However, let me share with you that even most Arabs do not understand the Qur'an. Why? Please read the Preface and Introduction to my QXP. A partial hint: they go through wrong translations and tafsirs. But, there is much more to it below.
A lifelong student
¬¬¬¬¬QXPvi (THE QUR’AN AS IT EXPLAINS ITSELF, 6th edition) May 2015
By: Dr. Shabbir Ahmed, Florida
Editor: Yusuf Desai, Texas
Technical Directors: Disha & Raquib Hassan, Australia - Aisha Qarni, Ohio
The author of the Qur’an is none but Almighty God. Before the reader is an English rendition of the Glorious Book by Shabbir Ahmed, M.D.
The work, although close to translation, is more of an understanding from within the Qur’an itself. The Divine Writ calls itself An-Noor (the Light) and light needs no extrinsic sources to show itself. Therefore, I have based my presentation on two principles:
1. Focusing on the language of Makkah in which the Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century CE.
2. Making use of ‘Tasreef’, that is, how the Qur’an repeats its verses in a variety of ways to clearly explain itself.
A diligent study of the Book using Tasreef lets us look at the Qur’an in its Big Picture and it helps us understand the meanings more accurately.
I have rendered the terms and linguistics of the Qur’an using the ‘Quraish (Quresh)’ dialect of Makkah since it is the Arabic dialect in which the Qur’an was revealed to the exalted Muhammad bin Abdullah, the Final Prophet and Messenger of God. [570-632 CE]
19:97 So, We have made this (Qur’an) easy to understand in your own tongue (O Prophet) - That you might convey thereby good news to the righteous and warn people given to futile disputation.
Being a young member of the Saudi royal medical staff, I had the good fortune of learning the Quraish dialect in the 1970s under the auspices of King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz and King Khalid bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. I was blessed with the opportunity to learn Islamic theology in the University of Madinah after having learnt the subject from Qari Viqaullah and ‘Maulana’ Ehtishamul Haq Thanwi, two celebrated names in the Muslim word, in Karachi during my school and premed college days in the 1960s. My mother tongue is Urdu but I am fluent in Punjabi. During my school days I very keenly learned some Arabic and Persian from some honorable teachers.
In addition, the opportunity to socialize with the Bedouins, especially the inhabitants of the Empty Quarter (Southeastern Arabian Peninsula), was certainly a great advantage because, even today, they have preserved a great deal of the original Quraish dialect. Learning the dialect by no means amounts to absorbing the Saudi theology.
Some well-known western scholars who learned Arabic by socializing with the Bedouins:
1810s - The Swiss Muslim traveler-explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (Sheikh Ibrahim bin Abdullah 1784-1817).
1850s - The British Muslim Sir Richard F. Burton (1821-1890), adventurer-explorer-soldier-writer, famous for the first ever English translation of “The Arabian Nights”.
1860s - The German non-Muslim scholar-traveler-explorer, Heinrich von Maltzan (1826-1874). Unfortunately, upon his return from Arabia, much unwarranted furor was raised by his fellow men and the dejected von Maltzan went to Italy and committed suicide by throwing himself from the Tower of Pisa!
1920s - The Jewish-born Austrian Muslim convert Leopold Weiss (Muhammad Asad 1900-1992), traveler-explorer, journalist-author-diplomat, exponent of the Qur’an.
1960s - The French surgeon-scholar-author, reverted from Christianity to Islam, Maurice Bucaille (1920-1998).
The first ever commentaries of the Qur’an were written in the third and fourth centuries, long after the exalted Messenger, during the Abbasid Dynasty (750-1258 CE) when Zoroastrian influence held sway in Islamic politics, society and even in the Arabic literature. Most of the commentators of the Qur’an, historians, ‘Muhadditheen’ (Hadith/Tradition collectors) and ‘Fuqaha’ (‘Islamic’ Jurists) originated from among the non-Arab Persians.
The Egyptian scholar Ahmad Amin Al-Masri (1886–1954) sums up the Arabic-Persian mix in his excellent work, “Fajr-il-Islam”, “Very certainly, the reader will agree with me that the Persian literature gave an entirely alien complexion to the Arabic linguistics.”
Many thinkers and authors in the Islamic world strongly agree with the Egyptian scholar on this score. We need not go into details since the point will become sufficiently clear soon when we cite some examples.
How was mankind robbed of God’s Final Revelation? God Himself extolls this Revelation, “And this grace of your Lord is better than all the treasures that they may amass.” [10:57-58, 16:53, 16:71, 43:32]
By robbing I mean giving alien, erroneous and misleading meanings and concepts to the clear Qur’anic terminology. Here is how it happened:
The First Dilemma: The Persian “Imams” received strong support from the Abbasid monarchs for political reasons. While the text of the Qur’an remained untouched, its words and terminology were, gradually, given alien, culturally and politically biased meanings to the extent that they lost the splendor and the magnificence so beautifully conveyed in the original, revealed Arabic ‘Mubeen’. Simply put, the Qur’anic terms were dressed up with the erroneous philosophies prevalent in the Zoroastrian culture of Persia, and they became widely accepted even among the Arabs!
