In perfect form.

roseal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

One aspect of the miraculousness of the Qur’anic language lies in the precision of its words. As al-Suyuti said in al-Itqaan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’aan,

“It is possible to convey a single meaning with a variety of words, some more expressive than others. Likewise for the two parts – subject and predicate – of a sentence; each may be expressed in the most eloquent manner when taken alongside the other. Thus, it is necessary [in good composition] to consider the overall meaning of a sentence, then to consider every single word that may be used to convey that meaning, and then to use the most appropriate, expressive and eloquent of those words. This is impossible for man to do consistently, or even most of the time, but it is well within the Knowledge of Allaah [whose knowledge is boundless], and thus the Qur’an was considered the best and most eloquent of all speech…”

One example of this usage lies in the morphological forms found in the Qur’an, which will sometimes reflect the deeper meaning of the word itself, and upon reflection it can be found that not a single word in the Qur’an can be changed for another without it affecting the depth of meaning conveyed by the original word.

One example of this is in Yusuf, verse 23:

وَرَاوَدَتْهُ الَّتِي هُوَ فِي بَيْتِهَا عَن نَّفْسِهِ وَغَلَّقَتِ الأَبْوَابَ وَقَالَتْ هَيْتَ لَكَ
And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him. She closed the doors and said: “Come, you.”

In this verse, Allaah used the verb form ghallaqa غلَّقَto mean ‘closed’. Another form from the same root also means ‘closed’ – aghlaqa أغْلَقَ- yet there is a very eloquent reason for which Allaah used the previous form: the connotations of the pattern followed by the form ghallaqa are ones of repetitiveness and intensity of the action’s performance, and thus the word form itself would give the reader who has knowledge of the Arabic language an idea of the intensity of the emotion and desire which drove the wife of al-’Azeez to rush around closing the doors of her house (some mufassiroon (exegetes) commented that there were seven doors that she closed, and hence the form also indicates the repetition of her going to door after door closing it) so she could quickly try to seduce Yusuf. None of this would have been reflected through the use of the alternative word form aghlaqa.

Another example of the same form reflecting repetition is in Surah Aal ‘Imraan, verse 3,

نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقاً لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَأَنزَلَ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ

It is He Who has sent down the Book (the Quran) to you (Muhammad SAW) with truth, confirming what came before it. And he sent down the Torah and the Gospel.

Although the English translation reflects no difference in the original words that were used to convey the meaning of ‘sent down’, a look at the Arabic will show us that the form nazzala نزَّلَwas used in reference to the Qur’an while the form anzala أَنْزَلَwas used in reference to the Torah and the Gospel. The reason for this goes back to the manner of revelation – the Qur’an was gradually revealed in a number of stages that spanned the 23 years of the Prophet Muhammad’s (sallaa Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) Prophethood, as is reflected by the form nazzala which indicates repetition and grauality, while the Torah and the Gospel were revealed to the Prophets Musa (Moses) and ‘Eesa (Jesus) at one time, as reflected by the form anzala.

This difference is more beautifully sealed when we look at the first verse of Surah al-Qadr,

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

Verily! We have sent it (this Quran) down in the night of Al-Qadr (Decree)

In this verse, Allaah has used the verb anzala – which does not reflect graduality – to describe the revelation of the Qur’an, although He previously used nazzala! The reason for this is clear when the word is considered in it’s context, as is explained by Ibn ‘Abbas and others,

 

“Allah sent the Qur’an down all at one time from the Preserved Tablet to the House of Might (Bayt al-’Izzah), which is in the heaven of this world. Then it came down in parts to the Messenger of Allah based upon the incidents that occurred over a period of twenty-three years.”

Thus, it is clear that this verse is referring to Allaah sending the Qur’an down at one time to Bayt al-’Izzah on Laylat al-Qadr, and not to its gradual revelation to the Prophet; a concept so precisely and beautifully conveyed just through knowing the meaning of the forms used in the original Arabic.

50 Responses to In perfect form.

  1. Salamu’alaikum wa rahmatallah.

    Jazakallahu khairan.

    Wassalam

  2. السلام عايكم
    Jazakallah Khairan Katheeran!
    I was so happy you posted, and the post was so full of gems! This stuff really brings me tears sometimes, the balagha present in Qur’an is so amazing, it is a shame I don’t know Arabic well enough to get into these things. May Allah bestow mercy on us and on those brilliant ‘ulema who have shown us little by little the enormous miracles that we are missing out on.

    On a side note, this shows that at every level there is a miracle in Qur’an. One notices that our classical scholars would make tafsir, they would examine why one word was used (like Suyuti up there). Then others would examine why one word was next to another (more like Zamakshari). Then why one sentance was next to another (too many to list). And recently, Muhammad Ghazzali wrote a book I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet, on even a bigger scale, why one Surah would be placed next to another , and the Qur’an as a whole. We always dip our finger into the water thinking that’s enough, but there is a whole ocean out there!

