GLOSSARY OF CONCEPTS AND TERMS OF THE HOLY QURAN

INTRODUCTION

Allah, the Creator and the Sustainer has declared that Holy Quran is His last and final Book revealed to the mankind for its guidance (6/115). As such, it should contain a complete code of life and permanent values which would remain unalterable even with the passage of time, and give guidance to all the problems which mankind would face for all times to come. This message should obviously be in such a language which, on one hand, should be simple, clear, unambiguous, and definite, and on the other all-comprehensive, deep, dignified and consciously superior. Arabic seems to be the only language in the world which has all the characteristics mentioned above, and therefore, is suitable to meet these challenges.

There appeared no Rasool in Arabia in-between the times of Ishmael and Rasool-Allah, Muhammad (peace be upon him). It seems that during all this time of 3,000 years, the Arabs remained busy in enriching their language so that it should be capable of bearing the last message of Almighty Allah. Arabic language has 80 different words for honey, 200 for snake, 500 for lion, 1,000 for sword, and 5,744 for camel (Cosmic Consciousness - Richard Mauvice Bucke pp. 30-31), which helps illustrate the tremendous vastness of this language. So, when an Arab used a particular word for a camel, the listener would know its age, colour and all the numerous qualities.

This was the language in which the Holy Quran was revealed. The mode of expression of the Quran is neither poetry nor prose, but has its own style and rhythm. It has a rare beauty and grandeur, and is sublime. To translate such a language into another retaining its spirit, beauty, force, seriousness, grandeur, and depth is just not possible. One may nevertheless make an attempt if it is an ordinary piece of literature; when it is a book of universal constitution containing a charter of human rights, one has to be very careful. Another problem stems from the fact, as mentioned in the "Foreword" to this Exposition, that any language coins particular words according to its traditions, culture, concepts and values. Therefore, how could it be possible for English or for that matter any other language to give one word for a concept which does not exist in its culture? This difficulty is apparent when one reads a Persian or Urdu translation - which per force, retains the original Quranic words viz. Kafir, Momin, Mushrik, Rahman, Sabar, Saw’ab, Salat, Zakat, etc. All these words existed in Arabic language before the advent of Islam, therefore the Arabs knew who was called a Kafir, a Mushrik, and a Momin. Similarly, the meaning of Eiman, Shariah or Salat, etc., was not unknown to them. It is, therefore, very important for the reader to know the exact meanings of these words as they carry specific Quranic concepts. Their simple translation in English would either give Biblical meanings or negate the very spirit of the message. Lastly, these words are repeatedly used in the Quran and every time it is not possible to give a detailed explanatory note - hence the necessity of retaining these words as such and adding this glossary.

This glossary is written in alphabetical order to help the reader find the required word easily; in Arabic dictionaries the meanings of different words are given under their "Roots." The fact that each word has a root, is a distinctive feature of Arabic language. Various words are derived from that root according to the accepted principles of grammar, but whatever the formation, these different derivatives do not lose the basic sense of the root.

While explaining various words the following procedure was followed:-

  1. First the root of the word is given, which normally is in three letters. Then, its basic meanings and characteristics are explained.
  2. Then, it is examined in the light of "Muhawaratul-Arab," i.e., how did the Arabs use that word in various ways and manners. By giving some examples from daily usage, the basic concept of that root would become more clear. Needless to say that unless the concepts are clearly explained, its real meanings cannot be comprehended.
  3. After that, an effort has been made to tabulate some verses of the Quran or give their references, wherein that particular word is used carrying different meanings and concepts with different emphasis.

While giving different meanings or concepts, their authorities are also quoted to help the reader consult these dictionaries himself if he so desires. During compilation of this glossary, besides Lughat-u-Quran and Islam - A Challenge to Religion, which formed the basic reference sources, numerous other works were also consulted, the list of which is attached as an appendix.

(Haji) HABIB-UR-REHMAN KHAN

                                                                                                                                ISLAMABAD

                                                                                                                             26th March, 1987