What is the miraculous aspect of the Quran in terms of linguistics?
Submitted by on Fri, 17/03/2017 - 10:34
Dear Brother / Sister,
One of the most important indicators showing the miraculous eloquence of the Quran is the theory of “the Semantic Order of the Quran”.
This theory can be defined as "arranging the words of a phrase or a sentence based on the rules of the science of semantics and literary arts by establishing fine connections among the words that are used" (see Muhâkemat, 86-88)
- Each of the Quran’s words may be like a heart or seed. (It may function as a heart contained in an immaterial body formed of mysteries, or the seed of an immaterial tree around it.)
Thus, words like those of the Quran, and even phrases or verses, may occur in man’s speech, but an all-encompassing knowledge is necessary to situate them exactly as they are in the Qur’an, taking into account the many relationships. (Mektubat, 187)
- It is possible to see the miracle of the Quran from the linguistic viewpoint in this theory. Along with a wonderful “nazm al-maani (semantics/meaning order)”, a miraculous “nazm al-mabani (syntax/word order)” is in question in this theory.
The level of the eloquence of the statement is strengthened when these two orders support each other harmoniously.
- From this viewpoint, it can be said that eloquence is semantics that includes syntax. That is, it is a way of expression that includes preeminent meanings in distinguished words.
The most miraculous aspect of the Quran is its eloquence. Eloquence is conformity with the necessities of the current state. This becomes possible through choosing appropriate words in the style of expression. Choosing appropriate words becomes possible when the writer or speaker has enough vocabulary in his memory – where he can find the words that are suitable for his expressions.
From this point of view, the secret behind the Quran’s being at the peak of eloquence is understood better. For, Allah has all kinds of vocabulary that expresses what He wants to say with his endless knowledge, wisdom and power. The existence of different styles like itnab (wordiness) and ijaz (conciseness) in the Quran is an indication of this reality.
The following determinations of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi expresses this reality:
“Yes, there should be artistry in wording (the words that are used should be stylish and attractive)
but only in a manner that serves the meaning (but the nature of the meaning should not be away from these artistic words).
The meaning of the form should be majestic (the words used to embellish the meaning should reflect the majesty of that meaning through literary arts like simile, metaphor and allegory),
but it is necessary to get permission from the meaning (but the words should not be away from the identity of the meanings that the words need to indicate).
The style should be bright (the style of expression that is used should be bright),
but the purpose should be suitable for it (but the purpose of this style of expression should be harmonious with the purpose of the expression).
The similes should be attractive (The style of expression should be made attractive by using similes and similar literary arts),
but the appropriateness of the purpose should be considered and consent should be taken from it (but the real point that needs to be stated should not be overlooked).
It should activate the imagination and cause luster (The style of expression that is used should enliven the imagination of the addressee and activate it in a lustrous way)
but it should not damage and overwhelm the truth, and it should be an example of the truth and should receive help from the truth (but while activating the imagination, the truth should not be hurt and imagination should not be a burden on the truth. On the contrary, this style of expression should be an example showing the truth and should be supported by the truth.” (Muhakemat, 88).
After this short introduction, we can explain the issue of linguistics, which is a miraculous gleam of the Quran, with a few examples:
a) Eachof the words in the verse that we will quote includes some realities that are not mentioned in the content of the verse within the linguistic theme.
“وممارزقناهمينفقون and spend out of what We have provided for them.” (al-Baqara, 2/3)
The words in this sentence and the order of the sentence itself are arranged in a way that indicates the conditions for "infaq (giving away in the way of Allah)" to be accepted:
It is necessary to give away so that the person himself who gives away will not be needy. The preposition "من" (from)in the phrase "مما" (from what) expresses this condition. An acceptable sadaqah (something given away) should not be something taken from Peter and given to Paul; it should be from a person’s own wealth.The phrase "رزقناهم" (We have providedfor them) expresses this condition.
The third condition for sadaqah is not to rub it in. The pronoun "نا" (we) used for first person plural in the phrase "رزقناهم" (We have providedfor them) shows that Allah is the real owner of all wealth. With the indication of this verse, Allah spiritually states the following: "I give you sustenance. When you give something to My slaves from what I have given to you, you have no right to rub it in."