    مع السلام

  3. (I posted this comment on my blog and formatted the text)

    Assalamu 3alaikum,

    Morphological forms of verbs and nouns are not the only way precision is displayed in the Quran. This precison can also be acheived through the presence and absence of particular words in a structure. In some verses, Allah uses a specific word within a particular construct, while in other verses which containing the same construct, that same word isn’t used. The difference in meaning generated by such variation serves a particular linguistic purpose.

    An very beautiful and clear example which deals with a single letter is that mentioned in Surat Al-Zumar verses 71 and 73:

    Verse 71:

    وَسِيقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ زُمَراً حَتَّى إِذَا جَاؤُوهَا فُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا وَقَالَ لَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِّنكُمْ يَتْلُونَ عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِ رَبِّكُمْ وَيُنذِرُونَكُمْ لِقَاء يَوْمِكُمْ هَذَا قَالُوا بَلَى وَلَكِنْ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَةُ الْعَذَابِ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ

    “And those who disbelieved will be driven to Hell in groups, till, when they reach it, the gates thereof will be opened (suddenly like a prison at the arrival of the prisoners). And its keepers will say, “Did not the Messengers come to you from yourselves, reciting to you the Verses of your Lord, and warning you of the Meeting of this Day of yours?” They will say: “Yes, but the Word of torment has been justified against the disbelievers!”"

    Verse 73:

    وَسِيقَ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا رَبَّهُمْ إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ زُمَراً حَتَّى إِذَا جَاؤُوهَا وَفُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا وَقَالَ لَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ طِبْتُمْ فَادْخُلُوهَا خَالِدِينَ

    “And those who kept their duty to their Lord will be led to Paradise in groups, till, when they reach it, and its gates will be opened (before their arrival for their reception) and its keepers will say: Salamun ‘Alaikum (peace be upon you)! You have done well, so enter here to abide therein.”"

    If you compare the wording of two verses, the difference in their meanings (as shown by the translations) is merely due to the presence and absence of single particle, the “waaw و” which lies between جَاؤُوهَا and وَفُتِحَتْ in the phrase

    حَتَّى إِذَا جَاؤُوهَا وَفُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا

    By not mentioning the “waaw” in the verse 71, Allah specifies a specific order of events: first the disbelievers approach hell, and only after arriving, the doors swing wide open. This is understood from the conditional sentence إِذَا جَاؤُوهَا َفُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا; that is, the doors remain closed, and are only opened when the disbelievers arrive in front of them.

    On the other hand, in verse 73, the presence of the “waaw” in
    حَتَّى إِذَا جَاؤُوهَا وَفُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا completely changes the conditional statement. Actually, there is no explicit dependent clause (جَواب الشَّرْط) for the conditional statement (i.e. no explicit answer to what will happen if the believers appoach paradise). The sentences coming after the “waaw” (فُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا) becomes an adverbial sentence (جُمْلَة في مَحلّ نَصْب حال) rather than a dependent clause. So the sentence describes the state of paradise’s doors (i.e. they are open) rather than the event of its doors being opened. The doors of paradise were opened before the believers arrived there (i.e. as they approached paradise, they found that the door had been opened).

    The presence and absence of this single letter (the waaw) makes a big difference in meaning of the two verses. Actually the two resulting meanings are opposites. This beautifully suits the purpose of contrasting heaven and hell, and the believers an disbelievers (a theme that is seen often in the Qur’an). In these verses, a clear contrast can be seen between:

    1) The nature of hell and the nature of paradise:

    Hell is a prison. Naturally, the doors of hell are closed, and not opened unless disbelievers or sinners (i.e.criminals) are about to enter it as a punishment for their crimes.

    Paradise is a garden whose doors should never be closed. Naturally, after the doors are opened (for the first time), they stay open to receive any believer who is destined to enjoy the fruits of paradise (just like a garden whose gates are open to any passer-by who wants to smell its flowers or admire its beauty)

    2) The mental state of the disbelieves and believers as the appraoch hell and heaven, respectively:

    The fact that the doors of hell are only swung open only after all the disbelievers arrive there creates absolute fear in their hearts. There is a sense of absolute surprise and shock. Imagine just waiting their, and suddenly “BAM”, you see hell with all its torments, blazes, and punishments in front of you. You don’t expect this, and you then you are thrown into hell. This only increases the stress, anguish and sorrow that disbelievers endure in Hell for the rest of eternity. May Allah protect us from this.

    The fact that the doors of paradise are open long before the believers arrive there, means that they actually get a glimpse of what’s inside paradise from afar as they are heading towards it. There are no surprises whatsoever. Happiness and joy enters their hearts. They now know the magnificance of their reward, and can’t wait to enter paradise. This mental preparation eases their stress after being questioned and being taken to account by Allah. May Allah grant us paradise. Ameen.

    This contrast ties in beautifully with the verses 72 and 74-75 thus giving a very precise and eloquent picture of the people entering their final abodes – a very terrifying one for disbelievers, and a very happy and reassuring one for believers.

    Subhaana Allah. The words of Allah never fail to amaze me.

    Please keep me in your du’a.

    Assalamu 3alaikum.

    References: http://www.islamiyyat.com/lamasat-aya.htm#91
    (Question 91)

  4. aabiransabeel

    Thats also very great post/comment! Jazakallah Khair!

