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Offline toufiq95

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50:17, Two Guardian Angels or Two demands of his nature?
« on: December 13, 2019, 02:02:03 PM »

What's the exact meaning of the phrase 'yatalaqqa al--mutalaqqiyan'?

I don't know arabic. But I try to make a comparative study among the available translations. While studying Muhammad Assad's translation of the Quran I came upon something very interesting.

He translates, 50:17 as,

50:17 -[And so,] whenever the two demands [of his nature] come face to face, contending from the right and from the left

In his footnote he states,- 'The first part of the above sentence - i.e., the phrase yatalaqqa al--mutalaqqiyan- may be understood  in either of two senses: "the two that are meant to receive do receive", or "the two that aim at meeting  each other do meet". The classical commentators adopt, as a rule, the first sense and, consequently,  interpret the passage thus: ..... the two angels that are charged with recording man's doings - do  record them, sitting on his right and on his left". In my opinion, however, the second of the two possible  meanings ("the two that aim at meeting each other") corresponds better with the preceding verse, which  speaks of what man's innermost self (nafs) - whispers within him", i.e., voices his subconscious desires.
 Thus, "the two that aim at meeting" are, I believe, the two demands of, or, more properly, the two  fundamental motive forces within man's nature: his primal, instinctive urges and desires, both sensual  and non-sensual (all of them comprised in the modern psychological term "libido"), on the one side, and  his reason, both intuitive and reflective, on the other. The "sitting (qa'id) on the right and on the  left" is, to my mind, a metaphor for the conflicting nature of these dual forces which strive for  predominance within every human being: hence, my rendering of qa'id as "contending". This interpretation  is, moreover, strongly supported by the reference, in verse 21, to man's appearing on Judgment Day with  "that which drives and that which bears witness" - a phrase which undoubtedly alludes to man's  instinctive urges as well as his conscious reason'

Various other translators translate this verse as follows:

two receptors set to record, one on his right side and one on his left.

(Shaheeh International)
When the two receivers receive, seated on the right and on the left.

When the two Receivers receive (him), seated on the right hand and on the left

(Yusuf Ali)
Behold, two (guardian angels) appointed to learn (his doings) learn (and noted them), one sitting on the right and one on the left.

So what is the proper meaning of the phrase
'yatalaqqa al--mutalaqqiyan'?

I'd appreciate it very much  if my knowledgeable brothers and sisters in faith, give some of your valuable opinion on this matter.

I would be very grateful if brother Joseph comes upon this and gives his precious opinion on the subject. But considering his busy schedule I understand that it might not be possible.

In my personal opinion Muhammad Assad's rendition appears as both logical and coherent with the overall theme of the context.

I've started ardently studying Qur'an very recently, so I am hoping and praying that God almighty bestows upon me the knowledge of truth.

Offline Athman

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Re: 50:17, Two Guardian Angels or Two demands of his nature?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2019, 01:34:15 PM »
Dear 'toufiq95,'


Firstly, with no intention of attributing this to any individual, it has been a general observation of mine that it is those who define 'angels' (malaika) as 'laws in nature' that would necessarily find ways to redefine or interpret explicit and clear scriptural references to 'angels' (malaika) into 'empirical,' 'scientific,' or 'commonly held' understandings. In my opinion, such an approach is flawed especially considering the wider Qur'anic theology built upon the belief in such 'beings' (35:1). I suppose that this is not the case with you.

With that said, kindly find  some relevant comments below from my humble perspective.

'Lam-Qaf-Ya' being the root of the relevant form V derivatives in 50:17 has various meanings with an underlying connotation of 'meeting/ causing to come closer, in touch or together.' In this case (form V), it is primarily used to basically mean 'to receive' (talaqqa). See verse 2:37.

From the above, the phrase 'idh yatalaqqa al-mutalaqqiyani 'anil yamini wa 'anish-shimali qa'idun' literally translates to 'as the two receivers receive, seated to the right and to the left.' Simply, this can be easily reconciled with the noble recorder angels (kiraman katibin) who guard ones in recording of deeds (82:10-11).

