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In the Name of God بسم الله

The Quran

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I think that we can all agree that the Quran is hard to read, at least in English. It was written a long time ago in Arabic.

There are many passages in the Quran that make no sense to me at all. For example:

"Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water. And he found near it a people. We (Allâh) said (by inspiration): "O Dhul-Qarnain! Either you punish them, or treat them with kindness." S. 18:86

It seems that this passage is saying that the sun sits in a muddy pool.

However, Muslims have told me before that passages like this are not supposed to be taken literally. That's fine, but that raises a question:

Is there a version of the Quran in plain, modern English that explains what the LITERAL meaning of each passage is?

thanks in advance

Edited by ZeusTKP
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huh?

The bit where it says "he found it" I don't think it refers to the suns. Althought this sounds like one of the many story in the Quran, maybe a dream?(being described)

Just my interpretation with no real research.

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The bit where it says "he found it" I don't think it refers to the suns. Althought this sounds like one of the many story in the Quran, maybe a dream?(being described)

Just my interpretation with no real research.

Oh, OK.

Well, if you wanted to know for a fact what that passage means, what would you do?

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I think that we can all agree that the Quran is hard to read, at least in English. It was written a long time ago in Arabic.

There are many passages in the Quran that make no sense to me at all. For example:

"Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water. And he found near it a people. We (Allâh) said (by inspiration): "O Dhul-Qarnain! Either you punish them, or treat them with kindness." S. 18:86

It seems that this passage is saying that the sun sits in a muddy pool.

However, Muslims have told me before that passages like this are not supposed to be taken literally. That's fine, but that raises a question:

Is there a version of the Quran in plain, modern English that explains what the LITERAL meaning of each passage is?

thanks in advance

(bismillah)

Al-Kahf [18:86]

ÍóÊøóì ÅöÐóÇ ÈóáóÛó ãóÛúÑöÈó ÇáÔøóãúÓö æóÌóÏóåóÇ ÊóÛúÑõÈõ Ýöí Úóíúäò ÍóãöÆóÉò æóæóÌóÏó ÚöäÏóåóÇ ÞóæúãðÇ ÞõáúäóÇ íóÇ ÐóÇ ÇáúÞóÑúäóíúäö ÅöãøóÇ Ãóä ÊõÚóÐøöÈó æóÅöãøóÇ Ãóä ÊóÊøóÎöÐó Ýöíåöãú ÍõÓúäðÇ

æÞæáå { ÍÊì ÅÐÇ ÈáÛ ãÛÑÈ ÇáÔãÓ æÌÏåÇ ÊÛÑÈ Ýí Úíä ÍãÆÉ } Ãí Ýì Úíä ãÇÁ ÐÇÊ ÍãÃÉ - Ýí Þæá ÇÈä ÚÈÇÓ æãÌÇåÏ æÞÊÇÏÉ æÓÚíÏ Èä ÌÈíÑ - æãä ÞÑà " ÍÇãíÉ " ÃÑÇÏ ÍÇÑÉ¡ Ýì Þæá ÇáÍÓä. æÞÑÆ Èå Ýí ÇÍÏì ÇáÑæÇíÊíä Úä ÇÈä ÚÈÇÓ ßÞæá ÇÈí ÇáÇÓæÏ ÇáÏÄáí.

ÊÌíÁ ÈãáÆåÇ ØæÑÇð æØæÑÇð ÊÌíÁ ÈÍãÃÉ æÞáíá ãÇÁ

æÞÇá ÇÈæ Úáí ÇáÌÈÇÆí¡ æÇáÈáÎí: ÇáãÚäì æÌÏåÇ ßÇäåÇ ÊÛÑÈ Ýí Úíä ÍãÆÉ¡ æÅä ßÇäÊ ÊÛíÈ æÑÇÁåÇ. ÞÇá ÇáÈáÎí áÇä ÇáÔãÓ ÇßÈÑ ãä ÇáÇÑÖ ÈßËíÑ¡ æÃäßÑ Ðáß ÇÈä ÇáÇÎÔÇÏ. æÞÇá: Èá åí Ýì ÇáÍÞíÞÉ ÊÛíÈ Ýì Úíä ÍãÆÉ Úáì ÙÇåÑ ÇáÞÑÂä.

æÞæáå { ææÌÏ ÚäÏåÇ ÞæãÇð ÞáäÇ íÇ ÐÇ ÇáÞÑäíä ÅãÇ Ãä ÊÚÐÈ æÅãÇ Ãä ÊÊÎÐ Ýíåã ÍÓäÇð } ãÚäÇå ÅãÇ Ãä ÊÚÐÈåã ÈÇáÞÊá áÇÞÇãÊåã Úáì ÇáÔÑß ÈÇááå { æÅãÇ Ãä ÊÊÎÐ Ýíåã ÍÓäÇð } ÈÇä ÊÃÓÑåã ÝÊÚáãåã ÇáåÏì æÊÓÊäÞÐåã ãä ÇáÚãì¡ ÝÞÇá Ðæ ÇáÞÑäíä - áãÇ ÎíÑå Çááå Ýì Ðáß { ÃãÇ ãä Ùáã äÝÓå } ÈÃä ÚÕì Çááå æÃÔÑß Èå { ÝÓæÝ äÚÐÈå } íÚäí ÈÇáÞÊá æíÑÏ ÝíãÇ ÈÚÏ { Åáì ÑÈå ÝíÚÐÈå } ¡ íæã ÇáÞíÇãÉ { ÚÐÇÈÇð äßÑÇð } Ãí ÚÙíãÇð ãäßÑÇð ÊäßÑå ÇáäÝÓ ãä ÌåÉ ÇáØÈÚ¡ æåæ ÚÐÇÈ ÇáäÇÑ¡ æåæ ÃÔÏ ãä ÇáÞÊá Ýí ÇáÏäíÇ.