  5. you have been added to my blogroll.

    mashallah your command of arabic is impressive.

  6. Salaam Alaikum:
    A very excellent and beautiful post. Alhamdulillah, that He has instilled such knowledge in His creation, in order to understand His words all the more. It is said that the 49 gates of knowledge where opened to prophets Moses and Solomon (the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them). This means that every word of the Torah has 49 meanings, each more profound that the last.

    Ya Haqq!

  7. wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    Yusuf, wa iyyaakum.

    Yaser, you are right, the many different levels on which the language of the Qur’an has been analysed is astounding. Are you talking about ‘A Thematic commentary on the Qur’an’ by Muhammad al-Ghazali? (which you can order here: http://www.ibtbooks.com/product.php?cat=Q&pid=9839154311) Others before him also wrote books on the order of the Surahs in the Qur’an, there are usually chapters on it in books on ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, but al-Suyuti wrote a whole book on it called Asraar Tarteeb al-Quran (can be downloaded here: http://almeshkat.net/books/open.php?cat=7&book=751).

    Billo, jazaakum Allaahu khayran for that very beautiful and beneficial contribution.

    eteraz, thank you. But that is done on this site is presenting adapted translations of what the real scholars of the language have said, may Allaah make us among them. Ameen.

    Irving, alhamdulillaah that you enjoyed the post. As you may be aware, the different Prophets were sent to their people with miracles that were very appropriate to them at that time – for example, Prophet Moses was sent to a people who excelled at sorcery and magic, and thus he was given miracles that far surpassed their magic, for this was their field of expertise and they would thus be able to tell that the miracle came from the Almighty. Similarly, Prophet Jesus was sent to a people who excelled in medicine and healing, and he was thus given miracles that they would recognise beyond a doubt as being from the Almighty. And similarly, Prophet Muhammad (sallaa Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was sent to a people who excelled in the literary arts, and thus he was sent with a miracle which they immediately recognised to be impossible for a man to have written – the Qur’an. It is a special miracle too, as it will continue until the end of time, and we as Muslims are exposed to it a minimum of five times a day when we recite its words as we pray…it is a sad state of affairs that we choose to close our eyes to this miracle rather than taking the effort to learn Arabic to enable us to witness it over and over again.

  8. aabiransabeel

    Yes that book by Sh. Muhammad al Ghazali. Jazakallah for the pointer to other book.

  9. aslamu alaikum

    subhanAllah I’m so hooked to this blog. Even though I do not understand most what you guys are talking about; Im really intrigued by the way arabic language is used in quran. It’s beautiful and amazing. Now more than ever I love arabic for the sake of understanding quran.

    Keep up the work barakAllahu feekum :)

  10. wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    Wa iyyaakumaa.

  11. السلام عليكم

    Great post. Sarf is so fascinating. Again, just wanted to say thanks – you’ve been playing a role in my revitalizing my Arabic in getting ready for further studies [dusting off the dust in my case!].

    شكرا جزيلا. نعمة الله عليك

    Marqas…

  12. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    You’re welcome. Glad it is helping. Wa iyyaakum to the du’aa’, Ameen.

  13. Salaam to all!
    Can someone please recommend a book where I can read about such intricacies of Arabic Language related to Quran?
    Thankx

  14. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    Are you looking for a book written in Arabic or written in English?

  15. In English, because I cannot read Arabic other than the Quran.

    Thankx for the help!

  16. I also have another questions which came to my mind while looking at some examples on this page.
    In Surah-Al Fajr the last 2 verses go like this:

    “Fad khulee fi Ibadee. Wadkhulee Jannati”

    Why is there no “Fee” in the last verse? Or we do not use “Fee” when talking about inanimate things (in this case Paradise)?

  17. sheepoo, I don’t know of any in English, but watch this space in shaa’ Allaah!

    With regards the verse in surah al-Fajr, then I believe it is as you said. The verb dakhala is transitive in that it normally does not need a preposition – one normally says ‘dakhal al-masjid’ – ‘he entered the mosque’ for example. But in this case the ‘fee’ is needed because it is an animate object which cannot usually be entered into in that manner.

    And Allaah knows best.

  18. Thanks a lot arabicgems!

    If I may ask another question:
    There is no way to say ‘is’ in Arabic. For example, ‘He is a boy’ is translated as ‘Hoowa waladun’.
    However, so many times Quran says ‘kun fa-yakun’ which translates as “be, and it is”.
    Basically, my question is about how to use the word ‘kana’ or ‘kun’ in Arabic. Some examples would definitely be helpful.

    Thanks a lot for the great work. May Allah reward you for this!

  19. Kaana in Arabic is an auxiliary verb which carries the meaning of ‘to be’, but more in the sense of existence than the meaning ‘is’. A more literal translation of ‘kun fa yakoon’ would render as ‘Be, and it will be.’ However, the translation is mentioned as ‘be, and it is’ to emphasize that there are no time constraints in this process, as Allah is not defined by time. So it is not a matter of Allah saying ‘Be’, *after which* the thing will happen, but rather that the two are concurrent.

    In terms of how to use ‘kana’ in Arabic (kun is the imperative), it has a number of ways to use it. One is that it may head an equational sentence (so called because it follows the pattern “The x is y”) and render it into the past (i.e. “The x was y”).

    For example, the sentence:
    الرجلُ صائمٌ – al-rajulu saa’imun – the man is fasting
    كانَ الرجلُ صائماٌ – kaana al-rajulu saa’iman – the man WAS fasting

    Note how the end of the predicate (saa’im) turned into ‘an’ – this is the effect of kaana on its predicate: the subject is nominative (i.e. with a dammah on the end for simple nouns) and the predicate is accusative (i.e. with a fathah on the end in the case of simple nouns).

    This phenomenon in Arabic, of grammatical case being marked by the ending of the word, gives the language tremendous elasticity, as the position of words in a sentence may be switched around without having effect on the meaning.

    I hope that is clear for you. If not, please ask further.

    May Allah grant you success in your efforts. Ameen.

  20. Fantastic! Thats the word which comes to mind after reading your explanation. I am also encouraged by your statement that I am welcome to ask more questions :) . So here goes:

    Keeping our focus on the word ‘ kana’, Al-Ahzab 40 says:

    “Ma kana Muhammadun aba ahadin min rijalikum…”
    “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men…”

    Here the word ‘ma’ is being used for negation. If my understanding is correct then the use of ‘ma’ has turned ‘kana’ to depict present tense rather than the past tense, (the past tense example having been shown in your latest post)

    Is my understanding correct? Again, I would appreciate some examples.

    May Allah reward you for your efforts

  21. ‘Maa’ is a simple particle of negation that has no influence on the tense of the verb.

    If ‘maa’ were replaced by ‘lam’ لم – also a particle of negation, specifically of the past tense’ – then ‘kaana’ would turn into ‘yakun’ (imperfect form, indicating present/future tense). However, this is not a semantic issue, as the meaning is still negation of the past tense.

    For example:

    Kaana naa’iman – he was sleeping
    yakunu naa’iman – he will be sleeping

    Maa kaana naa’iman – he was not sleeping
    lam yakun naa’iman – he was not sleeping

    If i wanted to say ‘he WILL NOT be sleeping’ (i.e. negation of the future tense) I would use the particle ‘lan’:

    lan yakoona naa’iman – he will not be sleeping.

    And as can be seen from the end of the verb, ‘lan’ causes it to be in the accusative case (represented here by the fathah on the end).

    The literal translation of ‘maa kaana Muhammadun’ is ‘Muhammad WAS not’. The reason it was translated as it has been, however, is that Allaah is not defined by time, and the Qur’an being the speech of Allah, the tenses are not used in the way that we would use them normally, but in a much more rhetorical and brilliant manner. So while literally it means ‘was’ not, the intended meaning as seen by the translator, is ‘is’ not.

    As kaana is in essence very much interlinked with tense and time, I would strongly advise you against using the translation of the Qur’an to try and learn its rules as without a teacher this will be very confusing for you. Instead, you may find a lesson on ‘kaana’ from one of the learning Arabic links on the left and learn it from there.

  22. arabicgems!
    Thanks for the clarification. And yes, I agree that these subtle rules can only be taught by a teacher rather than by hit an trial.
    I was just wondering, by the way, how much of Quranic Arabic will one understand if one learns Modern Standard Arabic. These days I am trying to decide between taking either Classical Arabic classes or Modern Arabic Classes. My aim is to learn the language of the Quran and understand its meaning, rather that to speak the Language itself.
    Your guidance in this regard will defintely go a long way in helping me make my decision

    Thanks and may Allah reward you for this

  23. al-Salaamu ‘alaykum,

    With respect the differences between Modern and Classical arabic, I refer you to read this:

    http://talk.islamicnetwork.com/showthread.php?p=19732#post19732

    If there are Classical Arabic classes on offer in your locality, and your aim being the one you mentioned, I would definitely encourage you to take the Classical Arabic course. I would assume that the focus of this course would be on the Qur’an, and the material/examples would also largely be drawn from the Qur’an, while the same is not true for the Modern Arabic course, which usually takes from a much broader spectrum such as newspapers, novels, economic texts etc.

    If you take the Modern Arabic classes, I am also assuming that you would have to spend time to learn a lot of vocabulary that does not appear in the Qur’an, for the sake of getting through the course.

    With the classical Arabic course, they would probably gear you to be able to read the works of classical scholars as well – if you took the Modern Arabic course you would find this very difficult at the end of it.

    Having said all of that though, apart from the vocabulary then a beginners level course would not really expose you to all of the above, and this would only really become apparent when you went on to intermediate or advanced levels, because the basic grammar is the same.

    May Allaah grant you success in your studies. Ameen.

  24. Arabicgems,
    Can you please suggest a good beginner’s Classical Arabic reader? I am finding multiple results for Qasas-ul-Anbiya. Which one should I get (author, I mean)?

    I also want to share with the readers here that I am finding the book called Arabic Through the Qur’an (Islamic Texts Society) by alan Jones very useful in learning the Quranic Arabic.

    Thanks for all your guidance. May Allah reqrad you for this.