This staggering tragedy explains why, how and where, even the Arabic speaking people lose their touch with the Qur’an! The Book describes this staggering tragedy in this way:
25:30 The Messenger will say, “O My Lord! These are my people who had abandoned this Qur’an as something to be neglected."
This ill treatment of the Divine Message and the subsequent filling of the void with conjecture is THE cause of the Muslim downfall on a Global scale.
Any nation that holds on to this Divine Writ in letter and spirit can build paradise on earth. The early Islamic history is a great testimonial to this claim, but we will explore this point a little further.
But an obvious and important question arises here: how others were able and continue to make progress? In the last several centuries, the west and many other non-Muslim countries have been making spellbinding advances in education, science and technology and in their governmental systems without the Qur’an! The short answer is that they have been making great use of their faculties of reason and intellectual inquiry.
However, a very significant factor has been quietly playing its role in this regard. The Qur’an has been, perceptibly and imperceptibly, making a very positive universal impact on human civilization during the last fourteen centuries. The celebrated French surgeon, thinker and historian, Robert Briffault (1876-1978) has very convincingly elaborated this fact in his remarkable work, "The Making of Humanity."
But Muslims, after disabling the Divine Revelation, have also allowed their intellect to become paralyzed by blindly following the ancient trends. They have fallen easy prey to numerous utterly senseless dogmas fabricated centuries after the exalted Prophet and his noble companions.
Revelation Economizes Human Effort (Sir Allama Iqbal 1877-1938). It can give them eminence in social, educational, economic, scientific and political areas side by side, in a short span of time without having to go through the prolonged ordeal of learning through trial and error. Thus, they can adopt a progressive system of life that embraces all that is good, promoting the well-being of the individual and the humanity at large, while avoiding all that is evil and harmful. This Revealed System of Life is fully sustainable and durable. Whenever civilizations have made social, moral, political, medical, economic or scientific progress during the last 14 centuries, their bright minds have found the Qur’an already there much before them, even though the masses may realize it much later.
Notice the Qur’an confidently claiming in 41:53, “Soon, We will show them Our signs in the utmost horizons and within themselves and their own people until it becomes obvious to them that this Qur’an is certainly the Truth. Is it not enough that your Lord is Witness to all things (including this proclamation)? [Horizons = Universe. ‘Anfusihim’ = Within themselves = Within their psyche = Within their own people. 9:31-33, 13:31, 14:48, 18:48, 41:53, 48:28, 51:20-21, 61:9]
Is it not mind-boggling to see that not a single established scientific discovery during the last fourteen centuries has nullified one statement in the Majestic Book? And the Book refers to numerous scientific phenomena and Laws of Nature, in passing, as it is not a book of science.
How Does The Current Arabic Rob The Qur’an?
44:58 Certainly, (O Prophet) We have made this Qur’an easy in your tongue, in order that they may take it to heart.
69:40 This is the revealed Word in the dialect of a noble Messenger. [44:58, 69:40, 81:19]
Like all languages, Arabic has undergone evolution since the Qur’an was revealed. Trying to understand it through the Arabic that became prevalent a few centuries later or today will result in inaccuracies. It is of paramount importance to know that the original dialect is not extinct. It is very much alive and well in the Pre-Islamic and ‘Para-Islamic’ poetry and well preserved in some good dictionaries such as Tajil ‘Uroos, Lisan-il-‘Arab, Qamoos, Lane’s Lexicon, ‘Imam Raghib Ispahani’s Al-Mufridaat Fi Ghareeb-il-Qur’an’ and ‘Lughaatil Qur’an’. The first of these practically embraces the next two and the last one is an outstanding work from Arabic to Urdu by Allama G.A. Parwez. The role of the desert nomads, especially in the Empty Quarter, has already been mentioned.
I will keep this discourse brief since nothing is more convincing than citing relevant examples. Plenty of such examples are given throughout the rendition for the reader to see for himself how the ‘Ajami’ (Non-Arab, and more specifically, non-Qur’anic) concepts rob the Qur’anic terms of their clarity, power and grandeur.
The following are only a few of examples:
- ‘Taqwa’ is usually translated as: Righteousness, goodness, avoiding evil, God-consciousness, warding off evil, piety, fearing God, doing good etc.
Now a non-Muslim, or even a bright Muslim youngster may ask, “Well, the Qur’an in the very beginning claims that it is a Guide for the righteous, the God-conscious, he who wards off evil, the pious, he who fears God, one who does good works. Then, why should such people need any guidance?”
