Channel: Jamal Badawi
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Salam Alaikum Peace be on view back for another episode of Islam focus on your host on the machine. Today we continue with our ongoing series dealing with the sources of Islam. In recent weeks we've been examining the linguistic miracle of the Quran Today we'll be looking more particularly at precision of Quranic expression. I have joining me on the program is Dr. Jamal battery of St. Mary's University. Hello, Jamal Assalamu alaikum alaikum Salam Could I hadn't very quickly highlight the main points of the touchstone in our last program dealing with fake linguistic lyrical in the Koran? Sure, we started looking at some of the unique characteristics of the Quranic style of expression
which are not to be found in the writings of any human, some of which are the strange and amazing balance between precision and comprehensiveness. In a way, which is of consistent quality throughout the Quran, and in a way which cannot leave any room for improvement or editing. Secondly, the balance between addressing the human mind and intellect, and the human feelings and emotions also, in a world that combines between truth and beauty between wisdom and feeling. Thirdly, the balance in terms of addressing people from various backgrounds, various levels of intellect, experience and knowledge. But still, all of them can understand it easily appreciated by the simple person, as well
as the more educated person.
We have given a specific examples of this, how the Quran deals with the question of oneness of Allah, not in a very philosophical of driveway, but we have seen again the emotional, intellectual, next, that is found in the Quranic expression, we gave another example of the law of equality in terms of deliberate murder, like in the second Surah in the Quran. And we have seen again, that while it's very precise, it's quite different from the dry language we use normally in the law. And we indicated that the students the other doctor, and while it looks easy to follow in the flow is
very simple and complicated. The same expression could have a number of shades of meanings that people discover generation after generation, meaning that are not necessarily contradictory, but we have seen that they could be quite complementary. Like the example we get from Surah two verse 20, to 12. In the Quran last time,
that showed again, the variety of meanings in the very same expression without need for editing or updating the text of the Quran.
Returning to the question of precision where Sumerian was to claim that there are redundancies in the current workflows, which are added only to keep the building on
what is your response to that
denisha response is that it reflects only the extent of their understanding of the subtleties of the Arabic language, one can study a language as a second language, and can have even some in depth information but doesn't mean necessarily that we'd get to the subtleties of the language itself. I think this is the main problem.
The best way would be to quote people who are specialists who are of the Arabic tongue and who has
specialized training in this like Dr. Jazz, to whom we have referred before we refer to today and others also.
this method has been analyzed in detail you take one example inductive does Volume One, the Quran, for example, speaks about
the creator's God capital G.
nowhere in the Quran, it uses the Arabic term for example, later mitula who shake it uses a very similar term, laser chemically the shape, just one letter difference between the two statements, both of them, in fact mean that basically that God is not similar to any of his creatures. I mean, both of them can give that meaning for anyone who looks at
The surface, the only difference is just one letter.
And we find the Quran always use the sentence with that additional letter calf chemical.
But based on the rules of the language, if you look at it, you find that this letter means a lot. By the way, this is found in Surah 42, in verse 11. This is a very good reason why,
if you use the term that the Quran didn't use, with one letter less, it means that there is nothing like God, but there could be something comparable to him but less than him. For example, you could say that 1 million is much bigger than fourth.
But still, you can compare four and 1 million. On some scale, you said million is much, much greater than four, but still, it's comparable.
Whereas the terminology used in the Quran with that addition and letter care means nothing even is comparable unto Allah. So it's not that he's so great that nobody can come close to him, but he could be something close in between man and God, for example, or angels or whatever. No, it speaks that there's no even nothing, no creatures, nothing whatsoever is even comparable unto Him. And that shows the very meticulous expression which eliminates any way even of comparing with God. Just like when you say compared number one to infinity is a comparable one that there's this million Yes, but one versus infinity. And God is infinite. So see the subtleties of expression which is very
important. And this is not the only example there are many others. In fact, there are examples in the Quran. In addition to this one I gave pertaining to the claim of additional letters or redundant letters. There are examples where some words or portions of sentences or passages in the Quran may appear to be redundant, but it has a very good reason to be there.
