Some people asked Three hundred what? And Allah subhanahutallah  replied 300 years.

First verse of Surah Qamar

اقْتَرَبَتِ السَّاعَةُ وَانشَقَّ الْقَمَرُ

Sahih International

The Hour has come near, and the moon has split [in two].

Muhsin Khan

The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft asunder (the people of Makkah requested Prophet Muhammad SAW to show them a miracle, so he showed them the splitting of the moon).

Tafsir al-Jalalayn

The Hour has drawn near, the Resurrection is close at hand, and the moon has split, it broke in two at [Mount] Abū Qubays and Qu‘ayqa‘ān, as a sign for the Prophet (s), for it had been demanded of him, and [when it took place] he said, ‘Bear witness [now]!’ — as reported by the two Shaykhs [al-Bukhārī and Muslim].

Isn’t the splitting of the moon in two a sign of the hour?  What is the significance of pointing out that the moon is split?

Is it emphasizing the coming of the hour?  If we are trying to emphasizing the coming of the hour, then you place it earlier, rather than the splitting of the moon which is simply a sign of the coming of the hour.

2010-07-25 Class Notes

I joined the class thirty minutes late.

Discussion of illa, it could mean lakin and bal.

Discussion of Al Istithna

Two types Al Istithna al Mutasal, Al Istithna al Munqata

{Is illa joining two clauses or is it independent? Is it al istithna al mutasal or al istithna al munqata?}


All prostrated except iblees.....

Jews and Christians have a false belief that Iblees is a fallen angel. Iblees is from the jinn and Allah swt asked the angels and jinn to prostate and Iblis refused to do so.

Example of illa which is not al istithna al mutasal but is al istithna al munqata

Allah swt says in Ghashiyah 22 - 24

لَّسْتَ عَلَيْهِم بِمُصَيْطِرٍ

Sahih International

You are not over them a controller.

Muhsin Khan

You are not a dictator over them.

إِلَّا مَن تَوَلَّىٰ وَكَفَرَ

Sahih International

However, he who turns away and disbelieves -

Muhsin Khan

Save the one who turns away and disbelieves

فَيُعَذِّبُهُ اللَّهُ الْعَذَابَ الْأَكْبَرَ

Sahih International

Then Allah will punish him with the greatest punishment.

Muhsin Khan

Then Allah will punish him with the greatest punishment.

Is the prophet a musayteer over the disbelievers?  

Here Sahih International does a better job of translating the illa, they use the word however which captures that illa is not al istithna al mutasal

Surah Al Layl verses 19-20

وَمَا لِأَحَدٍ عِندَهُ مِن نِّعْمَةٍ تُجْزَىٰ

Sahih International

And not [giving] for anyone who has [done him] a favor to be rewarded

Muhsin Khan

And have in his mind no favour from anyone for which a reward is expected in return,

إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ رَبِّهِ الْأَعْلَىٰ

Sahih International

But only seeking the countenance of his Lord, Most High.

Muhsin Khan

Except only the desire to seek the Countenance of his Lord, the Most High;

What kind of illa is in verse 20?

Here illa is al istithna munqata. Again Sahih International translates it properly and captures the correct meaning of illa al istithna munqata. It does not capture the meaning of except.

Illa can also mean bal which is translated as rather.

Surah Taha verses 1-3


Sahih International

Ta, Ha.

Muhsin Khan

Ta-Ha. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Quran, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings.]

مَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْقُرْآنَ لِتَشْقَىٰ

Sahih International

We have not sent down to you the Qur'an that you be distressed

Muhsin Khan

We have not sent down the Quran unto you (O Muhammad SAW) to cause you distress,

إِلَّا تَذْكِرَةً لِّمَن يَخْشَىٰ

Sahih International

But only as a reminder for those who fear [ Allah ] -

Muhsin Khan

But only as a Reminder to those who fear (Allah).

Illa can also have a meaning of waw (and). This joins two clauses. It has meaning al istithna al munqata

Surah Baqarah verse 150

وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ لِئَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَيْكُمْ حُجَّةٌ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْهُمْ فَلَا تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِي وَلِأُتِمَّ نِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

Sahih International

And from wherever you go out [for prayer], turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] may be, turn your faces toward it in order that the people will not have any argument against you, except for those of them who commit wrong; so fear them not but fear Me. And [it is] so I may complete My favor upon you and that you may be guided.

Muhsin Khan

And from wheresoever you start forth (for prayers), turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Makkah), and wheresoever you are, turn your faces towards, it (when you pray) so that men may have no argument against you except those of them that are wrong-doers, so fear them not, but fear Me! - And so that I may complete My Blessings on you and that you may be guided.

How can understand illa as al istithna al mutasal?

They are going to have an argument but it will be a false argument. So the illa here has to do with the word hujja.

Here it is a different usage of illa and some scholars present an example from Arabic poetry.  They say it is not an exclusion but the people who have argument against you are also included. (I could not follow this example... so my notes might be completely wrong here)

Illa could also mean that it excludes every thing except what is listed.  For example la ila ha illallah.  So this is an example of illa, where everything is excluded except Allah.

Illa which is a compound of “if” and la nafi, which can be summarized as “if not”.

 2010-08-01 Class Notes

We were discussing illa, the most common meaning is except, however it often means, however or but. There are two categories of illa.

We discussed other meanings of illa, where illa is a compound word representing  “inla” “if not”, this is quite common throughout the Quran.  For purpose of pronounciation, the noon is dropped and we just say illa. Some examples of it are Surah Taubah ... illa tanfeeru..... if you do not go out then Allah will punish you, here you cannot translate illa as except, here it is is inla.

In verse 40 Allah swt says ..... if you do not help him ....

If you are good in grammar you will recognize it, inla is going to be followed by a verb, al mudhara al manzoom verb

Surah Anfal verse 73 ...

وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ إِلَّا تَفْعَلُوهُ تَكُن فِتْنَةٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَفَسَادٌ كَبِيرٌ

Sahih International

And those who disbelieved are allies of one another. If you do not do so, there will be fitnah on earth and great corruption.

Muhsin Khan

And those who disbelieve are allies to one another, (and) if you (Muslims of the whole world collectively) do not do so (i.e. become allies, as one united block with one Khalifah - chief Muslim ruler for the whole Muslim world to make victorious Allah's Religion of Islamic Monotheism), there will be Fitnah (wars, battles, polytheism, etc.) and oppression on earth, and a great mischief and corruption (appearance of polytheism).

Surah Hud verse 47

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَسْأَلَكَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَغْفِرْ لِي وَتَرْحَمْنِي أَكُن مِّنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

Sahih International

[Noah] said, "My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have mercy upon me, I will be among the losers."

Muhsin Khan

Nuh (Noah) said: "O my Lord! I seek refuge with You from asking You that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have Mercy on me, I would indeed be one of the losers."

The meaning is corrupted here. In this particular case waw is the beginning of the next sentence, It should be translated as just “If you do not”. Since the above is a dua, and dua is always in an imperative or amr format.

Impact of grammar on Usool al Fiqh

Usool al fiqh has to do deal with grammar. And differences in fiqh are due to differences in understanding the grammatical constructs

Surah Maida verse 3

حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ وَالْمُنْخَنِقَةُ وَالْمَوْقُوذَةُ وَالْمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَالنَّطِيحَةُ وَمَا أَكَلَ السَّبُعُ إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ وَمَا ذُبِحَ عَلَى النُّصُبِ وَأَن تَسْتَقْسِمُوا بِالْأَزْلَامِ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ فِسْقٌ ۗ الْيَوْمَ يَئِسَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن دِينِكُمْ فَلَا تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِ ۚ الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا ۚ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ فِي مَخْمَصَةٍ غَيْرَ مُتَجَانِفٍ لِّإِثْمٍ ۙ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Sahih International

Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah , and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience. This day those who disbelieve have despaired of [defeating] your religion; so fear them not, but fear Me. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin - then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Muhsin Khan

Forbidden to you (for food) are: Al-Maytatah (the dead animals - cattle-beast not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine, and the meat of that which has been slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah, or has been slaughtered for idols, etc., or on which Allah's Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering, and that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by the goring of horns - and that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal - unless you are able to slaughter it (before its death) - and that which is sacrificed (slaughtered) on An-Nusub (stone altars). (Forbidden) also is to use arrows seeking luck or decision, (all) that is Fisqun (disobedience of Allah and sin). This day, those who disbelieved have given up all hope of your religion, so fear them not, but fear Me. This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But as for him who is forced by severe hunger, with no inclination to sin (such can eat these above-mentioned meats), then surely, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ

In the above verse, Allah swt is describing which animals are forbidden, such as carrion, swine and that on which has been dedicated to false gods, those killed by strangling or violent blow or head-long fall or goring of horns and those from which a wild animal has eaten.  The exception is for animals mentioned at the end. ... animals that are still barely alive and you slaughter them.  