The answer lies in the Quraish dialect that describes Taqwa as walking in security, like someone who strolls through a garden but watches his garment against getting entangled in bushes and thorns. All of a sudden the verse now makes beautiful sense, that the Qur’an is a Guide to those who wish to journey through life in honor and security.
- ‘Manyyasha’ is almost invariably translated as ‘whatever God wills.’ Since this term appears in the Qur’an very frequently, its wrong translation lays down the foundation for ‘Fatalism’ in Islam. Such erroneous translations can only convey abject Messages like this: ‘God honors whomever He wills and humiliates whomever He wills.’ Or, ‘God sends astray whomever He wills and guides whomever He wills.’ An intelligent reader has every right to ask, "Why then did God reveal His Message in the first place?"
The original Qur’anic meaning of Manyyasha is, ‘according to His Laws’. God has appointed Laws for success vs failure, and for guidance vs straying. [And these Laws are given in the Qur’an. See 4:88]
- Such terms as ‘Sayyeh, Ithm, Zanb, Fisq, ‘Udwaan, Zulm’ and the like are all blanketed together as the vague term ‘SIN’. I have let the Qur’an explain the true meanings of each term repeatedly in the text, at times in parentheses.
- ‘Zulm’ has almost always been given a very vague meaning, ‘wrongdoing’. But the Qur’anic concept of Zulm is extremely clear and appealing: To displace something from its rightful place – to harm one’s own self – violation of human rights – oppression – relegating the truth – to hurt someone. These meanings become crystal clear in their context in every single related verse.
- ‘Hasanah, Khair, Saalehat, ‘Amal-e-Saaleh, Birr’ etc are all blanketed together as the vague 'good deeds'. I have incorporated their accurate Qur’anic meanings in the text at their relevant places.
- In addition, the true Qur’anic understanding of terms such as Adam, Angels, Satan, Jinn, Salaat, Zakaat, Saum, Hajj, The Unseen, The Occult Phenomena, Belief, Kufr, Resurrection, The Law of Requital, Duniya, The Hereafter, Haraam, Halaal, Jihad, Islam, Iman, and many more will repeatedly be found in the text just as the Qur’an explains them.
A brief Glossary has been included in the Introduction of QXPvi as well.
The Second Dilemma: It occurred when the commentators of the Qur’an, centuries after its Revelation, tried to connect every verse with a certain historical event, calling the process ‘Shaan-e-Nuzool’ (circumstances of a Revelation.) Here the words and terms of the Qur’an were given tailor-made meanings to fit the supposed fabricated story, with total disregard to their original vibrant meanings, concepts and Messages.
This deplorable practice only serves to bind the verses of the Timeless Qur’an to some supposed incidents and chain the Word of God in another set of shackles!
An important Islamic jurist, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (780–855 CE /164–241 AH) in those early times saw the chaos and raised a very strong voice against this awful practice, "Three kinds of books are absolutely unfounded: Maghaazi, Malaahem and Tafseer” (the exalted Prophet's battles, his dreams, and expositions of the Qur’an). [Ref: ‘Tazkarah-til-Maudhua’at’ by Ash-Shaikh Muhammad Tahir Al-Makki and ‘Maudhu’aat-e-Kabeer’ by Mulla Ali Qari]
Inevitably so, this conjecture of Shaan-e-Nuzool was attributed to the exalted Prophet and his noble companions. This led people into believing that this was how they used to understand the Qur’an! Thus the ‘disabled’ Qur’an was, practically, taken out of the picture, giving way to the hearsay written by Imams of Hadith and History. Mankind was robbed of the Supreme Gift of Guidance bestowed upon them by the Creator, and foundations for the Muslim decline were laid down.
Now The Third Dilemma: The later generations of translators and commentators have uncritically followed the men of old and this tendency has been consistently taking its noxious toll. They have been taking the Ajami Arabic as the proper language of the Qur’an. By Ajami Arabic I mean applying the Zoro-Persian or any alien concepts to the Arabic words and terms of the Qur’an.
Please recall that this deplorable practice of “Shaan-e-Nuzool” was given legitimacy during the Abbasid Dynasty to the extent that the alien, empty and erroneous concepts given to the Qur’anic terms were widely spread. The pristine Word of God being a great Equalizer of humanity, threatened the personal interests of the elite, whereas a ‘disabled’ Qur’an very well suited the ulterior motives of the monarchs, the rich elite and the Islamic priesthood. A formidable coalition of this ‘eternally’ sinister TRIO thus made inroads into Islam and supported each other towards a common goal, that is, exploitation of the masses who, in turn, started violating the rights of the weak and particularly the rights of women.
The later commentators whether Arabs or non-Arabs, have since looked at the Qur’an with the tinted glasses of the earlier ‘Mufassireen’ (commentators or exponents.) This dilemma has only helped perpetuate the pathetic state of mental slavery of the “Islamic” world to this day.
The Bewilderment: Muslims, then, keep wondering: What went wrong? What has happened to us? What brought upon us the current, in fact, the last many centuries of global humiliation? Which way should we go? Is a Renaissance possible? If yes, how?