That was according to tafsir (al-sheikh altossy rahemaho Allah)

even the great scholar doesn`t know exactly the secrets of quran ,&this is indeed miracle of quran ,so many things remain not comprehensive till new science discover new mystery of this univers &at that time when we elaborate we find it in the quran.

Now i heard there is such spring in direction of west (sun setting ).

sum of interpretation that sun set in spring (hot water or muddy) despite it disappear behind it cos sun is bigger than earth

Edited by ahmed nasery
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Is there a version of the Quran in plain, modern English that explains what the LITERAL meaning of each passage is?

thanks in advance

Salam

When you go to a bookstore and ask for a copy of the Holy Quran, you will get a choice of translations. There is one and only one version of the Quran.

There are good translations of the text, but keep in mind that translations are only an attempt to put into words the infinite nature of the book.

Try al-islam.org and go to quick links and then multilingual Quran.

Take Care

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(bismillah)

Al-Kahf [18:86]

ÍóÊøóì ÅöÐóÇ ÈóáóÛó ãóÛúÑöÈó ÇáÔøóãúÓö æóÌóÏóåóÇ ÊóÛúÑõÈõ Ýöí Úóíúäò ÍóãöÆóÉò æóæóÌóÏó ÚöäÏóåóÇ ÞóæúãðÇ ÞõáúäóÇ íóÇ ÐóÇ ÇáúÞóÑúäóíúäö ÅöãøóÇ Ãóä ÊõÚóÐøöÈó æóÅöãøóÇ Ãóä ÊóÊøóÎöÐó Ýöíåöãú ÍõÓúäðÇ

æÞæáå { ÍÊì ÅÐÇ ÈáÛ ãÛÑÈ ÇáÔãÓ æÌÏåÇ ÊÛÑÈ Ýí Úíä ÍãÆÉ } Ãí Ýì Úíä ãÇÁ ÐÇÊ ÍãÃÉ - Ýí Þæá ÇÈä ÚÈÇÓ æãÌÇåÏ æÞÊÇÏÉ æÓÚíÏ Èä ÌÈíÑ - æãä ÞÑà " ÍÇãíÉ " ÃÑÇÏ ÍÇÑÉ¡ Ýì Þæá ÇáÍÓä. æÞÑÆ Èå Ýí ÇÍÏì ÇáÑæÇíÊíä Úä ÇÈä ÚÈÇÓ ßÞæá ÇÈí ÇáÇÓæÏ ÇáÏÄáí.

ÊÌíÁ ÈãáÆåÇ ØæÑÇð æØæÑÇð ÊÌíÁ ÈÍãÃÉ æÞáíá ãÇÁ

æÞÇá ÇÈæ Úáí ÇáÌÈÇÆí¡ æÇáÈáÎí: ÇáãÚäì æÌÏåÇ ßÇäåÇ ÊÛÑÈ Ýí Úíä ÍãÆÉ¡ æÅä ßÇäÊ ÊÛíÈ æÑÇÁåÇ. ÞÇá ÇáÈáÎí áÇä ÇáÔãÓ ÇßÈÑ ãä ÇáÇÑÖ ÈßËíÑ¡ æÃäßÑ Ðáß ÇÈä ÇáÇÎÔÇÏ. æÞÇá: Èá åí Ýì ÇáÍÞíÞÉ ÊÛíÈ Ýì Úíä ÍãÆÉ Úáì ÙÇåÑ ÇáÞÑÂä.

æÞæáå { ææÌÏ ÚäÏåÇ ÞæãÇð ÞáäÇ íÇ ÐÇ ÇáÞÑäíä ÅãÇ Ãä ÊÚÐÈ æÅãÇ Ãä ÊÊÎÐ Ýíåã ÍÓäÇð } ãÚäÇå ÅãÇ Ãä ÊÚÐÈåã ÈÇáÞÊá áÇÞÇãÊåã Úáì ÇáÔÑß ÈÇááå { æÅãÇ Ãä ÊÊÎÐ Ýíåã ÍÓäÇð } ÈÇä ÊÃÓÑåã ÝÊÚáãåã ÇáåÏì æÊÓÊäÞÐåã ãä ÇáÚãì¡ ÝÞÇá Ðæ ÇáÞÑäíä - áãÇ ÎíÑå Çááå Ýì Ðáß { ÃãÇ ãä Ùáã äÝÓå } ÈÃä ÚÕì Çááå æÃÔÑß Èå { ÝÓæÝ äÚÐÈå } íÚäí ÈÇáÞÊá æíÑÏ ÝíãÇ ÈÚÏ { Åáì ÑÈå ÝíÚÐÈå } ¡ íæã ÇáÞíÇãÉ { ÚÐÇÈÇð äßÑÇð } Ãí ÚÙíãÇð ãäßÑÇð ÊäßÑå ÇáäÝÓ ãä ÌåÉ ÇáØÈÚ¡ æåæ ÚÐÇÈ ÇáäÇÑ¡ æåæ ÃÔÏ ãä ÇáÞÊá Ýí ÇáÏäíÇ.

That was according to tafsir (al-sheikh altossy rahemaho Allah)

even the great scholar doesn`t know exactly the secrets of quran ,&this is indeed miracle of quran ,so many things remain not comprehensive till new science discover new mystery of this univers &at that time when we elaborate we find it in the quran.

