• AbdulHayy Salloo

Quran's Clarity in Ambiguity

Ambiguous usage of words in the Quran. As Allah intends . . . Question is Why?

The following Aayah is about children when the parents separate.

Allah says in Surah Baqarah: 233: لا تُضارَّ والِدَةٌ بِولَدِها

Now, the grammar behind تُضارَّ is quite peculiar.

We always hear that Allah's words in the Quran are on point! Whatever he says, there's no other better way of saying it.

At first glance; what Allah says in this Aayah seems ambiguous, therefore, unclear.

But at closer inspection, you will see how much this ambiguity has perfection and clarity, an incredible insight this ambiguity holds within. Seems like an oxymoron right? Read on . . .

The word تُضارَّ could be regarded as an 'active' or a 'passive' verb/action. What you call a F'il in Arabic.

In simple English what that means is, Active Fi'l - Doer of action/Fi'l is known Passive Fi'l - Doer of the action/Fi'l is unknown

Usually words in Arabic are very very distinct, Active & Passive words are spelt differently.

In this rare case however, the Active and Passive forms of the word are spelt exactly the same!

Now since we don't know if it's active or passive (spelling being the same) -

The word تُضارَّ is translated as both/either (Active and or Passive)

If it's considered 'Active' then the translation would be; * "The mother should not cause harm (to the father) through her child"

And if it's considered 'Passive', the translation would be; * "The mother should not be harmed through her child."

The two meanings have considerable contrast.

Allah, in just one statement, by his choicest words, covers both sides of the spectrum of what occurs in an unfortunate cases of marriages falling apart with children involved.

Just how concise and accurate is the speech of Allah?

And this is no accident by the way.

We see a similar usage of the exact same word in Aayah 282. Also appearing in Surah Baqarah.

This Aayah is regarding loans. The very same Fi'l mentioned as the previous example: وَلا يُضارَّ كاتِبٌ وَلا شَهِيد

Again, the same ambiguity arises. So we have two possible translations * The scribe and witness should not harm anyone

* The scribe and witness should not be harmed.

Allah SWT does not use the open form of the Fi'l and restrict it to just either an 'active' or 'passive' meaning.

But to capture both possibilities, Allah chooses to use an "ambiguous" Fi'.