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Offline Reader Questions

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Translating the Word 'Mutashabihat'
« on: May 24, 2012, 06:26:36 PM »
Salam Dear Brother.
I find it that in translating Mutashabihat, different expressions are used:
1. Similar
2. Allegorical
3. Metaphorical
4. Ambiguous
Could you please, when you get a chance, explain the concepts of Muhakmat and Mutashabihat.

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Translating the Word 'Mutashabihat'
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2012, 06:29:17 PM »
Salamun Alaikum
Mutashabih has different meanings. With respect to 3:7 in the Quran, the best way to understand which meaning applies here is to see the context. Here 'Mutashabbih' is contrasted with 'muhkam'  which means fundamental - something with 'hukm' stability, sound, firm! (as used in 47:20 to denote something decisive).
Therefore 'mutashabbih' in this context as a contrast to 'muhkam' would mean something which is obscure, ambiguous, doubtful, abstract, something which can take different meanings or something in which there could be 'shubha'.
However, those whose hearts are perverted (as in 3:7), they start focusing on 'shubha' or mutashabbih verses. So here the meaning is clear.
In other contexts it can also mean to resemble or liken, similar, imitate, conform, to compare something with another. This is the primary meaning of the word. The context is clear in which these meanings are operative, such as 2:25 and 6:141 and in the Quran, this meaning is generally used.
Now although the meanings in the two context seem poles apart, one meaning is actually derived from another. The term 'mutashabbih' (something which becomes ambiguous, dubious, uncertain) actually comes from the understanding that something becomes 'uncertain or ambiguous' because two things resemble one another which is the core meaning of the word.
In the context of the Quran, they take different meanings irrespective of how they etymologically linked.
I hope that helps, God willing.

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