The answer is one word, Al-Qur’an, in its true meanings with no biases and preconceived notions.
Respected reader! Right before you is my sincere effort to break free of those "time-honored" shackles of mental slavery, and to breathe in some fresh air – (QXP) The Qur’an As It Explains Itself.
A Project Done In Full Public View:
The first edition of QXP - “The Qur’an As It Explains Itself” - was completed in April 2003 as "The Qur'an As I Understand". It is the first ever rendition of the Qur’an into any language that has been done in full public view. From the very first letter in 2001, it had been made available on the Internet. This proved to be a blessing. Some great scholars of the Qur’an and of the Arabic linguistics around the world helped me make the rendition as accurate and clear as possible. QXP is an ongoing project with continued improvement of our English exposition. We cannot 'finish' the Qur'an but we can 'finish' our life in it.
Respectfully, here is the sixth edition and God willing, I hope to continue working for another improved version. Al-Qur’an is a timeless Book and we humans have to keep pace with it as our knowledge keeps advancing. The study of the Qur’an should be continuous and renewed as often as possible. I entrust this formidable task to my students, children and the coming generations.
Please remember that the author of this rendition is by no means infallible. Nothing in this work is etched in stone and certainly it is not the last word. We will always remain open to comments and suggestions from any quarters. Good suggestions will be adopted and any errors rectified without hesitation.
With sincere thanks,
Shabbir Ahmed, M.D.
6440 NW 53 ST
Lauderhill, Florida, USA
This is sixth edition from Jan 2001 to Jan 2015
QXP is a Tasreef-based understanding of the Qur’an that is easy enough even for teenagers. It is not a literal translation.
Tasreef is the Qur’anic process where verses in one part of the Qur’an explain or provide deeper understanding of the verses in other parts of the Book. Concisely, it means looking at the Qur’an in its Big Picture. Thus the Qur’an lets us look at its terms and concepts from very diverse vantage points. This has helped me explain every verse from within the Qur’an itself.
The reader should expect to find “The Qur’an As It Explains Itself” different from the prevalent translations and explanations because of the use of Tasreef and the Quraish dialect, and for rejecting extrinsic sources.
I have purposely refrained from explaining the Qur’an through extrinsic sources such as Hadith and a very questionable History. Hadith means the supposed sayings of the exalted Prophet collected through hearsay centuries after him. Using these two ‘sources’ for translating or explaining the Qur’an in the distant and recent past has only served to confound the Word of God with manmade traditions and it takes away the profound glory of the Divine Message.
In QXP, relevant historical accounts have been given only sparingly for the interested reader and they have no bearing on the pristine Divine Message.
The following three principles applied in this rendition are derived from the Qur’an itself:
One: The Qur’an explains itself. [6:115, 10:37, 75:17-19]
Two: It repeats its verses from diverse angles for clear understanding. [17:41,17:89,18:54, and quite a few other verses]
Three: It has been revealed in the clear Arabic of its times. [12:2, 19:97, 20:113, 39:28, 44:58]
The Prophet (S), who was born and raised in Makkah (Mecca), belonged to the prominent Quraish tribe. Since the Makkans were the first audience, the Qur’an was revealed in their dialect.
19:97 So, We have made this (Qur’an) easy to understand in your own tongue (O Prophet) - That you might convey thereby good news to the righteous and warn people given to futile disputation.
44:58 Certainly, (O Prophet) We have made this Qur’an easy in your tongue, in order that they may take it to heart. [69:40]
Surah means a fence and it implies a Chapter that encircles some ayahs (verses). There are 114 Chapters (Surahs) in the Qur’an with about 6,200 verses in all. By volume, the Qur’an is a much smaller Book than the Bible, even smaller than the New Testament.
Notes: The reader should not expect the Qur’an to follow a historical time-line as the Bible does. It presents its guidance in an ‘apparently’ random manner, but a close examination reveals a definite arrangement of the Messages as we go along. As usual, the reference to the Surah and verse numbers in this rendition are kept simple; 2:101 will mean Surah 2 verse 101 and so on.
About the use of parentheses ( ) and brackets [ ] … Whenever the reader finds a sentence that is not seen in the original Arabic verse, it will be representing another verse found elsewhere in the Qur’an and, where appropriate, the proper reference will be given right there. In this effort, no meanings will be imported from outside of the Qur’an.
A conscious effort will be made to keep the brackets after the verses whenever possible. Historical notes, author’s comments and linguistic explanations will be given in brackets or parentheses.
The use of (S) after the name of Prophet Muhammad should be read as ‘Our salutes to him’.
Some publications of the Qur’an count BISMILLAH before every Surah as verse number 1. Therefore, the verse numbering in different copies of the Qur’an may vary by one. For example, 6:142 may be 6:143 and vice versa in different publications. It is a good idea to check one verse before and one after the given reference, which in itself is a good practice to get the context.
