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Quranic Wonders: Meticulously Amazing Choice of Wording

December 2, 2015

 

The Qur’ān is a miracle in many ways. One of these ways is how each word, in each āyah, is so apt and unique in expressing its meaning.

 

One such example we came across today was the term ‘نَجَّيْنَاكُم’ in the āyah:

وَإِذۡ نَجَّيۡنَـٰكُم مِّنۡ ءَالِ فِرۡعَوۡنَ يَسُومُونَكُمۡ سُوٓءَ ٱلۡعَذَابِ يُذَبِّحُونَ أَبۡنَآءَكُمۡ وَيَسۡتَحۡيُونَ نِسَآءَكُمۡ ‌ۚ وَفِى ذَلِكُم بَلَآءٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ عَظِيمٌ

 

In this āyah, Allāh reminds the Banū Isrā’īl (Children of Israel) how He saved them from the tyranny of Fir‘awn (Pharaoh). The āyah is generally translated as: ‘And remember when we delivered you from the people of Fir‘awn…’. The term ‘نَجَّيْنَاكُم’ is translated as ‘we delivered you’, but its beauty is lost in translation to many readers.

 

The dictionary translation of ‘نَجّى’ is ‘to deliver, save, rescue, bring to safety’[1]. Imām Al-Qurṭubī writes that the word originated from ‘نَجْوَةٌ’ which means an elevated place, and therefore ‘نجّى’ was originally used as ‘to place someone/thing on an elevated place’. Thereafter, it developed into the meaning that is now the dictionary term, as placing someone or something on an elevated platform usually saves them from the dangers lurking below it figuratively.[2]

 

Let us now ponder over how Allāh saved the Banū Isrā’īl from Fir‘awn: Mūsā عليه السلام was instructed to strike his staff upon the water. Consequently, twelve paths appeared which each of the twelve tribes of the Banū Isrā’īl traversed[3] and were saved. Fir ‘awn and his people pursued the Banū Isrā’īl on the same paths, but when they reached the middle, Allāh drowned them. Going back to the term ‘نَجَّيْنَاكُم’, did not Allāh effectively place the Banū Isrā’īl on an elevated ground, while the Fir‘awn and his army drowned in the depths of the river, thus saving delivering them to safety?

 

Any word synonymous to ‘saving, rescuing, delivering’ could have been used to express that meaning, yet the term ‘نَجَّيْنَاكُم’ was used. Subḥānallāh!

 

May Allāh grant us the true understanding of His Words!

 

 

 

[1] Hans Wehr

 

[2] قال القرطبي: ومعنى "نجيناكم" ألقيناكم على نجوة من الأرض وهي ما ارتفع منها هذا هو الأصل ثم سمي كل فائز ناجيا. فالناجي من خرج من ضيق إلى سعة

 

[3] قال ابن كثير: وقال ابن عباس: صار البحر اثني عشر طريقا، لكل سبط طريق

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