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Offline ilker

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« on: July 13, 2018, 12:20:55 AM »
Assalamu alaykum brothers and sisters

Recently, I'm having a hard time understanding a pattern used frequently in Quran. When Allah (swt) talks about some actions He forbids us to do, He usually sorts these actions using "wa la ...., wa la ...." between them.

But when it comes to 47:35;

"So do not falter and cry out for peace when ye (will be) the uppermost, and Allah is with you, and He will not grudge (the reward of) your actions."

In arabic: Falaa tahinoo wa tad'ooo ilas salmi wa antumul a'lawna wallaahu ma'akum wa lany yatirakum a'maalakum.

There is only one "la" in the beginning of this ayah and according to many translations it seems to be valid for both "tahinoo" and "tad'ooo".
But again as i said, Allah (swt) generally uses "wa la" each time when He forbids or commands multiple things in a row.

Some examples:

3:139 (the words used in this ayah is quite similar to 47:35)

So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers.

Wa laa tahinoo wa laa tahzanoo wa antumul a'lawna in kuntum mu'mineen


Say, "Bring forward your witnesses who bear witness that Allah has prohibited this." So, in case they bear witness, (then) do not bear witness with them, and do not ever follow the prejudices of the ones who have cried lies to Our signs, and the ones who do not believe in the Hereafter, and they (unjustly) set up equals to their Lord.

Qul halumma shuhadaaa'akumul lazeena yash hadoona annal laaha harrama haazaa fa in shahidoo falaa tashhad ma'ahum wa laa tattabi' ahwaaa'al lazeena kazzaboo bi Aayaatinaa wallazeena laa yu'minoona bil Aakhirati wa hum bi Rabbihim ya'diloon


There will certainly be no fear for the close servants of Allah, nor will they grieve.

Alaa innaa awliyaaa'al laahi laa khawfun 'alaihim wa laa hum yahzanoon.

9:55 (part)

So let not their riches nor their children make you admire them...

Falaa tu'jibka amwaaluhum wa laa awlaaduhum...


And to every nation (there is) a term; so when their term comes, they will not (be able to) postpone (it) by a (single) hour, nor will they put (it) forward.

Wa likulli ummatin ajalun fa izaa jaaa'a ajaluhum laa yastaakhiroona saa'atanw wa laa yastaqdimoon


But if you bring him not to me, there shall be no measure (of corn) for you with me, nor shall you come near me.

Fa il lam taatoonee bihee falaa kaila lakum 'indee wa laa taqraboon


Eternally (abiding) therein. The torment will not be lightened for them, and they will not be respited.

Khaalideena feehaa laa yukhaffafu 'anhumul 'azaabu wa laa hum yunzaroon.


But he who does of righteous deeds while he is a believer - he will neither fear injustice nor deprivation.

Wa mai ya'mal minas saalihaati wa huwa mu'minun falaa yakhaafu zulmanw wa laa hadmaa

22:67 (there is one "la" in bold and the meaning is positive here)

For every religion We have appointed rites which they perform. So, [O Muhammad], let the disbelievers not contend with you over the matter but invite them to your Lord. Indeed, you are upon straight guidance.

Likulli ummatin ja'alnaa mansakan hum naasikoohu falaa yunaazi 'unnaka fil amr; wad'u ilaa Rabbika innaka la 'alaa hudam mustaqeem.


He neither believed nor prayed.

Falaa saddaqa wa laa sallaa.


Rather, it will come to them unexpectedly and bewilder them, and they will not be able to repel it, nor will they be reprieved.

Bal taateehim baghtatan fatabhatuhum falaa yastatee'oona raddahaa wa laa hum yunzaroon


[ Allah ] said, "Descend from Paradise - all, [your descendants] being enemies to one another. And if there should come to you guidance from Me - then whoever follows My guidance will neither go astray [in the world] nor suffer [in the Hereafter].

Qaalah bita minhaa jamee'am ba'dukum liba'din 'aduww; fa immaa yaati yannakum minnee hudan famanit taba'a hudaaya falaa yadillu wa laa yashhqaa


And protect (yourselves) against a Day (when) no self will recompense for (another) self (in) anything. And no justice (i.e. just compensation) will be accepted from it nor will any intercession profit it; neither will they be vindicated.

Wattaqoo yawmal laa tajzee nafsun 'an nafsin shai 'anw wa laa yuqbalu minhaa 'adlunw wa laa tanfa'uhaa shafaa 'atunw wa laa hum yunsaroon



Also there are exceptions to this usage: (with single "la").


"And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know".

Wa laa talbisul haqqa bilbaatili wa taktumul haqqa wa antum ta'lamoon.


Noah pleaded, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking You about what I have no knowledge of, and unless You forgive me and have mercy on me, I will be one of the losers.”

Qaala rabbi inneee a'oozu bika an as'alaka maa laisa lee bihee 'ilmunw wa illaa taghfir lee wa tarhamneee akum minal khaasireen.


In summary, what do you think is the correct translation of 47:35 when you look similar ayat in the Quran ? Does Allah(swt) want us to call for peace when we are superior, or doesn't he ?

Because in 22:67 (very similar structure to 47:35) translated as "don't do this.... but do this..."  whereas 47:35 is translated as "don't do this, don't do this"...

Sorry for this complicated and long post.

Take care inshaAllah :)

Offline Aijaz

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Re: confusion
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2018, 11:23:32 AM »
I believe the translation should be like below:

Be not disheartened (you believers), and invite towards peace (ISLAM), you are of the higher rank and Allah is with you, and He will never put you in loss for your (good) deeds.

Offline Athman

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Re: confusion
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2018, 09:49:43 PM »
Dear ilker,

As salaam alaikum,

From my humble view, I find broadly 'two' aspects of the verse 47:35 that underpin such an understanding given by that popular translation. The 'context' and 'syntax' of the whole passage. In effect, I see such an understanding loosely related to the aspect of Quranic prohibitions taking the form of repeated 'la.'

"So do not weaken and (nor) call for peace while you are superior; and Allah is with you and will never deprive you of [the reward of] your deeds." (Qur'an, Muhammad 47:35)

Firstly, I see the 'context' of such a passage as given by verses 47:4 and 47:20. As also rightly noted by you, 3:139 which resonates a similar sentiment is in the context of 'fighting' (3:140,143,146). With 47:4,28,32,33; one would note that the believers had to take heed of the instructive injunctions from God and His Prophet (pbuh) into 'fighting' (47:4) lest their deeds get obliterated. This is also resonated in 47:4 (falan yudhwila a'malahum) as well as in 3:195.

Secondly, in my humble opinion, supported with such a context above, I see the 'syntactical' aspect of the whole verse emphasizing on the theme of continuous striving. Being on the upperhand, God being on their side, the believers had nothing to fear at the warfront. Thus, they were not to falter (8:15-16) but strive strenuously against their combatants (47:4) even if it meant some dying in the long run (3:157), for whom a deserved reward still awaits (3:169-171). Therefore, calling for peace in such an environment (battlefield) wouldn't sound appropriate. The only qualifying contexts would be those of surrender (2:192-193), conquer after war (8:67), amnesty (9:6, 60:10), calling off fighting (peace by the enemies themselves) - 8:61, for those non-enemy (60:8), etc.

Therefore, on one hand, given such 'context' and 'syntax,' the believers were not to waver in their stand to fight their enemies given their upperhand (3:123-4) and God being with them (8:64-66). If they die, their deserved fate is still reserved for them (3:158) and thus were also not to 'call for peace' unless such peace is sought from the other side in the first place (4:90-91) or after the war lays its burdens (47:4). Calling for peace disrupts such a harmonious theme (of persistent struggle) that seems to be developed within the passage.

On the other hand, I see the particle 'la' that oftenly appears with certain quranic prohibitions to have a function of 'emphasis' and 'reinforcement' in certain religious negative imperatives. The recursive nature of particles and clauses has a strong effect to emphasis in literature as you may agree. In the Qur'an, one would only observe how in effect for example the repeated clause in chapter 55 spiritually and thoughtfully captivates, 'So which of your Lord's marvels will you deny?' (55:13).

