Repetition in the Quran

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One of the features of the Holy Quran is that it repeats certain topics throughout the text so that one thing might be discussed multiple times in different parts of the Book. Some people unfamiliar with the Arabic language have criticised it for this, saying that the text is scrambled and incoherent. But this is actually one of the things which truly brings out the beauty of the Quran in that it uses different words for one thing and each retelling brings forth new shades of meaning which enhance ones understanding. There is also wisdom in this because man is easily forgetful and by repetition of important themes the point is driven home and so is not quickly forgotten.

For example, let us look at some of the terms used to refer to the Judgment Day:

1) al-Qari’ah (101: 1). From the root word qara’a which has the meaning of: to knock, strike, beat, hit the butt, gnash (the teeth), strike with severity. al-Qari’ah is translated variously as: “The (Day) of Noise and Clamour”, “The Calamity!”, “The terrible calamity!” and “The Shocker”.

2) al-Haaqqah (69: 1). Derived from the root haqqa which means: to be suitable to the requirements of justice or wisdom or truth, to be just/proper/right/correct/true/fitting, also established/confirmed/binding/unavoidable/incumbent, to be manifest, without doubt or uncertainty, established as a fact, to be obligatory or due, dispute or litigate or contend with another, speak the truth, reveal/manifest/show a truth or right, to be proven true, pierce or penetrate.

The translations given for al-Haaqqah are: “The Sure Reality!”, “The Reality!”, “The sure calamity!”, “The incontestable (event)” and “The Inevitable!”.

3) al-Waqi’ah (56: 1). This comes from the word waqa’a which is: to fall down, befall, come to pass, be conformed, happen, take place, ascertain. Translations of al-Waqi’ah are “the Event inevitable”, “the event”, “the great event” and “the inevitable”.

4) al-Taammah al-Kubra (79: 34). It is derived from tamma which carries the meanings of: to cover up, overflow, overwhelm, swallow up, fill to the brim. The translations of it are “the great, overwhelming (Event)”, “the great disaster”, “the great predominating calamity” and “the great blow”.

5) al-Saakhah (80: 33). It comes from the word sakhkha which is: to strike sound on the ear, strike (iron) upon (stones), deafen (the ears, noise), accuse (of great crime). The translators have expressed it as “the Deafening Noise”, “the Shout”, “the deafening cry” and “the blow”.

6) Yawm al-Qiyamah (75: 1). al-Qiyamah is derived from the root word qaama which can mean: stand still or firm, rose/stand up, managed/conducted/ordered/regulated/superintended, established, made it straight/right, maintain/erect/observe/perform, set up, people/community/company, abode, stature/dignity/rank. It is translated as “the Day of Resurrection”.

7) Yawm al-Jam’ (64: 9). From the word jama’a which means: To collect or gather, bring together, to contract, assemble or congregate, unite or connect or form a connection, bring into a state of union, reconcile or conciliate, coexist with one, to be compact/compressed/contracted, exert one’s energy, to meet or be in company with another.

Translations are: “a Day of Assembly”, “the day of gathering” and “the Day of Summoning”.

8 ) Yawm al-Taghabun (64: 9). This is taken from the root ghabana which means:to cheat, deceive, overreach, defraud, endamage, suffer loss or damage or detriment. It has been translated as “a Day of mutual loss and gain”, “a day of mutual disillusion”, “the Day of Mutual Blaming” and the day of “the determination of losses and gains”.

9) Yawmun Mashood (11: 103). Mashhood comes from shahida which means: told/gave information, to witness/see, to be present, give evidence/testimony, bear witness. This term is translated as “a Day of Testimony”, “a day that will be witnessed” and a day to be witnessed”.

10) Yawm al-Din (1: 4). It is derived from the word daana which means: obedience/submissiveness, servility, religion, high/elevated/noble/glorious rank/condition/state, rule/govern/manage it, possess/own it, become habituated/accustomed to something, confirmation, a way/course/manner of conduct/acting, repayment/compensation. It is translated as “the Day of Judgment”.

al-Qari’ah gives us an idea of the noisiness and terror and awfulness of that Day. al-Waqi’ah informs us that it is an inevitable event which is sure to come to pass. al-Haaqqah conveys to us that it is a reality, it is an inescapable certainty. Our resurrection after death is as certain as night follows day and day follows night and that there is no escaping it. This word is recited with a six madd and this complements the meaning of the word in that the elongation of the recital of the word inexorably drives home the fact that it is something inescapable, something inevitable. This is the same for al-Taammah but here it is even more striking because the elongation of the word causes the sound of it to almost overwhelm the one who listens to the recitation, and this is what this word means: “the great, overwhelming (Event)”. It conveys to us the sense of helplessness of people during that day, of not knowing what to do, or whom to turn to for aid. al-Saakhah also has this same feature of the elongation of the recital and this too complements the meaning of the word. “The deafening noise” is one of the ways it is translated and the sound of the word emphasises this point in that it sounds like a loud shout. Yawm al-Qiyamah brings to mind the sight of the resurrection itself, of people rising up from their graves, of dead bones and ashes being given life once again. Yawm al-Jam’ makes us visualise the scene of countless multitudes of people being gathered together. One after another, thousands upon thousands, millions upon millions and generations in succession: all will be brought together on that day, to be judged as to what they did in this life. Yawm al-Taghabun tells us of the condition of the people at that time, each one blaming the other for his own faults and misdeeds, each one eager to seize from his fellow anything which might be owed to him or to receive remuneration for any harm he might have suffered at the hands of the other. Each person would only be concerned for his own welfare on that day and would not hesitate to take from the deeds of others so that he might be saved. Yawmun mashhood means that the reckoning will be witnessed, by the angels and by all other creatures. And finally, Yawm al-Din conveys to us that on that day, the authority of Allah (swt) will be manifest. All will be subservient to His command and no-one will be able to do anything other than what He orders.

So this gives us an idea then of the wonderfully amazing expressiveness of the Holy Quran.

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4 Responses to Repetition in the Quran

  1. Ayaah says:

    May Allah protect us from His wrath on that Day, and may He judge us according to His mercy, and not His justice, for we sin and can never fulfill His rights, yet hope that He will forgive us and grant us our place in Jannah… Aameen.

    Perhaps you could post the recitation of Surah Qariah at the end of this, to emphasise this reminder of Qiyamah and turn the reader back to holding firm to the Qur’aan.

    Fee Amanillah.

  2. the middle road says:

  3. الحمدلله says:

    Thanks alot, but you should provide us the reference book of these information

  4. Admin says:

    Assalamu alaikum

    I used the Hans-Wehr dictionary for the meanings of the root letters of the words. And I consulted various translations of the Qur’an for the translations of the terms, which you can find here.

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