Please note that the Qur’an confirms only the Divine origination of the Bible (Old & New Testaments, the Torah & Injeel). It repeatedly asserts that the Bible has been corrupted by the clergy: Verses 2:75, 2:78-79, 2:101, 3:70-71, 3:78, 3:186-187, 5:13, 5:41, 6:91-92, 9:31.
There are many terms used in the Qur’an that have no satisfactory English equivalent, therefore, we are compelled to use the terminology in general use. For example: NABI has to be translated as Prophet although NABI is not someone who makes prophecies. He is a noble man who receives Divine Revelations. DEEN is loosely translated as religion although it means the Way of Life or the Divinely Ordained System of Life. I will write Religion with a capital R when translating DEEN. IMAN is commonly translated as Faith which indicates unquestioned belief and blind following but IMAN means attaining conviction in the Truth after due reflection.
Glossary - Some Terminology: It will help the reader to become familiar with some important terminology frequently used in the Qur’an.
Deen = System of Life = The Divinely Prescribed Way of Life. In a loose sense, ‘religion’ equals ‘mazhab’ i.e. individual efforts to please God with rituals. ‘Religion’ even with a capital R may scarcely come close in meaning to the term ‘Deen’.
Salaat = To follow closely, like a runner-up (Musalli) follows the winning horse (Saabiq) = To follow Divine Commands.
Aqimussallat = Establish the System that facilitates the following of Divine Commands.
Zakaat = The Just Economic Order where everyone works according to his capacity and is compensated according to his needs. People spend on others or give to the Central Authority (Islamic government) whatever is surplus (2:219). And they spend on others whenever they earn income (6:141). The 2.5 percent annual charity is a non-Qur’anic concept that trivializes the comprehensive Qur’anic System of Zakaat. The Islamic government is the trustee of all natural resources and sets up the System of Zakaat. It gives Zakaat ensuring that all needs of the individuals and the state are taken care of adequately and equitably. [22:41]
Sadaqaat = Charity or alms is meant for the interim period when the Divinely Prescribed System of Life is not yet in place.
Allah wa Rasool = For Central Authority, the Qur’an uses the terms Allah and Rasool (3:32, 4:59). After the exalted Messenger, the believers must elect their leadership through a consultative process in a manner suitable for the times. [42:38]
Tilawah = Reciting, studying the Qur’an with reflection and following it.
Awliya = Friends = Protecting friends = Allies = (incorrectly) Masters.
Maula = The True Master = Lord Supreme. The extremely common practice of calling a religious leader as Maulana (Our Master) is a frank, deplorable form of Shirk (associating others with God). The Qur’an tell us that there is no Maulana but God (2:286, 9:51, 10:30). It is surprising to note that the Muslim clergy write Maulana with their names, and with their own hands.
‘Ibadah = Subservience = Obeying God = Obeying God by serving His creation = Following His Laws for developing character = Worship which applies in the sense of idol ‘worship’ alone.
Israaf = Wasting resources or one’s own ‘self’ = Crossing limits = Disregarding moderation = Committing excesses in any aspect of life including Religion = Defying moral values given in the Qur’an = Using intoxicants that hurt the human ‘self’.
Ma’siah = Defying Divine Commands = Disobeying the Laws = Disruptive behavior = “Sin”.
Ifk = Slander = Evil scheming = Defaming = Fault finding = Presenting the 'heard' as 'seen' = Alarmist behavior.
Zann = Assumption, good or bad = Negative thinking = Condemnation without investigation = Superstition = Belittling the truth = Following conjecture = Staying out of touch with reality.
Jurm = Stealing the fruit of others’ labor = Violating human rights = Guilty behavior = Giving false witness.
Takabbur = False pride = Arrogance = Self-glorification = Holding others in contempt = Refusing to unlearn and learn = Insisting on blind following = Refusing to admit fault = Ridiculing the Divine Message = Mocking the truth.
Ghill = Harboring malice in the heart = Failing to forgive people = Looking for revenge = Personal grudge.
Ghadhab = Anger = Wrath = Letting loose virulent emotions = Losing self-control = Impulsive behavior = Lack of self-restraint = God’s ghadhab indicates bad consequences of evil deeds according to His Laws.
Bukhl = Stinginess = Hoarding = Withholding wealth and person from serving humanity = Apathy towards the needy = Greed.
Laghw = Wasting time = Idle talk = Meaningless assemblies = Senseless play and pastime.
Sadd = Barring from the way of God = Putting forward human thoughts above the Divine Revelation = Hindering emigration from the domain of evil = Antagonizing the Word of God = Misleading people with conjecture.
Jadal = Disputation = Argument for the sake of argument = Opposing Divine Revelation = Rhetoric against the truth.