Here there is dispute as to which category the illa belongs to, is it Al Istithna al Mutasal or Al Istithna al Munqata?

One scholar says that the exception for slaughter is only if the animal is injured and can survive if you did not slaughter it, so it is not strangled or violent blow and then you slaughter it. It is the view of Zaid ibn Thabit, well known view of Imam Malik and also narrated by Imam Shafiee. (munqata)

Other scholars says as long as there is any kind of movement in the animal, then you can slaughter them. This is narrated by ibn Abbas, Al Zouhri, Hanafi, and well known view of Shafiees. (mutasal)

The difference of opinion is due to the reading, if you think it is istithna al mutasal, you will say as long as the animal is not dead then you can slaughter it.

The other view takes it as istithna al munqata and now illa here means however and it is not an exception to the animals described in the previous clause. So here the meaning is that only animals that are slaughtered are haraam.

Which opinion is stronger and why?

The default case is al mutasal (illa means except)and we only make it munqata (illa means however) if there is additional evidence. When illa is munqata then it is mujaazi, when illa is mutasal then it is haqeeqi

If it is munqata then there has to be additional evidence. When you force it to be munqata then you are forcing the meaning that only animals that are halal in front of however. Illa mutasal is stronger here  than illa munqata.

Surah Nur verse 6

وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ أَزْوَاجَهُمْ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُمْ شُهَدَاءُ إِلَّا أَنفُسُهُمْ فَشَهَادَةُ أَحَدِهِمْ أَرْبَعُ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ ۙ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ

Sahih International

And those who accuse their wives [of adultery] and have no witnesses except themselves - then the witness of one of them [shall be] four testimonies [swearing] by Allah that indeed, he is of the truthful.

Muhsin Khan

And for those who accuse their wives, but have no witnesses except themselves, let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies (i.e. testifies four times) by Allah that he is one of those who speak the truth.

إِلَّا أَنفُسُهُمْ

Liyan: Husband accuses his wife of committing zeenah and he does not have any witnesses except himself and he swears it four times and the fifth time he swears that if he is lying then Allah swt will punish him....  If there are witnesses then it is no longer liyan.

When a man makes testimony against his wife, is it a testimonial or is it an oath?

One case you say I swear that my wife did such and such (yamin), and in another case it could mean I testify that my wife did such and such (shahada). The reason it is important is because there are different pre-conditions for shahaha and yamin

According to hanafis, liyan is testimony strengthened by oath (yamin) - shahadah muakkada bil yameen - only those who are qualified for shahada can make liyan.

According to shafiees it is simply yamin and any one who is qualified to swear it allowed to make liyan.

Difference between the two will hinge on who is elligible to perform shahada or yamin

Yamin - qualification are much less

Shahada - qualifications are much strict

Yamin - opens the door to many more categories - slaves, dumb, faseeq, and disbelievers. Hanafis would say that since it is shahada the above categories are not accepted.

Which one has stronger evidence?

Again the default case is illa should be mutasal unless there is evidence for it to become munqata. The Hanafi opinion is mutasal. Shafiee understaing is munqata.

Does illa refer to the last item on the list or the entire list, for example surah Nur verses 4 and 5, where people who make false accusations against chaste women are described.

وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَأْتُوا بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَاءَ فَاجْلِدُوهُمْ ثَمَانِينَ جَلْدَةً وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا ۚ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

Sahih International

And those who accuse chaste women and then do not produce four witnesses - lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from them testimony ever after. And those are the defiantly disobedient,

Muhsin Khan

And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever, they indeed are the Fasiqun (liars, rebellious, disobedient to Allah).

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا مِن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ وَأَصْلَحُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Sahih International

Except for those who repent thereafter and reform, for indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Muhsin Khan

Except those who repent thereafter and do righteous deeds, (for such) verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

The word illa in verse 5, does this mean he is no longer faseeq or does it mean that he is no longer faseeq and accept his testimony or does it mean that he is no longer faseeq, we accept his testimony and no longer punish him?

Most schools agree that repentance is after punishment.

Tafsir al-Jalalayn (This is shafiee opinion)

except those who repent thereafter and make amends, in their deeds, for God is indeed Forgiving, of their [unsubstantiated] accusations, Merciful, to them, in inspiring them to make repentance whereby their immorality is curbed and their testimony becomes [once again] acceptable — some say, however, that it can never be accepted [thereafter], if the proviso is taken to refer to the last clause.

Scholars try to find the default case.

If they are no longer considered faseequn and they can testify again. However some say that since it is such a major ... then they will no longer be able to testify again.

The punishment will absolve the accusers of their sin.

The word illa is so small but it has many ramifications. We will leave its discussion to the Usool al Fiqh class in the future.

2010-08-08 Class Notes

Last couple of sessions has been related to the Arabic language. Any thing you can learn about the Arabic grammar can assist you in understanding the Quran. There might be some stylistic issues which you might not understand, not all stylistic issues have an impact on the meaning of the text. When you read the tafseer in Arabic you will come across many more principles of tafseer.

Now we will move on to a topic with which we will end this session.

Balagha Ayat of the Quran

Surah Hud verse 44

This passage is about Prophet Nuh and the flooding that occured and then here is what happens after the flood....

وَقِيلَ يَا أَرْضُ ابْلَعِي مَاءَكِ وَيَا سَمَاءُ أَقْلِعِي وَغِيضَ الْمَاءُ وَقُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ وَاسْتَوَتْ عَلَى الْجُودِيِّ ۖ وَقِيلَ بُعْدًا لِّلْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

Sahih International

And it was said, "O earth, swallow your water, and O sky, withhold [your rain]." And the water subsided, and the matter was accomplished, and the ship came to rest on the [mountain of] Judiyy. And it was said, "Away with the wrongdoing people."

Muhsin Khan

And it was said: "O earth! Swallow up your water, and O sky! Withhold (your rain)." And the water was diminished (made to subside) and the Decree (of Allah) was fulfilled (i.e. the destruction of the people of Nuh (Noah). And it (the ship) rested on Mount Judi, and it was said: "Away with the people who are Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doing)!"


And it was said: O earth! Swallow thy water and, O sky! be cleared of clouds! And the water was made to subside. And the commandment was fulfilled. And it (the ship) came to rest upon (the mount) Al-Judi and it was said: A far removal for wrongdoing folk!

Tafsir al-Jalalayn

And it was said, ‘O earth, swallow your waters, that have sprung forth from you — and it reabsorbed it [all] except for what came down from the sky and formed rivers and seas — and O heaven, abate!’, withhold the rain, and it did. And the waters subsided, decreased. And the affair was accomplished, the matter of the destruction of Noah’s people was complete, and it settled, [and] the ship came to rest, upon al-Jūdī, a mountain in Mespotamia (al-jazīra), near Mosul; and it was said: ‘Away with — perish — the evildoing, the disbelieving, folk!’

What is unique about this ayat?

{Classroom observations} Speaking to the earth as if it were a human being, not sure who is saying the words, it is a passive voice, etc....

How many of you are aware of the arabic term balagha?

Eloquence, stylistic aspect of conveying a message. To appreciate the miraculous nature of the Quran, is the balagha of the Quran.

The reason why we read this ayat, is because a number of well known scholars ( Ibn Abi al Asba Al Masri, Musaqi, Al Zarqashi, and Suyuuti) declared that this verse of the Quran is the afdhal ayat wrt the balagha of the Quran. The eloquence of the Quran, there are many aspects to it, meaning, sound, poetic, parallelity or parallel aspects of the speech, you see all of them in this verse.

Author discusses 23 aspects of balagha in this ayat, there are only 17 words in this ayat.

Some of the aspects of balagha we have touched upon, one of them is taqdeem wa takheer (fronting and backing).

When there is amr or imperative, the common way is to first state the command and then mention to whom it is directed towards. For example sit soldier, study student. In this case the object of the command is first, the earth and the sky are mentioned before the command, this is taqdeem wa takheer.

Imperative first and vocative later, if you are familiar with this concept then it will jump at you as soon as you read the ayat.

Al Ijaaz is the ability to give the most meaning with the fewest amount of words, sometimes in fewest amount of letters as in this case.

Putting this verse in the passive, waqeel instead of wa qala allah hu tallah, since it is obvious that the speaker is allah swt, that’s why allah swt just mentions waqeel. This is an aspect of ijaaz

Conciseness of the words, capture all of the meaning and be clear, is one of the aspects of ijaaz.

The usage of the passive voice is also very useful in balagha. The water subsided and the matter was accomplished. The amr was accomplished, who accomplished it, it does not have to be mentioned, this forces the human being to think of Allah swt, how he gives amr and how it is followed.