  25. I think the one you are referring to is Qisas al-Nabiyyeen by Abul Hasan al-Nadwi. It is good for a beginner, I would also recommend it. A brother scanned in some pages and posted them on this thread:

    http://talk.islamicnetwork.com/showthread.php?t=8706

    So you can gauge it by looking at them inshaa’ Allaah.

    Thank you for sharing the book with us. I have not had a look through it but I will when I get a chance in shaa’ Allaah.

  26. Thanks a lot for the link, arabicgems!

    I also need some ‘layman’ explanation as to what is meant by Declension of noun. I know that this is a grammatical term and I am currently learning declensions of Arabic nouns, but a first- hand answer with some examples will defintely benefit me.

    May Allah reward you for guiding me!

  27. You are welcome, ameen.

    If an English speaker has never studied a foreign language before, declension would seem like a very strange thing to them, because while it occurs in many languages of the world, it occurs very little in English.

    Declension in Arabic basically refers to a change that occurs to the end of the word to indicate its grammatical position in the sentence (subject, object, etc).

    This change can be simply to the final vowel on the word (for eg, kitaabun كتابٌ becoming kitaabin كتاب), or it could be with the last letters of the word, (for eg Muslimoona مسلومن becoming Muslimeena مسلمين). These changes are called declension. The study of WHY the changes occur is the subject of Arabic grammar (nahw) and the study of the HOW a word is declined is the subject of Arabic morphology (sarf).

    I hope that clears things up a bit.

  28. Thanks a lot, arabicgems!
    As always you have proven true to your word in helping people out. May Allah reward you for this!

    May I ask you to please have a look at the following link for me , please:

    http://www.shariahprogram.ca/ShariahProgramCourseSyllabusSem1.pdf

    This is the semester syallabus for ShariahProgram.ca , being offered in Toronto, Canada. I am planning to attend this course, Insha Allah, but would like to take some expert advice beforehand.

    I will really appreciate if you could spend some minutes on this and get back to me with your comments

    Wassalam….

  29. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    I have heard good things about the course, and Yusuf Mullan seems a very able teacher, much more knowledgeable than I, so please bear in mind that I can only give you the perspective of a student and not an expert.

    With the limited material there is to judge by and without having seen the course in action, it is difficult to give an assessment. The breadth of the topics covered is fair, although I have heard that it is very grammar-intensive. Without adequate exercises and application of the grammar, though, I have found that it is often soon enough forgotten, so this is something I would advise you enquire further on.

    My personal feelings about ‘traditional’ methods of teaching, is that there is always room for improvement. Just because a text was taught one way for decades or even centuries, I do not believe that is necessarily the best way. I believe the teaching method should depend on the student’s learning style, and so I would also advise you to maybe see if you can sit in on a class beforehand to see if you are able to learn in their way.

    Again, there was not much information to go by; however, it is foundation level, so I believe you would benefit from it.

  30. This is the first time I’ve actually seen this website and all i can say is wow… ma sha Allah… every post that I have read so far has truly been a gem…

    I just have one quick question with regards to أنزل versus نزل; what about the verse:

    وقال الذين كفروا لولا نزل عليه القرآن جملة واحدة

  31. That is an excellent question, barak Allaahu feek.

    Whenever the word anzala is used in the Qur’an (in relation to the Qur’an), the agent (faa3il) is Allaah, as it is referring to His sending down the Qur’aan from al-Lawh al-Mahfooz (the preserved tablet) to the lowest heaven.

    And whenever the word nazzala is used, the agent is the angel Jibreel, because it is referring to the angel Jibreel passing on the Qur’an periodically to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

    So the word nazzala was used in this verse to reflect that the disbelievers were protesting by asking ‘Why wasn’t the Qur’an revealed to him all at once?’, in reference to angel Jibreel’s revelation of the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and not in reference to the sending down of the Qur’an to the lowest heaven.

    That is according to my understanding, and Allah knows best.

  32. Assalamu Alaykum

    jazakillahu khayran for the response

    I checked what ibn Ashur had to say… I think I like your explanation better, ma sha Allah … I will check some of the other tafsirs if I get a chance

  33. wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    Please share what you find.

  34. This is what Abu’l-Sa’ud had to say, and of the couple of tafsirs I checked, this was the only thing of seemingly real note I could come across:

    { لَوْلاَ نُزّلَ عَلَيْهِ القرءان } التَّنزيلُ هَهُنا مجرَّدٌ عن مَعْنى التَّدريجِ كما في قولِه تعالى : { يَسْأَلُكَ أَهْلُ الكتاب أَن تُنَزّلَ عَلَيْهِمْ كتابا مّنَ السماء } ويجوز أنْ يرادَ به الدِّلالةُ على كثرةِ المُنزَّلِ في نفسِه أي هلاَّ أُنزل كلُّه { جُمْلَةً واحدة } كالكتب الثَّلاثةِ

  35. Jazakum Allahu khayran.

  36. SuhaylBinAbdAl-Matin

    Assalamu ‘alaykum Wa Rahmathullah Wa Barakathuhu

    JazakAllah Khaira for that most insightful article on the superior eloquence of the Qur’an Al-Kareem. I have a question-

    There is no doubt that another word can not replace that used in the Qur’an by Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). What about the ten Qiraat of the Qur’an (Hafs, Warsh, Qalun, Shuba etc)? Aren’t some of the words sometimes replaced by synonyms or other words/ differences?

    JazakAllah Khaira
    Wasalam.

  37. SuhaylBinAbdAl-Matin

    Assalamu ‘alaykum Wa Rahmathullah Wa Barakathuhu

    I am currently reading a book called ‘Miracles of the Qur’an’ by Shaykh Muhammad Mitwalli Al-Sha’wari. Here is an excerpt I copied, which shows the beauty of the Qur’an:

    Below, examples of the accuracy of usage and clarity of meaning, where no redundancy or synonymity exists, can be seen in the Qur’ān:

    “…and persevere whatever may befall you. Lo! That is of the steadfast heart of things”
    (Surah Luqman 31:17)

    “And verily whoso is patient and forgiveth – lo! That, verily is (of) the steadfast heart of
    things.” (Surah Ash-Shura 42:43)

    In the second verse the preposition “of” (lamin) may pass unnoticed or be taken as an emphatic synonym. But this is not so, because every letter or word in the language of the Qur’ān is selected with the utmost care to convey one intrinsic meaning and definite purpose. There is no such thing as synonymity in the Qur’ān. Each letter and word has its own fixed meaning which no other word can express as accurately, irrespective of their seeming similarity. If we consider thoughtfully the meticulous selectivity of the words in the above verses and their underlying meaning, we soon come to realize that there are two kinds of patience. In the first kind there is no direct adversary or person responsible for hardship or misfortune; for example a brick falling from a building under construction onto the head of an unsuspecting pedestrian, or the collapse of a newly- built house over peacefully sleeping tenants. In all incidents and mishaps of this nature no individual bears the responsibility for the victim’s misfortune. It is therefore easy for the unfortunate man to restrain his anger and accept his misfortune as an act of Allah سبحانه و تعالى. This kind of patience does not require a great deal of energy and can be easily achieved. But patience which is “verily of the steadfast heart of things“ is that which involves an antagonist against whom a victim has the freedom to retaliate and avenge himself, but prefers to suppress his anger and vengeful tendencies and forgive him. This kind of patience is deemed by Allah سبحانه و تعالى to be worthier than the first, because in this kind the aggrieved is dominated by his instinctive anger and feelings of injustice, and has to exercise a great deal of self-restraint. He is restrained by his fear of Allah سبحانه و تعالى, and refrains from responding to evil with evil. In the above verses, Allah سبحانه و تعالى defines the merits of the two types of patience and their corresponding heavenly rewards. He also describes the human responses of retaliation that ought to be observed in each case by the faithful. Thus, in the first case they are commanded to accept what befalls them with humility and resignation to His will. In the second they are commanded to be forgiving and to maintain their faith in Allah’s سبحانه و تعالى justice.

    The preposition ‘of’ has obviously been used to accentuate the distinction between the kind of patience in which forgiveness is not a necessity, and that in which forgiveness represents a test of endurance of injustice and of the believer’s trust in Allah’s سبحانه و تعالى providence and will.

    This shows how a single letter or preposition can bear such depth of meaning and discriminating power in the language of the Qur’ān.

    Another excerpt from the book:

    ‘’Say (unto the believers): Travel in the land…’’ (Surah An’am 6:11)

    In this verse is the word fi (‘in’) instead of ‘ala (‘on’) as correct Arabic usage dictates. However, this structure may be justified if we assumed that the preposition fi (‘in’) entailed adverbiality, and considered the word al-ard (‘earth’) to be an adverb of the word ‘walk’, and the meaning permitted it. But in the Qur’ān there is no allowance for this likelihood. Each expression is measured to fit strictly the meaning it conveys leaving no shadow of doubt as to its interpretation. Each letter or word has one definite meaning and purpose which unfolds itself readily to the inquisitive mind.

    With the advance of science into the nature and function of our universe, we have come to learn that the earth is not limited to its terrestrial and aquatic components. It also comprises a gaseous envelope which cleaves to it and gives it life, and without which life on earth would have been impossible. People living on earth make use of the properties of this gaseous extension or atmosphere for their benefit and progress in exactly the same way as they make use of the rocky crust and the liquid surfaces, or land and sea. Thus, when we travel in an aeroplane at about thirty thousand feet above the surface of the earth we are still moving within the boundaries of the earth. We pass beyond this boundary when we cross the limit of the atmosphere and plunge into space. This scientific fact was a mystery to man when the Qur’ān was first revealed. Only Allah سبحانه و تعالى possessed this knowledge. Now we know that we are living and moving amidst two layers of matter: the solid matter of the earth and the gaseous matter which is air. No one today is ignorant of the fact three states of matter are solids, liquids and gases, but this primary knowledge was not available to man fourteen centuries ago, and neither Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم nor anyone else could have known this.

    Wasalaam.

  38. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmat Allaah wa barakaatuhu,

    SuhaylBinAbdAl-Matin, wa iyyaakum, and jazakum Allaahu khayran for typing up the excerpts from al-Sha’arawi’s work. He has done amazing work speaking about the beauty of the Qur’anic language, and it is good to see translations of such works al-Hamdulillaah.

    In terms of the different qiraa’aat of the Qur’an, then each one of them is just as miraculous as the next, as all of them were revealed by Allaah. And the beauty of it is also that all of them compliment each other in meaning, and none contradicts the other.

    A good explanation of this in the English language can be found in the book, ‘An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an’ by Yasir Qadhi (http://kitaabun.com/shopping3/product_info.php?products_id=747).

  39. SuhaylBinAbdAl-Matin

    Assalamu ‘alaykum Wa Rahmathullah Wa Barakathuhu

    Here’s a nice article I found on this topic by Hamza Tzortzis (I think):

    If the Qur’anic verses report a major event, like those that speak about the end of the Flood, their sentences become very short as if they were Morse Code signals. A verse in its entirety becomes like a pithy telegram with a momentous impact:

    “A voice cried out: ‘Earth swallow up your waters; heaven, cease your rain! The floods abated and God’s will was done.” [Qur’an 11:44]

    Such varying effects in word morphology, syntax, and the concordance of rhythms with
    meanings and feelings reach to the very summit in the Qur’an. They are always achieved in a smooth and easy manner without any artificiality or affectation.

    If we further pursue this line of analysis, we will discover a meticulous accuracy and staggering adequacy: every letter is in its precise place neither advanced nor retarded. You cannot substitute one word for another, nor put one letter in place of the other. Every word has been chosen from among millions by a very sensitive act of discernment. We shall presently encounter such accuracy as has never been equaled in composition.

    Examine, for example, the word ‘fertilizing’ in the following verse:

    “We let loose the fertilizing wind” [Qur’an 15:22]

    It was in the past understood in a figurative sense to mean that the wind stimulates the clouds causing then to rain; the rain would then ‘fertilize’ the soil, that is, make it productive. Nowadays, however, we know that the winds drive positively charged clouds into negatively charged ones causing lighting, hunder, and rain. In this sense they ‘fertilize’ the clouds. We also know that winds carry the pollen from one flower to another thus literary fertilizing them. Hence, we are before a word which is true figuratively, literally, and scientifically. It is, moreover, aesthetically superb and rhythmically pleasing. This is what we mean by meticulous accuracy in the choice and placing of a word.

    Let us also consider the following verse:

    “Do not usurp each other’s property by unjust means, nor bribe judges with it in order that you may knowingly and wrongfully deprive others of their possessions.” [Qur’an 2:188]

    The Arabic word used here for ‘bribe’ here is ‘todloo’ which literally means to ‘lower’ something or send it down. This may seem a strange use putting in my mind that the judge or ruler to whom the money is given is in a higher not a lower position vis-à-vis the givers. The Qur’an, however, effects an appropriate correction with this use: the hand that accepts bribes is a lower hand even if it is the ruler’s or the judge’s. This is how the expression ‘lower it down to the judges’ comes in an unequalled stylistic adequacy to convey meanness and degradation of those who receive bribes.

    The Qur’an speaks about the killing of children for fear of poverty in two similar verses which only differ in a significant respect:

    “You shall not kill your children because you cannot support them. We provide for you and for them.” [Qur’an 6: 151]

    “You shall not kill your children for fear of want. We will provide for them and for you.”
    [Qur’an 17: 31]

    The underlined word difference in word order is not haphazard but calculated. When the killing of children is motivated by actual want, by the poverty of the family at that time, the Qur’anic emphasis is on God’s succor of the parents; hence they are mentioned first (in the first verse). If, on the other hand, the killing is impelled by fear of expected want, of the future possibility of poverty, the Qur’an delivers its assuring message by placing the children (the future) before the family as recipients of God’s provision (in the second verse). Such minutiae can hardly occur to the mind of any human author. [Especially if the verse where revealed instantaneously, and other verses exhibiting this accuracy invalidates chance as an explanation]

    Still pursuing the meticulous accuracy of the Qur’anic expression, we find two identical verses about patience that differ only in an ‘l’ letter added to a word in the second of them. In the first verse Luqman, the wise, says to his son:

    “Endure with fortitude whatever befalls, for this is will power.” [Qur’an 31:17]

    In the second verse we read:

    “Who endures and forgiveness this truly is will power” [Qur’an 42:43]

    Patience in the first verse is “min AAazmi al-omoori” (will power) while in the second verse it is “lamin AAazmi al-omoori”. The secret behind the emphasis with ‘la’ in the latter construction is that the patience involved in this case is doubly more demanding than the endurance exhorted in the first verse. It is patience vis-à-vis aggression by an opponent and the person advised is required not only to endure but to forgive. This is certainly more difficult than the endurance of unavoidable divine fate.

    Subtle and exact stylistic touches in the Qur’an extend to word inflections. In the verse:

    “If two parties of believers fight each other, make peace between the.” [Qur’an 49:9]

    The two parties are referred to first in the plural mode: the verb ‘iqtataloo’ – fight each other/against themselves – is used. But later on they are spoken of in the dual mode: in the word ‘baynahuma’ which means ‘between the two of them’. There is a very subtle and fine touch here. For in the thick of fighting the two parties will merge into each other becoming a ‘host’ or ‘pluralism’ of striking arms, but if at peace they will separate again into two (the dual mode) groups each sending an envoy for talks. Hence the precision of the Qur’anic manner of expression.

    Even prepositions and conjunctions are employed in (or are absent from) the Qur’anic
    text for weighty considerations and according to a precise and accurate calculation. An example of this method is afforded by a repeated Qur’anic structure based on the phrase, ‘they ask you’:

    “They ask you about what they should give in alms. Say: What you can spare.” [Qur’an 2:
    219]

    “They ask you about the phases of the moon. Say: They are timings for people and pilgrimage.” [Qur’an 2:189]

    The word ‘say’ (Qul) come invariably as an answer to the question introduced by the phrase, ‘they ask you’.

    An exception, however, occurs when a verse speaks about the condition of the mountains on the day of Judgement:

    “They ask you about the mountains. Then say: My Lord will crush then into fine dust.”
    [Qur’an 20:105]

    Hence the word ‘say’ comes in the Arabic form ‘faqul’ or ‘then say’ instead of ‘qul’. The
    reason is that all previous questions have already been put to Muhammad, but no one
    has yet asked him about what happens to mountains on the day of Judgement because this is one of the secrets of that day. Thus, God is in effect saying to him: if you are asked about that subject, then say such and such a thing. The prefix ‘fa’ is not superfluous but semantically functional in a calculated manner.

    Instances of eloquent Qur’anic accuracy of expression are inexhaustible.

    All the previous examples illustrate the precise structuring and extreme accuracy of Qur’anic expression. The words are meticulously chosen even the letters are meaningfully used. No addition, elision, advancing, or retarding occurs but by careful design. This approach is unequalled in any human composition. It is only found in the Qur’an.

  40. SuhaylBinAbdAl-Matin

    Assalamu ‘alaykum Wa Rahmathullah Wa Barakathuhu

    While reading through some of Bedluzzaman Said Nursi’s work, I came across an amazing example of the perfect form of the Qur’an:

    In order to indicate the severity of Allah’s سبحانه و تعالى punishment, the clause, ‘‘If but a breath from the torment of Your Lord touches them’’ (Surah Al-Anbiya’ 21:46), points to the least amount or slightest element of that torment. That is, the clause as a whole is to express this slightness, and therefore all its parts should reinforce that meaning. Thus, the words If but (lein) signify uncertainty and therefore implies slightness (of the punishment). The verb massa means to touch slightly, and therefore it too signifies slightness. Nafhatun (a breath) is merely a puff of air. Grammatically, it is a derived form of the word used to express ‘singleness’ which again underlies the littleness. The tanwin (double n) at the end of nafhatun indicates indefiniteness and suggests that it is as slight and insignificant as cannot be known. The particle min implies a part or a piece, thus indicating paucity. The word adhab (torment or punishment) is light in meaning compared to nakal (exemplary chastisement) and iqab (heavy penalty), and denotes a lesser punishment or torment than is available to one’s Lord. The use of Rabb (Lord, Provider, Sustainer) which suggests affection, instead of (for example) Overwhelming, All-Compelling or Avenger, also expresses slightness. Finally, the clause means that if so slight a breath of torment or punishment has such an affect, one should reflect how severe the Divine chastisement might be. We see in this short clause how its parts are related to each other and add to the meaning. This example concerns the words chosen and the purpose in choosing them.

    Wasalam.

  41. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmat Allaah wa barakaatuhu,

    Jazakum Allaahu khayran for posting that. It is actually my favourite of his writings.

  42. SuhaylBinAbdAl-Matin

    Assalamu ‘alaykum Wa Rahmathullah Wa Barakathuhu

    Sorry for so many questions- just one more, Insha Allah. Someone told me that there is a checklist (about 60 or something) in Arabic which is used to mark the level of eloquence that a piece of writing has. If you take any piece of literature, it does not meet every single checklist point, but is deficient in some. Only the Qur’an meets every single checklist point of eloquence, which is the miracle of the Qur’an. Is this true?

    JazakAllah Khaira,
    Wasalam.

  43. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmat Allaahi wa barakaatuhu,

    I’m sorry, I don’t know. Maybe someone else reading can help in shaa’ Allaah.

  44. SuhaylBinAbdAl-Matin

    Assalamu ‘alaykum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuhu

    I have a question. In the Qur’an ‘tawaffi’ is used frequently to refer to death, over other synonyms, because this word implies that we will be resurrected. However, I read that other synonyms such as mawt imply that we will not return (i.e. there will be no resurrection of our bodies).

    In that case why is/are it/they (e.g. mawt) used in the Qur’an? Please could you explain- I’m guessing my understanding is poor, but I read this in a book called ‘Uloom al-Qur’an.

    JazakAllah Khairan,
    Wasalam.

  45. Assalamo Alaikum,

    Excellent work.

  46. Excellent work…

    May allah reward you for this

  47. O tak pjn to kompletna porazka!

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