Anothercondition for sadaqah is to give it to good places and needy people, not to bad places and people.
It is not acceptable to give sadaqah to people who spend it on debauchery. The phrase "ينفقون "(spend out) indicates this condition. The fifth condition is to give sadaqah on behalf of Allah. The phrase "رزقناهم" (We have providedfor them) indicates this condition. With tongue of this sign, Allah says, "Wealth belongs to me; you should give on behalf of me."
It means this verse reminds the rich people that they are not the real owner of the wealth but only cashiers.
In addition, the word "ما" (what) indicates that sadaqah can be given from knowledge, intellect, mind, power and advice along with wealth (money and goods). (Sözler, 387-388)
b) The compliance of the words with the reality in beings informs about a real miracle.
“It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light (of beauty), and measured out stages for it.” (Yunus, 10/5),
"Blessed is He Who made Constellations in the skies, and placed therein a Lamp and a Moon giving light." (al-Furqan, 25/61) As it is seen in the verses above, it is remarkable that the word "ziya" (light) and words like "siraj" (candle/cresset) are used for sunlight in the Quran, and that the word "nur" (light) and the word "munir" (illuminating/bright) of the same root are used for the noon.
These words give different clues to people and increase the opportunities of the people with different levels of education and culture to benefit from the verses of the Quran. In fact, different meanings were understood from the same verse, all of which are true. For instance,
an ordinary person understands from this verse that both the sun and the moon send light to the earth.
With the indications of the words “ziya” and "siraj", an Arab philologist deduces the meaning that the sun gives heat in addition to light.
The clue that an astronomer gets from the same words is the fact that the sun is the source of the light and that the moon receives the light from outside. For, the word "ziya/muzi" is used for the things that are the source of light and the word "nur/munir" is used for the things that receive light from outside in Arabic.
For instance, the phrase "ghurfatun muziatun" is not used for a bright room; on the contrary, the word "muniratun" is used because the light of the room comes from an outside source. However, the phrase "qabasun munir" is not used for cinder/ember but the word "muzi" is used because the light belongs to the cinder/ember itself.
The reason why the Quran uses "nur-munir," for the moonand "ziya-siraj" for the sun is to express this difference. (see Niyazi Beki, interpretation of verse 5 of ar-Rahman)
c) Each of the words in a verse serving the purpose that the verse aims is a miraculous gleam in terms of linguistics.
The following verse can be an example for it:
"If but a breath of the Wrath of thy Lord do touch them they will then say "Woe to us! We did wrong indeed.” (al-Anbiya, 21/46)
In this statement, the Quran expresses the effect of the least wrath in a very severe way in order to show the wrath horrible:
“ولئنمستهمنفحةمنعذابربك If but a breath of the Wrath of thy Lord do touch them” Each of the six words in the clause above expresses "littleness", serving the aim of the Quran "frightening a lot with a little wrath".
The first word "if" expresses doubt. It indicates “littleness” by expressing doubt.
The second word is the verb "مس" (touch). The meaning of this word is “to touch slightly”. It also expresses littleness.
The third word is "نفحة" (breath). This word expresses “littleness” in three aspects.
a. It expresses littleness since its meaning is a small smell.
b. In terms of the science of morphology, the structure of the word is"ism al-marra (noun of instance)". It means "only once" and indicates "littleness".
c. The "tanwin" at the end of the word is for indefiniteness and reduction.It also expresses littleness.
The fourth word "من" (from) expresses "tab'iz", that is, part of something, a small part.
The fifth word is "عذاب" (punishment). It is a small penalty compared to "nakal" and "iqab". It indicates littleness.
The sixth word is "ربك" (your Lord). The use of this word instead of Allah's names like al-Jabbar (the Compeller), al-Qahhar (the Subduer) and al-Muntaqim (the Avenger) aims to express "littleness". Based on those indications, the verse can be translated as follows:
"O Messenger!If but a small part of the breath of the wrath of your Lord happens to touch them only once, they will then say "Woe to us! We did wrong indeed."
