Meaning of “qad khalat” and Qur’an (3:144) (part-2)
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
As promised in this part I will come up with commentaries on Qur’an 3:144 and then explain what the commentators quoted by Mr. Chaudhry said and how they do not help him.
In response to my last article, Mr. Chaudhary came up with two pieces, one tracking the whole discussion and then something particularly interesting.
I shall talk of all that in my response in this second and second last go.
My intake on Qur’an 3:144
The verse 3:144 was revealed about the incident during the Battle of Uhud and all that verse suggests is that Prophet –may Allah bless him- is not to remain forever as has been the case with the earlier prophets who have been there before him. The words that Allah chose here are miraculous indeed for they give the message yet do not provide room for those who doubt the return of ‘Eisa –may Allah bless him.
Phrase 1 says: Muhammad* is just a Prophet (*may Allah bless him)
Phrase 2 says: There have been prophets in the past before him
Phrase 3 says: If the Prophet dies or is killed …
Now the verse was revealed sometimes in the year 3 A.H., eight years before the death of the Holy Prophet -may Allah bless him. So the verse simply says that no prophet is to live forever and likewise the Prophet is to die sooner or later. The actual argument with the wording used is that the Prophets lived in the past, they became a subject of past and through the time lapse they parted with the communities to whom they were sent. Now as the stay of all but one of the Prophets among their respective people came to end simply because of death or murder so it is also referred to as death. But this fact itself does not make death the meaning of the words used by the Almighty Allah.
Commentaries below will show that “madhaw” and “khalaw” etc. even when used for humans do not mean death. The connotation comes through the facts known otherwise and hence some commentaries going that way.
Commentators on Qur’an 3:144
Using the Qur’anic commentaries I will prove the fragility of Mr. Chaudhary’s allegation against me that I came up with “wrong translation” of the Holy Qur’an.
With commentaries directly to Qur’an 3:144 I will prove how his dictionary deception won’t work about the meaning of “khalaw”, “madhaw” and his idea that “qad khalat” has different meanings when used for humans and non-humans.
Burhanuddin al-Baqa’i (d. 885 A.H.) who was not merely a Mufassir but also a historian and a writer, commented to this verse as;
“’Qad khalat’: means separation from their communities, either though death or ascension to the heavens. And what is meant by “they parted with them” (khalaw minhum) is that they were there sometimes in the past time (fi b’adh al-zaman al-madhi).” (Nazam al-Dorar fi Tanasib al-Ayat wal Saur vol.5 p.82 Da’ira al-Ma’rif al-Uthmania, Hyderabad, 1973)
So the Prophets actually got separated from their communities and this happened actually through the time lapse as they were there sometimes in the past alone, and in their times their tenure among their respective people came to end simply through demise or ascension to the heavens. This is the connection between “having been in the past” and “parting with [respective] communities.”
Here I will ask Mr. Chaudhary, if he accepts it as a valid commentary? If so, does he agree this is exactly what “my” translation says and that it is supported to the letter by this commentary? If he agrees to both these, will he then consider making an apology for alleging that I came up with a “wrong translation”? (Hope he remembers the email he sent to me and to at least three other people with subject heading “Wrong translation of Holy Quran”)
Another well known commentator Imam Baidhawi (d. 685 A.H.) said,
“’And Muhammad is not but a messenger. There have been messengers before him’: means “Soon he will part (with them) as they parted through death or murder (khalaw bil-mawt awil qatal) .” (Tafsir al-Qadhi al-Baidhawi vol.3 p.181, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah Beirut, 1999)
“Khalaw” does not actually mean death:
Now the point to note here that the learned scholar wrote خلوا بالموت (khalaw bil-mawt) which is clear evidence that خلوا (khalaw) itself does not mean death. If it is taken to so mean it would imply Imam Baidhawi was rather naive in Arabic because that way it would be like “died through death.” The fact simply remains that “khalaw” means “to part with/to depart” and this can be any way, death or ascension to the heavens as we consider the case of the Prophets- may Allah bless them all. I do not think even if he disagrees any sane person would contend this way.
Exactly the same is evident from Imam Abu Sa’ud al-‘Imadi’s (d. 982 A.H.) commentary too. It will be nice to have Mr. Chaudhary’s intake on this.
