The use of Majaz in the Qur’an by Shaykh Juma Mazrui

“And We have also sent down unto you (Muhammed) the Reminder and the Advice (the Qur’an), that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them.” (Qur’an 16:44)

In our first lesson Shaykh Juma Mazrui (hafidullah) went over some of the disputes the scholars have had in regards to majaz in the Qur’an. Among those who dispute majaz are those who liken Allah (swt) to his creation by stating that he has two right hands, two eyes, and so forth.

Then, Shaykh Juma Mazrui has shown us clearly many examples of Majaz in the Qur’an.

Allah is the Guardian of those who believe, He brings them out of every darkness into light. And those who disbelieve, their guardians are the evil ones; they bring them out of light into all kinds of darkness. These are destined for the Fire, and there shall they abide.” (Qur’an 2:257)

This is an example of metaphor or Majaz. There is no real darkness that we are being brought of and into a real light.  No has been able to demonstrably prove this by the apparent meaning.

“Ignominy shall be their portion wherever they are found save (where they grasp) a rope from Allah and a rope from men. They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them. That is because they used to disbelieve the revelations of Allah, and slew the prophets wrongfully. That is because they were rebellious and used to transgress.” (Qur’an 3:112)

This is another example of metaphor or Majaz. There is no real rope from Allah and a rope from men that people are grasping onto.

Again we find:

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah and do not be divided. Remember Allah’s favour upon you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts, so you—by His grace—became brothers. And you were at the brink of a fiery pit and He saved you from it. This is how Allah makes His revelations clear to you, so that you may be ˹rightly˺ guided.” (Qur’an 3:103)

There no real, physical or apparent rope from Allah (swt) that any of us are grasping on to for every moment of our life. This is a clear example of metaphor or Majaz. The rope that is referred to that we are to grasp or adhere to is the religion of Islam.

“Moreover, will say to those who were oppressed to those who were arrogant, “Nay, (it was) a plot (by) night and a plot (by) day when you were ordering us that we disbelieve in Allah and we set up for Him equals.” But they will conceal the regret when they see the punishment. And We will put shackles on (the) necks (of) those who disbelieved. Will they be recompensed except (for) what they used to do?” (Qur’an 34:33)

This is the majaz of hadhfi or the metaphor of omission.  Can it be said that the night plots and the day plots?  This is a clear example of metaphor and the overwhelming majority of translators have not translated nor interpreted it by its apparent meaning.

“To Him belong the keys to the heavens and the earth. As for those who have rejected the verses of Allah, it is they who are the losers.” (Qur’an 39:3)

If you translate this literally, or take it apparently it is to mean that Allah (swt) has two material keys. This would be a case of tashbih to liken one thing to another.  Like people have keys that they use to start their car or to unlock their homes.

That Allah (swt) would need two sets of keys to lock/unlock the heavens and the earth merits pensive reflection from those who beleive in the apparent meaning of the text.

17 times a day a Muslim says, “guide is to the right way.” That is from the opening chapter of the Qur’an.

Well, where is this ‘straight path, this straight way’? If you to take it from the apparent, from the literal meaning.

“Be patient over what they say, and remember Our servant, David, the possessor of many hands; he was one who repeatedly turned back [to Us].” (Qur’an 38:17)

Plural in Arabic begins with three. So at the very least David had three hands.  However, notice something from the following site:

It is unanimous that they all translate ‘many hands’ as strength! Even the Salafi/Saudi translations do!  Even the translation that gives us the most literal word for word meaning possible was too shy to translate David having many hands.

Be patient over what they say and remember Our servant, David, the possessor of strength; indeed, he was one who repeatedly turned back [to Allah ] (Sahih International)

Be patient (O Muhammad SAW) of what they say, and remember Our slave Dawood (David), endued with power. Verily, he was ever oft-returning in all matters and in repentance (toward Allah) (Muhsin Khan & Muhammed Al Hilal)

So we can say to those who believe in literal translations: Why don’t you take these verses on the apparent meaning? If Allah (swt) says that David has many hands then say that David had many hands!  

You are shy to ascribe many hands to David but not to Allah (swt)?!

“He is the One who has made the earth subjugated for you, so walk on its shoulders, and eat out of His provision, and to Him is the Resurrection.” (Qur’an 67:15)

The earth has shoulders? As I have?