As Badiuzzaman Said Nursi puts it, "Each of the words used in the verse strengthens the real purpose of the verse." (see Muhâkemat, 93-94; Sözler, 386-87)
d) A single word supporting the purpose of the verse linguistically is a miraculous gleam.
It is possible to see this fineness in the meaning of the following verse:
“Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of Creation), before We clove them asunder? We made from water every intelligent thing. Will they not then believe?” (al-Anbiya, 21/30)
The Arabic word meaning “joined” in the phrase “the heavens and the earth were joined together” in the verse is “ratq”.
In a normal Arabic statement, “matruqatayn”, which is a noun used for two things would be used instead of “ratq”, which is an infinitive in the form of object. For, the word “ratq=joined” here is used for two things: the heavens and the earth.
However, in the verse, the word meaning “joined”, is preferred not the word “matruqatayn”, which means “two joined things”. For, what is meant to emphasize by the verse is that the heavens and the earth were a single substance, a cosmic soup, a creational dough at first.
The word “ratq”, which eliminates duality and expresses a homogenous structure in the best way, has a miraculous state regarding the issue.
e) As for the analysis of the chapter of al-Kafirun, which is especially asked in the question,
since the analysis is made in terms of linguistics, it will be useful to write the original Arabic text of the chapter.
قُلْياأَيُّهَاالْكافِرُونَ(1) لاأَعْبُدُماتَعْبُدُونَ(2) وَلاأَنْتُمْعابِدُونَماأَعْبُدُ(3) وَلاأَناعابِدٌماعَبَدْتُّمْ (4)
وَلاأَنْتُمْعابِدُونَماأَعْبُدُ(5) لَكُمْدِينُكُمْوَلِيَدِينِ (6)
The translation of the chapter:
1. Say: O ye that reject Faith!
2. I worship not that which ye worship,
3. Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
4. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship,
5. Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
6. To you be your Way, and to me mine.
1) The first verse of the chapter starts with “Qul= Say”. We can state a few fineness of eloquence about it as follows:
a) The addressees of the chapter are unbelievers. The order Qul=Say indicates that Hz. Muhammad is a prophet receiving commands from Allah.
It is a nice compliment, merciful guidance and eloquence that conforms to thenecessities of the current state to teach unbelievers Hz. Muhammad is a prophet.
b) The addressees of the chapter are certain unbelievers. According to the narration, the polytheists called Walid b. Mughira, As b. Wail, Aswad b. Abdulmuttalib and Umayya b. Khalaf made the following offer to the Prophet: “If you worship our idols, we will worship your Lord. If your religion is better, we will receive our share from this goodness. If our religion is better, you will receive your share from it.” Thereupon, this verse was sent down. (see Qurtubi, relevant place)
That Allah did not address these insolent unbelievers directly and that He addressed them through His prophet in the form of “Qul=Say” indicate the value of the Prophet in the eye of Allah and their valuelessness. This indicates the place of Allah’s respectable friends and the despicable place of His enemies.
The phrase “Ya ayyuhal-kafirun” (O unbelievers) in the verse is wonderful in terms of linguistics:
a) The phrase “Ya ayyuhal-kafirun” meaning “O unbelievers” is an exclamation. The letter hamza (a) is used to address people who are near, the words “aya-haya” people who are away and the word “ya” people who are both near and away.
The use of the word “ya” for unbelievers is wonderful here. For, those unbelievers were near the Prophet physically since they were in the same place but they were away from him in terms of the spiritual friendship attained by belief. The use of “ya” here indicates both states of the unbelievers who were the addressees of this verse.
b) There is another point in indicating that the unbelievers are both distant and near. The unbelievers are away from Allah due to their spiritual values, or rather, their valuelessness. However, Allah is close to them with His knowledge and power to punish them.
c) As we have just mentioned, the unbelievers who are the addressees of this chapter are certain people. The prefix “al” (the) at the beginning of the word “al-kafirun” indicates certain, known people.For, it is indicated in the verse that these “unbelievers” will not believe after that.
It is not possible for all unbelievers to be included in this news about the future in terms of the test of the religion, justice or reality.