There are cases where the Quran uses two different words, which may appear on the surface as synonymous words. One is used in one verse, the other is used another verse and both appears to give the same meaning. And sometimes we wonder why was it used but has a good reason also, in some cases, we find that the Quran omits certain prepositions or letters, or words, that some people say it must have been there. So there is not a consistency. Why was that emitted and again, we find there is a very good reason for admission that doesn't appear in the sentence at all. There are cases where the Quran reverses the orders of words in the same sentence. In other words, you could have two
sentences in the Quran talking about basically the same thing. But in one of them, we find that the orders of words is reversed. And some people say Why is that a mistake or something with basically one statement and somebody just, you know, put it wrong. In some cases also, on the surface, there may appear to be inconsistency in the Quran, why? Sometimes it might be using in the sin passage, singular, and then shifts to the plural. And some people say why not use singular, in both or plural in both of them? These are all examples of things that may appears to some of us are interests and editors of encyclopedias, including respectable ones, unfortunately, they all fall into the same
kind of errors of not really trying to them beyond what appears on the surface. To find out what is the subtleties of expressions in the Quran? Well, the one example that you just use was a very interesting one. But just to take the point a little bit further. Can you give another example where a single letter makes a difference to me send a letter or write another example is mentioned and all of the remaining example perhaps you can throw from another very good writer, whose specialty actually in the isn't the eloquent? So let's check Muhammad muthoni Shara. He has he has written on that in a number of publications, but one of his best books and that is called Magistrates Court and
that is the American of the specialty.
And he for example, if there's two two citations in the Quran, both of them addresses the human to be patient when something bad happened to him or something, you know, he happens to
the expression is exactly it looks exactly identical with the exception of one word. It says in one case, for example, in Surah 31 in verse 17, what's the other masaba in the valley can mean as well.
That is Be patient and whatever happened to you? Because this is the characteristics of those people who have determination
and the other ones
It almost looks identical. It says in Metallica, lemon has been. So even if you don't know it
can mean as much in Metallica, lemon as well. What's the difference? But exactly the sentence is the same. Again that second one I feel, for example, in 40 to 43. But there is a very important reason why, in the Arabic language when you add this left, it means that this is indeed you making some emphasis, this is indeed good, this is truly good. So there is more emphasis. Why was that emphasis used in one rather than the other?
The reason is that, if you go back to the context of each of these verses, you find that the first one that is in first 117,
it speaks about something that may happen to you, not caused by an adversary. Like, for example, if somebody's driving on the highway, and a big rock falls from the mountain on his car and damage part of his car. Of course, that's bad, he's injured because of that, or he feels bad because he lost money on his car. But the patience here would be a little easier to take because there is no enemy that he feels, you know, antagonistic towards, it's just something that happened, he could not control it.
And that is the context of that verse, which doesn't have that emphasis. Whereas the second one, when the emphasis that this is truly good, or this is truly characteristic of good people, which appear in 40 to 40 feet, it speaks about somebody causing injury to you. That's why the verse actually before that speaks about those who have patience and forgive, which means that there is an injury that happened to you, but someone else, some enemy, caused you that engine. And obviously, you need more patience, in the second case than the first one. Because in the second case, you have to be patient, because of the wrongs that has been done to you, the hurt that you can feel. But you
need patience also to resist the instinct to have revenge against that enemy who calls you that engine, which means that you have double need for patience and self control. And that is why you find the reverse in the Quran in the second case, this just one additional letter, which means a lot in terms of conveying the very accurate meaning in the
spoken what some may see as a redundant letter. Are there any examples of the claim of redundant words or sentences? Yes, for example, in the Quran, in several places, or just to give two examples in Surah, three
135, and in Surah, 4109. In both of these, it simply conveys one basic message that it says basically that if someone does something wrong, or evil,
and then it says or wrongs, his or her own soul, and then it continues, then ask Allah forgiveness, Allah would forgive him. Now, the question here is this. It says, if someone does something wrong or evil, why does it have to add or wrongs his soul? Is it? Is it not the same thing? When you do something wrong? You're wrong ourselves. Why add that? Is that just an extra?
The answer is definitely know why.
Because the question of wronging one soul or doing something wrong, or decrease also,
I could do something wrong.
by for example, being tempted towards something that does not belong to me, but they still have some benefit, or at least have some payoff example. If somebody steals something, he's done something wrong, but he's got some way of he was motivated in doing this, by his desires to get this property is the same thing if someone commits adultery, someone you know, gets intoxicated or something like that. So there is a sort of payoff, you do it on because you think that you want to achieve some immediate pleasure. However, there is another type of
of wrongdoing the sole, you could do something wrong without benefiting yourself just hurting someone else, not because you'd get these benefits or anything but just to hurt him. bearing false witness against some someone just trying to prevent something good from happening to someone else. You haven't got any good yourself, but you're doing that just out of one or one mate and they do that just out of malice without necessarily benefiting from and that's what the Quran refers to as flunking one soul. So again, it's not extra. In other words, it deals with both situations.