With regards to reconciliation of the preceding verse 50:16 with the reference 'the two aiming at meeting each other' in 50:17 with respect to 'whispers' of ones 'innermost self' or else ones 'intentions/ actions,' I would argue that verse 43:80 puts the perspective clear. As per 43:80, it is indeed messenger (rusulan) - angels (22:75) that do record people's 'secrets' and 'conspiracies' arguably also from their inner selves.

"Or do they think that We hear not their secrets and their private conversations? Yes, and Our messengers are with them recording." [Qur'an, Az-Zukhruf 43:80]

Therefore, if the secrecy and conspiracy in man's doings is witnessed and recorded down by 'messenger' angels (43:80), it is obvious that man's innermost whispers as alluded to in 50:16 are as well witnessed and recorded (50:18) by the same messenger angels (43:80), in this case 'the two receivers' (al-mutalaqqiyani) 'positioned' (qa'idun) to 'the right' (al-yamini) and to 'the left' (ash-shimali) - 50:17. The 'receiving/ perceiving' (yatalaqqa) of the 'whispers' (tuwaswisu) from the 'inner self' (nafsuhu) of human beings (al-insana) by the 'two receiver angels' (mutalaqqiyani) being in a similar manner as that 'receiving/ perceiving' (fatalaqqa) of the 'inspirational words' (kalimatin) by Adam (pbuh) in 2:37.

It has to be noted that the 'receiving' (talaqqa) by angels (malaika) is not limited only to that of 'uttered words' (qawlin) by the 'kiraman katibin' (82:10-11) but is also applicable to other areas like that of 'receiving' (watatalaqqahum) of believers into Eternal Bliss (21:103) as well as arguably disbelievers into Hell by respective messenger angels. See 66:6.

In my opinion, the 'positioning' (qa'idun) to the right (al-yamini) and to the left (ash-shimali) is better understood as an elucidation to the literal reference 'the two receivers' (al-mutalaqqiyani). To me, the references 'saiqun' (driver) and 'shahidun' (witness) in 50:21 sound more of 'beings' than 'personalities/ faculties' of beings. Read in tandem with 39:70-75, the driver (saiqun) in 50:21 who accompanies (qarinuhu, 50:23) and drives (wasiqa, 39:71) one to their destiny resort that Day is better understood as from among the angels in charge on the Day of judgment (39:75). See 74:30.

Furthermore, the 'drive' (masaqu) in this case (50:21) can well be understood as that of 'transition' of place (transportation) rather than that of 'influence/ enforcement' into action. See (7:57, 35:9) as well as 39:71. As for the 'witness' (shahidun) in this case (for the disbeliever), this might as well be a 'company' (qarinuhu, 50:27) whom one is coupled with when their case is closed (43:36-38). This is actually what is confirmed by that said 'company' in 50:27 as part of their 'witnessing' (shahidun).

Consequently, in my view, I would not necessarily understand those 'two receivers' to the 'right' and to the 'left' in 50:17 as implying 'two conflicting forces' in which case 'instinctive urges' against 'intuitive faculty/ reason' nor should they necessarily correspondingly be related to the 'driver' and 'witness' in 50:21. Rather, I read 50:16-18 as a unit block of verses that together point to a pair of angels who are in charge of noting down each and every utterance/ deed that a person does.

Hopefully that is acceptable of an interpretation God willing.

And Allah knows best.


Offline toufiq95

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Re: 50:17, Two Guardian Angels or Two demands of his nature?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2020, 02:54:26 PM »
Thank you brother Athman for sharing your detailed analysis of my question.

Offline toufiq95

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Re: 50:17, Two Guardian Angels or Two demands of his nature?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2020, 04:45:21 PM »
And your answer is very helpful. Thank you for being kind enough to take the time to provide your opinion on my question.