al-Ikhlas 112 Beget & Begotten

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Comments on Sura al-Ikhlas 112:1-4

Say: He is Allah, the One!
Allah, the eternally Besought of all!
He begetteth not nor was begotten.
And there is none comparable unto Him.

قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ
اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ
لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ
وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ

Katakanlah: “Dia-lah Allah, Yang Maha Esa.
Allah adalah Tuhan yang bergantung kepada-Nya segala sesuatu.
Dia tiada beranak dan tidak pula diperanakkan,
dan tidak ada seorangpun yang setara dengan Dia”.

Christians, together with Muslims, agree on the content of these verses, though we would like to re-phrase them:

Say: He is God, One God!
God, the eternally Besought of all!
He was not begotten nor begetteth.
And there is none comparable unto Him.

Such a paraphrase is necessary for the following reasons:

1- It is a displacement of order to say, “He begetteth not nor was begotten.” It is impossible to exist and beget before one has been first begotten!  Thus, “begotten” should logically come before “begetting.”

2- “He begetteth not nor was begotten” negates the fact in the past tense only, while “He was not begotten nor begetteth” includes all possible tenses.

3- It is one of the most important principals of eloquence in Arabic to avoid any vague expression or to confuse ideas that would render the text more difficult for the reader to understand. On this basis, our simple paraphrase proves to be more eloquent and accurate! Christians prefer to recite the words of this Sura in its corrected form, for God, literally speaking, was not born neither begets a birth!

May 15, 2001

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