of doing even for a benefit or doing even just for the sake of hurting others. And that could make a difference also in the evening
as well summaries also came with their synonymous words or expressions using the Koran which don't seem to have any explanation except to keep the line of the Quran. Is that true? No, it's not. And in fact, remember, there's one statement that was quoted from Dr. Dre's last time which we will clarify further and answering that question. When he said the challenge for whole humanity really, is that you could go through the entire code and from etc. And he says in any particular context of passage, find a word in all Arabic dictionary, that would be a better expression than the actual word in the Quran, which means that there is absolutely no room for improvement, when that doesn't
apply to the writing of any human being. Absolutely, I mean, you search in the dictionary, no better word can express the meaning in that context than this specific word. But again, we don't want just to put it as a claim, we have to really get into the substance. Now,
one example, when the Quran speaks about the attitude of some unbelievers, one appearance with a three, one appearance or a five.
In one case, let's say is basically that when it's taught to them come to what Allah or what God has revealed,
you find that they,
you know, rejects, and they just follow what or claim to follow what their parents did.
In both of them. It's basically the same expression really, more or less, that again, we get to the 70s, that people reject the truth simply because they say that we found our parents following this particular path. However,
one verse it ends by saying, say, if their parents did not reflect or understand,
would they still follow them? Whereas the second verse says, if their parents didn't know, anything, would they follow them? Now, what's the difference between reflecting and knowing? And how does that relate to the context of both passages in the book,
by further examination, we would find that in the first expression, talking about the parents, not reflecting the context is to invite them to believe in God in the creators.
And they would reflect here means that if their parents, only thoughts, use their own faculties reflected on the creation of the universe, they would have concluded that this universe is created by one and only supreme power.
So it ends with reflect what as the context of the second verse, it talks about coming to the, or believing in the revelation of God, and it is also or mentioned, the prophet, the messenger.
And here, we find that there is another degree other than just reflecting and understanding because in reflection, you discover something by yourself, you think about it. But knowledge, you may not reflect, but learn something from someone else. If somebody you trust and believe in his or her integrity, tell you something, even without discovering that yourself, you can learn or know.
Okay, in the second case, the response of the unbelievers that know enough for us what we found our parents do, which means that not only are they refusing to sink,
they are even refusing to learn,
read the knowledge that is already
coming to them. So again, look at the southern difference where, you know, one would not even notice any difference, but there's reasonably dignified another example.
In the Quran, there are two verses also one in 7260, and one in 7621. In both cases, it talks about God given water for us to drink or giving us junk. Very simple. However,
it uses two different terms, and each one term in each of the passages. One is called a star home, the other sakam
both of them will look at it to try to translate it into English. And actually, you can detect that from English translations. It's simply saying you got or means God gave them drink, or something or water.
Whereas, if you look at it linguistically, the word
that appears in the first passage means that God provide the waters but you got to do some efforts to get it that place the water in the rivers or in the well.
So he gave it to you. But you still have to get a bucket and grow and get that water out.
Whereas in the Arabic language, when you say soccer, used in the second passage means that you don't have to do any efforts when it comes to you. And if you go back to the context of this verses, you will be really surprised. Because in the first one, which refers to water being available, but you have to do some effort to get it, it talks about the life in this on this earth, that God provides us with this, and then you can use it. Whereas the second expression that is getting watered without any effort, it speaks about the life here after in Paradise, where as we know, in Islamic thinking in Paradise, you don't have to do any effort, everything comes to you.
Again, on the surface, one would say no, maybe it was just the aim to keep the rain that the Quran used one term here and data. But in fact, if you look at it, there could be no substitute. You can't replace one with the other because each one has a different
For now, let's examine the the opposite side of the of the coin so to speak. It's sometimes claimed that the Quran in order to again to keep a present line
drops certain words, which likely should be included. What's your comment on that? There's an excellent example of this. Provided by chef Shara we use book metal of the Quran. And a very interesting one. It describes some of the statements on the tongue of Prophet Abraham.
And that appears in Surah 26, from verses 78 to 82. Starting with a lovely fella conifa De La Hoya, us being
in this area, or this passage, there are six basic things that Prophet Abraham is mentioning about the omnipotence, power and compassion of the creators. six, one, basically saying that
creation, that God is the Creator, he who created me.
Secondly, it talks about guidance, that he is the one to provide guidance, certainly that Allah provide sustenance, that's food and drink.
For that God is the real one, who gives cures when we are
That God is the one who gives life and death and sixthly that God is the one who forgives sins in the Day of Judgment.
