There are many verses containing slang and cursing in the Quran. What is the wisdom behind it?

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There are many verses containing slang and cursing in the Quran. What is the wisdom behind it?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

There are many verses containing slang and cursing in the Quran. What is the wisdom behind it?

The imprecations and curses in the Quran address people having certain characteristics. The Quran addresses characteristics and thoughts rather than people. Finally, some people will attain Allah's mercy and grants in the hereafter and go to Paradise while others will attract His curse, move away from His mercy and go to Hell, which is the center of His wrath and torture.  

Allah's expressions like that in the Quran are actually warnings based on His mercy. For, how can a person keep away from evil if he does not know what it is? What kind of a way is it to lead people to good deeds?

Besides, the harsh expressions of the Quran like that are related to deniers. Unbelief and denial mean challenging one thousand and one names and attributes of Allah. It means to reject the witnessing of the truth by the universe with thousands of evidences. It means to deny thousands of miracles of hundreds of thousands of prophets and millions of extraordinary deeds of millions of saints. To sum up, unbelief and denial mean to deny endless manifestations of all of Allah's names and attributes and endless witnessing of the universe and they mean disrespect to their rights; therefore, warning them using harsh language is appropriate.

As for your questions,

- The statement, “There are many verses containing slang and swearing in the Quran” is an ugly expression and implies a foreign identity.

- There are many words that sound wise when they are viewed from the viewpoint of wisdom but they sound different from its original form when they are viewed from a bad viewpoint.   

For instance, to mention people's sexual organs are regarded as vulgarity. However, when you view the issue from the viewpoint of medicine, you feel that you are dealing with an issue that is scientific and full of wisdom. 

- The Quran is the word of Allah, who is the creator of the whole universe. Therefore, there are no "slang words and swearing" in it. When you remove those wise words from their wise context and reduce them to human words, you will think they are bad, not wise. For, man has such a mechanism of transformation that he transforms diamond into coal and gold into copper.

- If you expose Allah's decent words to a chemical reaction in the center of the combination of prejudice and ignorance, you will spoil the chemistry of both your mind and your heart. 

- It is very important to view Allah's word by wearing the binoculars of wisdom and eye-glasses of good manners. The color of the eye-glasses changes the color of sight.

- Furthermore, statements are regarded as good or bad based on the person who utters it along with the context.

For instance, when a person who is superior to another person in terms of age, position and rank says to him, “Well done!”, it is regarded something good but when a young person says, “Well done!” to an older person, it is regarded as disrespect.

Harsh statements used by a person of authority while addressing a criminal are regarded as reasonable by people because they are suitable for his responsibility and rank, they fit his majesty, they defend others' rights and they serve to deter criminals from committing crime. However, if that criminal hears the same harsh statement from an ordinary citizen, it will affect him negatively.

Please have this information in mind and look at those verses again. We can view them together:

1. The following is stated in verse 30 of the chapter of at-Tawba: “The Jews call Uzayr the son of Allah and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying in their mouths; (in this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!”

- It is really not a harsh statement to say “Allah's curse be on them” about those who slander Allah by saying 'He has a son', which is a statement similar to those of some old unbelievers who did not have a divine book, though they were sent a divine book and a prophet expressing Allah's oneness and that He is free and away from having a child. This is due to the decent style of the Quran.    

- Besides, can it be anything more natural for the Quran, which is a book sent down in Arabic and which addresses the whole humanity, than using some phrases used by Arabs in particular and all people in general?

- To regard this phrase of Allah expressing His anger to those slanders of unbelievers as “slang and swearing” is contrary to both good manners and literature.

2. The same phrase (The curse of Allah be on them) is used for munafiqs who “act hypocritically, try to suppress Muslims vilely and nurture enmity toward them” in verse for of the chapter of al-Munafiqun.

We should add that this phrase is a “curse” used by people but it is also a divine warning and news about their end, which means “Allah will damn and destroy them.”   

3. The following is stated in verse 13 of the chapter of al-Baqara: “When it is said to them (munafiqs): "Believe as the others believe" they say: "Shall we believe as the fools believe?" Nay, of a surety they are the fools, buy they do not know”.

Why should it be slang to address those who describe those who believe in Allah, His book and His Prophet as “fools” in the same way and to emphasize that “they are the real fools”? How can it be described as swearing?

4. Verse 142 of the chapter of al-Baqara includes the following statement: “The Fools among the people will say: "What hath turned them from the Qiblah to which they were used?”