To see his point, Imam Baidhawi’s commentary shows that actual meaning of the word is “to part” and as for most, infact all but one, prophets of the foregone times it happened through death or murder (read martyrdom) he puts it like that. But nevertheless he testifies that خلوا (khalaw) does not mean death.
Al-Razi, Zamakhshari and others:
Imam al-Razi (d. 606) in his commentary generally known as Tafsir al-Kabir writes;
“And soon he will depart (fasayakhlaw) as they departed, and as to follow them remained (obligatory) on the people who accepted their religion after their having parted, so (in the same way) it is mandatory upon you that you stick to his religion after he parts (with you). For the purpose of sending the messengers is the conveyance of the message and making clear the evidence, not their eternal presence amongst their people.” (Mafatih al-Ghayb vol.9 p.22, Dar al-Fikr, Beirut. 1981)
As we have already seen that خلوا (khalaw) itself does not mean death, here towards the end Imam al-Razi crystallized the point further when he said “not their [eternal] presence amongst their people” thus defining the meaning of “khalaw” which is “to part with” and not death actually.
Exactly same is given in the following Tafasir too;
al-Kashshaf of al-Zamakhshari (d. 538 A.H.)
Muharrar al-Wajiz of Ibn ‘Atiya (d. 541 A.H.)
Madarik al-Tanzil of al-Nasafi (d. 710 A.H.)
Tafsir Gharaib al-Qur’an of Nizamuddin al-Qumi (d. 728 A.H.)
Lubab al-Tanzil of Abu al-Hassan al-Khazin (d. 741 A.H.)
al-Jawahir al-Hassan by Abu Zaid al-Th’alibi (d. 876 A.H.)
Ruh al-Bayan of Isma’il al-Haqqi (d. 1127 A.H.)
Imam Ibn Ujayba:
Another great scholar Ibn Ujayba (d. 1224 A.H.) in his commentary Bahr al-Madid writes;
“There have been (madhat) messengers before him, so he (too) will soon become a subject of past (fasayamdhi) as they became subjects of past through death or murder (madhaw bil-mawt awil qatal) .” (Tafsir Bahr al-Madid, vol.1 p.414, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah Beirut, 2002)
Just as Imam Baidhawi killed the point of taking “khalaw” to mean “death” by putting it as “khalaw bil-mawt”, Ibn Ujayba kills the real dictionary deceit at last resorted to by Mr. Chaudhary when he puts the thing as مضوا بالموت (madhaw bil-mawt). Or may be Mr. Chaudhary will like to explain what “khalaw bil-mawt” and “madhaw bil-mawt” mean while he holds that “khalaw” and “madhaw” themselves actually mean death?
Let’s not forget, just like Imam Baidhawi, Ibn Ujayba is also commenting directly to the verse in question.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Ashur:
Now let’s see another commentary to the very verse under consideration to kill yet another contention of Mr. Chaudhary.
Abu Tahir Ibn ‘Ashur (d. 1393 A.H.) a recent native Arab Mufassir (exegete) of the Holy Qur’an wrote the following in his commentary to Qur’an 3:144,
“And the meaning of “khalat” is “having been in the past” and “to be cut off” as in His saying: “Indeed there have been examples before you.” [3:137] and (like) the words of Imru’ al-Qais, “One who has been in the foregone times.”” (Tafsir al-Tahrir wal Tanwir vol.4 p.110 Darul Tunisia lil-Nashr, Tunis, 1984)
Here the scholar actually killed Mr. Chaudhary’s argument that “khalat” is different when it is for people from what it is for “non-human objects.” In its own basic meaning it is same regardless of its being about humans or otherwise. The discussion is about the usage of “qad khalat” in Qur’an 3:144 and a learned Arab scholar clarifies that it is same as for the practices. So it does not actually mean death especially in Qur’an 3:144.
References of Lisan al-‘Arab and the work of al-Farahidi etc. are about the secondary connotative, implied meanings only (If one sees the complete entries under which the quotes brought by Mr. Chaudhary fall, one will observe they are only farfetched connotative meanings and the respected scholars have given them as such only after giving the primary meanings). Also looking at the quotations he has brought one can see that the meaning of death comes only when some other words are appended like “madha bisabiluhu” or “madhaa sabiluhu” and “khalaa makanuhu” and at least my memory says none of these constructions has appeared in any verse or commentary note that we have considered yet. In fact that was real dictionary deceit. Further it is known to any person with due understanding of the rules of exegesis that unless there is a necessity arising out of evidences of shariah it is not justified to seek the connotative meanings in oblivion to denotative meanings.