“And He (is) the One Who sends the winds (of glad news between the two hands of his Mercy, until, when they have carried clouds ” (Qur’an 7:57)

Allah sends winds like herald of glad news, between the two hands of his Mercy.

Now his Mercy has two hands?

So those who believe in literal translations tell us that Allah (swt) has two right hands, and he has an attribute of Mercy and this attribute has two hands.  Are they also right hands?

Look how virtually everyone else translates the text!

“Moreover, it is He who sends the winds as good news before His mercy until, when they have carried heavy rain clouds, We drive them to a dead land and We send down rain in that respect and bring forth thereby [some] of all the fruits. Thus will We bring forth the dead; perhaps you will be reminded.” (Sahih International)

“And it is He Who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His Mercy (rain). Till when they have carried a heavy-laden cloud, We drive it to a land that is dead, then We cause water (rain) to descend immediately. Then We produce every fruit besides that. Similarly, We shall raise the dead, so that you may remember or take heed.” (Muhsin Khan and Muhammed Al Hilali)

No one wants to take the literal, or apparent meaning of the text and ascribe to Allah’s mercy two hands! Why is that?

“Also, He (is) the One Who sends the winds (as) glad news (from) between (hands) His Mercy, and We send down from the sky water pure.” (Qur’an 25:48)

Even look at those at Corpus Qur’an. They are literally confused about how to translate the Arabic text:

“before, before”  “between before”  “before between” “between between” ???

“So, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: “My Lord! bestow on them your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” (Qur’an 17:24)

Does humility have wings?

“And lower your wing to those who follow you of the believers.”  (Qu’ran 26:215 -Sahih International)

For some reason in this case Sahih International decides to go with the literal, apparent text.   But the question needs to be asked does the Blessed Messenger (saw) have a wing?

Allah (swt) said he did. So why can’t what Allah (swt) says be good enough for us?

“So when we accepted your covenant and lifted the mountain of Sinai over you, saying, receive the law which we have given you, with a resolution to perform it, and hear; they said, we have heard, and have rebelled: And they were made to drink down the calf into their hearts for their unbelief. Say, a grievous thing has your faith commanded you, if you indeed be true believers.” (Qur’an 2:93)  

Does anyone think they were drinking calf?  It means that their hearts were filled with worshipping the calf.

“And a faction of the People of the Scripture say [to each other], “Believe in that which was revealed to the believers at the face of the day and reject it at its end that perhaps they will abandon their religion.” (Qur’an 3:72)

wajha-face. Are we really to believe that the day has a face?

“Give good news, glad news, to the believers upon the foot of the truth.”(Qur’an 10:2)

The truth has a foot?

Corpus Qur’an translates it as:

“(will be) a respectable position.”

Those who understand that the word foot is used here translate it something similar to “sure footing”

“Have the people been amazed that We revealed [revelation] to a man from among them, [saying], “Warn mankind and give good news to those who believe that they will have a [firm] precedence of honor with their Lord”? [But] the disbelievers say, “Indeed, this is an obvious magician.” (Sahih International)

Muhsin Khan and Muhammed Al Hilali really went wild with this translation:

“Is it wonder for mankind that We have sent Our Inspiration to a man from among themselves (i.e. Prophet Muhammad SAW) (saying): “Warn mankind (of the coming torment in Hell), and give good news to those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and in His Prophet Muhammad SAW) that they shall have with their Lord the rewards of their good deeds?” (But) the disbelievers say: “This is indeed an evident sorcerer (i.e. Prophet Muhammad SAW and the Quran)”  (Muhsin Khan & Muhammed Al Hilali)

The principle of rejecting the Mujaaz usually comes from those who say that Allah (swt) has two limbs, and two right hands, two eyes etc.  Shaykh Juma Mazrui had other examples that I did not have the chance to pin down but insh’Allah I will enquire about the missed examples and plug them into this article..

Shaykh Juma Mazrui will be going over with us in the coming weeks the following lessons: Insh’Allah.

In the traditions of the Prophet (saw) did he use Majaaz when he talks to the companions?

Majaz in the Arabic language.

Tawil in the Arabic language.

“See how Allah does make His revelations clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!” (Qur’an 5:75)

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