However, the 'la' is not a must that it is repeated. I trust that the 'context' in which and 'significance' of whatever is prohibited serves to play part to its usage. You may for instance find a list of persons outlined in 68:10-13 that one is not supposed to obey. The negative imperative uses particle 'la' only at the beginning of the injunction. In chapter 31, while verse 18 starts with 'wa la,' with another 'wa la' intermediating, prohibiting whatever follows, verse 19 which is in the positive does not carry the previous 'la' effect.

In 5:2, a series of prohibitions is made with subsequent 'wa la' in the first part. However, a positive injunction is made in the middle (wata'awanu 'alal birri) then a negative one imparted in the end (wa la ta'awanu 'alal ithmi). The positive injunction is obvious from the context and grammatical structure of the phrases. Verse 5:8 also illustrates a similar case with the distinction between the negative and positive phrases re-emphasized by the scriptural indicator recital pause mark (ج).

In my opinion, while in 47:35 the 'tahinoo' can ultimately lead to 'tadoo' to 'salmi' and in this case the believers are not to succumb to both, I see the two not necessarily twinned and one cannot necessarily occur simultaneously with the other. Thus, I find a repeated 'wa la' unnecessary. However, in 3:139, 'tahinoo' is twinned to 'tahzanoo.' They even almost mean the same thing and therefore would also occur simultaneously. It only serves to emphasize as the 'wa la' is. Anyway, Allah knows best.

With 6:150, 75:31 and 20:112, I think a similar case is illustrated. Even without the 'la' one would use 'context' to arrive at the intended meaning. Thus, the 'la' is used for its contextual emphasis given the nature of the commands.

In 10:62, 12:60, 20:123, 21:40, 3:88 and 7:34 (also 16:61), given the grammatical construction of the clauses, the opposite meaning would result without the 'la.' Thus, it grammatically calls for presence.

For 9:55, a similar case is illustrated in 3:116, 63:9 and 26:88. In addition, 34:37 also employs the negation though first uses 'ma' then 'la'. However one would note that the same text of 9:55 is repeated in 9:85 except for the 'la' and interchange of the introductory 'fa' with 'wa,' though arriving at the same meaning. This would only prove the function of 'la' as that of emphasis in the text of the former.

In 22:67, the 'context' and 'syntax' would warrant an understanding that sees the two clauses as independent, as the opposite has been seen in 47:35 above using the same two aspects. With the scriptural Quranic text, there's even an indicator recital pause mark (ج) which not only introduces a different clause independent of the preceding instruction 'falaa' but also as an imperative addressing the Prophet (pbuh) directly as opposed to an indirect address to the disbelievers in the first clause.

In 2:42 and 11:47, the context is similarly used to infer the intended meaning as that one carrying the introductory 'la' effect even in the absence of an accompanying 'la.'

You ask:

In summary, what do you think is the correct translation of 47:35 when you look similar ayat in the Quran ? Does Allah(swt) want us to call for peace when we are superior, or doesn't he ?

From my humble perspective, 47:35 doesn't instruct believers to call for peace in the context of 'qital' (fighting) even if they have the upperhand. Rather, it encourages them to strive (without call to peace) unless their combatants vouch for such peace, or the war lays it's burdens, especially where their enemies are the ones who had incited them into defence, retaliation or fight in the first place.

As regards the employment of 'la' in the general negative imperatives, I trust that context and semantics of the qur'anic text giving such instructions would harmoniously dictate the intended meaning. On the whole, it is used for 'emphasis.'

Hopefully that helps in some small way.


Offline ilker

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Re: confusion
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2018, 07:20:55 AM »
Salamun alaykum brothers and sisters

Alhamdulillah. Thank you Aijaz for your kind input and thank you Athman for your nice, detailed post :) I've read it I can say I understand what you mean by the contextual integrity overall. But still I'm not quite sure about the specific ayah. Maybe I need more time to think about it thoroughly and in a peaceful state of mind and heart in sha Allah. Your comments are always much appreciated :) Perhaps brother Joseph will also express his opinion on the subject.

Take care in sha Allah.

May Allah (swt) reward you good, ppl :)