Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|question for Arabic speakers|
|10/18/01 at 16:25:46|
A quick question about one of the current Madina News ayats--
"If anyone killed a person (not in retaliation for murder or to
spread mischief in the land) it would be as if he killed the whole of
-- in the parenthetical section, does "not" have scope over "to
spread mischief...", i.e., does it mean "neither in retaliation for murder
nor to spread mischief..."?
If so, what is "spreading mischief in the land", and why does it
have a special status?
Thanks for any light you can shed on this!
--your Arabic-challenged sister :)
|Re: question for Arabic speakers|
|10/19/01 at 00:05:18|
The part of the ayah that is quoted above is in Arabic (but transliterated with the system in the FAQ):
man qatala nafsan bighairi nafsin aw fasaadin fi al-arDi faka'annamaa qatala al-nafsa jamii3an
The question that you ask arises out the translation of bighairi which
in Arabic does govern both nafsin and fasaadin as indicated by the case of both of these words. The expression bighair (which is composed of the preposition bi with the the noun ghair meaning 'other') generally means 'without'.
The translation I have at home says:
"Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land, it is as if he had slain mankind entirely."
This version more closely reflects the structure of the Arabic, but like any translation it can't compare to the original. The ambiguity in the translation that you quote arises from the use of the preposition 'to' instead of 'for' within the brackets. Perhaps it would be better if it were to read "...(not in retaliation for murder or for having spread mischief...).
A verb is not actually necessary in Arabic to indicate at what time this action takes place in relation to the time of any legal execution, but one must be supplied by the translator for the phrase to make sense in English. (This is why the translation that I quote places the verb in square brackets.)
I don't have any tafsir on this ayah at home, and I don't think that I am competent to comment on its meaning, so I'll leave my answer to your question at that. If, however, someone would like to post any tafsir on this verse, I would love to read it.
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