Now i heard there is such spring in direction of west (sun setting ).

sum of interpretation that sun set in spring (hot water or muddy) despite it disappear behind it cos sun is bigger than earth

is there an official interpretation anywhere?

Salam

When you go to a bookstore and ask for a copy of the Holy Quran, you will get a choice of translations. There is one and only one version of the Quran.

There are good translations of the text, but keep in mind that translations are only an attempt to put into words the infinite nature of the book.

Try al-islam.org and go to quick links and then multilingual Quran.

Take Care

a translation is not enough because the Quran uses metaphore. How do I find out the literal meaning?

Ask the local Imam or someone who has good understanding of the Quran.

Is there anything on the internet? Also, what if different Imams disagree? Doesn't the govt. of Iran have an official position?

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is there an official interpretation anywhere?

a translation is not enough because the Quran uses metaphore. How do I find out the literal meaning?

Is there anything on the internet? Also, what if different Imams disagree? Doesn't the govt. of Iran have an official position?

Salams Brother,

I highly recommend www.al-islam.org. Go to quick links and then click on the multilingual Quran. With the translations, you will get a nice interpretation from a couple of highly respected transliterations/interpretations.

Take Care

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is there an official interpretation anywhere?

a translation is not enough because the Quran uses metaphore. How do I find out the literal meaning?

Is there anything on the internet? Also, what if different Imams disagree? Doesn't the govt. of Iran have an official position?

Obviously Imams will disagree on some matter, epsically with Sunni's/Shia's. Basically if you want the true transaltion of the Quran you will have to wait for the return of the Imam Al Mahdi (as). :P

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I think that we can all agree that the Quran is hard to read, at least in English. It was written a long time ago in Arabic.

There are many passages in the Quran that make no sense to me at all. For example:

"Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water. And he found near it a people. We (Allâh) said (by inspiration): "O Dhul-Qarnain! Either you punish them, or treat them with kindness." S. 18:86

It seems that this passage is saying that the sun sits in a muddy pool.

However, Muslims have told me before that passages like this are not supposed to be taken literally. That's fine, but that raises a question:

Is there a version of the Quran in plain, modern English that explains what the LITERAL meaning of each passage is?

thanks in advance

(bismillah)

(salam)

The verse says that Dhul-Qarnain saw the sun setting in spring of black muddy (or hot) water. It doesn't mean that sun actually sets in a spring of black muddy water,it just describes what Dhul-Qarnain saw.

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(bismillah)

Is there a version of the Quran in plain, modern English that explains what the LITERAL meaning of each passage is?

Brother ZeusTKP, I will try to shed some light on the matter of the interpritation of the Holy Qur'an and its expose into languages other than Arabic.

It is essentially universally axiomatic that from the Islamic perspective, the Holy Qur’an (as it was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) in Arabic), is the preserved and unchanged word of Allah SWT, and that it cannot be translated. This is because the inherent form of God’s revelation as an Arabic text, is not only supplementary to the quintessence of its meaning, but is in fact intrinsically essential to it. That being said, it is essential to point out that the Arabic of the Qur’an does not (by any means) limit the manifestation and essence of the Qur’an to one “denotative” or “literal” interpretation. Quite oppositely, the fundamental nature of the Arabic language establishes a depth of meaning and message inscribed within the manuscript of this Holy text that is essentially impaired and lost beyond recovery in any “translation”. Therefore, the interpretation and exposé of the Holy Qur’an into another language is not and can never the Qur’an as such, but is merely a reasoned illustration and portrayal of the author’s understanding of its message, making the effort inherently “flawed” to say the least.

There are a great number of reasons and implications as to why this is so, and perhaps the most prominent of which is the intrinsic nature of the Arabic language in which every word is derived from a root of three (rarely four) consonants. Each root has a massive number of integral derivations, which often have significant divergent or even contrary meanings, but the basic connotation of the root-consonants essentially penetrate each and every single derivation that is produced. There is a subtle inter-relationship between all the derivations, but in a manner such that each individual word has its own unique resonance, timbre, character, quality, tone, significance, meaning, and reverberation which enrich and deepen its assertion and manifestation by the Arabic speaker. This innate inter-relationship between the different derivations in the Arabic language is comparable to the oscillation of the chord that is plucked whose reverberation affects the fluctuation of the chords around it, such that the flux of their collective vibration is in complete and absolute unison. This is lost beyond recovery in translation and the only attempt at its recovery can be partially achieved by the inclusion of extensive notes and explanations that line the borders of many Qur’an “translations”.

As an example, one can take the “Ninety-nine Names of Allah” through which the Qur’an delineates a certain notion of the Divine and the relationship which the Creator has with His creation. One of these is “As-Samad”. The standard Saudi translation of this words is “the Eternal, Absolute”, while Picthall suggests “The eternally besought of all”, and Arberry gives “The Everlasting Refuge”, where Muhammad Ali has “He on Whom all Depend”, and Majid Fakhry favors “The Everlasting Sustainer of all” and finally Mohammad Asad with “The Uncaused Cause of all Being”, but as a side-note he explains that “this rendering gives no more than an approximate meaning of the term As-Samad” and continues “it compromises the concepts of Primary Cause, and eternal independent Being combined with the idea that everything existing or conceivable goes back to Him as its source…”

I think my point is clear, but there lies an even more significant reason why the Qur’an is inherently and specifically defined as “an Arabic text and recitation”, and that it is no longer the Qur’an (in its truest and most correct sense) when it is translated. The quintessence of the divine Word of the One and Only, Eternal and Absolute Creator (SWT) is embodied and manifested in the language of the text; a language which Muslims believe was chosen by God as the most feasible means or medium of the portrayal of His message of grace, mercy, inspiration, and absolute guidance. This even transcends the literal characters and axioms of the Arabic language, and is existent within the different forms of expression of the Holy Qur’an such as calligraphy (for copying the sacred words of the Qur’an is itself a form of supplication). The same is equally true of the recital of the Holy Qur’an which is in itself an art-form subject to rules and axioms within Islamic law.

