This took longer than expected, to be very honest. I was initially intent on completing the second part within 2 days since the publishing of the first part but a few things happened along the way… I got distracted and unable to write. I ended up doing other things like adding a header to the blog, editing the pages (see tabs) and of course, feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work elearning week had brought to light.
BUT it’s a brand new week, I’ve reorganised my desk (& thoughts) and I’m in a clearer frame of mind. I’ve specifically set aside time to do this so here’s moving on to the second part and hoping I’ll do justice to it.
* If you’ve not read the first part, click here.
In the first part, I’d mentioned, amongst other things, that Ustaz Nouman would find things in the Quran that completely overwhelmed him. I also mentioned ‘Ijaazul‘ Quran, which literally meant to be ‘absolutely floored’.
1) Impeccable word choice
Keep in mind that Rasulullah s.a.w was an Ummi, meaning he could not read nor write, and the Quran was spoken and guarded. Therefore, the words that came out of the Prophet’s s.a.w mouth were in no way edited in retrospect nor was it changed by well-meaning companions or scribes. Knowing all these, here are some of the examples given by Ustaz Nouman to illustrate the majesty of the Quran, through its language.
a) Different expressions for 7 ears of corn
In the Arabic language, there are 3 forms of a word: singular, plural and super plural.
Sunbulah is the singular form of the word that means the ear of corn i.e the part of the corn that contains the grain. The plural for sunbulah is sunbulaat. The super plural is sanabil.
The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He pleases: And Allah cares for all and He know all things.
In Surah Yusuf, ayah 43, Allah says:
And [subsequently] the king said, “Indeed, I have seen [in a dream] seven fat cows being eaten by seven [that were] lean, and seven green ears of corn and others [that were] dry. O eminent ones, explain to me my vision, if you should interpret visions.
In the English translation, both uses seven ‘ears of corn’ – the translations are identical. Yet if you read the ayahs, in the first one, it iss ‘sab’a sanabil‘, in the second one, it is ‘wasab’a sunbulaatin‘. Why the difference?
The context and meaning to be conveyed are different.
In the first instance, Allah is talking about the increase of good deeds. In many ways, this is reminiscent of the concept of barakah that was discussed in the first lecture. The super plural was used to illustrate the magnitude of the multiplicity of Allah’s blessings and increase of the good deeds of a person who has done something for the sake of Allah. Allah’s blessings and barakah go beyond human comprehension. It is a powerful context. In the second ayah, Allah is talking about the king’s dream – a weaker context. The seven ears of corn represents seven years. The magnitude of the form is therefore also weaker, hence the weaker plural.
b) Different expressions for blessings.
The word blessings/favours in Arabic is ni’mah (singular). It also has 2 plurals: an’um (plural) and ni’am (super plural). Interestingly, these 2 words were used only once in the whole Quran.
In Surah an-Nahl, ayah 121:
In Surah Luqman, ayah 20:
Do you not see that Allah has made subject to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth and amply bestowed upon you His favors, [both] apparent and unapparent? But of the people is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge or guidance or an enlightening Book [from Him].
In the first ayah, an’um was used. In the second, ni’am.
What does this mean?
In the first ayah, it refers to Prophet Ibrahim a.s, the person who had ultimate gratitude. It goes to show that even Prophet Ibrahim a.s, was only capable of being thankful for few favours. Imagine! Prophet Ibrahim a.s! The very man whose gratitude goes beyond anyone elses! Yet Allah points out that he was only grateful for a few. This shows how we, the laymen, are incapable of thanking Allah but for a minimal of His bounties upon us. We are not able to fully understand nor comprehend the full ni’mah/blessings of Allah upon us. How often do we often stop to consider thanking Allah for our bodies, our minds, our sight, our healthy heart etc. It just goes beyond us, the extent of His blessings upon mankind!
In the second ayah, it refers to Allah unleashing His full favours upon everyone, hence the use of the super plural. It emphasises and strengthens the word beyond measure – can you comprehend that? Can you comprehend the very majesty of His blessings that we do not even know of? SubhanAllah!
Think! A single word, same meaning, different expressions for different contexts!
c) Different forms of addressing Bani Israil by Prophet Musa a.s (Moses) and Prophet Isa a.s (Jesus).
This last example given was something that truly blew my mind and it might just blow yours away too. Remember, Prophet Musa and Prophet Isa were sent to the same people – Bani Israil (the tribe of Israel).
In the same surah, Surah Saf, ayah 5 & 6, notice the different ways they were addressed:
And [mention, O Muhammad], when Moses said to his people, “O my people, why do you harm me while you certainly know that I am the messenger of Allah to you?” And when they deviated, Allah caused their hearts to deviate. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.
And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad.” But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, “This is obvious magic.”
In the first ayah, Prophet Musa a.s addressed Bani Israil as ‘ya kaumi’ (O my people) whereas in the second one, Prophet Isa a.s addressed them as ‘ya bani Israil‘ (O children of Israel).
In order of lineage, our identity follow our father’s side. To be from a nation/tribe, your father has to be from that nation. That’s why we’re called people of Adam. Prophet Musa a.s can called Bani Israil ‘his people’ because his father was from Bani Israil. But Prophet Isa a.s has no father! Hence, instead of calling them ‘O my people‘, the term ‘O children of Israel‘ was used instead. It’s Allah’s way of honouring the virgin birth of Prophet Isa a.s and honouring the virginity of Maryam! SubhanAllah!
You guyssss, if you guys aren’t utterly gobsmacked right now, then I’ve got to say, I’m terrible sorry for not being able to convey the magnitude of these! Can you see the absolute precision beyond human ability at work here? This is spoken, mind you! Rasulullah s.a.w didn’t sit down and go through various drafts to get the language right, you know! It’s not like one day he suddenly thought, “Ok, I think this word is better in this context.” This was spoken as it was conveyed to him by archangel Jibrail! It’s just…. WOW!
Andddd, this isn’t all! There’s still one final part of the miracles Ustaz Nouman shared that I’ve got to share here buuuuuut, I’ve got to head to school now! InshaAllah, I will be back with the third part soon! May Allah make it easy for me to fulfill all my responsibilities and serve Him, ameen! 🙂
Have a blessed week! xx