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Offline Star

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47:4 Violence?
« on: March 08, 2016, 02:49:00 AM »
Salam all,

This is Quran 47:4:

Yusuf Ali: Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers, smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.

I hope this verse is referring only to those disbelievers who fight against Islam, right?

Offline Nura

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Re: 47:4 Violence?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2016, 06:37:08 AM »
Salam Mia

Yes this verse is talking about the disbelievers who have transgressed and declared wars against believers and is telling the believers how to act with prisoners of war i.e you spare their lives and ransom them after the war is over or simply let them go. Allah says He could have easily extracted a price from these prisoners of war for attacking the believers if He so wanted to aluding to a possibility of killing them in war, as in no survivors. But He is using them and giving the believers an opportunity to be merciful and forgiving. That is how He is using the disbelievers to test the believers i.e will the believers ignore Allah's law and return transgression with agression and transgression themselves?

Believers are tested through the existence of non-believers and vice versa. If Allah so wanted we all could have been believers but it is His will to test us this way
Not all those who wander are lost - J.R.R. Tolkien

Offline Wakas

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Re: 47:4 Violence?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2016, 02:30:47 AM »
For a much better (i.e. more accurate) rendition I recommend:

source

17)
fa darba al rriqabi hattaitha athkhantumoohum = so strike the necks until when you have overcome them
[47:4]

Some use "hit", "smite", "strike-off". Whilst this is the most common translation, it should be noted that it is taken by many as an idiom (e.g. Al-Jalalayn, Ibn Kathir), meaning slay or kill. This seems a plausible interpretation as in a battle of swords and arrows no commander would order his soldiers to aim for the necks alone. Similarly, "put forth" could also be used. Interestingly, Mustansir Mir's book mentions a similar expression "daraba raqabatahu" and renders it as "to cut off somebody's head / kill somebody".

However, upon closer examination, there is an alternative translation, which seems the most likely based on the evidence:

So, when you encounter those who have rejected/concealed, then put forth /bring about the captives; until when you have subdued/overcome them, then strengthen the bind. Then after either grace/favour or ransom, until the war lays down its burdens. That, and had God willed, surely He would have gained victory Himself from them, but He tests some of you with others. And those who get killed in the cause of God, He will never let their deeds be put to waste.

Notes for the above translation:
1) "darba" is a verbal noun, indicating the act of doing as well as the noun itself, e.g. then putting forth / bringing about the captives.
2) In a battle of swords and arrows no commander would order his soldiers to aim for the necks alone.
3) RQB is NEVER used to mean neck elsewhere in The Quran, as the word for neck is "unuq" (as used in 8:12 also with DRB). RQB is always used to mean slaves/captives.
4) If they were supposed to be beheaded, there would not be a need for an instruction regarding captives. Thus to overcome this apparent omission, many traditional commentators translate "fa shuddoo al wathaqa" as "then tie the bond" and say this refers to taking prisoners of war. However, the word "strengthen/tighten (Arabic: shuddoo)" implies a pre-existing thing to strengthen/tighten (see its usage in 38:20, 76:28, 28:35, 10:88, 20:31), but if this is true, where is it in context? It can only relate to "darba al rriqabi", and thus provides strong proof that this phrase is about bringing about captives from the enemy.
5) This translation makes sense because during open/active fighting, the captives may not be totally secure, and could only really be secured once the enemy has been subdued/overcome. Thus, this verse is implying aim to bring about captives, not necessarily kill them, which shows mercy and less aggression in such a situation, even if it means getting killed.
6) One meaning of DaRaBa found in Lane's Lexicon is "he made or caused to be or constituted" which is similar to the suggested meaning discussed above.
7) I am not aware of a Classical Arabic Dictionary which references verse 47:4 under the root entry of DRB or RQB.
8) 47:4 refers to those mentioned in the previous verses, going by its use of connective particle "fa", then these people were not fighting or killing, thus killing them may violate the law of equivalence [2:190, 4:90, 5:8, 16:126, 42:39-43].
9) Interestingly, Traditional Tafsirs (altafsir.com) also mention this possibility along with the common understanding. Ibn 'Abbas: "...and taken them prisoners, (then making fast of bonds) keep the prisoners in captivity...". Tafsir al-Jalalayn: "...take them captive and bind firmly, the bonds (al-wathāq is what is used to bind [yūthaqu] a captive).".

Offline Star

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Re: 47:4 Violence?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2016, 10:53:37 AM »
Salam,

Nura: This is an interesting way to think about the verse--an injunction to mercy and not to aggression. I think your idea of the verse is better than the usual interpretation, which has connotations of cruelty and killing.

Wakas: Thank you for the alternate translation. It makes more sense than the Yusuf Ali one. This is my understanding, from what you posted, of what the verse is saying:

• When you meet the disbelievers in war, take captives.
• Make sure you have them fully in your power.
• Don't kill the captives. Either get a ransom for them or set them free. God likes it when people are merciful.
• Obviously, this verse is only to be used in situations where the other party is engaged in an active war with the believers.

Is this correct?

Thank you for your replies :)

Offline Wakas

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Re: 47:4 Violence?
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2016, 03:32:41 AM »
That is my understanding also.

Offline relearning

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Re: 47:4 Violence?
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2016, 12:12:29 AM »
Dear Wakas your way of translating quran is just like trying to force to tame it. Trying to trim every things which may seem like a thorn to this modern age's understanding.

Offline Wakas

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Re: 47:4 Violence?
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2016, 05:01:07 AM »
peace relearning,

Dear Wakas your way of translating quran is just like trying to force to tame it. Trying to trim every things which may seem like a thorn to this modern age's understanding.

Quite possible BUT to test such a claim it depends entirely upon the actual Quranic evidence.

I will be very interested if you can provide a stronger evidenced alternative to my rendition of 47:4.