Jinn = Something hidden = People rarely seen in towns. Al-Jinn = The nomads. Jannah from the same root means a garden hidden in foliage. When the Jinns or nomads urbanize, they are referred to as Ins.
Faasiqoon (singular, Faasiq) = Those who drift away = Who slip out of discipline = Disobedient = Those who cross the bounds of what is right = Fruit whose seed slips out before maturing = One who transgresses Divine Laws.
Fisq = Drifting away from the commands or from discipline = ‘Sin’ = Disregarding moral values.
Zanb = Tail = Trailing behind = ‘Sin’.
Sharr = Harming others = Hurting the good potential in others. Injuring people by any means. Harming the society. Bad conduct = ‘Evil’ = ‘Sin’.
Sayyeh = Harming others = Disrupting people’s lives = Treating them unfairly = Destabilizing the lives of others = Failing to fulfill their rights = Injustice = Iniquity = Deceiving in business or other dealings = Falling short in discharging duties = Favoritism = ‘Sin’
'Amal Su = Bad deed = Any action that disrupts the lives of others = ‘Sin’ = A hurtful action.
‘Amal Saaleh = An act of social welfare = Helping others = Increasing the societal potential = Fulfilling needs = ‘Good work’.
Saalehaat = Actions that increase the capabilities of a person or society = Setting things right = Helping others.
Saaliheen = The righteous ones = Those who actualize their own ‘self’ = Who increase human potential = Who set things right = Help others = Create balance in the society = Fulfill others’ needs = Capable = Healthy = Mature beyond 40 years (46:15).
Birr = Works that lead to exponential growth of the ‘self’ = Creating room for advancement of all = ‘Good’.
Abraar = Those who create room for others = Those who create opportunities for others to make progress.
Khair = A deed or act that endows a person and others with true inner happiness = ‘Good’.
Hasanah = Creating balance = Any benevolent action = ‘Good’.
Muhsineen = Doers of good = Benefactors of humanity = Those who create balance in the society.
Tasbeeh from Sabah = Swim with long strides = Strive hard = Apply oneself to a mission = The non-Qur’anic ‘Rosary beads’.
Nafs = ‘Self’ = 'I', ‘Ego’, ‘Personality’, ‘I-amness', ‘Me’.
Imaan = Belief = Conviction = Acceptance = Acknowledgement = Embracing the truth.
Haraj = Difficulty = Burden = Doubt = Hardship = Blame = Tightness in chest.
Kufr = Denial or rejection of the truth = Concealing the truth = Ingratitude = Choosing to live in the darkness of ignorance = Hiding or covering something = Closing eyes to the light of truth = Stubborn denial of the truth = Knowingly oppose the truth = Uncritical adherence to ancestral views = Trying to be with the majority without discernment.
Kafir = One given to Kufr = One who adamantly denies or opposes the truth = Commonly translated as ‘infidel’ = Derivatively and positively, a farmer who hides the seed under the soil (57:20). Therefore, Kufr or Kafir does not apply to the unaware, anyone to whom the Message has not been conveyed or reached.
Mushrik = Idolater = Pagan = Anyone who ascribes divinity to other than the One True God = Who associates partners with Him = Who prefers manmade tenets = Who worships idols in any form such as statues, own desire, forces in Nature, any of God’s creation = One who uncritically follows what others do = A blind follower = One who considers men as authorities instead of the Divine Revelation = Anyone who makes lists of Halaal (permissible) and Haraam (forbidden) from outside the Qur’an = One who believes in clergy against the Divine Revelation = Who adores saints, political or religious leaders in lieu of God = Who bows or prostrates physically or mentally before any creation = Who promotes themes, dogmas and tenets contrary to the Qur’an.
Shirk = The act of being a Mushrik = Associating others with God = Accepting human authorities parallel to Divine Revelation = Sectarianism = Idol worship in any form = Being content with manmade systems = Worshiping graves, saints, ancestors or one's own desire = Blind following or accepting religious information without discernment = Failing to use the Divine Word as the Criterion.
Taqwa = Journey through life in security = Being careful = Getting empowered against evil = Avoid overstepping the Laws = Exercising caution = Preserving the ‘self’ against deterioration = Good conduct = Building character = Live a life upright = Fear the consequences of violating Divine Commands = Being observant = Being mindful of God = Remaining conscious of moral values = Upright behavior = Guarding against error.
Muttaqeen = Those who walk on a secure path = Those who seek to journey through life in security = Those who live a life upright = Those watchful against error = The observant = Upright = Cautious.
Mukazzibeen = Rejecters of the truth = Those who verbally accept but practically deny the truth = Those who deny the truth = Who live by conjecture instead of the unalterable Divine Laws.
Zulm = Replace good with evil = Relegating the truth = Transgression = Oppression = Violation of human rights = Injustice = Wrongdoing = Displacing something from its rightful place = Oppression = Hurting others or one’s own ‘self’ = Doing wrong to God's creatures and environment = Enslaving bodies and minds.