The prefix “al” (the) mentioned here aims to eliminate such a wrong thought.
d) The reason why the word “al-Kafirun” (the unbelievers), which is a noun, is preferred to “alladhina kafaru” (those who unbelieved), which is a relative clause is to indicate that the unbelievers who are addressed by the chapter continued their unbelief in the past and that they will continue their unbelief in the future too. (see Alusi, relevant place)
This word is like a projector shedding light on the truthfulness of the decree that “they will not believe” in the verses to come.
2) The analysis of verse 2 “La A’budu Ma Ta’budun” can be made as follows:
a) The word “La” (not) at the beginning of the verse shows negativity for the future. It makes the verb “A’budu” indicating present/future time negative.
b) The word “Ma” is a relative pronoun. It is used for mindless things more commonly. The reason why this word is used is to indicate that what the polytheists worship are inanimate and mindless.
c) The word “Ta’budun” (worship) has a form that includes the present and the future. Accordingly, the explained meaning of those two verses are as follows:
“O Messenger! Say: O unbelievers who persist in their denial! (Do you offer me to accept each other’s religion and worship the deities of each other?) Know it very well that I will not worship the deities that you worship and you will worship.”
3) The analysis ofthe sentence “Wa la Antum Abiduna Ma A’budu”:
a) Waw (and) is a conjunction. La is a negative word at the beginning of a noun clause. Abidun (worshippers) is a plural noun. This word is a noun; therefore, it indicates that the unbelievers mentioned above will not believe in Allah and worship Him now or in the future.
b) Ma A’budu: It means what I worship. The reason why the pronoun “Ma (which/what)”, which is generally used for mindless things, is preferred to “Man (who)”, which is used for intelligent beings has a few eloquent purposes:
Firstly: That the pronoun “Ma”, which is used for wrong deities, is used for the real Deity is an art of mushakala (reiterating a word of another person other than its intended meaning). Although they mean the same thing, they are related to different things. For instance, when “ma” is used for Allah here, it means “man”, which is used for intelligent beings.
Secondly: It indicates a spiritual mushakala. In Arabic, the word deity (mabud) is also used for temples though it is wrong. Since the word deity is used for both Allah and idols, the use of “ma” for this common term shows a nice fineness.
Thirdly: The relative pronoun “Ma” (which/what) has two aspects of usage: it is used for both mindless beings and intelligent beings. The reason why ma, which is used for both mindless beings and intelligent beings, is used instead of “man” (who), which is used only for intelligent beings, aims to indicate that idols and polytheism are irrational. For, the polytheists also know that the relative pronoun “man”, which is used only for intelligent beings, cannot be used for idols. Then, they understand that what they worship are mindless.
4) In this verse, the word “abid” (worshipper), which is a noun showing the doer of an action, for the Prophet (pbuh). The reason why a noun is preferred to a verb is to indicate that Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) is not hesitant in his religion and that he will continue in his religion in the future as he did in the past.
Although a present verb was used for the unbelievers before, a past verb is used in this verse. The following message is virtually given in the verse: The Prophet knows what kind of religion you have since he has seen it so far. He will never accept your religion as he has not accepted it so far.
5) In the verse “Nor will ye worship that which I worship”, the word “Abiduna”, which is a plural noun showing the doer of an action,is preferred, indicating that the deniers mentioned above will never abandon unbelief throughout their lives.
6) It is possible to understand the following messages from the verse “To you be your Way (Religion), and to me mine”:
a) O the unbelievers who are known! I inform you that you will not believe from now on and you will not accept Islam. Your religion will go to grave with you. And I will never accept your religion.
In fact, it is a challenge. For, if only one of those unbelievers had pretended to believe, Islam would have ended before it spread.
b) Everybody will receive what their religion offers. You will receive what your religion offers and I will receive what my religion offers. This is a serious warning for unbelievers.
Questions on Islam
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- Is there a contradiction between these two verses as to the purpose of creating men and jinn?
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- Are angels Allah's daughters?
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- Why does Allah bedamn and curse in the Quran? Does Allah bedamn in the chapter of al-Lahab?
- Does the Lord of the Quran make plans (set traps)? How can we answer those who make these claims by using some verses as excuses?