The majority of Muslims (world-wide) do not understand Arabic, though all will have learned a number of verses for the purpose of prayer, but the very sound and resonance of the Qur’an when recited is enough to move them, often to tears, by its majestic beauty and sheer magnificence, as though the Creator himself is speaking directly to His creation. The very fact that they may not be consciously aware of the denotative connotation of the recitation becomes irrelevant. The very idea of the Creator communicating with His creatures, trapped as they are in the non-eternal; or the Absolute communicating with the relative seems rationally impossible, but the fact of its manifestation is the intrinsic nature of the miracle of the Qur’an. Such are the words of Allah SWT, and such is their manifestation. Subhanallah.

"… for, behold, it is a sublime divine writ: [41] no falsehood can ever attain to it openly, and neither in a stealthy manner, [since it is] bestowed from on high by One who is truly wise, ever to be praised. [42]" (The Holy Qur'an, 41:41-42)

For the Muslim beleaver, the encounter with the Qur’an is an act of recognition and enlightening. In the Christian tradition, it has been said “truth is native to man” however deeply it may have been overlaid by innovation, obstruction, misinterpretation, falsehood, and illusion. According to Islamic doctrine, such “reminders” have been sent repeatedly to humanity since the beginning of our creation, although these previous revelations have been either been falsified or forgotten through the course of time. The Holy Qur’an is truly unique in this sense, as it is the unabridged and eternally preserved word of God, by His Grace and Mercy. If the flawed and bridged nature of the Prophetic scriptures has seen the need to “adapt” their texts to the “needs of the modern age”, then this is a proof of their fallibility and tarnished inherent nature. Muslims are often asked why they refuse to also “adapt” their scripture to the “needs of the modern age”, but that question itself is flawed and in nature. The Holy Qur’an itself answers this question in its affirmation that “There is no changing the words of God.”

The fact that the Qur’an was revealed to the Holy Prophet in the seventh century of the Christian era is irrelevant. The diamond is not worn out by constant handling in the same manner that the passage of centuries cannot erode the timeless and infallible words of God. This is, in essence, the whole point of a divine intervention in the affairs of the world. The act of revelation is indeed ascribed to a certain period in history, but the Qur’an’s nature is essentially timeless, and Islamic theology defines the very essence of the Qur’an as eternal.

Western (Christian or post-Christian) incomprehension of the Holy Qur’an has been effectively aggravated by vain attempts to compare it to the Bible. The two scriptures are of a totally different nature, and upon two different (and incomparable) levels, and comparisons are therefore futile. With history as its testimony, and manifestation as its proof, the Qur’an is a single revelation which descended upon Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) either instantly or over a very brief period, thus transforming the hearts and minds of a large sector of humanity and creating a worldwide civilization as acclaimed submitters to the Absolute Almighty or in other words muslimeen. The Bible, on the other hand, is a collection of writings relating to very different levels of inspiration. From the Muslim perspective, the Gospels do not, by any standard, manifest the character of direct revelation and absolute preservation, and this fact is confirmed by prominent members of Christian theology as well. The Bible is very much comparable to the hadith narrations and traditions which record the sayings (both spiritual and practical) of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and the Ahlul-Bait. In essence, this is the key to the very notion of revelation within the two religions.

For Christians, the divine Word became "incarnate" in the person of Jesus (as) whereas, for Islam, the word became “inlibrate”; it entered the world as a Book or, to be more precise, as a Recitation recorded in a script which some have compared with the physical body of Prophet Jesus (as). It follows therefore that the Westerner, including the new “convert” to Islam, must put aside preconceived notions in approaching the Qur’an (especially of they were raised on the Bible) and set foot in an unfamiliar landscape, and look to the Qur'an and it's interpretation in it's truest sense. This essentially brings us back to the impossibility of “translating” the Qur’an, and explains why any interpretation is accompanied by extensive notes, and even then, all that can be offered is a meaning, which is in itself fallible and flawed for all the reasons I stated previously, and the many more that I did not touch upon.

=========================================

====================================

In any case, what I can do is refer you what is (in my opinion) the most authentic and comprehensive interpritation of the Holy Qur'an, not only because of the accuracy of its translation, but also because (almost) every verse is presented with commentary that accompany the English interpritation, with citation from other sections of the Qur'an as well. Although I'm fluent in Arabic which is my native language, I have bought and use a number of English translations of the Holy Qur'an that include Pikithall, Shakir, Yusuf Ali, Arberry, Asad, and others, for the purpose of online interfaith discussions, and this volume surpasses them all.

I am confident you will find it helpfull if you decide to purchase it: The Holy Qur'an (Hardcover), Commentry: Ayatollah Agha H.M.M. Pooya Yazdi, Translation: S. V. Mir Ahmed Ali (By the way, I have searched the internet for the best deal on this volume and Amazon.com presents the best price (with free shipping) from what I have found.)

Fi Amanillah

Edited by Learned
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(bismillah)

(salam)

The verse says that Dhul-Qarnain saw the sun setting in spring of black muddy (or hot) water. It doesn't mean that sun actually sets in a spring of black muddy water,it just describes what Dhul-Qarnain saw.

