And surely We have truly provided you seven of the reiterations, and the Grand Quran. - Surat Al-Hijr (v. 87)

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(109) Al-Kafiroon: The Repudiators

سورة الكافرون

  

بِـسْـمِ اللهِ الرَّحـْمـنِ الرَّحِـيـم
In the Name of Allah The All Merciful, The Most Merciful.

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ
1. Say: "O you, the repudiators...

لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ
2. ...I worship not what you worship.

وَلَا أَنتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ
3. And not are you worshippers of what I worship.

وَلَا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَّا عَبَدتُّمْ
4. And not am I a worshipper of what you worshipped.

وَلَا أَنتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ
5. And not are you worshippers of what I worship.

لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ
6. For you, your religion - and for me a religion."

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This surah was revealed in direct response to a suggestion made by the repudiators of Makkah that they would make a 'fair trade' with the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) with regards to the practice of their religion: they would worship Allah for a year and the next he would worship their idols and so forth  in a perpetual cycle of compromise.

For verses four and five there are at least five different interpretations.  Most, if not all, English translations available have chosen one over the others by translating verse for as saying "will not worship" instead of "am not a worshipper".  This interpretation understands the repetition of the thought expressed in verses two and three to be a device used to connote a change of tense.  However, it should be stated that the words are NOT conjugated as such and the idea can be taken to mean the future in the same manner that "I am not" could be taken to mean "I am not now, nor will ever be".  

By preserving the tenses as they appear in the Arabic, all five of the following interpretations are supported:

1. As stated above, the interpretation chosen by most translators indicates that the first set of verses (2&3) refers to the present while the second set (4&5) refers to now and forever in the future.  

2. Another interpretation holds that the first set  points to who each camp worships and the second set  points to the method, actions, and practices that each camp performs.

3. A third interpretation holds that the repetition is a means of reiterating and confirming the thought.

4. Yet another interpretation states that the repetition in verse four points to the fact that the Prophet had never in the past worshipped their idols or deities even before he received the message of Islam, and verse five confirms the ongoing repudiation by those challenging.

5. The fifth interpretation mentioned here refers to the grammatical non-verb structure of the verse (called Jumlah Ismiyyah in Arabic).  A Jumlah Ismiyyah is fully a grammatically conforming sentence without a verb which carries the meaning of a state of being verb (which does not exist in Arabic). For example, in Arabic "I Abraham" is a complete sentence which has no verb and in English can only be "I am Abraham."  This interpretation infers that grammatically, a negation used in such a sentence not only negates the omitted (implied) action but negates the possibility of the action ever occurring. It therefore negates the thought in its entirety, meaning that  the idea proposed by the repudiators is not only repulsive, but something neither permitted nor possible.

 

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