In this statement, the People of the Book actually opposed the decree of Allah when they used the fact that “they turned from the qiblah that they used to turn (Masjid al-Aqsa) to the Kaaba)” as an excuse in order to confuse some new Muslims and cause hesitation in them toward their religion. How should those who pretended to know everything and tried to show this change of qiblah as reasonless be answered? What word can be more balanced and fairer than “foolish” to describe those who regard the change of qiblah  prescribed by Islam as foolish and describe the Prophet of Islam and Muslims as “fools”, which is a retaliation for their word?

5. The following is sated in verses 10-12 of the chapter of adh-Dhariyat: “Woe to the falsehood-mongers―Those who (flounder) heedless in a flood of confusion: They ask "when will be the Day of Judgment and Justice?""

Now act justly and think: “What is wrong with using the phrasefalsehood-mongers (liars) for those slanderers who deny Hz. Muhammad, who proved that he was the Messenger of Allah through several miracles, and the Quran, which was proved to be a miracle in forty aspects by Islamic scholars, who make fun of the Quran and who act insolently by saying “When will be the Day of reckoning? When is the Day of Judgment, which you have been uttering?”  

6. Apes! (al-A'raf, 7/166; al-Baqara, 2/65; al-Maida, 5/60)

The following is stated in verse 65 of the chapter of al-Baqara:“And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath; We said to them: "Be ye apes despised and rejected."”.

The summary of the incident is as follows: “Allah tested some Jews who lived near the sea due to their unruliness through Saturday. They were forbidden from fishing on Saturday. However, as a mystery of their test, fish used to come in schools on Saturday but they did not come on the other days.”(see al-Araf, 7/163) These greedy people tried to deceive Allah; they pretended to obey the prohibition of fishing; they did not fish on Saturday but collected them in a pool that they made and caught the fish after Saturday from that pool. Afterwards, they regarded fishing on Saturday legitimate. (see Hazin, the interpretation of the relevant verse)

- Allah’s calling them apes is suitable for their unruly psychology and heedless characteristic.

- When the penalty given for a crime is suitable for the characteristic of the crime that has been committed or the scolding is in accordance with the psychological mood of the criminal, the description is regarded as rhetorical. 

7. Swine! (al-Maida, 5/60)

In this verse, three nicknames are used for the Jews. They were described as apes because they violated the prohibition of Saturday; they were described as swine because they despised the divine feast sent down to them by Allah from the sky and showed ingratitude; they were described as “worshippers of evil” because they worshipped a calf. (cf. Razi, Nasafi, the interpretation of the relevant verse)

- Each of these nicknames is very significant in that they reflect the characteristic of the crime that has been committed.   

8. They are like cattle nay more misguided! (al-A'raf, 7/179) They are only like cattle; nay they are worse astray in Path. (al-Furqan, 25/44) They are like asses. (al-Muddaththir, 74/51; al-Jumua, 62/5)

In verse 179 of the chapter of al-Araf, “the mistakes of the jinn and men who are the people of Hell are listed and it is emphasized how they misused the hearts, eyes and ears Allah gave them.”

After that, it is stated that these groups, who did not use properly the nice boons given to them by Allah, were lowered to a state worse than animals.

- The biggest aim of a scolding or warning is to prevent the same crime from being committed, to act as a deterrent, to lead people to the true path and to give others the opportunity to take lessons from it. From this point of view, it is seen that there is a unique beauty and rhetoric between the crime and the statements of warning:

The clear difference between men and animals originates from the following issues:

a. An animal also has a heart like man but it does not have a spiritual heart having perception and understanding.

b. Animals also have eyes like men but they lack understanding that will analyze what the eyes see.

c. An animal also has ears that hear like man but it is deprived of the ability of synthesizing what it hears by analyzing them through their brains. 

The decree of “falling to a rank lower than animals” in those verses aims to describe the people who waste the spiritual equipment given to them by Allah. Those who regard this divine expression, which is full of wisdom, the same as the expression “beast/animal” people use when they insult one another are absolutely wrong.

9. Abomination (Riijs)! (al-An'am, 6/ 145;  Yunus, 10/100; at-Tawba, 9/125)

The Arabic word “rijs” used in the verse lexically means dirt, impurity. However, it is clearly understood that it is not used in this sense. According to Ibn Abbas, what is meant by “rijs” here is Satan. According to Mujahid, it means something that is of no good. According to Ata, it means torture. According to Zajjaj, it means being away from the mercy of Allah in the world and the hereafter. (see Razi, the interpretation of al-An’am verse 125)

This verse was translated differently in various translations of the Quran:

“Allah sends down trouble and misfortunes like that on those who turn their faces away from belief.”

 “Allah inflicts disgrace like that upon those who do not believe.”

“Allah puts those who do not believe in a terrible state like that.”

- The word “dirt” is also expressed as“impurity”. How can a person oppose this Quranic expression, which states that unbelief and aberration is a spiritual virus that fouls human mind? It is impossible to understand. In fact, malicious intention is a virus of prejudice that fouls the spirit.      

10. The despised! It is mentioned in many chapters like al-A'raf, 7/166 and 168; Qalam, 68/10; al-Baqara, 2/65; al- Mujadala, 58/18; an-Nahl, 16/27; al-Munafiqun, 63/4; and al-Mu'min, 40/60.

This expression is also used for the Jews who violated the prohibition of Saturday. If those who dared to criticize the phrase “despised apes”, which revealed "the inferiority complex of those people who worshipped a calf, killed the prophet sent to them, offered Hz. Musa (Moses) to have a God among idols, violated the prohibition of Saturday and committed" so many crimes despite the books that were sent to them by Allah and the prophets chosen among them, learned the context where this phrase was used and the wisdom there, it would be useful for them.   

11. Cursed! (al-Muddaththir, 74/19 ve 20)

Those verses were sent down for Walid Ibn Mughira. His crimes are mentioned a lot in the Quran. He did not hesitate to slander the Quran as follows: “This is nothing but magic, derived from of old.  This is nothing but the word of a mortal.”(al-Muddaththir, 74/24-25)

The summary of the incidence is as follows: Walid was actually an orator that was affected by the Quran very much. He felt that the Quran came from a superhuman source. However, in order to maintain his prestige in the community, he did not know what to say about the Quran; he finally described its effect as “magic”.

The following verses in the Quran narrates this incident:“For he thought and he plotted― And, woe to him! how he plotted!― Yea, woe to him! how he plotted!― Then he looked round; Then he frowned and he scowled; Then he turned back and was haughty; Then said he: 'This is nothing but magic, derived from of old; This is nothing but the word of a mortal!' Soon will cast him into Hell-Fire!” (al-Muddaththir, 74/18-26)

-Do those who regard the word "cursed" used for a person who showed ingratitude despite so many bounties given to him, who pretended not to hear the voice of his conscience that witnessed for the Quran, who distorted the truth deliberately in order to maintain his rank/position in the community and who caused many people to be deceived expect an award on behalf of him?

12. Liars (al-Mujadala, 58/18)

In this verse, the disgraceful state of the two-faced munafiqs is indicated. It is emphasized that they would act hypocritically in both the world and the hereafter. For, dishonesty settled in their body. Their description in the Quran is as follows:   

“One day will Allah raise them all up (for Judgment): then will they swear to Him as they swear to you: and they think that they have something (to stand upon): No, indeed! they are but liars”(al-Mujadala, 58/18).

- Since when has it been regarded as something bad to call the people who swear falsely in both the world and the hereafter “liars”?

13.  Affrighted (wild) asses (al-Muddaththir, 74/50)

“Then what is the matter with them that they turn away from admonition?― As if they were affrighted (wild) asses, Fleeing from a lion?” (al-Muddaththir, 74/49-51).

We will deal with two points here:

- This simile is often used by Arabs. The attitude of a person who acts indifferently about something, who insistently keeps away from it, who avoids listening to something so as not to be affected by it is likened to “a wild ass fleeing from a lion. (cf. Ibn Ashur, the interpretation of the relevant verses)

- It is known that some polytheists avoided listening to the Quran lest they should be affected by it. This simile emphasizes that the people who avoid listening to the Quran - due to obstinacy, without seeing whether it is true or not - have some problems with their minds. (cf. Alusi, the interpretation of the relevant verses)

- It is really suitable to use the simile “affrighted (wild) asses fleeing from a lion” to describe the situation of those who leave their minds aside due to obstinacy and idolatry and who pretend to be deaf so as not to listen to the didactic lessons of the Quran. This simile, which describes “the flight of a wild ass that fears from a lion and run like hell" in the vast desert, leaves an indelible imprint of a profile of foolishness in the minds of the listeners. Let us see their foolish drunkenness in the following verse: “They do not find this advice (the book that Allah sent down) and want to be given scrolls of revelation spread out specially for them.” That is, each of them wants to be a prophet. What an unfortunate situation!

