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Qur'anic Commentary The Qur'an

Qur’an 4:125 and Christoph Heger’s Ignorance

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Asif Iqbal

This is with ref­er­ence to Christoph Heger’s exe­ge­sis on Sura’ 4:125. The cor­rect ren­der­ing of Qur’an 4:125 is :

And who is there that has a fair­er reli­gion than he who sub­mits his will to God being a good-doer, and who fol­lows the creed of Abra­ham, a man of pure faith ? AND GOD TOOK ABRAHAM FORFRIEND.” (Arber­ry’s translation).

Christoph Heger writes :

In surah 4:125 there are both gram­mat­i­cal and exeget­i­cal rea­sons to assume that the word Allah” bet­ter had not been sub­sti­tut­ed for a pre­vi­ous rasm “ lh” or ? with an Alif Maq­Suwrah as sec­ond rad­i­cal, which in those old Hijazi Qur’ans is not unusu­al ? “ lyh”, mean­ing ilaah” or aalaah” (the Syr­i­ac word for the Chris­t­ian God, which became Allah” in the Ara­bic language).

This entire state­ment is 100 per­cent false and has been cun­ning­ly wrapped in the clas­si­cal decep­tion out­fit, which has become the hall­mark of the likes of Christoph Heger and Ibn War­raq, etc., as will be demon­strat­ed in the following.

DECEPTION 1 :

… there are both gram­mat­i­cal and exeget­i­cal rea­sons to assume…”

COMMENT :

There is not a SINGLE GRAMMATICAL” and/​or EXEGETICAL” rea­son to enable one to sub­sti­tute Ilah” for the Qur’an­ic Allah” in the part of the verse 4:125 under consideration.

FROM THE EXEGETICAL VIEWPOINT, the theme here is God tak­ing Abra­ham as His friend — not man tak­ing the god of Abra­ham” as his ide­al.”

This theme expressed in this Med­i­nan verse (revealed in year 2 accord­ing to Bell), which was well-known to its addressees, has been used by the Qur’an to jus­ti­fy the faith of Abra­ham to which it wants to return.

FROM THE GRAMMATICAL VIEWPOINT, the final mem­ber of the verse 4:125 con­sti­tutes an inde­pen­dent sen­tence (see the Waqf-e-Mut­laq” sym­bol imme­di­ate­ly after Han?” in the Ara­bic text). It is not how­ev­er with­out an inti­mate rela­tion­ship with the first part of the verse to which it is coör­di­nat­ed. The rhyme is main­tained and the sub­ject changes from the 3rd per­son to the 3rd per­son (i.e., he” to All?quot;). This change of pro­noun actu­al­ly high­lights the sig­nif­i­cance of the Creed of Abra­ham since God Him­self was He (as per this final por­tion of 4:125), who took this Abra­ham for a friend.

This empha­sis on the puri­ty of the Creed of Abra­ham, by this shift in the pro­noun, fur­ther strength­ens the theme which the Qur’?employs in this verse (as stat­ed above in the exeget­i­cal viewpoint.”)

DECEPTION 2 :

… for a PREVIOUS rasm “ lh” or… “ lyh”, mean­ing ilaah” or aalaah” (the Syr­i­ac word for the Chris­t­ian God, which became Allah” in the Ara­bic language).”

COMMENT :

The use of the word PREVIOUS” in the above is sheer deception.

There are NO vari­ant read­ings, of ANY word, of the verse 4:125. There­fore, there is noth­ing con­crete to sug­gest that the PREVIOUS rasm of the word All?in the verse 4:125 were ANY of the terms men­tioned in the above quote.

The above is there­fore unde­ni­ably noth­ing oth­er than an entire­ly base­less speculation.

Fur­ther­more, LYH does not (as claimed by the above quote) mean : ilaah” or aalaah,” the Syr­i­ac word for the Chris­t­ian God.

Accord­ing to ar‑R?‘s Maf?h”[1], LYH means : to be high,” to be veiled,” which, accord­ing to the Bas­ran gram­mar­i­ans, was the VERBAL NOUN of LAH.” Fur­ther, there is no mor­pho­log­i­cal and con­cep­tu­al rela­tion between the Ara­bic Ilah — which accord­ing to A. Jeffery[2] is an Old Semit­ic Form — and the Syr­i­ac Al?.

Thus if the ori­gin of the Ara­bic All?is to be tak­en (as the above quote claims) as the Syr­i­ac Al?, then the argu­ment, that the pre­vi­ous Rasm of the All?of verse 4:125 was LH or LYH (again as claimed by the above quote) has to be for­sak­en, sim­ply because of Arthur Jef­fer­y’s above-stat­ed point[3].

Christoph Heger continues :

The main dis­ad­van­tage of this under­stand­ing is that it pos­tu­lates a change of the gram­mat­i­cal sub­ject, from who” (as in A, B, C) to Allah” (as in D), although D is of a con­struc­tion exact­ly par­al­lel to C :

DECEPTION 3 :

The MAIN dis­ad­van­tage of this understanding…”

COMMENT :

Sure­ly, had this been the MAIN” dis­ad­van­tage, then Christoph Heger would not have brought shame to his face by not pre­sent­ing the oth­er dis­ad­van­tages of this understanding.”

Regard­ing the main dis­ad­van­tage” that since the rhyme of :

[D] wa-ttakhad­ha ll ? Ibrah ? khal ?

(i.e., And God took Abra­ham for a friend,” Arber­ry’s translation),

is same as :

[C] wa-‘ttaba‘a mil­la­ta Ibrah ? Han ?

(i.e., and who fol­lows the creed of Abra­ham, a man of pure faith,” Arber­ry’s translation),

so to fan­cy that this mere sim­i­lar­ly of the rhymes of [C] and [D] should justify :

(i) the sub­sti­tu­tion of lh or lyh for All ? (which, BTW, if done, will not be equiv­a­lent to the Syr­i­ac Al?, as shown above, and thus would not imply what Christoph Heger’s desired in the first place, of : god of Abra­ham,” in the Syr­i­ac Chris­t­ian sense!)

(ii) chang­ing the well-known trans­la­tion of Khal?quot ; of [D] from A FRIEND” to AN IDEAL,” (which, BTW, is not found in any Ara­bic dic­tio­nary!) is clear­ly total­ly incor­rect and unfounded.

FINAL COMMENTS :

1- The theme of God tak­ing Abra­ham as a friend” is well known, both in the Qur’?as well as in the lit­er­a­ture of the Jews and the Christians.

Con­sid­er :

And when his Lord test­ed Abra­ham with cer­tain words, and he ful­filled them. He said, Behold, I make you a leader for the peo­ple.’ [2:124a] (Arber­ry’s translation).

Abra­ham — already linked to the Mec­can wor­ship by the Qur’an in the third Mec­can peri­od (i.e., 14:35 – 7) — is claimed by the Qur’?as the founder of the mil­lat Ibrah?quot ; (reli­gion, as a social body, 2:132 – 3), whose inher­i­tors, accord­ing to the Qur’? are the Mus­lims (3:68). In him is for them a fine mod­el” (“Uswat-un-Hasana”, 60:4) He is a pure monothe­ist (Han ? as in the verse under con­sid­er­a­tion, and else­where, oft-repeat­ing.) And he is the one whom God took as a friend (Khal ? 4:125), and who was made by God as the leader for his peo­ple (Im ? 2:124)

It is absolute­ly clear even to the blind that all these state­ments are inte­gral­ly linked to a sol­id theme of Abra­ham’s promi­nence in the Qur’?c prophetol­ogy. On the oth­er hand, there isn’t any indi­ca­tion in the Qur’?for the believ­ers to fol­low the god of Abra­ham as an ide­al.” This very idea is clear­ly unfound­ed in the Qur’?c text.

In the Bible, as well, the idea of God tak­ing Abra­ham as a friend is well known.

Con­sid­er :

Ve ata Yis­rael avdi Yaakov ash­er be khar­tikha zera AVRAHAM OHAVI. (Isa­iah 41:8 ; BHS)
(But thou, Israel, art my ser­vant, Jacob whom I have cho­sen, the seed of ABRAHAM MY FRIEND) (KJV)

halo ata Elo­heinu horash­ta et-yoshvei ha’arets hazot mil­ifnei amkha Yis­rael vatit­na lez­era AVRAHAM OHAVKHA leo­lam (II Chron­i­cles 20:7 ; BHS)
(Art not thou our God, who didst dri­ve out the inhab­i­tants of this land before thy peo­ple Israel, and gavest it to the seed of ABRAHAM THY FRIEND for ever?) (KJV)

kai eplhrwqh h grafh h legousa epis­teusen de abraam tw qew kai elo­gisqh autw eiv dikaio­sunhn kai FILOV QEOU ekl­hqh. (James 2:23 ; Nes­tle-Aland 26th)
(And the scrip­ture was ful­filled which saith, Abra­ham believed God, and it was imput­ed unto him for right­eous­ness : and he was called the FRIEND OF GOD.) (KJV)

All this evi­dence only rein­forces the Arber­ry’s ren­der­ing of verse 4:125 and expos­es the absolute igno­rance and extreme decep­tion of the likes of Christoph Heger.

2- Can the word Khal?of 4:125 be ren­dered as : an ide­al”? Cer­tain­ly not !

Here are the var­i­ous inter­pre­ta­tions of the Ara­bic term Khal?as record­ed by Edward William Lane[4]:

    — A spe­cial, or par­tic­u­lar, friend or true or sin­cere friend. Also sig­ni­fies vera­cious” [i.e., truth­ful, Asif].
     — A friend in whose friend­ship is no khalel” (i.e., unsound­ness or defect or imperfection).
     — One who is pure and sound in friend­ship or love.

All these inter­pre­ta­tions are self-evi­dent expo­sures of Christoph Heger’s total igno­rance of the Ara­bic lan­guage and his arro­gant attempts of alter­ing the Qur’?c text despite his ignorance.

Notes & References

[1] Vol. I, pp. 81 – 4

[2] For­eign Vocabulary…”

[3] Ibid., p. 66

[4] Ara­bic-Eng­lish Lex­i­con (Lon­don : Willians & Nor­gate, 1865), book 1, part 2, p. 781, col. 1Endmark

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