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Offline Reader Questions

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Meaning of the Arabic word 'maAAahumu'
« on: November 10, 2011, 09:25:54 PM »
Dear brother,
I was reading your article on Prophets & Messengers accroding to Quran.
Quranic context is quite definitive that Prophets are bearer of scripture. But what about 57:25  where its mentioned that book is sent down with the messenger(waanzalna maAAahumu alkitaba) in sam()e way as mentioned in 2:213 for prophets(waanzala maAAahumu alkitaba)?
2:213 The people used to be one nation, then God sent the prophets as bearers of good news and as warners, and He sent down with them the book with the facts so that they may judge between the people in what they were disputing. But after receiving the proof, the people disputed in it due to animosity between them. God guided those who acknowledged with His permission regarding what they disputed in of the truth. God guides whoever/whomever (He) wishes to a straight path.
57:25 We have sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and We sent down with them the book and the balance, that the people may uphold justice. We sent down the iron, wherein there is great strength, and many benefits for the people. So that God would distinguish those who would support Him and His messengers on acknowledgement. God is Powerful, Noble.
Though from both of the verses above it dosent mention new/old scripture  , simply mentions the book is send down with   prophet (2:213)  and messenger (57:27) .
But it seems that the meaning of the word مَعَهُمُ maAAahumu could be  with/ together with/ for  them.
I have noticed some translation used  through them and To them.
For example Mohammad Asad  used Through them in both verses
2:213 (Asad) ALL MANKIND were once one single community; [then they began to differ - ] whereupon God raised up the prophets as heralds of glad tidings and as warners, and through them bestowed revelation from on high, setting forth the truth, so that it might decide between people with regard to all on which they had come to hold divergent views. [197] Yet none other than the selfsame people who had been granted this [revelation] began, out of mutual jealousy, to disagree about its meaning after all evidence of the truth had come unto them. But God guided the believers unto the truth about which, by His leave, they had disagreed: for God guides onto a straight way him that wills [to be guided]. [198]
57:25 (Asad) Indeed, [even aforetime] did We send forth Our apostles with all evidence of [this] truth; and through them [41] We bestowed revelation from on high, and [thus gave you] a balance [wherewith to weigh right and wrong], so that men might behave with equity; and We bestowed [upon you] from on high [the ability to make use of] iron, in which there is awesome power as well as [a source of] benefits for man: [42] and [all this was given to you] so that God might mark out those who would stand up for him and His Apostle, [43] even though He [Himself] is beyond the reach of human perception. [44] Verily, God is powerful, almighty!
Rashad Khalifa used  "with them" in 2:213 and "to them"  in 57:25
 2:213 The people used to be one community when GOD sent the prophets as bearers of good news, as well as warners. He sent down with them the scripture, bearing the truth, to judge among the people in their disputes. Ironically, those who received the scripture were the ones who rejected any new scripture, despite clear proofs given to them. This is due to jealousy on their part. GOD guides those who believe to the truth that is disputed by all others, in accordance with His will. GOD guides whoever wills in a straight path.
  57:25 We sent our messengers supported by clear proofs, and we sent down to them the scripture and the law, that the people may uphold justice. And we sent down the iron, wherein there is strength, and many benefits for the people. All this in order for GOD to distinguish those who would support Him and His messengers, on faith. GOD is Powerful, Almighty.
However irrespective of the form of preposition used its not clear if new scripture is sent to prophets and messengers are assigned the previous scripture to use for their preaching.
The only difference I can see is that scripture/book is sent down with prophets to judge between people in 2:213  whereas   scripture/book  and balance(almeezana)  is sent down with messengers so that people may upholod justice/observer right measure/ behave with equity(alnnasu bialqisti).
I think translating   maAAahumu as  "with them" is not appropriate as for the case of prophet a new scripture is sent down after prophethood. So the person is already born and then granted the prophethood and scripture some time in his life ( Prophet Muhammad received at the age of 40).
And in case of Messenger if the messenger is not a prophet have to use the existing books sent down to earlier prophet ( old scripture).
In both cases if we use "for them"  then sending down both old or new scripture/book   to prophet or messenger could be understood contexually.
In 57:25   it is  also mentioned that Iron was sent down where there are lots of usage for mankind.  If we consider Iron is sent down for humand being then definately it didnt come to earth after life started in this planet. Iron is formed during formation of planet from  space .  I think the only verse mention sending down of iron for mankind just with sending down books for messenger is to clarify that not necessarily the book was sent down after the messenger was born , that means already existing book received by earlier prophet.
Please let me know your thought about the similarity or difference between the verses 2:213 and 57:25 .


Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Meaning of the Arabic word 'maAAahumu'
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2011, 09:34:04 PM »

From an Arabic speech perspective when I listen to the Arabic verse you have shared, I note the use of the location adverb and pronoun 'Ma'hum' in reference to a past event 'We sent 'Ma'Aahum' (with them)'. This does not necessarily indicate any particular time point, other than something was coexistent 'with them' during their ministry (so scripture was either inherited or revealed).

Also I would expect 'lahum' (as in 3:180) if the rendering 'for them' was intended.

Similarly, if I listen to 59:12 in Arabic, 'la-in ukhriju la yakhrujuna ma'ahum' - If they are expelled, they will not leave 'ma'ahum' and try to understand the 'Ma'hum' here in a 'for them' sense " then the Arabic sentence becomes problematic (and possibly the English too) and will not make sense.

'If they are expelled, they will not leave for them'

Rather, it should clearly mean 'If they are expelled, they will not leave with them'

Here the 'Ma'Aahum' in 59:12's context is telling me that they will not leave 'with them' if expelled. I can't sense the Arabic in any other way listening to it.

If we accept that all that is being conveyed to the listener from the usage of 'Ma'AAhumu' with regards the kitab is a sense that a scripture was sent with them (irrespective of when but was accessible by them at some point in their existence), then I feel the difficulty is possibly resolved.

The iron (hadid), albeit portraying the following analogy I describe below, does not seem to be connected to the 'Ma'ahum' adverb and pronoun. The relevant part of the verse dealing with iron is simply saying We 'anzalna' (sent) 'hadid'. No time seems to be indicated by the Arabic which is perfectly reconcilable with the notion that it was formed during the formative periods of a planetary body.

Here is what I understand of the Book-Kitab analogy with the usage of 'Anzalna' in 57:25

I see the contrast of terms as:


Anzalna:               ma'Aahum (with them)                scripture (kitaba)                      has  balance (meezan) -                                establish (aqamu) the people (naas)
Anzalna:               NO ADVERB or PRONOUN             iron (hadid)                              has mighty power (Basun shadidun) -           benefit (manafi-u)for people (naas)

With regards the translations you have quoted, I am not very familiar (if at all) with Rashad Khalifa's interpretation of the Arabic text which seems to be inconsistently translated with regards 2:213 and 57:25 that you have provided. I am not sure as to why that may be the case but it is probable that the inconsistent translation may be indicating the support of a particular theological bias (God knows best). This is also true with some traditional translations as well.

With Muhammad Asad's translation which I am little more familiar with, usage of 'through them' seems irregular as if you were to apply that to 59:12, the phrase 'if they are expelled, they will not leave through them' becomes nonsensical as I'm sure you will agree. However, I do believe that many of Muhammad Asad's insights (both metonymical and otherwise) are extremely worthy.

Just my humble opinion. I hope this helps.

Your brother in faith,
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell