Principles of Quranic Tafseer Winter 2010

Principles of Tafseer: Rules of Interpretation III (Winter 2010)

Sheikh Jamaal Zarabozo

Basic Outline of the Class

Topic 1:  Methodology of Tafseer: Principles Related to the Tafseer of a Companion, Follower and Salaf

Topic 2:  Principles related to Arabic (this will be begun, if time permits)

2010-01-12 Class Notes

We are laying down principles for rules of interpretation to understand the meanings of the ayat of the quran.

Methodology of Tafseer

There is a proper way of making tafseer. Ibn Taymiyyah gave us the sources of tafseer

Sources of tafseer:

1. Quran (Interpret quran in the light of the quran) Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is difficult to use quran to interpret the quran. Sometimes the interpretation is obvious and easy to understand, sometimes it is a matter of ijtihaad and it could be right or wrong. In the last session we went through some examples. Example of "At-Tariq". Quran answers what at-tariq is. (Surah 86:1-3) There's no dispute on this. Most cases of interpreting the quran by the quran are not that obvious. Some are obvious and some are a matter of ijtihad.

2. Sunnah (Similar scenarios as above) What kind of cases we have. We have hadeeth where prophet quotes the verse and tells what this verse means or how we should implement, etc. It was responsibility of the prophet to teach the quran, to implement quran. No one can understand the quran that is in opposition to the way the prophet interpreted the quran, if somebody does it, then we have to reject it.

(Classroom discussion about the question of passage of time and its implications on tafseer)

Only accepted hadith can be used for interpretation. Imam Ahmad would rather follow a weak hadith than make ijtihaad. One possible reason is that what Imam Ahmad called weak would be termed as hassan by us today.

Example: Dhulm - Prophet explained that in the ayat, dhulm meant shirk to explain the ayat and he quoted another ayat to explain the meaning of dhulm. So here is the prophet showing us the usage of quran to explain the quran

3. Statements of the sahaba Why should they be ranked so high as a source of tafseer?

Quran describes itself as a clear book, the prophet's role was to explain the quran. But the number of verses that he actually explained was limited. However he implemented the quran. He did not have to explain the majority of the quran, was because the sahaba understood the quran. The sahaba lived through the events described in the quran. They are living the quran. In addition to the living experience of the quran, Allah swt describes the cultural aspects of the people, which they knew, for example the practice of entering the house from the back door during hajj. The sahaba knew the Arabic language. The sahaba were people of Iman. They had Iman first and then they learnt the quran. The sahaba never asked questions which showed the lack of iman, for example asking why did Allah swt destroy the nations. Allah swt choose the people, their hearts were special, they were unique people, they were human beings with the iman. Most importantly, they received the quran, they learnt the quran, the implemented or applied the quran under the direction of the prophet. The prophet was there to correct their mistakes. No other generation will ever have this honor of learning the quran from the prophet directly.

What weight should be given to the explanation of the quran from a sahabi?

We have a number of explanations from the sahaba. We have tafseer in english that do not consider the explanation of the sahaba at all.

If the sahaba all came to conclusion on a tafseer of an ayat of the quran. Is it obligatory for us to follow it?  What happened if somebody came today and explained an ayat in a completely different way, what would you do? What if they offered an explanation that appeared very strong? For example Naziat, if some modern scholar said it means wind and all of the sahaba said it was angels, what would you do? What if the modern scholar says that Allah swt does not refer to feminine form of word is not used by Allah swt to describe angels any where else in the quran. What would you do? The modern scholar is saying that all of the sahaba and tabieen are wrong. This a very precarious statement to make. 

If there is ijmaa (consensus) among the sahaba, then we cannot contradict them.

Is it obligatory to follow the tafseer of an individual sahabi?  

If we have other sahabis that disagreed with him. Then this becomes a matter of ijtihaad. 

Anytime sahabi made tafseer, then should we consider it to marfoo ( مرفوع ) (having it's source with the prophet. Any time we have marfoo, then it becomes hujja (authority))

Could there be some tafseer of sahabi which can be considered marfoo. If sahabi is saying something that cannot be a matter of ijtihaad (for example a sahabi is describing the realm of the unseen ie describing the events of the day of judgement), then it is marfoo (since the source has to be from the prophet)

Sahaba using the books of the jews and christians (Israeliyat)

When it comes to attributes of Allah swt then the sahaba did not use the Israeliyat sources. However there is evidence that sahaba used the Israeliyat when the described the stories of the previous prophets(????? Is this what the sheikh said, please correct me if I am wrong ????)

Sabab an-nazool The reason or events that led to the revelation of the ayat.

We cannot come up with theories of how and when the ayat was revealed that are in contradiction to the tafseer of the sahaba about the sabab an-nazool

If the tafseer of the sahaba about ghaib and sabab an-nazool are considered to be marfoo. So these statements of the sahaba are ranked as high as the sunnah for the sources of tafseer

2010-01-19 Class Notes

Tafseer bil ma'thoor

Athar means reports. Basing your tafseer on reports. What is the best methodology for tafseer? 

Tafseer in light of quran, hadith.

Qualities of the sahaba, we still recognize that they are human beings. We have to speak about different aspects. When sahaba describe the occasion behind the revelation, we consider it to be marfoo (as if it was from the prophet). General understanding of the concepts of deen, taqwa, jihaad, central concepts of Islam, when the sahaba explained them, should we consider them hujja (authorized)? When sahaba are giving us explanation of these general concepts, we should consider them hujja.

Statements of sahaba that are not based on ijtihaad, then we consider them to be marfoo. Is there any exception to it, yes the Israleiyaat (stories of the previous prophets)

How did ibn Abbas explain the meaning of kursi? Place for the two feet for Rahman.

Muhsin translate it as footstool or chair. ibn Abbas was known to take things from Israleiyaat. If it was some other sahaba we would consider it differently. 

Ijmaa of the sahaba will be considered marfoo

Surat Al Maida verse 6: Wudu and Tahara and state of sexual defilement. There is agreement among Sahaba, that sexual defilement can occur even if the private parts touch each other. There is ijmaa among the scholars. Then this statement is marfoo and hence it is also hujja.

What about when sahaba differed?

DIfferences of opinion among sahaba were not contradictory, they were differences in explaining or expressing the concepts. For example sirat ul mustakeem, some said it was islam etc.

Sometimes sahaba did differ, their individual statements cannot be considered hujja. 

