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Cautionary Remarks on the Articulation of Pharyngeal Sounds Arab Speech Habits In the Light of the Qur’an

Submitted by on April 13, 2013 – 1:38 pmNo Comment

Cautionary Remarks on the Articulation of

Pharyngeal Sounds

Arab Speech Habits In the Light of the Qur’an

Abdul-Fattāh Muhammad Khidr

Department of Exegesis and Qur’anic Studies, College of Usul ad-Din,

Al-Azhar University, Egypt

This paper is a starting-point for a better understanding of the Glorious Qur’an and its meanings through careful examination of the Arab cultural scene at the time of revelation — the political, economic, social, intellectual and religious milieux. All these can be called the settings of revelation (mulābasāt al-nuzul) which are much broader than the reasons of revelation (asbāb al-nuzul) because they are indirect reasons latent in Arab norms and customs.

This paper highlights that any discourse is better understood within its linguistic and extra-linguistic contexts. Thus, not just any superficial reading of the Text leads to grasping God’s true intent. The process of comprehending and explaining meaning is a complicated one and the surface linguistic structure is but a way leading into this process. For this reason whoever wants to seriously engage into explaining the Qur’an should be thoroughly knowledgeable of the settings of its revelation.

This paper underlines the significance of this kind of knowledge for the exegete to be correct and the translator to be able to live with the essence of the Text not just its exterior and disjointed lexical units. Not paying particular attention to the essence of the Text and translating it literally makes what is not intended by God as if it were so. This is not appropriate and, in fact, dangerous because it says of God what He did not intend, constitutes a serious dilution of the inimitability of the Qur’an and blatant ignorance of it — it is a translation of “the Qur’an” and not its “meanings”, which is not permissible to begin with.

As the Arab speech habits and linguistic customs to be found in Arab written tradition and works of exegesis fall way beyond the scope of this paper, I only give eighty examples dealt with within the ayahs of belief, acts of worship and societal dealings. These will open up windows for researchers in this type of Qur’anic inimitability.

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