The Garbled Up Quran Pt. 5

We have come to the last section of our multi-part reply to In Anwar’s defense of the Quran’s less than miraculous structure

Ali Dashti was not alone in claiming that the Quran contains unfamiliar words. There are Muslims who agree with him. The following list of Quranic words along with Ibn Kathir’s comments highlight this fact.

Kalalah (Q. 4:12)

Ibn Kathir notes:

The Meaning of Kalalah

Allah said…

Kalalah is a derivative of Iklil; the crown that surrounds the head. The meaning of Kalalah in this Ayah is that the person’s heirs come from other than the first degree of relative. Ash-Sha’bi reported that when Abu Bakr Siddiq was asked about the meaning of Kalalah, he said, “I will say MY OWN OPINION ABOUT IT, and IF IT IS CORRECT, then this correctness is from Allah. However, if my opinion IS WRONG, it will be my error and because of the evil efforts of Shaytan, and Allah and His Messenger have nothing to do with it. Kalalah refers to the man who has neither descendants nor ascendants.” When ‘Umar became the Khalifah, he said, “I HESITATE TO CONTRADICT AN OPINION OF ABU BAKR.” This was recorded by Ibn Jarir and others.

In his Tafsir, Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “I was among the last persons to see ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, and he said to me, ‘What you said was the correct opinion.’ I asked, ‘What did I say?’ He said, ‘That Kalalah refers to the person who has no child or parents.’” This is also the opinion of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, Ibn Ma’sud, Ibn ‘Abbas, Zayd bin Thabit, Ash-Sha’bi, An-Nakha’I, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qatadah, Jabir bin Zayd and Al-Hakam. This is also the view of the people of AL-Madinah, Kufah, Basrah, the Seven Fuqaha, the Four Imams and the majority of scholars of the past and present, causing some scholars to declare that there is a consensus on this opinion. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 2, Parts 3, 4, & 5 (Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 253, to Surat An-Nisa, Verse 147), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition: March 2000], pp. 395-396; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Here, the meaning of Kalalah is determined by the consensus view of men who were not completely certain about its precise meaning!

Ibn Warraq notes:

The last five or so lines of Sura IV.12 have been the source of much controversy among Muslim commentators. Tabari devotes seven pages to these few lines. As David Powers tells us: “Almost every word in the opening line of this verse is subject to dispute, and there may be as many as four or five different opinions, espoused by an even greater number of authorities, for every point in question.” Powers shows that precise meaning of kalala also remains a subject of controversy, with Tabari citing twenty-seven separate definitions by various authorities. It is not clear if this word kalala refers to the deceased himself (al-mawruth) or to the heirs of the deceased (al-waratha). (Warraq, “Introduction”, What the Koran Really Says, Language, Text & Commentary [Prometheus Books, 2002; ISBN: 157392945X], p. 47)

Hashasa (Q. 12:51)

or truth is manifest to all, according to Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid and others. Hashasa also means, ‘became clear and plain’…

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 5, Surah Hud to Surat Al-Isra’, Verse 38), First Edition, July 2000, p. 177; bold emphasis ours)

Ar-Raqim (Q. 18:9)

“What I have given you of knowledge, the Sunnah and the Book is far better than the story of the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim.” Muhammad bin Ishaq said: “[It means] I have not shown My creatures a proof more amazing than the story of the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim.”

Al-Kahf refers to a cave in a mountain, which is where the young men sought refuge. With regard to the word Ar-Raqim, Al-‘Awfi reported from Ibn ‘Abbas that it is a VALLEY near Aylah. This was also said [in another narration] by ‘Atiyah Al-‘Awfi and Qatadah. Ad-Dahhak said: “As for Al-Kahf, it is a cave in the valley, and Ar-Raqim IS THE NAME OF THE VALLEY.” Mujahid said, “Ar-Raqim refers to their BUILDINGS.” Others said it refers to the valley in which their cave was.

‘Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas said about Ar-Raqim: “Kab used to say that it was the TOWN.” Ibn Jurayj reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Ar-Raqim is the MOUNTAIN in which the cave was.” Sa’id bin Jubayr said, “Ar-Raqim IS A TABLET OF STONE ON WHICH THEY WROTE THE STORY OF THE CAVE, then they placed it at the entrance to the Cave.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 6 (Surat Al-Isra’, Verse 39 To the end of Surat Al-Mu’minun), First Edition, July 2000, p. 118; capital emphasis mine)

C.C. Torrey writes:

“In verse 8 he introduces the subject with a question, ‘What think you of those associated with the cave and with al-Raqim? Was not their experience a wonderful sign?’ What the word raqim means here has been an unsolved mystery. Some commentators explain it as the name of the mountain in which the cave was, others regard it as the name of the valley below. Others, starting from etymology, suppose it to designate a tablet or scroll, something inscribed (verb raqama), which may have been put up over the mouth of the cave in which they lay. But the popular explanation approved by the MAJORITY of native commentators (ALWAYS WITH EXPRESS CAUTION, HOWEVER), is this, that, al-raqim IS THE NAME OF THE DOG THAT ACCOMPANIED THE SLEEPERS, mentioned in verses 17 and 21. This explanation is intrinsically most unlikely. ‘Raqim’ is all but impossible as a name; moreover, Muhammad could hardly have chosen the form of words which he uses, if this had been his meaning. The dog himself was sahib al-kahf, or one of ‘those of the cave,’ and he plays no important part in the story in any of its forms. It is true that Muhammad shows some interest in this dog, and it is therefore no wonder that his oriental followers, with their love of the whimsical and their own interest in domestic animals, should have given the preference to this explanation of the strange word. But very few scholars, either oriental or occidental, have expressed themselves as really persuaded.” (Torrey, “Three Difficult Passages in the Koran”, What the Koran Really Says, Language, Text & Commentary, ed. Ibn Warraq [Prometheus Books, 2002; ISBN: 157392945X], pp. 466-467; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Hananan (Q. 19:13)


Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said…

“This means MERCY from Us.” ‘Ikrimah, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak all said the same. Ad-Dahhak added, “Mercy that no one would be able to give except Us.” Qatadah added, “With it, Allah had mercy upon Zakariyya.” Mujahid said…

“This was GENTLENESS from his Lord upon him.” The APPARENT MEANING is that Allah’s statement Hananan (AFFECTION, COMPASSION) is directly related to His statement…

meaning, “We gave him wisdom, COMPASSION and purity.” This means that he was a COMPASSIONATE man, who was righteous. Hananan MEANS THE LOVE FOR AFFECTION AND TENDERNESS (TOWARDS OTHERS). (Ibid., pp. 235-236; capital emphasis ours)

Sariy (Q. 19:24)  

Sufyan Ath-Thawri and Shu’bah reported from Abu Ishaq that Al-Bara’ bin ‘Azib said…

“This means a small STREAM.” Likewise, ‘Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Sariy means a RIVER.” ‘Amr bin Maymun held the same view, as he said, “It means river in the Syrian language.” Sa’id bin Jubayr said, “Sariy is a small flowing river.” Others said that Sariy refers TO ‘ISA. This was said by Al-Hasan, Ar-Rabi’ bin Anas, Muhammad bin ‘Abbad bin Ja’far, and it is one of the two opinions reported from Qatadah. It is also the view of ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam. However, the first view SEEMS TO BE the most obvious meaning… (Ibid., pp. 247-248; capital emphasis ours)

Maqalid (Q. 39:63)  

Mujahid said, “Maqalid means ‘KEYS’ IN PERSIAN.” This was also the view of Qatadah Ibn Zayd and Sufyan bin ‘Uyaynah.

As-Suddi said…

“The TREASURES of the heaven and the earth.” Both OPINIONS mean that the control of all things is in the Hand of Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, for His is the dominion and to Him is the praise, and He is able to all things … (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 8. (Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan), First Edition, September 2000, pp. 415-416; capital emphasis ours)

Kazimin (Q. 40:18)  

means SILENT, for no one will speak without His permission…

Ibn Jurayj said:

“It means WEEPING.” (Ibid., p. 459; capital emphasis ours)

La Jarama (Q. 40:43)

They say it means, “TRULY.” As-Suddi and Ibn Jarir said that the meaning of His saying…

means “TRULY.” Ad-Dahak said…

means, “NO LIE.” ‘Ali bin Abi Talhah and Ibn ‘Abbas said…

means, “INDEED, the one that you call me to of idols and false gods… (Ibid., p. 480; capital emphasis ours)

Masjur (Q. 52:6)

The MAJORITY say it refers to the oceans of the earth. Masjur means, the sea will be kindled WITH FIRE on the Day of Resurrection just as Allah said in another Ayah


i.e., it will be kindled with fire and become a raging fire that surrounds the people in the gathering area, this was reported by Sa’id bin Al-Musayyib from ‘Ali bin Abi Talib.

It was also reported from Ibn ‘Abbas, and it is the view of Sa’id bin Jubayr, Mujahid, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Ubayd bin ‘Umayr and others. Qatadah said, “Masjur is the ‘FILLED SEA.’” Ibn Jarir PREFERRED THIS EXPLANATION saying, “The sea is not filled with fire now, so it is filled.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 9, Surat Al-Jathiyah to the end of Surat Al-Munafiqun), First Edition, September 2000, p. 282; capital emphasis mine)

Qamtarir (Q. 76:10)

meaning, ‘we only do this that perhaps Allah may have mercy on us and treat us with gentleness on the Day that is ‘Abus and Qamtarir.’ ‘Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn ‘Abbas, “‘Abus means difficult and Qamtarir means LONG.” ‘Ikrimah and others said from Ibn Abbas…

DISTRESSFUL, that will make the faces look horrible from extreme dislike to it.)>

“The disbeliever will frown on that day sweat will flow between his eyes like tar.” Mujahid said, ‘AbusAbis means (frowning with) the two lips and Qamtarir means DRAWING UP THE FACE IN A SCOWL.” Sa’id bin Jubayr and Qatadah said, “Faces will be made to frown due to dismay. Qamtarir is the contraction of the forehead and what is between the two eyes due to dismay.” Ibn Zayd said, “‘Abus is the evil and Qamtarir is the SEVERITY.” (Ibid., pp. 290-291; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Abb (Q. 80:31)

Fakihah includes every type of fruit. Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Al-Fakihah is everything that is eaten ripe, and Al-Abb is what the earth grows that is eaten by grazing animals and not people.” In one narration reported from him he said, “It is the grass for the livestock animals.”

Abu ‘Ubayd Al-Qasim bin Sallam reported from Ibrahim At-Taymi that he said, “Abu Bakr As-Siddiq was asked about Allah’s statement…

and he said, ‘What sky would shade me and what earth would carry me IF I SAID ABOUT THE BOOK OF ALLAH THAT WHICH I DID NOT HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF.’”

In reference to what Ibn Jarir recorded from Anas, that he said, “Umar bin Al-Khattab recited…

then when he reached this Ayah…

he said, ‘W already know what is Al-Fakihah, BUT WHAT IS AL-ABB?’ Then he said, ‘By your life, O Ibn Al-Khattab, THIS IS SOMETHING OVERBURDENSOME (i.e., unnecessary to ask about).’”

This report HAS AN AUTHENTIC CHAIN OF NARRATION. More than one person has narrated it from Anas. The meaning of the narration is that ‘Umar wanted to know how it looks, its type and its exact description, because he (‘Umar) and everyone who reads this Ayah knows that it is one of the plants that grow from the earth. This is clear due to Allah’s statement…

And then he says…

meaning, a means of livelihood for you all and your cattle in this life until the (coming of) the Day of Judgement. (Ibid., pp. 364-366; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Ibn Warraq notes:

“… ‘Abb: meaning not certain, probably ‘pasture.’ C.f. Hebrew: ebh; Syriac: ‘ebba; as Jeffrey notes, ‘The early authorities in Islam were puzzled by the word as is evident from the discussion by Tabari on the verse, and the uncertainty evidenced by Zamakhshari and Baydawi in their comments, an uncertainty which is shared by the Lexicons (cf. Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-‘Arab, 20 vols. Cairo: A.H., 1300-1308 i, p. 199; Ibn al-Athir, Al Nihaya fi-gharib al-hadith, 4 vols. Cairo: A.H., 1322, i, 10).’” (Warraq, “Introduction,” p. 42)

Sahkhah (Q. 80:33)

Ibn ‘Abbas said, “As-Sahkhah is one of the names of the Day of Judgement that Allah has magnified and warned His servants of.” Ibn Jarir said, “PERHAPS it is a name for the BLOWING INTO TRUMPET.” Al-Baghawi said, “As-Sahkhah means the THUNDEROUS SHOUT of the Day of Judgement. It has been called this because it will deafen the ears. This means that it pierces the hearing to such an extent that it almost deafens the ears.” (Ibid., p. 366; capital emphasis ours)

‘As’as (Q. 81:17)  

THERE ARE TWO OPINIONS ABOUT THIS STATEMENT. One of them is that it refers to its advancing with its darkness. Mujahid said, “It means its darkening.” Sa’id bin Jubyar said, “When it begins.” Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “When it covers the people.” This was also said by ‘Atiyah Al-‘Awfi. ‘Ali bin Abi Talha and Al-‘Awfi both reported from Ibn ‘Abbas…

“This means when it goes away.” Mujahid, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak, all said the same. Zayd bin Aslam and his son ‘Abdur-Rahman also made a similar statement, when they said…

“This means when it leaves, and thus it turns away.”

I believe the intent in Allah’s saying…

is when it approaches, even though it is correct to use the word for departing also. However, approachment IS A MORE SUITABLE USAGE HERE. It is as if Allah is swearing by the night and its darkness when it approaches, and by the morning and its light when it shines from the east. This is as Allah says…


and He also says…


Allah also says…


And there are other similar Ayat that mention this. Many of the scholars of the fundamentals of language have said that the word ‘As’as is used to mean advancing and retreating, with both meanings sharing the same word.

Therefore, it is correct that the intent COULD BE both of them, and Allah knows best. (Ibid., pp. 381-382; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The Quran repeatedly states that it is in clear Arabic:

Verily, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an in order that you may understand. S. 12:2 Hilali-Khan

(It is) a Qurán in Arabic, without any crookedness (therein): in order that they may guard against Evil. S. 39:28 A. Yusuf Ali

Verily, those who disbelieved in the Reminder (i.e. the Qur’an) when it came to them (shall receive the punishment). And verily, it is an honourable respected Book (because it is Allah’s Speech, and He has protected it from corruption, etc.). (See V.15:9]… And if We had sent this as a Qur’an in a foreign language other than Arabic, they would have said: “Why are not its Verses explained in detail (in our language)? What! (A Book) not in Arabic and (the Messenger) an Arab?” Say: “It is for those who believe, a guide and a healing. And as for those who disbelieve, there is heaviness (deafness) in their ears, and it (the Qur’an) is blindness for them. They are those who are called from a place far away (so they neither listen nor understand). S. 41:41, 44 Hilali-Khan

The traditions further claim that the Quran was revealed in the Quraish dialect:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were Waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur’an, so he said to ‘Uthman, “O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) as Jews and the Christians did before.” So ‘Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, “Send us the manuscripts of the Qur’an so that we may compile the Qur’anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you.” Hafsa sent it to ‘Uthman. ‘Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, ‘Abdullah bin Az-Zubair, Said bin Al-As and ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. ‘Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, “In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur’an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur’an was revealed in their tongue.” They did so, and when they had written many copies, ‘Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. ‘Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, BE BURNT. Zaid bin Thabit added, “A Verse from Surat Ahzab was missed by me when we copied the Qur’an and I used to hear Allah’s Apostle reciting it. So we searched for it and found it with Khuzaima bin Thabit Al-Ansari. (That Verse was): ‘Among the Believers are men who have been true in their covenant with Allah.’ (33.23) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 510

Yet here are words that those closest to Muhammad, whose mother tongue happened to be Arabic, did not know their exact meanings!

So much for the Muslim greenhorn’s attempt of explaining away the problem of the Quran containing foreign words. Hopefully, this will help Ibn Anwar come to his senses and accept the fact that his so-called holy scripture is nothing more than an incoherent, unintelligible piece of misguidance. Who knows, he may even end up apostatizing for a third and (hopefully) final time.

Related Articles

Scribal Errors in the Qur’an:

The Qur’an: Grammatical Errors

Invention to Protect the Miracle


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