Principle: Statement of a sahabi takes precedence over the views of others in tafseer, even if the context of the verse seems to point otherwise.

 Is the principle general or specific? it's general. And for every general principle, there are problems. 


Verse from Surah al-Ahqaf (Makkan), v10: 

 قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِن كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ وَكَفَرْتُم بِهِ وَشَهِدَ شَاهِدٌ مِّن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ عَلَىٰ مِثْلِهِ فَآمَنَ وَاسْتَكْبَرْتُمْ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ

Muhsin Khan: Say: "Tell me! If this (Quran) is from Allah, and you deny it, and a witness from among the Children of Israel ('Abdullah bin Salam) testifies that this Quran is from Allah [like the Taurat (Torah)], so he believed (embraced Islam) while you are too proud (to believe)." Verily! Allah guides not the people who are Zalimun (polytheists, disbelievers and wrong-doing).

Pickthall's translation "it is from Allah and you disbelieve in it and a witness of children of Israel has testified and believed to the like thereof..."  

What is this talking about? who's this witness that is being referred to? one of the possibilities is that it is referring to Musa (as) since Musa (as) testified to the truth of the torah which is similar to the quran.

Another interpretation is that it refers to abdullah ibn salam ( a jewish scholar who converted to Islam). He's the one testifiying that this quran is like the torah that was revealed before to Musa. Just because a surah is makkan, doesn't mean a portion of it may not have been revealed in Madinah. 

By the context this looks more like it is talking to the quraish, does that make it seem unlikely that it's abdullah bin salam. Tabari says about this, he presents from Masrooq (student of ibn Masood), he says that it's referring to Musa (as). Now it is narrated from ibn Abbas and Abdullah ibn Salam that it is referring to Abdullah ibn Salam (ra). At-Tabari says that correct view concerning this in our opinion is that what Masrooq said is closer to the more apparent (dhahir) of the verse because if you look at the context it's talking to the mushriks of the quraish but then he says, there's no reason to turn away from that except for the fact that what has been narrated from a number of sahabas that it's referring to abdullah bin salam. And most of the Ahle-ta'weel (mufassireen) say this refers to Abdullah bin Salam since they consider the sahabah to be the most knowledgeable of the tafseer of the quran. 

He is in essence invoking this principle we are talking about that statement of the sahabi will take precedence over anyone else even if the dhahir of the verse says otherwise. 

Maududi does not agree with that interpretation. 

1.Said ibn Abi Waqqas say that it is Abdullah ibn Salam.

2.He says ...but on the other hand ikrimah, sha3bi and masruq say that preferred the opinion that it applied to Musa (as) and then he goes on to logically argue why it's not abdullah bin salam. 

3.And then he says there's a third way to look at it which comes from naysapuri and ibn katheer and they say that it refers to the common israelite. He uses logic to prove this. Three views: 1) Musa, 2) Abdullah bin Salam, 3) generic (since all should know that Quran is from Allah).

It does not mean that he (abdullah bin salam) was the exclusive cause of this revelation. Most people who would read Khan/Hilali translation would think that there is some view about abdullah bin salam. 


What about the tabieen? What if any special characteristic should they have in tafseer?

Tabieen were the students of the most knowledgeable people (the sahaba) of the quran. They learnt the tafseer from the generation that knew quran the best.

Hadith of the prophet: The best generation is my generation and then the generation that comes after.

The tabaieen were virtuous and had good Iman in the heart and hence they were guided by Allah swt. But this is our belief.

Arabic language was not as diluted or colloqualized during the time of the tabieen.

Sahaba have superior status as compared to the tabieen.

Statement from one individual sahabi can it be considered hujja?

Those people who consider statement of sahaba as huja in fiqh, then they should consider it hujja in tafseer too. Some of the scholars accept it as hujja.

What about the statement of tabieen?

Scholars who consider individual statement of sahaba hujja, also consider it for tabieen.

What about abu Hanifa?

If something comes from sahaba then it is head of the matter, if it comes from tabieen, he says they are humans and we are humans too. So nothing special

Imam Ahmad: statement of sahaba and tabiin are considered hujjah

Imam Shafiee: Takes a middle position, sometimes he would follow the opinion of tabieen, as a matter of taqleed. By the defintion of the term taqleed, it is not hujja.  

Imam Malik: no quote that the statement of the the tabiien is hujjah but the Muwatta of Imam Malik takes the statement of the tabiieen,

What about ijmaa of tabieen?

To claim among ijmaa among tabieen is much more difficult.

Think about tabieen and the ruling coming from tabieen

2010-01-26 Class Notes

We should have a clear understanding of why we need to emphasize the tafseer of the sahaba. We enumerated the elevated status of the sahaba. And hence when somebody says that we do not have to study the tafseer of the sahaba, we should be able to answer them correctly.

We discussed what are the unique qualities of tabiieen. And now where we should rank the statements of the tabiieen.

Principle: Statements of the tabiieen in tafseer are better than those who came after them, but their statements are not hujja. And we categorize the statements of the tabiieen just as we did the categorization of the statements of the sahaba.

Reports from the tabieen:

1. Has the ruling of being marfoo' 

These statements are not a matter of ijtihaad and they must be rooted with the prophet.

Surah Isra: Your lord will give you a praise worthy place

Tafseer Mujaheed: Allah swt will seat the prophet on a throne on the day of judgement. This tafseer is marfoo'. But we don't know where Mujaheed get this information from. Suppose we have a hadith, where Mujaheed is quoting the prophet. But this chain is broken. Did Mujaheed hear this hadith from ibn Abbas. This is known as Mursal hadith. 

How did scholars rank the mursal hadith? Sahih, Hasan, Daif, Daif jiddan, Fabricated. This is considered a daif or weak hadith.  Mursal is the strongest of the weak hadith. Therefore it could be accepted, if we had slight corraborating evidence. The reason why it is considered strongest of the weak, since it is missing just one chain, a sahaba or somebody else, we don't know.

2. Ijmaa - Hujjah

Something that is well known among tabiieen and we didn't find any conflicting reports. Ijmaa is based on some evidence.

Freeing a slave. This act of expiation of sins. There is ijmaa among the tabieen according to Tabari about what they mean by slaves. Tabiieen were in agreement that you had to choose a healthy slave and not an old or weak slave to free in order to expiate your sin.

3. Where they differed

Individual statements of the tabieen are not hujja. Where they differed, ibn Taymiyyah suggested, you look to see what evidence may support which of their views. Correct view is among the tabieen and use Quran and Sunnah to find out which among them is correct.

4. We do not know of any differences of opinion

We have narration of one tabieen. And we do not find this view among other tabieen and neither do we find any other view that is conflicting. Majority of the scholars say it is not hujja. Ibn Qayyim says it is hujja. as does Imam Ahmad in one narration ea.

5. Sources from ahl-al Kitab

These statements are definitely not hujja. This category is also known as Israeliyaat.

Principle: Tafseer of the salaf and their general understanding of the revelation is a hujja over those who come after them.

Who are the salaf?

Those generations that the prophet praised. Hadith the best of the generation are my generation, the generation after, and the generation after. Salaf are sahaba, tabieen, and tabi-tabieen

Surah Tawbah verse 100

وَالسَّابِقُونَ الْأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالْأَنصَارِ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحْسَانٍ رَّضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

Muhsin Khan: And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.

Tafsir al-Jalalayn: And the first to lead the way, of the Emigrants and the Helpers, namely, those who were present at [the battle of] Badr, or [it means] all the Companions, and those who follow them, up to the Day of Resurrection, by being virtuous, in deeds, God will be pleased with them, for their obedience of Him, and they will be pleased with Him, for His reward [to them]; and He has prepared for them Gardens — with rivers flowing beneath them (a variant reading adds min [min tahtihā, ‘beneath which’]) — to abide therein forever: that is the supreme triumph.

This verse of the Quran is proof for the above principle.

Surah Nisa verse 115

وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَىٰ وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّىٰ وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا

Muhsin Khan: And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad SAW) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers' way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell - what an evil destination.

Tafsir al-Jalalayn: But whoever makes a breach with, [whoever] opposes, the Messenger, in the truth that he brings, after guidance has become clear to him, [after] the truth has become manifest to him through miracles, and follows, a path, other than the way of the believers, that is to say, [other than] the path they follow in religion, by disbelieving, We shall turn him over to what he has turned to, We shall make him a leader of the misguidance which he has followed, by leaving this as it is between them in this world, and We shall expose him, We shall admit him in the Hereafter, in Hell, where he will burn — an evil journey’s end, an [evil] return it is.

Allah swt is emphasizing there is a path and whoever does not follow that path will lead to punishment in hellfire. So their general understanding is what we have to follow.

If the salaf disagreed, let's say there are two established opinions, do we have the right to establish a third opinion? Since they differed, can we differ too? What should be our stance?

This would imply that we disagree with the salaf. We are saying that all of them are wrong and we have this new opinion. 

A point about scientific tafseers. Applying verses of the Quran to the newly found scientific discoveries.  We are either saying that here is something new that is in addition to what the salaf said and not refuting what they said. Or we are completely refuting the statement of the salaf.

We have made mountains as stakes. 

The sahaba explained the verse. And the scientific explanation gives more evidence of how mountains are like stakes of tents. Even though sahaba did not explain it in that way.

Naziah: Pulling out the souls.

Sahaba said these are angels. And now somebody who comes later and prove that the sahaba are wrong. So you are saying that ummah at that time did not know the meaning of this verse

Number 19 as miracle of the Quran

This was a hoax perpetrated by somebody who claimed to have proved some mathematical proofs about verses etc and the number 19. Unfortunately Sheikh Ahmad Deedat quoted some of these studies in his lectures which he later refuted.

We still accept the fact that sahaba or the salaf were human beings and that they could have made mistakes.

Allah swt made istawa to the throne / Surah Al Araf verse 54

إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُ حَثِيثًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُومَ مُسَخَّرَاتٍ بِأَمْرِهِ ۗ أَلَا لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالْأَمْرُ ۗ تَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Muhsin Khan: Indeed your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then He Istawa (rose over) the Throne (really in a manner that suits His Majesty). He brings the night as a cover over the day, seeking it rapidly, and (He created) the sun, the moon, the stars subjected to His Command. Surely, His is the Creation and Commandment. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)!

Tafsir al-Jalalayn: Surely your Lord is God, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, of the days of this world, that is to say, in the equivalent thereof, since there was no sun then. Had He willed He could have created them in an instant; but the reason for His not having done so is that He wanted to teach His creatures to be circumspect; then presided upon the Throne, a presiding befitting of Him (al-‘arsh, ‘throne’, in the [classical] language is the elevated seat on which a king sits). He cloaks (read yughshī or yughashshī) the night with the day, that is, He covers each one with the other: each following the other in swift pursuit — and the sun and the moon and the stars (if all of these are read in the accusative, then they constitute a supplement to al-samāwāt, ‘the heavens’, and if in the nominative, then they constitute the subject of the sentence, the predicate of which follows) have been made subservient, [have been] subdued, by His command, by His power. Verily, His is, all, creation and the command, in its entirety. Blessed, Magnified, be God, the Lord, the Master, of the Worlds!

People who came after the salaf made a basic error in their premise, that Allah swt cannot mimic human beings, since Allah swt is not like the human beings. Once they made this basic error, then they had to reject the verse.

The sahaba knew that we have to accept the statement of Allah swt as it is. They knew and understood this verse correctly. And the other generations that came later made their own tafseer that is in disagreement with the tafseeer fo the sahaba.

Examples of how  ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ is translated

1. then established Himself above the Throne

2. then mounted He the Throne

3. is firmly established on the throne (of authority)

4. and He is firm in power

5. and then He Istawa (rose over) the Throne (really in a manner that suits His Majesty)

We have to be very careful about our assumptions and we have to take care that our understanding of the Quran does not differ from the understanding of the Sahaba, Tabieen and Taba Tabieen.

2010-02-02 Class Notes

Sources of Tafseer / Methodology

1. Quran

    a. Definitive (eg At-Tariq is explained by the Quran so we cannot contradict it)

    b. Non-definitive

2. Sunnah

    a. Definitive

    b. Non-definitive

3. Statements of the sahaba

    a. Ijmaa among the sahabah then it become hujja

4. Statements of the tabieen

    a. Ijmaa among the tabieen

5. General views/understanding of the salaf (1- 5 sources give us parameters of the quranic meaning. Our next source we turn to is the Arabic language)

6. Arabic Language 

Allah swt did not reveal the book on the mountain, he revealed it through a messenger. It was the job of the messenger to explain. Arabic language is very powerful and there are many tools to derive meanings and you could derive strange meanings, so sources 1-5 are going to limit or provide parameters, so that we don't go to extremes and derive whater using the Arabic language, grammar, etc. 

Scholars agree that it is not allowed to interpret the Quran solely on the basis of the Arabic language. If the understanding does not adhere to the sunnah or the opinion of sahabah or tabieen or salaf, then we have to reject it.

Language involves not just manner of speech but is also includes way of thinking. Noam Chomsky got into political thinking based on his research on linguistics. Imam Shafiee wrote his book Risala, some people claim the driving force was that the people were turning to Quran based on language of the Quran and Sunnah, without the Arabic way of thinking.

Amr ibn Ala told Amr ibn Ubaid (mutazillah): You are a non-Arab not in your language but in your thinking.

With language comes way of thinking. Thinking in Arabic language helps you understand what the Quran is expressing. 

Allah swt says in 11 places that Quran is in Arabic language, he also says that it is in clear Arabic. Based on these verses, Allah swt is emphasizing that it is in Arabic language and it is adhering to the principles and rules of the language. So you have to know Arabic

Mujaheed student of ibn Abbas said, one should not speak about Allah swt if he is not knowledgeable of the Arabic language. It is imperative for a person to learn Arabic to increase their knowledge.

Quran was revealed in the language of the prophet. Allah swt says we have not sent messenger except in the tongue of his people.

All other revealed scriptures are in dead languages. Hebrew.

The word kaleema, most Arab nowadays it means word. But in time of prophet, it meant a complete sentence.

Another example, al buruj, in the time of the prophet, it referred to star configurations or constellations, as opposed to signs of zodiac, as is the current meaning or connotation of the word buruj.

Prophet implemented the Quran but he did not explain a majority of the quran, as we do nowadays, why not?

It was the language of the people, the sahabah were experiencing the events the Quran was talking about, he did correct some misunderstandings. If a word had many possible meanings, he explained or clarified.

For example, Allah swt says we have made you into a wasata nation (2:143). Wasata mean Al Adl according to prophet. Wasata has another meaning of balanced or in the middle, but he explained it as Adl or just.

Modern Standard Arabic is very similar to classical arabic. There are some minor changes. However colloquial Arabic is very much different from Modern Standard Arabic.

What changed between the time of the prophet and the time of Sahaba?

During the time of sahaba, Islam spread rapidly outside of the peninsular region. So there were now many muslims with different languages and cultures.

Umar Khattab told an old man to preserve poetry wrt to his explanation of takhauwuf in nahl:47

ibn Abbas said there are 4 aspects of tafseer:

1. Arabs know it simply by their language

2. No one is excused from understanding such as tawheed

3. Only scholars can understand

4. Only Allah swt knows such as the realities of the hereafter

Four aspects of the Arabic language:

1. Getting the correct meaning of the verse

2. Knowledge of the arabic language in order to avoid the abuse of Quran. Sometimes heretical groups try to do is to distort the language of the Quran, ignore other sources of tafseer, to put forth their ideas. 

3. Knowledge of the arabic language allows us to gain an understanding of the Quran

4. To receive the full effect of the Quran, a deeper understanding of the Arabic language. Holistic, deeper meaning. A native english speaker will not fully comprehend the complex meaning of a word, he may have the obvious meaning of the word, but not a deeper meaning.

Mohamed Rashid Khalil said: Any one who does not know Arabic, does not know Islam, I say frankly there are many muslims who say you do not have to know Arabic to know Quran, I say that statement is false.

If some one does not know Arabic, he will still know Islam. But the point he was trying to make is still valid, even though he went to an extreme.

You have to know some of the nuances of the Arabic language

1. Getting the correct meaning of the verse

Surat Anbiyat verse 87

وَذَا النُّونِ إِذ ذَّهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَن لَّن نَّقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَىٰ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَن لَّا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

Muhsin Khan: And (remember) Dhan-Nun (Jonah), when he went off in anger, and imagined that We shall not punish him (i.e. the calamites which had befallen him)! But he cried through the darkness (saying): La ilaha illa Anta [none has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allah)], Glorified (and Exalted) are You [above all that (evil) they associate with You]. Truly, I have been of the wrong-doers."

Pickthall: And (mention) Dhu'n-Nun, when he went off in anger and deemed that We had no power over him, but he cried out in the darkness, saying: There is no Allah save Thee. Be Thou Glorified! Lo! I have been a wrong-doer.

Yusuf Ali: And remember Zun-nun, when he departed in wrath: He imagined that We had no power over him! But he cried through the depths of darkness, "There is no god but thou: glory to thee: I was indeed wrong!"

We had no power over him implies kufr. They simply miss the point which would have been obvious to them. 

This meaning that Pickthall and Yusuf Ali are giving us is implying something about the prophet Dhan-Nun which is improbable and akin to kufr.

2010-02-09 Class Notes

2. Knowledge of the arabic language in order to avoid the abuse of Quran. Sometimes heretical groups try to do is to distort the language of the Quran, ignore other sources of tafseer, to put forth their ideas. 

Human beings make mistake. But we have to protect ourselves from the abuses of the Quran. Who abuses the Quran? There have been different heretical groups who have beliefs which go against the beliefs of the prophet and the previous generations. And these heretic groups try to prove their beliefs by abusing the Quran.

Elijah Mohamed, founder of Nation of Islam. One of their beliefs is that white man is the devil. They prove from the Quran that white man is devil. How do they prove that?

Surah Taha verse 102: 

يَوْمَ يُنفَخُ فِي الصُّورِ ۚ وَنَحْشُرُ الْمُجْرِمِينَ يَوْمَئِذٍ زُرْقًا

Muhsin Khan: The Day when the Trumpet will be blown (the second blowing): that Day, We shall gather the Mujrimun (criminals, polytheists, sinners, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, etc.) Zurqa: (blue or bleary eyed with black faces).

They abuse the verse by implying that white man is the devil. Zurqa means bleary eyed.

Qadiyani, another heretical group from Pakistan. 

Surah Ahzab verse 40

مَّا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِّن رِّجَالِكُمْ وَلَٰكِن رَّسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا

Muhsin Khan: Muhammad (SAW) is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets. And Allah is Ever AllAware of everything.

Pickthall: Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah is ever Aware of all things.

Here they abuse the Quran by translating seal  وَخَاتَمَ as supreme to support their belief that Ghulam Ahmad their founder was also a prophet.

