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EAST and WEST
7 years ago
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The rising and setting of the sun has been known to be a daily and familiar phenomenon to all living creatures since the genesis of the Earth. This phenomenon seems to take place everyday and night from one single direction. But does the sun rise and set from one single point of the east and west and at a specific time? To answer this question is to consider the following Quranic verses in which this phenomenon is pictured in three morphological or grammatical manners, which indicate a different view of the traditional one. The Holy Quran says,
- “(He is) Lord of East and the West: there is no God but He: Take him therefore for (they) Disposer of affairs” (73:9).
- “(He is) Lord of the two Easts and Lord of the two Wests” (55:17).
- “Now I do call to witness The Lord of all points in the East and the West. That we can certainly substitute for them better (men) than they; and we are not to be defeated (in our plan)” (70:40-41).
In the first one, similar to the East, the West is being mentioned as a sole direction, that is, grammatically, in its singular form. In the second, the East like the West is being looked at as a dual aspect (that is grammatically two entities: two easts and two wests); in the third it is being depicted as a phenomenon of having more that two phases, that is, grammatically speaking, in its plural form, many easts and many wests. Accordingly, why does the Holy Quran use these linguistic lexemes in three inflectional forms? If there is a difference, then where are all of these easts and wests and what do they connote?
Linguistically, there is no difficulty whatsoever in understanding the connotation of the east and west in their singular form ( in the first verse(73:9)), simply because wherever man is, there is one east and one west which is being realized every dawn and every dusk. However, the difficulty emerges from the dual form of the east and west( two easts and two wests). Yet, scholars specialized in interpreting the meaning of the Holy Quran explained the dual aspect of the east and west as the sun rising and setting in winter and summer. The other aspect of the east and west being depicted as many easts and wests( plural form in Arabic Language) is related to the Earth’s rotation around the sun; it orbits the sun in 365.26 days. Also the Earth’s rotation in a non-vertical manner causes the seasonal mutations and hence the change in the points and timings of sun rising and setting throughout the year. Actually, the east and west–the points of rising and setting of the sun–experience a slight change every day. In other words, the sun rises and sets from a different point and timing every single day This means that there are easts and wests equal to the number of days in a year and not only two wests and two easts, though the difference of sun rising and setting is more obviously realized in summer and winter.
Accordingly, it can be safely inferred that the two easts and two wests in summer and winter are those referred to in: “(He is) Lord of the two easts Lord of the two wests” while the many easts and wests realized throughout the year are alluded to in :“ Now I do call to witness The Lord of all points in the East and the West. That we can certainly substitute for them better (men) than they; and we are not to be defeated (in our plan).” Moreover, the many easts and wests could possibly refer to the risings and settings of the sun in every part of the world. Sun risings and settings are a constant unceasing process which if one takes place in this part of the world the other is in another part and so on. They could also denote the sun rising and setting on other planets of the solar system. As the sun rises and sets on the earth, this occurs to other planets.
More importantly is that the Quranic use of these words in three different manners has a divine perception. To grasp this insightful aim of the Holy Quran, it is necessary to sift and reflect on these verses along with the ones preceding them. The first of these is: “But keep in remembrance The name of thy Lord And devote thyself to Him whole-heartedly(8) (He is) Lord of the East And the West: there is no god but He: Take Him therefore For(thy) Disposer of Affairs (9)”(73:8-9). The tone of the verses indicate Allah’s order to the Prophet PBUH to remember, surrender, and supplicate to Him only. Devotion is the complete surrender and supplication to Allah Who has neither a partner nor a son as being affirmed by the second part of the verse “ . . . there is no god but He.” While Allah orders His Prophet to worship Him and devote himself to Allah, Allah is stressing the fact and conception of His monotheism. In other words, the use of the singular form in the verses is the best to fit the call for monotheism. Not only that, within this context of singularity and monotheism, there is an association between the mentioning of Allah and the east and west in their singular form. Putting the east and west in singular form enhances and completes the context of monotheism being displayed in the verses.
7 years ago
Yet, the case, linguistically speaking, is different in the following verses. The linguistic content of the verses is inflectionally dual. “ He created man From sounding clay Like unto pottery, (14) And He created Jinns From fire free of smoke:[15] Then which of the favours Of your Lord will ye deny?[16[ (He is ) Lord of the two Easts And Lord of the two Wests:[17] Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?[18] He has let free The two seas Meeting together:[19] Between them is a Barrier Which they do not transgress,[20] Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?[21] Out them come Pearls and Corals,[22] Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?[23]” ( 55:14-23). These verses deal with elements of a dual nature: ‘Man and Jinns’; ‘two Easts and two Wests’; ‘two seas’; ‘pearls and corals’. Allah reminds man that He was the One Who created the two nations, man and Jinnis; that He is the Lord of the two easts and two wests; that He is the One Who made two types of waters meet but without transgressing or mixing with one another; that He is One Who makes corals and pearls come out of these waters. Thus, the dual form of the elements is the controlling feature of the verses, and therefore the west and the east are used in the same manner as the two easts and two wests.

Similarly, the third type of inflectional form is pluralization which means in Arabic more than two (unlike English which means more than one). The east and west in the following verses are used to mean many easts and wests. To clarify this point, the preceding verses to verse 40, the main concern, are quoted; Quran says “Now what is The matter with the Unbelievers That they rush madly Before thee[36] From the right And from the left, In crowds? [37] Does every man of them Long to enter the Garden of Bliss?[38] By no means! For We have created them Out of the (base matter) They know![39] Now I do Call to witness The Lord of all points in the East and the West That We can certainly-[40] Substitute for them Better (men) than they; And We are not to be defeated (In Our Plan)[41].” (70: 36-41).
Herein, the verses are talking about the unbelievers in a plural sense. To have a compatibility and a sense of inflectional cohesion and consistency, the east and west are being referred to as having many points, which means there is not only one or two but many easts and wests.
Nevertheless, Allah calls us to reflect on the different forms.
Although this verse was revealed long time ago, it is still contemporaneous and extremely valid to be picturing new unblelievers in various parts of the world at any time. Allah is telling new unbelievers, living anywhere and at any time on this planet, that He is capable of substituting them with men better than them.
In conclusion, it is clearly obvious that the compatibility of the inflectional forms of the east and west in the three different example verses is a living evidence of the Holy Quran’s stylistic rhetoric, eloquence, accuracy and linguistic beauty. The three inflectional forms (singular, dual and plural) of the east and west encourage further researches and motivate more thinking and reflection on such linguistic features in the Holy Quran.
Actually, the meanings, expressions, and forms of linguistic lexemes are not easily manipulated or used in a linguistically comprehensive style by anyone except Allah the Greatest of all. The meaning of “The Lord of all points in the East and the West” affirms this point in the sense that nobody has ever thought that there are different points of the sun risings and settings in every second and every part of the Earth.
The source: Elmihjari, Yahya (Dr.) Quranic Verses in the Light of Science’