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Divining Arrows?
« on: March 16, 2013, 12:29:36 AM »
Peace Joseph,

What does Divining with arrows mean in verse 5.90?


Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Divining Arrows?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2013, 12:40:34 AM »
May peace be with you.

The Arabic 'azlam' (singular zalam) refers to arrows without a head or feathers that were used by Pagan Arabs in divination (seeking unknown or future knowledge by supernatural means, seeking an augury).

As noted in a lexicon:

" زُلَمٌ An arrow without a head and without feathers: pl. أَزْلَامٌ: (S, Mgh, Msb, K:) which was applied to those [divining-] arrows by means of which the Arabs in the Time of Ignorance sought to know what was allotted to them: (S, K:) they were arrows upon which the Arabs in the Time of Ignorance wrote “ Command ” and “ Prohibition; ” (Mgh, Msb;) or upon some of which was written “ My Lord hath commanded me; ” and upon some My Lord hath forbidden me; ” (Har p. 465;) or they were three arrows; upon one of which was written “ My Lord hath commanded me; ” and upon another My Lord hath forbidden me; ” and the third was blank; (Bd in v. 4;) and they put them in a receptacle, (Mgh, Msb,) and when any one of them desired to make a journey, or to accomplish a want, (Mgh,) or when he desired to perform some affair, (Msb,) he put his hand into that receptacle, (Mgh, Msb,) and took forth an arrow; (Msb;) and if the arrow upon which was “ Command [or “ My Lord hath commanded me ” (Har ubi suprà)] came forth, he went to accomplish his purpose; but if that upon which was “ Prohibition [or “ My Lord hath forbidden me ” (Har)] came forth, he refrained; (Mgh, Msb;) and if the blank came forth, they shuffled them a second time: (Bd ubi suprà:) or, as some say, the ازلام were white pebbles, upon which they thus wrote, and by means of which they sought to know what was allotted to them in the manner expl. above: (Har ubi suprà:) or, accord. to Az, the ازلام [were arrows that] belonged to Kureysh, in the Time of Ignorance, upon which were written “ He hath commanded ” and “ He hath forbidden, ” and “ Do thou ” and “ Do thou not; ” they had been well shaped (زُلِّمَتْ) and made even, and placed in the Kaabeh, the ministers of the House taking care of them; and when a man desired to go on a journey, or to marry, he came to the minister, and said Take thou forth for me a زلم; ” and thereupon he would take it forth, and look at it; and if the arrow of command came forth, he went to accomplish that which he had purposed to do; but if the arrow of prohibition came forth, he refrained from that which he desired to do: [it is said that] there were seven of the arrows thus called with the minister of the Kaabeh, having marks upon them, and used for this purpose: (Jel in v. 4:) and sometimes there were with the man two such arrows, which he put into his sword-case; and when he desired to seek the knowledge of what was allotted to him, he took forth one of them. (TA.) Some say that the أَزْلَام are The arrows of the game called المَيْسِر: but this is a mistake. (TA.) The seeking to obtain the knowledge of what is allotted to one by means of the ازلام is forbidden in the Kur 5:4. (TA.)" [1]


[1] LANE. E.W, Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 3, Page 1247
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