Mutazillah, their belief that those sent to hell fire are there forever. This belief contradicts some well known hadith of the prophet. They believe that anyone who commits a kabira or major sin will be in hell fire forever. 

Hadith: My intercession will be for the people who commit great sins among my ummah.

They translate ahal al kabeer are those who seek help and read the Quran.  They abuse the Quran by misreading Surah Baqarah verse 45

وَاسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلَّا عَلَى الْخَاشِعِينَ

Muhsin Khan: And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi'un [i.e. the true believers in Allah - those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise, etc.) and in His Warnings (Hell, etc.)].

They abused the grammar of the Quran to justify their beliefs.

3. Knowledge of the arabic language allows us to gain an understanding of the Quran

Quranic language has a depth to it. You might catch superficial meaning and not understanding the depth of the Quranic expression.

Surah Baqarah verse 286

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ ۗ رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنَا إِصْرًا كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِنَا ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ ۖ وَاعْفُ عَنَّا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا ۚ أَنتَ مَوْلَانَا فَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ

Muhsin Khan: Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. "Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians); our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maula (Patron, Suppor-ter and Protector, etc.) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.

لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ

They have translated كَسَبَتْ and  مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ as virtually the same. Some others have translated it as earned and deserved.

مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ The extra letter taa (the reflexive ta) in this word that he has worked harder to increase his reward. 

كَسَبَتْ  Done little to earn the reward, even to the point, if people do dua or actions on our behalf, we will get the reward us even if we have not done

مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ And he will punish for something that is not symmetrical, that is something that we have worked hard to earn the punishment. We earn rewards for actions that are not even done by us and punishment for working hard in evil.

Another example of asymmetry verse (Insaan: 3) 

Allah has shown him the path and then he (insaan) is grateful or he is ungrateful.

Shakir and kafur are not symmetrical

Allah swt uses the word kafur in emphatic form. If you are familiar with Arabic language you will understand the depth of the words.

We can never be thankful shakeerun in the emphatic form. We can never be thankful in the intensive form.

However when we commit shirk, we are ungrateful inspite of all of the things that we have received from Allah, we are deserving of being called Kafur in the intensive form.

None of the 8 translations capture the clear meaning of the intensive and non-intensive form of the Arabic language

Effect of the Quran itself, when somebody knows the Arabic language

Yaa ayuhal ladheena aminuh

This is translated as O! you who believe, does this give the same meaning now a days, as it did for the Sahaba?

Concept of Iman, Ibadah, and Ilaha in the time of the Sahaba and now in the 21st century.

Is God equivalent to ilaha? 

In the Hindu culture there are lots of gods. In that culture would it have the same connotation?

What does the word God mean in the 21st century?

Some of the defintions given for the word God are:

Linguistic point of view: Supreme or ultimate reality. 

Did the sahaba understood the word ibadah the way we understand it today?

The more you understand and get used to these terms, you will be able to understand the Quran much better. 

What does aminuh mean?

Is Iman same as faith? The modern or colloquial defintion of faith is believing something without a proof or reason, a leap of faith. 

The closer you get to the language of the Quran you will gain a better understanding of the Quran.

Shareeah meaning has relationship to the linguistic meaning of a word. Shareeah adds more components. Shareeah has created new concepts, sirat, ibaadah

Principles of Tafseer related to the Arabic language. Some of them require knowledge of the Arabic language.

Quran is a clear book. You don't have to do linguistic gymnastics to understand Quran.

mubeen - Teachings of the Quran are mubeen or clear

Clarity of the Arabic language. This might have been lost and people need to be reminded of the clarity of the Arabic language.

Anytime we deviate too far from linguistic meaning, then we have to be very careful.

Grammar of modern std Arabic and Arabic of the Quran is the same. But the style of writing is different compared to what is the style of writing now.

2010-02-16 Class Notes

Principles of Arabic language related to tafseer

Three general benefits from knowing the Arabic language, one of them was knowing the meaning, another was to not abuse the text and finally to get an in-depth understanding.

Principle #1: Any meaning derived from the Quran that is not consistent with the Arabic language is not part of the Quran what so ever.

Quran says it is in Arabic. Allah sends messages in the language of the prophet which was Arabic. 

Allah swt refers to yad allah (hand of allah). In other places, Allah swt talks about how he created by his hand. There are number of places in the Quran, Allah swt refers to his hand. We will not delve into Aqeedah. However we will discuss Abu Hasan al Ashri discussed in his book al-ibaana an usul al dinaya. He was originally Mutazilli, a rationalist. After he recognized the weaknesses of his argument and he refuted the Mutazillah using their same way of thinking. It was powerful refutation but there were problems because of the way of thinking. Al Ashri talks about yad allah.

There are people who claim that Allah swt cannot have hands. According to them if he has hands then he is no different than his creation. However anything that Allah swt has is unique. The verse further says that Allah samihna, he hears.

Yad - the most common defintion, the second defn, third defintion and so on.

The word nyamah does not appear in the defintion of the word yad.

Al Ashri says that their interpretation of yad as nyamah or bounty or power has no basis in the Arabic language. So how can you interpret the Quran when it has no basis in the Arabic language. (Did the Mutazilla claim that yad was nyamah? They had many interpretations nyamah or kuwa or others) The word yad does not mean nyamah or kuwa in the context of the verse. Kuwa might have some basis in some circumstances.

Esoteric interpretations of the Quran are extreme, they interpret everything in the Quran to mean something that has no basis in the Arabic language. Similarly numerical values for the verses of the Quran has no basis for interpretation. This has basis in Jewish Kabbalah.

Principle #2: When interpreting a meaning of the word of the Quran, it has to be understood by the most common usage (afshar) or its most eloquent usage as opposed to something that is very rare or very weak Arabic

Clear speech, well known, eloquent language. 

Obscure meaning to be avoided.

Surah Naba verse 24: Allah swt is speaking about the punishment of the hellfire. 

لَّا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا بَرْدًا وَلَا شَرَابًا

Muhsin Khan: Nothing  بَرْدًا cool shall they taste therein, nor any drink.

Another meaning of  بَرْدًا is sleep. Sleep is an obscure meaning of the word. Since it goes against the well established, well known or afshar meaning of the word. Unless there is some other evidence that points to that meaning.

This principle also applies to ???