Zaalimeen, Zaalimoon = Oppressors = Those who hurt themselves or others = Who displace something from its rightful place = Who relegate the truth = Violators of human rights = Those who prefer to live in the darkness of ignorance = Unjust = Commonly translated as wrongdoers.
Aadam = Adam = Man = Mankind = Early humans. His wife = Woman = Allegorically, early women. Udma = Ability to live together as a community. Aadam from Udma thus, indicates humankind. The word “Eve” or ‘Hawwa’ is not mentioned in the Qur’an. She is described with dignity as Mer’a-til-Aadam = Wife of Adam = Mrs. Adam.
Sajdah = Prostration = Complete submission = Willful obedience = Utter humility = Adoration = Utmost commitment to Divine cause = Humbling one's own self.
Rukoo’ (Bowing) and Sajdah (Prostration) are not confined to the ritualistic physical motions. They convey a more sublime Message of being humble and submitting to God’s commands.
Khauf = Fear from without. Huzn = Intrinsic depression or grief = Unhappiness = Regret.
Khushoo’ = Being humbly compliant = Sincerely committed = Being devoted to a noble cause.
Sabr = Patience = Facing adversity with courage = Steadfastness = Resolve = Perseverance in hardship as well as ease.
A’raaf = The Heights = Heights of intellect = Stature of those endowed with faculty of discernment = The high degrees of those who are better able to distinguish between right and wrong. Singular, ‘Urf = The most elevated part of anything = Easily discernible.
Shi'ra = Sha'oor = Intellect. Shi'ra is also the Arabic name of the brightest star Sirius in the constellation Canis Major. It was widely worshiped in ancient Middle East. (53:49)
Shafa'ah = Stand up as witness to the truth = Intercession = Clearing a falsehood assigned to someone = Defending the truthful.
Shukr = Thankfulness = Gratitude in word and action = Bring Divine bounties to the most fruitful use = Efforts becoming fruitful = Sharing one's wealth and resources with fellow humans = Opposite of Kufr (ingratitude) when the context demands it.
Hudan = Hidayah = Guidance = Right guidance = A lighted road = Journey with prominent landmarks = A sincere gift = A high rock of identification in the sea = Lighthouse = A fixed sign in the desert.
Zall = Shade.
Ghamam = Clouds. Shade of grace = Being shaded with clouds in the desert is a blessing, therefore, grace.
Manna-wus-Salwa = God’s sustenance that reaches all members of the community equitably. Literally, it also means delicious fruit (Manna) and fowl or quail meat (Salwa).
Tayyab = Decent and clean = Of one's liking = Not forbidden in the Qur’an = Good for mind and body = Pleasant.
Rijz = Weak, shaky legs = Loss of determination and resolve = Losing individual and collective strength = Becoming lazy = Replacing action with word.
Rijs = Unclean = Disapproved = Contaminated = Foul = A barrier to moral development.
‘Asa = Staff = Force = Conviction = Support = A united community holding on to a mission as the five fingers hold on to a cane.
Ihsan = An act of balance = Restoring symmetry and beauty = Social and individual equity = Selfless service = An act of equity.
Yateem = Orphan = Who is left alone in the society = Lonely = Without immediate family = Helpless = Derivatively, a widow.
Miskeen = The needy poor = One with no means to earn livelihood = The disabled = One whose life has stalled for any reason = Jobless = Bankrupt of finances = One whose running business has stalled.
Ibn-is-Sabeel = The needy wayfarer, son of the street, the homeless, the one who travels for assistance, one who seeks asylum against persecution.
La’nah = Curse = Deprivation of God’s grace = God’s rejection = Condemnation = Losing citizenship of the Islamic State = To be downgraded = Abasement = Lasting humiliation
Qat’a yadd = Cutting off the ability. For the so-called cutting of hand, please see 12:31. Yadd = Hand = Ability = Power.
Ithm = Any action that depletes individual or communal energy = Actions that deplete individual and collective potential = Harming human lives = Lewd behavior = Discouraging productive work = Causing fear or grief by any means = Indulgence in pursuit of pleasure.
‘Udwaan and its derivatives = Wedge = Creating distance between hearts = Discord = Crossing the bounds of Laws = Committing excesses = Deeds beyond decency = Transgressing moral values. Creating wedges of discord between people = Causing dissension = Spreading disorder and corruption = Promoting racial, sectarian and nationalistic hatred.
‘Adu and its derivatives = Enemy = Wedge = Opponent = Causing remoteness = Divider = Bearer of grudge.
Duniya = This world = Immediate gains = Short term benefits = Short-sightedness = Disregarding the Law of Cause and Effect = Forsaking the Future.
Aakhirah = Hereafter = The Life Hereafter = Life after life = Life to come = Eternal life = The long term = Far Sight = Future = Logical outcome = Tomorrow as built on today.
‘Uqba = The Life to come = Ultimate destination = The End = Hereafter.