14. Camels raging with thirst (al-Waqia, 56/55)

This is the description of only one kind of torture that deniers suffer from in Hell. There are so many kinds of tortures that “drinking boiling water like camels raging with thirst” is "derisory".

Let us hear the description regarding the issue from the Quran:

“Say: "Yea, those of old and those of later times, "All will certainly be gathered together for the meeting appointed for a Day Well-known. "Then will ye truly, O ye that go wrong and treat (Truth) as Falsehood!― "Ye will surely taste of the Tree of Zaqqum. "Then will ye fill your insides therewith, "And drink Boiling Water on top of it: "Indeed ye shall drink like diseased camels raging with thirst! Such will be their entertainment on the Day of Requital! It is We Who have created you: why will ye not witness the Truth? (al-Waqia, 56/49-67)

- We cannot help asking this question: What kind of a menu do those who dot regard the simile of “camels raging with thirst” suitable for unbelievers, who are people of Hell, expect on the table in Hell?

15. Dogs lolling out their tongues (al-A'raf, 7/176)

A very important psychological issue is mentioned here. The analysis of this psychology is in question here so that the issue will settle in the minds of the people. First, let us listen to the summary of the issue from the Quran:

“Relate to them the story of the man to whom We sent our signs, but he passed them by: so Satan followed him up, and he went astray. If it had been Our will, We should have elevated him with our signs; but he inclined to the earth, and followed his own vain desires. His similitude is that of a dog: if you attack him, he lolls out his tongue or if you leave him alone, he (still) lolls out his tongue. That is the similitude of those who reject Our signs; so relate the story; perchance they may reflect.”(al-A'raf, 7/175 and 176).

- This story sounds as if it has just been sent down for this age, which is known as the age of science.   

Yes, a deviation originating from science and philosophy has been widespread for three centuries. A lot of ignorant people who did not receive their share from the real sun of knowledge live under the umbrella of science.

- In this age of ignorance, there are so many mentally poor materialistic people who loll out their tongues under the disguise of science and gasp in the presence of the light of the sun of the Quran. Their “scientific“ appearance unfortunately made them a center of attraction in the eye of the people.

- Innocent people can be protected from their evil and kept away from their tracks only by exposing their real faces behind the mask of science. “His similitude is that of a dog: if you attack him, he lolls out his tongue or if you leave him alone, he (still) lolls out his tongue.” The description above aims to tarnish their image.

- They regard themselves as competent in the field of both physics and metaphysics. They loll out their tongues in every field.

- This simile is a fascinating example reflecting the frustration of the people who sacrifice their religion for the world and their knowledge for their imagination. We ask those who need to be shocked by this simile but who ignore it and oppose only the use of the word “dog” to obtain a more objective power of reasoning. For, we do not have enough time to experience such a psychological obsession.

16. Woe to the falsehood-mongers (adh-Dhariyat, 51/10) Shame (at-Tawba, 9/14; an-Nahl, 16/27; at-Tawba, 9/2;  Hud, 11/93; al-Hashr, 59/5 and many more verses)

The meaning of the verse is as follows: “Woe to the falsehood-mongers― Those who (flounder) heedless in a flood of confusion: They ask 'when will be the Day of Judgment and Justice?'” (adh-Dhariyat, 51/10-12)

- Firstly, we should state that the phrase used in the verse does not mean“Damn!”

The origin of the phrase translated as “woe to the falsehood-mongers” is “Qutila al-Kharrasun”, which consists of a verb and a subject. The verb “qutila” means“may he die/be damned”. The word “al-Kharrasun” means “those who make efforts in order to tell lies”. The first addressees of the verse are the polytheists. They closed their eyes to the truth so as not to accept the prophethood of Hz. Muhammad (pbuh). However, since he had a unique book like the Quran, they needed to find an excuse for it. Therefore, they sometimes called the Prophet (pbuh) a soothsayer, sometimes a poet and sometimes a magician - they tried to satisfy themselves or others by doing so.

The Quran addressed them as “qutila al-kharrasun” due to their campaigns of slandering. In what way is this phrase harsh and severe in the presence of their big campaign of slandering? 

- An important point regarding the issue is as follows: Another meaning of “qutila” is “Allah will definitely kill you.” This warning is a shocking slap on the face of the slanderers who ask, “When is that Day of Reckoning?” For, death, which is a minor day of judgment for man, informs man about the major Day of Judgment; similarly, waking up in the morning after dying every night indicates that they will be resurrected and wake up in the morning of the Day of Judgment.

- It is not reasonable to ask unnecessary questions like “Why does Allah address the unbelievers as 'woe'?” instead of trying to understand sincerely the divine messages of the Quran that teaches the gleams of wisdom like the ones above. 

