For Mo and the translation of the Qur'an
Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Jan 28, 2007 at 08:20
My dear Mo I can read the Qur'an in Arabic. Quranic Arabic is a very different Arabic because it is full of strange words and non-Arabic words and it is full of mistakes in grammar and syntax. But anyone who knows his Arabic would be able to translate it with great accuracy. The worst translations of the Qur'an are those by Pakistanis and I include here Yusuf Ali. Rashad Khalifa and Dawood's translations are rather good as they were both Arabic speakers.
Now here is your lesson for today: You can translate the Qur'an as:
1. Linear translation
2. Or tarjamit al-ma3na (tafseer). We also have the old Arabic saying about tafseer and it is the guide to translating the Qur'an: "al-tafseer lel sahaba wa al-ta'weel lel 3ulama/jami3" Oh I forgot that you know no Arabic. More later.
Let us take the case of Surat al-Feel (Tabari calls it: Alam) and let us work on a linear translation:
1. alam or did (you) not
2. tara or see
3. mafa3la or what he made
4. rabbuka or your god
5. bi-ashab or with the owners/companions
6. al-feel or the elephant
So the first aya says: Did you not see what your God has inflicted (fa3ala) on the owners/companions of the elephant.
Very easy indeed. The rest of the sura is very easy to translate except for two words that stick out like sore thumbs and they are clearly non-Arabic words and they are: ababeel and sijeel (Tabari in his tafseer believed that they are Persian words. So much for the Quranic claim of being written in 3Arabi Faseeh) and if I would to translate the ayas where we have the two words I would not translate either word as it becomes guessing and not translating anymore.
Another example is the word: Ilaf in Surat Quraish. This is not an Arabic word and I would leave it in the translation as: ilaf without trying to guess what it really means because no Muslim masorite was able to guess what this simple word really means..
Another example of a less complicated manner is the word Tur as in Tur Sinnin where it is clear that the word: Tur is not an Arabic word. It is a Syriac word and it means mountain and in the translation I will translate it as: Mountain (Syriac loan word).
Now let us work on surat al-Lahb (also known in the ancient commentaries as: surat al-Masad) Notice that this is transliteration and not vocalization so I'm not accounting for the I3rab unless indicated:
1. tabbatu yadaa abi lahab wa tabba
or The hands of Abu Lahab (whoever he was) is to perish, Very easy so far.
Now in the second aya I will provide you with a linear transaltion then tarjamt al-ma3na:
1 ma or not
2. aghna (notice the alif maksura) or made more wealth.
3. 3anhu or upon him
3. maluhu or his money
4. wa ma means and not
5. kasaba means win (notice aspect therefore it is not won)
Or: tarjamat al-ma3na would be: and his money would not provide him with wealth and he will not win
the rest of the aya is easy arabic:
3. sayasulaa narra (narran with I3rab) dhata lahabi or he will burn in a flaming fire.
4. waimraatuhu ha,aalatu al-hatab or his wife the carrier of the wood.
5. fi jaydiha habl min masad or around her neck is a rope of fiber (notice the word masad and this is the source of the old name of this sura as: Surat al-Masad and for this see above.
And there you have it.
But the real questions are:
1. Who on earth is Abu Lahab? The Qur'an does not tell us. As fior the funny story of Abu Lahab and his wife there is no reason for us to believe any of this nosense as a real story. So much for a Kitab Mubeen.
2. And why was the sua called Surat al-Masad and now it is called Surat al-Lahab? It is either Surat al-Lahab or Surat al-Masab so which one is it?
3. And why would the God of the universe curse an Arab and his wife?
But most interesting is that the early commentaries are vague about such story of Abu Lahab and his wife or the meaning of the words; Ilaf, ababeel and sijeel. This makes you wonder that if the Muslim 3ulma that were trying to explain what the Qur'an really is saying seem to have no clue one must conclude that:
1. The Quranic pericopes and logias were already old at the time of the death of Muhammad and that the Qur'an is not really the product Muhammad.
2. Or as Wansbrough believes that the Qurnic pericopes and logias were not canonized until the 3rd century and by then no one had a clue what the words; Ilaf, ababeel and sijeel really mean or what this thing about Abu Lahab really means or why the sura is called Surat abu Lahab and also Surat al-Masab
As for Ibn Hisham's redaction of Ibn ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah: We do not have Ibn Ishaq's sira extant we only have a redaction by Ibn Hisham and for sure nothing is historical about the Sira. But we are only left with the Qur'an as a source for the life of Muhammad.
However, I challange you to reconstruct the life of Abul Qasim by reading the Qur'an only.
So what is really the sira? It must be seen as another way of Quranic tafseer or "al-tafseer lel sahaba wa al-ta'weel lel 3ulama/jami3"
Et voila my dear Mo
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