Now, the thing that is really striking, really striking is that in all of these six items,
and some of them, it say refers to God using pronoun he, that is He who gives food and drink for example, in three of them, and the other three it drops pronoun,
and not consistent not like half and half. But for example, in the first item, it does not refer to God by the pronoun he, in the second, third and fourth item, it refers to God, and each time it's repeated with the pronoun he and five and six fifths and six items, it drops he,
if you look at it, one would have absolutely no way of understanding why
not use it on on the way. And again, like you said earlier, some orientations Oh, yeah, just to keep the ryan pleasant or make some variation so that it doesn't get boring when you keep repeating he he six times, so just variation of that. Again, that's not at all be
the wisdom behind why.
The first item, and the fifth and the sixth are items which no human being can dispute with God, even if you knew he may be unbeliever, because it talks for example, about God as the creator.
And of course, even an unbeliever cannot claim that say, Oh, I did create this earth, I did create the Saturn or Mars or the moon, nobody can make that claim of creation. In the fifth item, our items also that no human being, claim to have power, giving life and death does create the life for example, in the womb of the mother and so on. And when the person dies naturally, at least you know, it's God's Will anyway.
The sixth item, it speaks about God's forgiving quality and the depth judgment. And of course nobody claimed to say all right, when we reserved the Day of Judgment, I forget. It is only God who is capable and able to forgive. And that's it. One, five and six. The ones in the middle
Dealing with guidance, God providing food and drink God curing our diseases. This could be disputed. example, if I am a boss and some company, and if I'm not unbeliever, God forbid, I could tell the one all right, I control your food and drink because I could fire you.
At least some people can make that claim. Or a person could be a medical doctor. And you can tell the patient for example, it is not God who cures you, it is me. Because if I don't diagnose your sickness and give you the medicine, no way, you cannot have that.
guidance. People also could claim No, I have better guidance than Gods you know, these are obsolete things, I have better ideas and start arguing that they were a way of life or a geology is better than what God has revealed.
So in the items that are in disputed by the unbelievers, you find that the word he is dropped, that there is no need for emphasis. You don't say it is He Who created you say he simply start by who created me without reference, our use of pronouns, because it's indisputable, whereas when it talks about issues that some unbelievers can dispute, Prophet Ibrahim is emphasizing every time No, it is he Allah, who guides Allah it is he who gives whether it is he who give cure, to draw to our attention that even in this areas that may be thought to be disputable, the ultimate sovereignty power, indeed, lie exclusively in the in the hand of God.
So this is again, like I said something that a person would not even notice, much less if you're reading an English translation or any translation of the meaning of the Quran in any other language. But you see the secret of the expression that you can't have even one think dropped except for a good reason
to perform two reversals in the order of certain words in some of the passages.
What is the explanation for that? Well, again, the best way to experience is to give some examples of this two verses in the Quran,
which deal basically with the same thing, they look almost like identical if you count the words and the meaning they convey, but in one, there is a reversal of order in Surah, six, a a 151. And in Surah, 17 is 31. Both both of them, in fact,
prohibit or send the female infanticide practice that some of the herbs used to to keep the children alive because of poverty. However, and one of them it says do not kill your children, the first one in sort of six, do not kill your children because of poverty, because God provide for you. And then
notice you first and then and the second one it says do not get your children fresh data for fear of poverty. Because God provide for them. And you the question here is why? In one case, you and then another case, then a new even though it's basically the same thing.
If it's if you look at it carefully, you'll notice that in the first passage, it deals with existing poverty. In other words, don't kill your child because you are poor now. And when the person is poor, he would be concerned of course more about his own sustenance. So I said, Alright, if I have children, again, that will be even more difficult. How could I survive? That's why the passage in the Quran assures the individual because that's his main concern. No, God provides for you and for them and for your children. What as in the second passage, it deals not with the person who's poor. Now, you may not be poor. But when you say alright, if I get many children,
I How could I look after them. If I have only one child, I can look after the children, I can provide for them. So you don't fear. You don't have poverty now, but you fear future poverty, because you're concerned more is on providing for your children. That's why reverse reverses the order by saying God provide for them, starting with them first, and new because you're ready. You can survive now.
is something which is not only eloquent or suitable. But perhaps it is the most effective way of conveying the meaning in both cases, depending on the specific context of the
work. Well, welcome. Thank you very much for hosting program. We want to thank you for watching and invite you back next week we'll continue our discussion of the linguistic miracle of the cloud.
Assalamu alaikum peace