From al-islam.org:

[shakir 18:86] Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people. We said: O Zulqarnain! either give them a chastisement or do them a benefit.

[Yusufali 18:86] Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: "O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness."

[Pickthal 18:86] Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.

It doesn't say "saw". I'm not saying that you're wrong, but I just want an authoritative ruling about the verse. And the commentary for the verse doesn't talk about the sun setting in a spring.

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(bismillah)

In order to be able to fully understand the verse in question, it must be examined in context with the other verses surrounding it, as well as in context with the Surah (or chapter) as a whole. I shall deal with the interpretation of the part of the Surah that the verse in question is related to, so that you may understand the message as a whole.

Among all the Surah's in the Holy Qur'an, Surat al-Kahf (The Cave) is one of the most studied and discussed among Qur'anic scholars and philosophers because it is unique. From the Islamic perspective, the study of existence and the value of revelation are imperative to true faith and belief, and Surat al-Kahf provides a distinctive perspective on both elements by outlining actual historical events and underlining the Divine through them, and illustrating them as essential examples for humanity. Many of its verses are allegorical in nature, but yet they delineate references to specific historical events and it is generally agreed that the intrinsic nature of their meaning and the messages they bear is manifested upon many levels.

The Surah's title is derived from the first section where the story of two young men, of whom was the wealthy owner of a garden and the other of whom was poor, enter a cave. Then it tells the story of Prophet Moses (Nabi Musa) and his encounter with al-Khithr (who is veiwed as one of the guided servants of Allah SWT although he is not a Prophet). It goes on to give a general account of the life of Dhul Qarnayn.

In verse 83, Thul Qarnayn is introduced. Qarn literally means a distinctive mark in a man, animal or thing which is distinguished and known by it. Therefore any person who possesses two such distinctive qualifications is described as dhul qarnayn. Whether Dhul Qarnayn was Alexander or Darius or some one else is not the issue in these verses but the Quran aims to provide guidance to man through the narrative of a man who possessed two qualities, knowledge and strength, like Talut. Dhul Qarnayn was an upright and righteous king, a true servant of Allah, whose sway extended over east and west, and over people of diverse civilisations. His first expedition was to the west. A spring of murky water refers to Lychintis (now Ochrida). There he protected the weak and punished the unlawful and the turbulent. He possessed the qualities, a god-fearing man must own, to administer the affairs of men. Great was his power and great were his ways and means which he used for justice and righteousness, but he always remembered that his power and capabilities were given to him by Allah. He never said like Firawn: "I am your Lord, most high." He declared that his punishment to the wicked was tentative to preserve the balance of this life as he could appraise it but the real consequences of the evil-doing will be encountered by the evildoers on the day of judgment. [verses 83-88]

[shakir 18:83] And they ask you about Zulqarnain. Say: I will recite to you an account of him.

[Yusufali 18:83] They ask thee concerning Zul-qarnain. Say, "I will rehearse to you something of his story."

[Pickthal 18:83] They will ask thee of Dhu'l-Qarneyn. Say: I shall recite unto you a remembrance of him.

[shakir 18:84] Surely We established him in the land and granted him means of access to every thing.

[Yusufali 18:84] Verily We established his power on earth, and We gave him the ways and the means to all ends.

[Pickthal 18:84] Lo! We made him strong in the land and gave him unto every thing a road.

[shakir 18:85] So he followed a course.

[Yusufali 18:85] One (such) way he followed,

[Pickthal 18:85] And he followed a road

[shakir 18:86] Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people. We said: O Zulqarnain! either give them a chastisement or do them a benefit.

[Yusufali 18:86] Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: "O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness."

[Pickthal 18:86] Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.

Shakir 18:87] He said: As to him who is injust, we will chastise him, then shall he be returned to his Lord, and He will chastise him with an exemplary chastisement:

[Yusufali 18:87] He said: "Whoever doth wrong, him shall we punish; then shall he be sent back to his Lord; and He will punish him with a punishment unheard-of (before).

[Pickthal 18:87] He said: As for him who doeth wrong, we shall punish him, and then he will be brought back unto his Lord, Who will punish him with awful punishment!

[shakir 18:88] And as for him who believes and does good, he shall have goodly reward, and We will speak to him an easy word of Our command.

[Yusufali 18:88] "But whoever believes, and works righteousness,- he shall have a goodly reward, and easy will be his task as We order it by our Command."

[Pickthal 18:88] But as for him who believeth and doeth right, good will be his reward, and We shall speak unto him a mild command.

Then he went to the east. Those who lived there were a primitive but simple people. The climate was hot, and they required neither roofs over their heads, nor much clothing. He did not disturb their simple mode of living. He left them as they were. Dhul Qarnayn was a man of God. He was not a despot who would forcibly change that which he did not find agreeable to him. He knew his limitations in the sight of his Lord. [Verses 89-92]

[shakir 18:89] Then he followed (another) course.

[Yusufali 18:89] Then followed he (another) way,

[Pickthal 18:89] Then he followed a road

[shakir 18:90] Until when he reached the land of the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people to whom We had given no shelter from It;

[Yusufali 18:90] Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had provided no covering protection against the sun.

[Pickthal 18:90] Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom.

[shakir 18:91] Even so! and We had a full knowledge of what he had.

[Yusufali 18:91] (He left them) as they were: We completely understood what was before him.

[Pickthal 18:91] So (it was). And We knew all concerning him.

[shakir 18:92] Then he followed (another) course.

[Yusufali 18:92] Then followed he (another) way,

[Pickthal 18:92] Then he followed a road

Then he reached a tract between two mountains (most probably Armenia and Azerbaijan). The people of this land did not understand the speech of the conqueror. Dhul Qarnayn was now among a people who were different in speech and race from him. They were a peaceable and industrious race, much subject to incursions from wild tribes who were called Yajuj and Majuj (Gog and Magog). Against these tribes they were willing to pay him tribute in return for protection. The permanent protection they wanted was the closing of a mountain gap through which the incursions were made. Dhul Qarnayn was not greedy. He did not impose any tribute, nor was he in need of monetary help or subsidy from them. He had the organizing skill. He only asked for material and labor. A barrier was constructed with blocks or bricks of iron, and the cracks were filled up with molten lead, so as to form an impregnable mass of metal. After all the effort which he made for their protection, he claimed no credit for himself beyond that of discharging his duties as a ruler. He turned their attention to Allah who provided the ways and means by which they could be helped and protected, but a time would come when all their precautions would crumble into dust, because it was a promise of Allah. [Verses 93-98]

[shakir 18:93] Until when he reached (a place) between the two mountains, he found on that side of them a people who could hardly understand a word.

[Yusufali 18:93] Until, when he reached (a tract) between two mountains, he found, beneath them, a people who scarcely understood a word.

[Pickthal 18:93] Till, when he came between the two mountains, he found upon their hither side a folk that scarce could understand a saying.

[shakir 18:94] They said: O Zulqarnain! surely Gog and Magog make mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute on condition that you should raise a barrier between us and them

[Yusufali 18:94] They said: "O Zul-qarnain! the Gog and Magog (People) do great mischief on earth: shall we then render thee tribute in order that thou mightest erect a barrier between us and them?

[Pickthal 18:94] They said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Lo! Gog and Magog are spoiling the land. So may we pay thee tribute on condition that thou set a barrier between us and them?

[shakir 18:95] He said: That in which my Lord has established me is better, therefore you only help me with workers, I will make a fortified barrier between you and them;

[Yusufali 18:95] He said: "(The power) in which my Lord has established me is better (than tribute): Help me therefore with strength (and labour): I will erect a strong barrier between you and them:

[Pickthal 18:95] He said: That wherein my Lord hath established me is better (than your tribute). Do but help me with strength (of men), I will set between you and them a bank.

[shakir 18:96] Bring me blocks of iron; until when he had filled up the space between the two mountain sides, he said: Blow, until when he had made it (as) fire, he said: Bring me molten brass which I may pour over it.

[Yusufali 18:96] "Bring me blocks of iron." At length, when he had filled up the space between the two steep mountain-sides, He said, "Blow (with your bellows)" Then, when he had made it (red) as fire, he said: "Bring me, that I may pour over it, molten lead."

[Pickthal 18:96] Give me pieces of iron - till, when he had levelled up (the gap) between the cliffs, he said: Blow! - till, when he had made it a fire, he said: Bring me molten copper to pour thereon.

[shakir 18:97] So they were not able to scale it nor could they make a hole in it.

[Yusufali 18:97] Thus were they made powerless to scale it or to dig through it.

[Pickthal 18:97] And (Gog and Magog) were not able to surmount, nor could they pierce (it).

[shakir 18:98] He said: This is a mercy from my Lord, but when the promise of my Lord comes to pass He will make it level with the ground, and the promise of my Lord is ever true.

[Yusufali 18:98] He said: "This is a mercy from my Lord: But when the promise of my Lord comes to pass, He will make it into dust; and the promise of my Lord is true."

[Pickthal 18:98] He said: This is a mercy from my Lord; but when the promise of my Lord cometh to pass, He will lay it low, for the promise of my Lord is true.

This is where the section on Thul Qarnayn ends, and this is the general interpretation of this section of the Surat al-Kahf.

Fi Amanillah.

Edited by Learned
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You have to understand that the Qur'an is simple and yes, it does use metaphors. Ali Kulli Qarai has an excellent simplified translation of the Qur'an, it is really good and authentic, maybe that will help.

Also, read the verse above and below, to endorse the meaning, because you can't just translate a verse on its own sometimes, you may misinterpret, which is not right...so have a look at the surrounding verses, the story that it started off with.

The Qur'an is a book with a LOT of depth, we just have to take time, look at several references and try and understand. If you feel that you want reference of particular aya's then Meer Ahmad-ali's Tafseer is the best. Using his tafseer, he relates incidents that caused the aya to be revealed or any relevant information that will help you understand the aya better.

Hope tht helps.

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Learned,

I appreciate your thorough response. (post #14 in this thread) I've read all of it. However, if what you say is true, it poses a very big problem for any discussion between people like you and people like me. The only way I can express myself and think about the world is through quantitative (vs qualitative) information and logic. I will not be moved by the sound of the Quran or the calligraphy, even though I can see that the calligraphy is beautiful. Neither the calligraphy nor the sound communicate any ideas or information to me. If people can put their feelings about the Quran into words, that would be great, but from what you say, it seems unlikely.

Learned and lilromi01, (RE posts #16 and 17)

I think you misunderstand what I'm asking. I'm not trying to defend my interpretation of that verse. More than that, I don't want to interpret the verse at all. I want an interpretation of the verse (or the whole surah if necessary) by someone authoritative, if it exists at all.

Also, if possible, I would want a distinction between real facts and metaphor in the Quran. For example, did these two young men really exist?

Actually, I would be happy at first with just the factual events from the Quran. For example, the sun can't set (touch) on any place on the earth, so that was not a factual event, right?