Arabic is different from english. Microsoft word highlights your text if you use passive voice. But if you go to the classic text, you will find it used. However Arabic language is much different from English.

Al Isti3arah (alif lam alif sin ta ain alif ra ta-marbutah) Borrow from different form and use it. Sheikh Jamaal has a PhD thesis from a student in Algeria where he descibes isti3arah in the Quran and in Arabic language with footnotes in French.

Allah swt speaks to earth and sky as if they were human beings. It is a form of isti3arah, but it is not the most interesting form, here the words are ابْلَعِي مَاءَكِ  ibligha maak

You are describing swallowing of water by human beings and here it is describing the seeping of water by earth as if it is swallowing the earth. It is not figurative speech or qanaya, it is isti3arah. So it is not that the earth is just absorbing the water, but it is swallowing it.

Tamtheel or Personification

It doesn’t say that ship stopped, it says istiwaah, it means to sit on something firmly, it is stable and firm, this action is performed by human beings. You don’t apply it to ships, you don’t say the ship is sitting. Also it is not just sitting or juloos it is وَاسْتَوَتْ    istiwat, it is more than just sitting, it is sitting firmly.

The swallowing of water is something animals and birds can perform, so it is not tamtheel or personification, whereas over here istiwat is something that only human beings can perform hence it is personification.

To be able to appreciate these points, you have to be familiar with Arabic language.

The above 24 points are from this article Al tahlil al bayani li ablaghi ayatin fil kitabullah by Nu3man Ulwaan. This does not originate with this author but it is mentioned by Zarqashi and Suyuuti.

Nu3man mentions 17 words and the fact that we perform 17 units of prayer daily etc.

Some scholars who wrote books or articles on balagha

Badiyat ul Quran - it is close to balagha - republished recently Ibn Abi al Asba Al Masri. He says that I have never seen any poetry or poem equivalent to this verse that 21 points of balagha can be derived and it has only 17 words.

Saqaaqi, an expert on encyclopedia,

Al Zarqashi wrote al Burhan fil Quran, prepositions and arabic

Suyuuti wrote a book based on Al Zarqashi

Abu Saud, mufassir of Quran

Numbers cannot have a mijaazi meaning other than number 7. You cannot say words are equivalent to numbers as some mystical Jewish do with their jewish text, Kabala??

Day is mentioned so many times, night is mentioned so many times. Man v/s woman, this is not important.  Months is mentioned 12 times, not of importance

Something that might be beneficial to you when you approach the Quran to understand the beauty of the Quran.

Go to verses that are similar to one another and then go back to scholars who discuss the differences

For example Surah Baqarah verse 7 and Surah Nahl verse 108

خَتَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَعَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِمْ ۖ وَعَلَىٰ أَبْصَارِهِمْ غِشَاوَةٌ ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

Sahih International

Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and over their vision is a veil. And for them is a great punishment.

Muhsin Khan

Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearings, (i.e. they are closed from accepting Allah's Guidance), and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be a great torment.


Allah hath sealed their hearing and their hearts, and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be an awful doom.

Tafsir al-Jalalayn

God has set a seal on their hearts, impressing on them and making certain that no good enters them; and on their hearing, [in which He has] deposited something so that they cannot profit from the truth they hear; and on their eyes is a covering, that is, a veil so that they do not see the truth; and for them there will be a mighty chastisement, that is, intense and everlasting.

أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَسَمْعِهِمْ وَأَبْصَارِهِمْ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ

Sahih International

Those are the ones over whose hearts and hearing and vision Allah has sealed, and it is those who are the heedless.

Muhsin Khan

They are those upon whose hearts, hearing (ears) and sight (eyes) Allah has set a seal. And they are the heedless!


Such are they whose hearts and ears and eyes Allah hath sealed. And such are the heedless.

Tafsir al-Jalalayn

They are the ones on whose hearts God has set a seal, and on their hearing and their sight [as well], and it is they who are heedless, of what [punishment] is being prepared for them.

One is the use of khatama and tabaah

Word Ala is repeated threee times and in nahl only one time

What is being done to the eyesight is different, seal and in the other ayat it is .....

There is a small book to help people memorize quran wrt verses that are very similar in wording but meanings are different. And it highlights the different aspects of the Quran. There are many books, one of the books is written by son of Faisal al Saud.

This is the end of this session.