Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Conjunctions in the Qur'an II

و

Meaning: and, and also, and... too

و ان : even if, even though, although

و لو : even if, even though, even in case that

و لكن : but, however, yet

This conjunction, with the all too familiar meaning of 'and' (simultaneity) conveys slightly different meanings depending on how it's used in sentences, although it's usage is fairly flexible.

In a previous post, Hafsa discussed the different types of "ifs". That will give you an idea of how the different meanings appear in the Qur'an.
As much as using these particles are important to convey the meaning you want, when such particles are omitted in parallel ayahs in the Qur'an, there's a significance to that which Sh Sohail Hanif explains1 .

In Surah Ash-Shu'ara two verses are repeated, with a subtle difference.

  • قَالُوا إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مِنَ الْمُسَحَّرِين مَا أَنتَ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُنَا
    Thay said: "Thou art only one of those bewitched! "Thou art no more than a mortal like us: ..." [26:153-154]
  • قَالُوا إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مِنَ الْمُسَحَّرِين و مَا أَنتَ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُنَا
    They said: "Thou art only one of those bewitched! "Thou art no more than a mortal like us, ..." [26:185-186]

In the first instance, people are speaking to Prophet Saleh (pbuh), and in the second, it's to Prophet Shuaib (pbuh). Yusuf Ali translated (الْمُسَحَّرِين) musahharin as bewitched in both the ayahs. However, musahharin has two meanings- one is to be bewitched, and the other is "to be from from those who eat and drink"- In other words, you are nothing but a man like us.

Scholars have differed in the meanings of these verses- Are the people saying you are bewitched, or are they saying you are from those who eat and drink?
In the second ayah, the و means and. So the translation is, You are from the musahharin, and you are like us.

Dr Fadhl Abbas says because of the missing و in the first instance, both ayahs refer to the same meaning, which is, you are from those who eat and drink, you are like us. And in the latter it means bewitched, because the two verses are separated by an and.
This is not only a miracle in the concise use of language, but also in historical accuracy. The early prophets weren't accused of being bewitched. And it appears that sorcery became a widespread phenomena in the Pharoanic Egypt. Shuaib (as) was in Madyan as the same time as Prophet Musa (as). Prophet Saleh was from the Prophets of early Arabia.

And we derive all these facts because of the و .



1 Introduction to the Qur'an- SunniPath

2 comments:

Ilm Seeker said...

Masha'allah amazing post! But SunniPath? They have courses about tasawwuf and stuff...I wouldn't consider them a reliable source, wallahu 'alim. Arabic can be a tool to undermine aqeedah, too...

Humairah Irfan said...

Jazakallah khair
I understand what you mean. I haven't taken any aqeedah or tasawwuf courses on SunniPath, but being a student of both SunniPath and the The Shariah Program, what I've learnt so far in grammar has been consistent. I haven't gone as far as learning fiqh yet, but I don't think, where Arabic is concerned, there would be conflict of information with respect to aqeedah.