Edited by ZeusTKP
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People, he's just trying to get a rise out of you. He knows anyone with a brain bigger than that of a frog understands that the verse is not talking about the sun literally going down into the water. He just feels like wasting your time, and unfortunately, it seems you're all too willing to oblige.

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People, he's just trying to get a rise out of you. He knows anyone with a brain bigger than that of a frog understands that the verse is not talking about the sun literally going down into the water. He just feels like wasting your time, and unfortunately, it seems you're all too willing to oblige.

I'm assuming your brain is bigger than a frog's. Would you mind telling me the literal meaning of the verse?

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From al-islam.org:

[shakir 18:86] Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people. We said: O Zulqarnain! either give them a chastisement or do them a benefit.

[Yusufali 18:86] Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: "O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness."

[Pickthal 18:86] Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.

It doesn't say "saw". I'm not saying that you're wrong, but I just want an authoritative ruling about the verse. And the commentary for the verse doesn't talk about the sun setting in a spring.

(salam)

OK. It tells the story of Dhu'l-Qarneyn who travels to the West untill he hit a body of water so large that he found the setting there. The story describes Dhu'l-Qarneyn's point of view. Have you ever been beach? Well if you have,you can see the sun setting as if it's dipping into the water.

The verse isn't making a definitive statement as in that the Sun actually sets into the water but rather how it appeared to Dhu'l-Qarneyn.

Edited by Younes Ibn Abd' al-Aziz
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(bismillah)

Learned,

I appreciate your thorough response. (post #14 in this thread) I've read all of it. However, if what you say is true, it poses a very big problem for any discussion between people like you and people like me. The only way I can express myself and think about the world is through quantitative (vs qualitative) information and logic. I will not be moved by the sound of the Quran or the calligraphy, even though I can see that the calligraphy is beautiful. Neither the calligraphy nor the sound communicate any ideas or information to me. If people can put their feelings about the Quran into words, that would be great, but from what you say, it seems unlikely.

Calligraphy and recital of the Qur'an are a means of finding an appreciation for the words of Allah SWT. The objective behind these two forms of supplication is not to provide quantitative information. That is derived from the interpriation of the words of the Qur'an.

In addition, there are thousands of books, translations, and interpritations where people put their feelings about the Qur'an into words and the vast majority of these are excellent sources for learning about the Qur'an. The point I was making is that the Qur'an is defined as a perfect Arabic text from God Himself, and when it is translated it ceases to be perfect and becomes limited to the interpritor's comprehension of it.

This does not mean that one cannot learn about the Qur'an or understand its message. As I pointed out, the vast majority of Muslims worldwide do not speak Arabic, yet they have plenty of such interpritations and translations to study and learn from.

The point is that while these sources serve the purpose of providing a means for those who do not speak Arabic to learn about the Holy Qur'an and its meaning, they do not serve the purpose of defining the Qur'an as such, and thus limiting the Qur'an to that interpritation.

Learned and lilromi01, (RE posts #16 and 17)

I think you misunderstand what I'm asking. I'm not trying to defend my interpretation of that verse. More than that, I don't want to interpret the verse at all. I want an interpretation of the verse (or the whole surah if necessary) by someone authoritative, if it exists at all.

Its fairly simple. The sun is mentioned twice in this Surah. The first time is in this section:

[shakir 18:85] So he followed a course.

[Yusufali 18:85] One (such) way he followed,

[Pickthal 18:85] And he followed a road

[shakir 18:86] Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people. We said: O Zulqarnain! either give them a chastisement or do them a benefit.

[Yusufali 18:86] Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: "O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness."

[Pickthal 18:86] Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.

^Dhul Qarnayn first follows a course which leads him to the "place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea" or "the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water" or "the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring." This is a poetic and quite eloquent way of stating that he was heading due West in this expidition until he reached shores of the sea (or a large collection of water) on the Western side of his land which was muddy.

There is a certian notion among Qur'anic interpriters and historians that if Thul Qarnayn is indeed Alexander the Great, then the reference to the sea of muddy water could be to Lyncnitis (now called Ochrida) West of Macedonia, the sources of which are thought to be underground springs that run through limestone regions which explain why the water could never be clear.

The second time the sun is mentioned is in the folowing section:

[shakir 18:89] Then he followed (another) course.

[Yusufali 18:89] Then followed he (another) way,

[Pickthal 18:89] Then he followed a road

[shakir 18:90] Until when he reached the land of the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people to whom We had given no shelter from It;

[Yusufali 18:90] Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had provided no covering protection against the sun.

[Pickthal 18:90] Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom.

^Dhul Qarnayn then follows a course that leads him to the "land of the rising of the sun" or "Until, when he came to the rising of the sun" or "Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun." This is a poetic and eloquent way of stating that he was heading East at the time and came upon a people who were totally ignorant of erecting a shelter for themselves against the sun, which Dhul Qarnayn then guided and taught to live in peace.

I did mention his direction of travel in the interpritation I provided in post #16 although I didn't point out the direct connection to the sun's rising/setting metaphor.

Also, if possible, I would want a distinction between real facts and metaphor in the Quran. For example, did these two young men really exist?

The Holy Qur'an itself states that: "He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except God. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding." [Chapter 3, Verse 7]

One only has to use their mind to differentiate, and the Qur'an refers to them as "those who are firmly grounded in knowledge." For example, the Qur'an contains statements which provide a clear and concise indication of the matter being discussed such as when the roundness of the Earth is discussed, or the Earth's rotation is discussed.

There are other verses that clearly speak in a metaphorical fashion such as "he who shall have done an atom's weight of good, shall behold it; and he who shall have done an atom's weight of evil, shall behold it." This (obviously) does not mean that good and evil is measured in term's of an atom's weight, but rather that humanity will be held responsible for their respective actions and intentions when they are judged by Allah.

Actually, I would be happy at first with just the factual events from the Quran. For example, the sun can't set (touch) on any place on the earth, so that was not a factual event, right?

Of course the sun cannot set (touch) on any place on Earth. Hope you understand it now.

Fi Amanillah.

Edited by Learned
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(bismillah)

Calligraphy and recital of the Qur'an are a means of finding an appreciation for the words of Allah SWT. The objective behind these two forms of supplication is not to provide quantitative information. That is derived from the interpriation of the words of the Qur'an.

In addition, there are thousands of books, translations, and interpritations where people put their feelings about the Qur'an into words and the vast majority of these are excellent sources for learning about the Qur'an. The point I was making is that the Qur'an is defined as a perfect Arabic text from God Himself, and when it is translated it ceases to be perfect and becomes limited to the interpritor's comprehension of it.

But what happens when two people have a different interpretation? Isn't there a system in Shia Islam to give official approval to one interpretation vs another?

Its fairly simple. The sun is mentioned twice in this Surah. The first time is in this section:

[shakir 18:85] So he followed a course.

[Yusufali 18:85] One (such) way he followed,

[Pickthal 18:85] And he followed a road

[shakir 18:86] Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people. We said: O Zulqarnain! either give them a chastisement or do them a benefit.

[Yusufali 18:86] Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: "O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness."

[Pickthal 18:86] Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.

^Dhul Qarnayn first follows a course which leads him to the "place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea" or "the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water" or "the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring." This is a poetic and quite eloquent way of stating that he was heading due West in this expidition until he reached shores of the sea (or a large collection of water) on the Western side of his land which was muddy.

There is a certian notion among Qur'anic interpriters and historians that if Thul Qarnayn is indeed Alexander the Great, then the reference to the sea of muddy water could be to Lyncnitis (now called Ochrida) West of Macedonia, the sources of which are thought to be underground springs that run through limestone regions which explain why the water could never be clear.

Is there an official Shia position as to whether or not the passage is actually about Alexander the Great? Does it matter? Also, forgive my ignorance, but who is the speaker in this surah and why is he telling a story about this person (who is possibly Alexander)?

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asalamu aalaykum

what i undersstood from the english translation

is that , they came to a muddy bank and saw the sun set , you know when you look at the sun set on the beach it seems like the sun goes down into the water coz the water is flat , and the eart is round >??

whats wrong with that

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(bismillah)

But what happens when two people have a different interpretation? Isn't there a system in Shia Islam to give official approval to one interpretation vs another?

There is nothing that requires each verse to have only one strict interpretation. Part of the miracle of the Holy Qur'an is that each verse can hold multiple meanings on different levels of comprehension. From the Islamic perspective, there is enough light (knowledge) contained within the words of the Almighty for those who want to see, and this light is never exhausted. In light of this, the derivation of multiple levels of inspiration and wisdom from the words of Allah is not a problem, but rather a proof if the sheer magnificence of the Qur’an.

As to your second question, it is universally agreed upon from the Islamic perspective (weather Shia or Sunni) that all aspects of religion and interpretation of scripture must observe absolute coherence with scientific fact, logic, and rationality within the bounds of these measures, as well as adherence to general Islamic doctrine that is outlined within the Qur’an (i.e. the basic tenants of Islam which are agreed upon by all Muslims in general). This is in regard to general interpretation which can be arrived at safely by the usage of logic and rationality.

Remember that Islam is a thinking man’s religion, just as it caters to all peoples of different levels of comprehension and sophistication. In essence, you get what you look for, and the deeper you reach, the more you will grasp. When one delves into the depths of Qur’anic wisdom and revelation, and exceeds the level of the basic interpretations in order to seek a more sophisticated and learned comprehension of boundless guidance that is contained within the Qur’an, this becomes a question of Qur’anic scholarship and philosophy for which there are Islamic schools and institutions under the guidance of the learned ranks of our Islamic scholars, but this is an entirely different matter.

Is there an official Shia position as to whether or not the passage is actually about Alexander the Great? Does it matter? Also, forgive my ignorance, but who is the speaker in this surah and why is he telling a story about this person (who is possibly Alexander)?

The second chapter of the Holy Qur’an, Surat al-Baqarah (The Cow), begins with the verses:

[shakir 2:2] This Book, there is no doubt in it, is a guide to those who guard (against evil).

[Yusufali 2:2] This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah;

[Pickthal 2:2] This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil).

Whether Dhul Qarnayn was Alexander the Great (or Darius as others suggest) or some one else is not the issue in these verses but the Qur’an aims to provide guidance to man through the narrative of a Dhul Qarnayn, who possessed two qualities, knowledge and strength, like Talut (or Saul, the first King of the Israel who’s story is also discussed in the Qur'an 2:246-252). Dhul Qarnayn was an upright and righteous ruler, a true servant of Allah, whose sway extended over East and West, and over people of diverse civilizations. Allah SWT is alluding to his example as a good and righteous ruler for the believers to learn from his example. This is why his story is being told.

Fi Amanillah.

Edited by Learned
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asalamu aalaykum

what i undersstood from the english translation

is that , they came to a muddy bank and saw the sun set , you know when you look at the sun set on the beach it seems like the sun goes down into the water coz the water is flat , and the eart is round >??

whats wrong with that

Nothing is wrong with that. I don't speak Arabic, so even if you said something that was not actually there I wouldn't know the difference. All I'm asking is for one official interpretation in plain English that all Shia Muslims agree on.

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