Commentaries quoted by Mr. Chaudhary:
As to the commentaries quoted by Mr. Chaudhary they referred to death of the Prophets before the Holy Prophet –may Allah bless them all- because after having lived in the past, the thing that made them to part with their communities was death (or murder) and this happened with all but one of the Prophets so they mentioned it in a generic manner like that, which as I have already explained, neither proves the death of ‘Eisa –may Allah bless him- nor implies that to those commentators “qad khalat” meant death.
As to the fact that Rashid Rida al-Misri , in his Tafsir al-Manar, has mentioned the death of ‘Eisa –may Allah bless him- it does not really help for he has not shown anything particular in the actual word of Allah that signifies death of ‘Eisa –may Allah bless him. Moreover, for the People of Sunnah (Ahl-ul-Sunnah) the likes of him do not count for he and his teacher Muhammad Abduh are well known for failing to believe in Hadith as established in the Islamic tradition.
The Great Dictionary Deception? Indeed!
Mr. Chaudhary was quite “prudent” though equally cunning as well when he gave his latest article on the issue the title “The Great Dictionary Deception.” Because at the end of the day it turns out to be him alone who seeks refute in dictionaries with farfetched meanings. My article reading which he suggests that “Waqar Akbar Cheema does not like translations of the Quran or Arabic commentaries” refers to only three classical works, namely al-Mufradaat of Allama Ragheb Isfahani, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, and Tafsir Jalalayn and except for one quote from al-Mufradat all references are from the two above mentioned Tafasir. In his “innocence” (read ignorance) he probably forgets the difference between a Tafsir and a “dictionary.”
My reference to al-Mufradat?
About my reference to al-Mufradat the fact to remember is that it is essentially a Qur’nic dictionary, talks about the Qur’anic usage of words alone and what more, even gives Qur’an 3:144 as the example in what I quoted.
As to the thing that I missed translating the word “zahab” it does not help him even in the least for the actual meaning of “zahab” too is simply “to go” and “to depart” and I have already explained with reference to Imam Baqa’i the connection of “having been in the past” and “to part with/depart.”
To sum this thing up, al-Mufradat is essentially about the Qur’anic usage of the words, mentions 3:144 as the example of what I quoted and in the same head gives 3:137 as an example thus killing the point made by Mr. Chaudhary. Not one of the points I mentioned about al-Mufradat are true for Lisan al-‘Arab and the work of al-Farhidi etc.
Who is toeing the line of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad?
In response to my reference to Tafasir the only way out he found was to seek secondary, connotative meanings of the words which Ibn Kathir used to explain “khalat” so he is actually taking much trouble to justify his rather useless claim.
He tried to link “khalaw” and “madhaw” with death. If these are the actual meanings of the words then we would like to know how he translates the commentaries of al-Baidhawi and Ibn Ujayba etc. given above?
Infact what Mr. Chaudhary is doing is exactly what Mirza Ghulam Ahmad did for the word “nuzool” i.e. to ignore the simple direct meanings and to seek farfetched meanings using dictionaries that are not essentially about the Qur’anic use of the words but put into record every sense of the word, from near or far. It seems that even though Alhamdulillah he left the Ahmadiyya Jamaat (and deserves due appreciation for it), Ahmadiyya Jamaat hasn’t fully left him yet. We hope it happens soon, in-sha’Allah!
“Qad khalat” between Mr. Chaudhary, myself and the commentators:
Mr. Chaudhary is actually trying to be quite clever when he says that to me “to have been in the past” is the only “Islamic meaning” and then brings some commentaries to confuse and mislead the people. As I have already explained the commentaries he has quoted do not argue on the actual meaning of the words “qad khalat“.
They bring in death because this is what is known to be true for all but one of the Prophets through other evidences. I have never denied that. He is trying to mix up the two things and wants me to reach a compromise agreeing that understanding “death” as the actual basic meaning of “qad khalat” is proved from classical scholars. may Allah help him give up a flimsy argument and take the final leap to join the mainstream Muslim body.
To the Ahmadis, you must stay quite excited to find that regardless of what goes on between me and Mr. Chaudhary, your “prophet” remains the agreed upon “standard of perversion and deviation.” Three cheers for him!
Indeed Allah alone knows the best and may He guide all!
Source: Let me turn the tables