Maseer = Destination = Journey’s end = Homecoming.
Ghadhab = Opposite of blessing = Bitter consequences of misdeeds = Logical results of defying Divine Laws = Physical and mental destitution for defying God = Suffering loss = Incorrectly translated as anger or wrath in relation to God.
Ya ayyuhallazeena aamanu is generally, but inaccurately, translated as “O You who believe!”, “O Believers!”, “O You of faith!, “O You who have attained to faith!”, “O faithfuls!” etc. Firstly, aamanu is a verb. Secondly, attaining belief must be an act consciously undertaken after due reflection and with free will. ‘Passive’ faith such as claiming to be a ‘believer by birth’ has no merit in the Sight of God. See 4:136, 12:108. Also, choosing to believe in truth is a great blessing of God. Hence, my rendition: O You who have chosen to be graced with belief!
Qadeer and Qaadir = The Law-Giver = Supreme Controller = Able to do all things = Powerful = Almighty = One Who sets due measure for all things and events.
Shayi = Thing = Derived meaning, event.
Qaul = Utterance = Thought = Assertion = Tenet = Attitude = Expression.
Hubb = Love = Full support = Having a common mission. Loving the Almighty = Following His commands = Loving His creation = Benefiting others. God’s love = His blessings in both lives.
Ghafarah = Helmet = Protection = Preservation against deterioration = Forgiveness.
Wakeel = Advocate, guardian, warder, warden, defender, custodian, responsible for the outcome.
‘Ilm = Knowledge = Science.
Yasha in reference to God = Through His Laws = Common mistranslation, ‘as He pleases’.
Bahl = To leave alone = Let someone hold on to his views = Let others do as they will = Erroneous, but common non-Qur’anic term from Bahl is Mubahila = A contest of mutual cursing!
Tayir = Omen = Destiny = Registration of deeds = Fleet-footed horse = Bird.
'Azaab = Torment = Chastisement = Punishment = Suffering, as a natural consequence of transgressions according to the Law of Cause and Effect.
Ma'roof = Virtue = Kindness = All that is good = Declared Ma’roof by the Qur’an.
Munkar = Vice = Evil = All that is wrong = Declared Munkar by the Qur’an.
Shuhada = Witnesses = Derivatively, those who uphold the truth even with their lives = Commonly translated as martyrs.
Azwaaj = Spouses, Zaujah is wife and Zauj means husband.
Hoor = Houri = Modest, intelligent companions, male or female. Unfortunately, this word has been almost invariably translated as ‘gorgeous women with big eyes’. Hoor applies to men and women both. The male gender is Ahwar and the female is Hawra. Again, Hoor = Men and women of vision who are modest and delightful companions.
Khiyaam = Blessed shady environment, instead of the literal 'tents or pavilions'.
Shaqq and derivatives = To split = Fall apart = Schism = Fall into disputes = Opposition = Oppose one another = Splitting of personality = Break apart the unity = Enmity.
Haml = Pregnancy = Accept = Bear = Interestingly also the opposite meaning: Betraying the trust (33:72).
Haraam = Forbidden = Sacred. Context will always be important. A good example in English is the word CLIP meaning cutting as well as joining.
Halaal = Permissible.
Jibt = Baseless mysteries, magic, future-telling, astrology, clairvoyance, evil eye, good and bad omens, ‘occult’ sciences, amulets, interpretation of dreams and prophecies (except by a Prophet), palm-reading, soothsaying, superstitions of all kind, demon or jinn-possession of people, exorcism, blowing verses and senseless words on people or in food and drink, counting names on rosaries.
Taaghoot = Those who, in rebellion to the One True God, claim to have Divine powers or try to portray themselves as His representatives, Sufis, mystics, deceptive priesthood, clergy, tyrants = Those who try to play god.
Tagha = Rebellion. Idols of stones cannot rebel, therefore, they cannot be Taaghoot.
Bayyinaat = Clear evidences.
Lillah = For God = For the sake of God = In the cause of God = Belonging to God = Being subservient to Him = Working to fulfill the Divine Plan.
Saabir = Steadfast = Persevering = Determined = Patient in ease and adversity.
Qisaas = The state’s duty of tracing an offender for just recompense.
Baheema-tul-An’aam = The herbivorous cattle = Plant-eating quadrupeds = Livestock.
Azlaam = Divining arrows = The conjecture of foretelling the future = Raffle = Lottery = Clairvoyance = Dividing things or time for one another through randomly picking up slips of paper.
Fasaad = Bloody crimes = Spreading corruption in the land = Creating disorder.
Waseelah = Seeking earnestly = Applying the mind and heart to reach a noble goal.
Zikr = Reflection = Remembrance = Observation = Reminder = Commemoration = Raise in degrees = Celebrate = Magnify = Give eminence = Taking to heart = Keeping in mind.
Prophets named in the Qur’an: