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Alleged errors in The Cow (2:177)

The mistakes’ author points out five errors in The Cow (2:177) which we have highlighted below:

لَيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَنْ تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَ آتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَ أَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَ آتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا وَ الصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ

The mistakes according to him are:

  • آمن should be تؤمن
  • آتی should be تؤتو at both places
  • أقام should be تقيم
  • الصابرين should be الصابرون

His own words today on July 11, 2013:

  1. 2/177: aaman should be tu’minuu.
  2. 2/177: aata should be tu’tuu (2 times)
  3. 2/177: aqaama should be tuqimuu
  4. 2/177: sasbriina should be saabiruuna (because its position in the sentence – and plural should be masculine) 5 mistakes in one verse.

His last sentence is completely wrong and absurd actually. We doubt if there exists any language in the world where a rule like “plural should be masculine” is followed. Why can’t the women be plural?!? Secondly, الصابرين like الصابرون IS masculine. The level of author’s scholarship must have dawned upon you! We have saved the screenshot of this page so that if it is changed later the people could know what was there on the original version.

Now come to the 5 mistakes. The author himself commits 5 mistakes which strengthens the idea that he doesn’t even know Arabic. All the five words he suggests are verbs whose subject is من. When من is used as a subject, we have to use third person not first as he suggests.

Lets understand this one by one:

He wrongly suggests that آمن should be تؤمن. Instead, he should have suggested یؤمن as من must be followed by third person. Similar, is the case with other suggestions e.g. suggestion should be یقیم instead of تقیم. While suggesting تؤتو he commits a mistake that even a 4th grader won’t. The present form of آتی is یؤتي not يؤتو. In short, a mistake finder commits 5 mistakes himself which must have brought to light the level of scholarship of this and similar websites.

Perhaps the author wanted to point out that the present tense should have been used instead of past. This again testifies his ignorance! Anyways, our response follows:

In Arabic, like many other languages, the past tense may give the meaning of present. For example, a verb that was initiated in the past but continues till present. We may understand this by a near-equivalent English example: ‘Army is helping the flood-affected people’. In this example ‘affected’ is past but it does not mean past. It’s an adjective which does not carry the sense of past and means those people who were affected by flood and are affected to date. The verse under discussion entails a similar use with آمن ,آتی and أقام. In other words, we can say that the phrases like من آتی and من آمن are kind of adjectives. Hence, من آمن should be considered المؤمن. (man aamana mean al-momin i.e. a believer)

The examples of this rule are numerous in hadiths and Arabic corpus. For example, the Prophet is reported to have said: “من تشبہ بقوم فهومنهم” here we shall translate the past into past, without considering English language’s requirements: “Whoever resembled a nation, he is considered amongst them”. A poet says:

سلفٌ مضى وبقيتُ بعدهمُوكذاك يذهبُ من أتى بعدي“ 

(These were my forefathers who left and I remain after them…

in the same way, those who are coming after me shall leave)

Here, in Arabic, instead of ‘who are coming’, ‘who came after me’ is used which is past in the meaning of future.

In English, it is also customary to used a tense in the sense of other. For example:

  • We can use the past forms to talk about the present in a few polite expressions:

Excuse me, I was wondering if this was the train for York. I just hoped you would be able to help me.

  • to refer to the present or future in conditions:

He could get a new job if he really tried. If Jack was playing they would probably win.

  • and hypotheses:

It might be dangerous. Suppose they got lost. I would always help someone who really needed help.

  • and wishes:

I wish it wasn’t so cold.

Taken from: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/verbs/past-tense

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