17. Those who go astray (al-Waqia, 56/51, 92; al-Fatiha, 1/7; al-Qasas, 28/50 and many more verses)

In the Quran, two ways are generally described: The first one is the true path the Quran draws. The second one is the crooked path Satan draws. The followers of the first path are called those who attain guidance and the followers of the second path are called those who go astray; in other words, those who are straightforward and those who are aberrant.    

The word daall (aberrant, deviant, who goes astray) is different from its equivalent used in Turkish. In fact the word “daallin” in the last verse of the chapter of al-Fatiha can be translated as “those who fall into aberration; those who deviate from the true path; those who follow the wrong path, those who lose the true path”.It is not necessary to use the phrase “those who go astray”.

It should not be forgotten that “to call a liar a liar and to call an honest person honest” is an indication of honesty and sincerity.

18. Fools (The word "safih" means brainless, fool) (al-Baqara, 2/13, 142)

Note: It is explained in item 3.

19. They are like pieces of timber propped up. (al-Munafiqun, 63/4)

There cannot be a better simile for the two-faced munafiqs. There is no need to add anything. It will be enough to read the verses:

“When thou lookest at them, their exteriors please thee; and when they speak, thou listenest to their words. They are as (worthless as hollow) pieces of timber propped up, (unable to stand on their own). They think that every cry is against them. They are the enemies; so beware of them. The curse of Allah be on them! How are they deluded (away from the Truth)!”

20. Base-born (al-Qalam, 68/13)

Base-born means the one that does not have a root/origin/source to which they are attached.  If you claim that a person who regards the verses of the Quran as the tales of the ancients has a scientific root, reasonable branch, conscientious evidence, convincing document to which he is attached, we challenge him to show them. The verses are as follows:   

“Need not the type of despicable man― ready with oaths. A slanderer, going about with calumnies. (Habitually) hindering (all) good, transgressing beyond bounds deep in sin. Violent (and cruel), with all that, base-born― Because he possesses wealth and (numerous) sons. When to him are rehearsed Our Signs "Tales of the Ancients" he cries. Soon shall We brand (the beast) on the snout!” (al-Qalam, 68/10-16).

21. Woe to them (Abasa, 80/17; Buruj, 85/4; adh-Dhariyat, 51/10, 12)

Allah’s mercy is for believers and his curse/damn is for unbelievers. It is not only verbal; it takes place actually. This fact is emphasized in the verse:

“Woe to man! How ungrateful he is!”(Abasa, 80/17). It is stated that the expression of criticism “Woe to man" in the verse is not about the whole humanity but the polytheists, especially Utba, son of Abu Lahab, who denied resurrection in the discussions with the Prophet. In the verses, that person and the others who are hesitant about resurrection are reminded how man was created out of non-existence and they are encouraged to think and believe. 

- How can those who cannot tolerate Allah’s word “woe” put up with the actual application of woe? Gentlemen! This is no joke! Paradise, in which Allah's mercy flows abundantly, is waiting for us, human beings, with all of its beauties; similarly, Hell, in which Allah's woe hit people like lightning, is also waiting for us, human beings. Those who attain Allah's consent will go to Paradise and those who attain His hatred will go to Hell.   

22. Perish the hands (al-Masadd, 111/1)

In the Quran, the words that Abu Lahab used against the Prophet were used against him in the same way. And this curse was realized; Abu Lahab died as an unbeliever, approving this news of the Quran about the future.    

In the content of this chapter, the state of Abu Lahab in particular and the people who are mentally similar to him and who are against Islam is explained. Abu Lahab is one of them. Therefore, what is emphasized in this chapter is not only the mistakes of an ephemeral man but also warning the people against making the same mistakes.

Allah speaks using a style that can be understood by His slaves, which is called "divine condescension". People use words of cursing and condemnation among themselves. Similarly, Allah sometimes uses severe language in a way that His slaves will understand in order to emphasize the mistake of a slave and inform His other slaves about it. Thus, He warns them against those mistakes. The chapter also indicates that there is no tolerance to anybody who is against Islam even if he is the uncle of the Prophet (pbuh).

What is necessary for us to do is not to talk unnecessarily as if we know everything but to understand the Quran very well and arrange our lives based on the commands and prohibitions in it throughout our life so as not to be like Abu Lahab and similar people. We are sure that the Quran will receive with open arms those who approach it sincerely and will present its secrets and wisdoms to their minds and hearts.

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