Another example from Surah Al Imran verse 28

لَّا يَتَّخِذِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْكَافِرِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِن دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَلَيْسَ مِنَ اللَّهِ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلَّا أَن تَتَّقُوا مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً ۗ وَيُحَذِّرُكُمُ اللَّهُ نَفْسَهُ ۗ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ الْمَصِيرُ

Sahih International: Let not believers take disbelievers as allies rather than believers.  إِلَّا أَن تَتَّقُوا مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً And whoever [of you] does that has nothing with Allah, except when taking precaution against them in prudence. And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the [final] destination.

Muhsin Khan: Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Auliya (supporters, helpers, etc.) instead of the believers, and  إِلَّا أَن تَتَّقُوا مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً whoever does that will never be helped by Allah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them. And Allah warns you against Himself (His Punishment), and to Allah is the final return.

 إِلَّا أَن تَتَّقُوا مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً means not showing your deen in front of the disbelievers

Qatadah one of the earliest scholars understood the  إِلَّا أَن تَتَّقُوا مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً as having taqwa by having ties of relationships between you and them, not as a precaution against them. This meaning is possible but is much weaker.

Principle #3: Any form of the word kaana and after that verb in the imperfect tense. This combination implies repitition of the act, something common, something done regularly. Al Mudhaari3

In Arabic language verb has two tenses, perfect tense and imperfect tense

For example, Allah swt Anbiyat verse 90  كَانُوا يُسَارِعُونَ

Baqarah verse 61 وَّكَانُوا يَعْتَدُونَ

Maryam verse 55 وَكَانَ يَأْمُرُ

Waqiyah verse 47 وَكَانُوا يَقُولُونَ

This was their common characteristic

Principle #4: Non-verbal sentences implication is something that is permanent and fixed. Verbal sentence implication is something that is renewed or done again

Two kinds of sentences: Verbal sentences (جملة فعلية) Jumlah Fi'liyyah and non-verbal sentences (جملة اسمية)  Jumlah Ismiyah

You could use verbal noun instead of a verb in sentences. If you use verbal noun then you can have a ???

For example Surah Kahf verse 18  وَكَلْبُهُم بَاسِطٌ their dog stretching forth his two forelegs at the entrance

Surah Fatir verse 3 

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ هَلْ مِنْ خَالِقٍ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ تُؤْفَكُونَ 

Allah swt continuously provides rizk over and over again

Surah Yusuf verse 16

Abu Hayan's tafseer bahr ul mubeet has one of the best tafseer about the different aspects of the arabic language

Ta'weel An Nahw - intricate grammatical points - exhausting book to read

Principle #5: Usage in the Arabic language in the perfect tense for something that will occur in the future is to emphasize the definiteness of something that will occur.

"will be terrified when the trumpet will be blown" The way it is said in Arabic that it is already done, you have a different feeling, it is difficult to capture in English

Surah Ibrahim verse 21

وَبَرَزُوا لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا فَقَالَ الضُّعَفَاءُ لِلَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا لَكُمْ تَبَعًا فَهَلْ أَنتُم مُّغْنُونَ عَنَّا مِنْ عَذَابِ اللَّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۚ قَالُوا لَوْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ لَهَدَيْنَاكُمْ ۖ سَوَاءٌ عَلَيْنَا أَجَزِعْنَا أَمْ صَبَرْنَا مَا لَنَا مِن مَّحِيصٍ

Sahih International: And they will come out [for judgement] before Allah all together, and the weak will say to those who were arrogant, "Indeed, we were your followers, so can you avail us anything against the punishment of Allah ?" They will say, "If Allah had guided us, we would have guided you. It is all the same for us whether we show intolerance or are patient: there is for us no place of escape."

Muhsin Khan: And they all shall appear before Allah (on the Day of Resurrection) then the weak will say to those who were arrogant (chiefs): "Verily, we were following you; can you avail us anything from Allah's Torment?" They will say: "Had Allah guided us, we would have guided you. It makes no difference to us (now) whether we rage, or bear (these torments) with patience, there is no place of refuge for us."

This will definitely occur. There is no doubt. When you read in Arabic you feel that this will occur, it is difficult to capture it in the English language.

2010-02-23 Class Notes

Surah Al-A'nam verse 95

إِنَّ اللَّهَ فَالِقُ الْحَبِّ وَالنَّوَىٰ ۖ يُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَمُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتِ مِنَ الْحَيِّ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمُ اللَّهُ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ تُؤْفَكُونَ

Sahih International: Indeed, Allah is the cleaver of grain and date seeds. He brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living. That is Allah ; so how are you deluded?

Question about lack of symmetry in the above verse يُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَمُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتِ مِنَ الْحَيِّ ۚ

In the beginning of the verse, Allah swt describes himself as cleaver of seed-grain and fruit-stone. This part يُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَمُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتِ مِنَ الْحَيِّ ۚis explanation of the previous part, so it is parenthatical clause of the first part which is إِنَّ اللَّهَ فَالِقُ الْحَبِّ وَالنَّوَىٰ

Parenthetical clause explains that the first part is bringing life from the dead.

New topic - to a casual observer of the arabic language this might look strange or incorrect

Principle: Dual Prefix and Dual Plural

Singular, Dual, Plural


This is your book - talking to two men - kitabukuma

Dual Plural - Kitabaan - If you want to say their two books, the nuun at the end gets dropped.

Suppose you are talking to two people and say your books - you cannot combine dual prefix with dual plural instead you should say kitabakama??

For example, Surah Tahrim verse 4

إِن تَتُوبَا إِلَى اللَّهِ فَقَدْ صَغَتْ قُلُوبُكُمَا ۖ وَإِن تَظَاهَرَا عَلَيْهِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ مَوْلَاهُ وَجِبْرِيلُ وَصَالِحُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ ظَهِيرٌ

Sahih International: If you two [wives] repent to Allah , [it is best], for your hearts have deviated. But if you cooperate against him - then indeed Allah is his protector, and Gabriel and the righteous of the believers and the angels, moreover, are [his] assistants.

Muhsin Khan

If you two (wives of the Prophet SAW, namely 'Aishah and Hafsah) turn in repentance to Allah, (it will be better for you), your hearts are indeed so inclined (to oppose what the Prophet SAW likes), but if you help one another against him (Muhammad SAW), then verily, Allah is his Maula (Lord, or Master, or Protector, etc.), and Jibrael (Gabriel), and the righteous among the believers, and furthermore, the angels are his helpers.

Note: The dual plural for the hearts is referring to the two wives of the prophet

Principle: Move from marfuah to mansub in a superlative or blameworthy list

Surah Bakarah verse 177 Ayat Al Birr

لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ

Sahih International: Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.

Allah swt is giving description of people who have real piety. Allah swt is giving a list of people who have piety. Allah swt describes it in different ways and if you look at the end.

 وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ

To remove the monotonity, the remove accusative and replace it with ... to make it more stylist. Otherwise the list will be very monotonous to read.

It is not just any list, it has to be either a praiseworthy qualities or blameworthy qualities.

Within this setting moving from marfuah to mansub is considered stylistic.

Sheikh gave an example of I am homeword bound or I was homeword bound from Simon Garfunckel song. It is considered poetic licencse over there.

In Surah Ali Imraan verse 7 the entire list is accusative since the items of the list are one word long.

Principle: Plural for inanimate objects in a human context

When you are talking about inanimate objects or any object that is considered non-rational which would include animals, and when you are talking about plural of inanimate objects, we deal with them as feminine case.  So instead of I wrote it, it would be I wrote her. However it is not always the case in Quran, specifically when the non-rational objects are doing something that is usually ascribed to human beings. When Allah swt speaks about inanimate objects in that settings, he use masculine plurals to refer to them.

For example, Surah Yusuf verse 4

إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَبًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ

Sahih International: [Of these stories mention] when Joseph said to his father, "O my father, indeed I have seen [in a dream] eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me."

Instead of saying rayatu li sajida, Allah swt refers to the stars as rayatahum li sajidin رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ

Rayatahum is only used to refer to plural human beings

Here the inanimate objects - stars are prostrating - an act performed by human beings - hence Allah swt refers to the case as masculine

Surah Bakarah verse 159

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنزَلْنَا مِنَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالْهُدَىٰ مِن بَعْدِ مَا بَيَّنَّاهُ لِلنَّاسِ فِي الْكِتَابِ ۙ أُولَٰئِكَ يَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّاعِنُونَ

Sahih International: Indeed, those who conceal what We sent down of clear proofs and guidance after We made it clear for the people in the Scripture - those are cursed by Allah and cursed by those who curse,

According to the sahabah, the cursing will be done by all animals and inanimate objects but still Allah swt using masculine plurals when he refers to them. اللَّاعِنُونَ it would have laina instead of lainoon

Principle: Tadeem - Highligting a masdar by skipping the AL أل

When something is stated in the indefinite case, specially if it is masdar (most masdars will have AL أل in front of it) if it does not have AL أل in front of it, the purpose of it would be tadeem - raising stature, highlighting great importance of something. Bold letters and italics for highlighting something.

A trained arabic person would find AL أل in front of masdar but the Quran skips it and it is done for tadeem

Surah Taubah verse 72

Ridwan is indefinite

Surah Bakarah verse 179

Hayat instead of Al Hayat

Surah Najm verse 4

Wahi instead of Al Wahi

Surah Bakarah verse 279

People who take riba - bi harbeen and not bi al harbeen - bold italic special font treatment for people who take riba.

Ibn Katheer rarely goes into these details. Tabari does. The ulema already knew these principles and did not have to go into details.

Principle: Change from accusastive to nominative changes the meaning from recommendation to obligation

Surah Bakarah verse 178

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِصَاصُ فِي الْقَتْلَى ۖ الْحُرُّ بِالْحُرِّ وَالْعَبْدُ بِالْعَبْدِ وَالْأُنثَىٰ بِالْأُنثَىٰ ۚ فَمَنْ عُفِيَ لَهُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ شَيْءٌ فَاتِّبَاعٌ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَأَدَاءٌ إِلَيْهِ بِإِحْسَانٍ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ تَخْفِيفٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۗ فَمَنِ اعْتَدَىٰ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَلَهُ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

Sahih International

O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered - the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment.

Surah Bakarah verse 229

الطَّلَاقُ مَرَّتَانِ ۖ فَإِمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَانٍ ۗ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَأْخُذُوا مِمَّا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْئًا إِلَّا أَن يَخَافَا أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ ۖ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا فِيمَا افْتَدَتْ بِهِ ۗ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَعْتَدُوهَا ۚ وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

Sahih International

Divorce is twice. Then, either keep [her] in an acceptable manner or release [her] with good treatment. And it is not lawful for you to take anything of what you have given them unless both fear that they will not be able to keep [within] the limits of Allah . But if you fear that they will not keep [within] the limits of Allah , then there is no blame upon either of them concerning that by which she ransoms herself. These are the limits of Allah , so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah - it is those who are the wrongdoers.

Surah Bakarah verse 240

وَالَّذِينَ يُتَوَفَّوْنَ مِنكُمْ وَيَذَرُونَ أَزْوَاجًا وَصِيَّةً لِّأَزْوَاجِهِم مَّتَاعًا إِلَى الْحَوْلِ غَيْرَ إِخْرَاجٍ ۚ فَإِنْ خَرَجْنَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي مَا فَعَلْنَ فِي أَنفُسِهِنَّ مِن مَّعْرُوفٍ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

Sahih International

And those who are taken in death among you and leave wives behind - for their wives is a bequest: maintenance for one year without turning [them] out. But if they leave [of their own accord], then there is no blame upon you for what they do with themselves in an acceptable way. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.

Surah Al Dhaariyat verse 25

إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا سَلَامًا ۖ قَالَ سَلَامٌ قَوْمٌ مُّنكَرُونَ

Sahih International

When they entered upon him and said, "[We greet you with] peace." He answered, "[And upon you] peace, [you are] a people unknown.

Mansub is a recommendation

Marfuah is an obligation

Response of the prophet Ibrahim is much stronger than the greeting of the angels. Peace must be with you - something obligatory

2010-03-02 Class Notes

Special attributes of كان

How would you translate kana كان  ?

The way the Arabic language gets more tenses is via كان  

It is an existential verb. 

It is used in five different ways in the Quran: 

1. Perfect tense madhi

2. Future tense mustaqbal

3. Present state haal

4. Something became صار

5. At the same time it may imply more than one meaning at one time, past, future, and present at one time.

Surah Bakarah verse 10

They may receive grevious punished because of they lied or because they continue to lie.

Lies they used to commit and lies that they still continue to do. 

This expression is seen a lot.

Many of the verses refering to Allah swt kana azizun hakim. Kana كان does not mean that Allah was aziz and hakim. It is not past tense, it is inclusive of past, present and future.

Surah Maryam من كان في المهد صبيا

How can we speak to somebody who is a baby in the cradle? من كان - here كان  means present tense. 

In every khutbah you hear and give it present tense meaning, the verse from Surah ِِآل عمران كنتم خير أمة أخرجت للناس... you are the best nation. They don't say you were the best nation but you are the best nation.

Narration for Umar ibn Al Khattab: Allah swt did not say you are the best nation.. كنتم خير أمة أخرجت للناس... Umar said Allah swt said they were the best nation referring to the sahaba. So the people in the khutbah are mistranslating the ayat.

Surah Nisa verse 47 : وكان أمر الله مفعولا

Command of Allah swt will definitely be ...

كان can also mean صار , Surat al-Baqarah, 34: وكان من الكافرين

He became one of the disblievers

Letters or word that are superflous الزائدة

Poetry and rhythm and measure of the line. Throw in a word that has no affect on the meaning, it might have an impact on grammar.

The most eloquent speech will not have such extraneous letters or words. The minimum (at the very least the) letters is (stand for, allude to) for emphasis.

من كان في المهد صبيا versus من في المهد صبي

The presence of كان  is for emphasis. It is emphasizing the reality of the fact that Isa was still in the cradle.

There is nothing similar to it, you would say ليس شيء مثله  there is nothing similar to it 

ليس كمثله شيء

There is no need for the ك in the above phrase from a grammatical point of view. The minimum reason is for emphasis. In reality there is nothing like Allah swt, this is one explanation. 

Some ullema have also pointed out another meaning: There is nothing similar to something similar to him. So you can imagine there is nothing similar to him. So in this case ك is not superfluous (only from a grammatical point of view).

Letters or words added to basic structure of words or sentences Ziyadatul Mal 

Words and sentences sometimes have basic structure to it. If there are letters or words added to it, then it implies an increase in meaning. Applies to verbs. From a basic verb, you can derive many forms of the verbs. All of those derived forms have added letters to it. You add ta or in. These increase the meaning of the word. It can with respect to a word or to a sentence.

Surah Yusuf verse 96

Father had not given up hope for finding his son, Yusuf. What was the first sign that Yaqub had that he will see his son again? Something is given to him that belongs to Yusuf. The shirt of Yusuf.

فَلَمَّا أَن جَاءَ الْبَشِيرُ أَلْقَاهُ عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهِ فَارْتَدَّ بَصِيرًا ۖ قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُل لَّكُمْ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

Sahih International: And when the bearer of good tidings arrived, he cast it over his face, and he returned [once again] seeing. He said, "Did I not tell you that I know from Allah that which you do not know?"

أَن is superflous, it has no grammatical purpose. Allah swt is highlighting a point to make us appreciate the good news that he waiting for so long has now come to Yaqub. It sets out this verse to highlight the significance and unique nature of it.

Surah    verse 42

Muqtadar مقتدر comes from a derived form of the word. Instead of mukhtadar you can Qadeer قادر.

The difference between muqtadar and qadeer: Muqtadeer has the ability to do it and there is nothing that can prevent him from doing it.

la ha maktasabat

The introduction of ta

Instead of simply commanding patience, we see astabar, to have great deal of patience, there is no limit to the patience, you have to go all out to be patient. You cannot say you had patience but then you gave up.

Surah Maryam verse 65

مَا بَيْنَهُمَا فَاعْبُدْهُ وَاصْطَبِرْ لِعِبَادَتِهِ ۚ هَلْ تَعْلَمُ لَهُ سَمِيًّا

Sahih International

Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them - so worship Him and have patience for His worship. Do you know of any similarity to Him?"

Surah Nuh verse 10

Ghaffar غفَّار is stronger than ghaffir غافِر. Allah swt is repeatedly forgiving his servants.

فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا

Sahih International: And said, 'Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever a Perpetual Forgiver.

Surah Kahf verse 78

قَالَ هَٰذَا فِرَاقُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنِكَ ۚ سَأُنَبِّئُكَ بِتَأْوِيلِ مَا لَمْ تَسْتَطِع عَّلَيْهِ صَبْرًا

Sahih International: [Al-Khidh r] said, "This is parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.

تَسْتَطِع changes to تسطع in verse 82, why?

وَأَمَّا الْجِدَارُ فَكَانَ لِغُلَامَيْنِ يَتِيمَيْنِ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ وَكَانَ تَحْتَهُ كَنزٌ لَّهُمَا وَكَانَ أَبُوهُمَا صَالِحًا فَأَرَادَ رَبُّكَ أَن يَبْلُغَا أَشُدَّهُمَا وَيَسْتَخْرِجَا كَنزَهُمَا رَحْمَةً مِّن رَّبِّكَ ۚ وَمَا فَعَلْتُهُ عَنْ أَمْرِي ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَأْوِيلُ مَا لَمْ تَسْطِع عَّلَيْهِ صَبْرًا

Sahih International: And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience."

Khidhr uses a softer since he explained the reasons for his actions. In verse 78 there was a stronger usage because he had not explained the reasoning for his actions whereas in the intervening verses between 78 and 82 there were explanations.

No true synonyms in Arabic, except lugat or dialects, it is possible one arabic dialect used a specific word for something and another tribe used another word, and this could lead to two words having the same meaning. However is one lugat you will not have true synonyms.

Concept of ellipsis

Something is left unsaid. I went but my wife didn't. This is split infinitive. I went but my wife did not go.

This is a powerful tool in Arabic language. It is powerful rhetoric tool in Arabic language to leave things unsaid.

Translation in English will be forced to include what was not said in the translation. The proper way to do is to put thoise words in parenthesis. If you put in brackets you are adding something that did not exist. Ellipsis is a big thing in Arabic language (الحذف).

Surah Isra verse 8

عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمْ أَن يَرْحَمَكُمْ ۚ وَإِنْ عُدتُّمْ عُدْنَا ۘ وَجَعَلْنَا جَهَنَّمَ لِلْكَافِرِينَ حَصِيرًا

Sahih International: [Then Allah said], "It is expected, [if you repent], that your Lord will have mercy upon you. But if you return [to sin], We will return [to punishment]. And We have made Hell, for the disbelievers, a prison-bed."

وَإِنْ عُدتُّمْ عُدْنَا

If you return, we will return

No mention of sin or punishment is made in the Arabic language. It is obvious from the context. It is very powerful speech.