In my previous post on this apparently contentious topic, a Muslim reader, "Farrukh", took me to task for daring to offer an opinion on the meaning of an Arabic word. I quote his comment below:
"Vastness of space and the stretched out skies are mentioned at numerous places in the Quran too. However, what is different in 51:47 is the hint of expansion. While you claim that here is no justification for referring to the idea, it is clear to the vast majority of muslims:
وَالسَّمَاء And the heavensبَنَيْنَاهَا We constructed بِأَيْدٍ with strengthوَإِنَّا and We areلَمُوسِعُونَ its Expander
Just as I should not try to teach you English, you should not be lecturing on the meanings of the Arabic word La Moo See Oona. Unfortunately for you, we the muslims know its meaning as well as what it implies and your attempts to dissuade us otherwise is serving no purpose other than to show case your desperation and ignorance (of arabic)."Let's ignore for the moment the fact that the meaning of the verse became clear to "the vast majority of Muslims" only after it was discovered that the universe was expanding, and that prior to the discovery not a single translator had thought to render the word as "expander". (Are we to suppose that Muslims prior to Edwin Hubble's discovery in 1929 were ignorant of this meaning of lamūsiʿūna? If it is so clear to so many Muslims now, why was it apparently so opaque to all the Qur'an scholars prior to 1929? )
In any case, never one to duck a challenge, I've been doing some research into the word lamūsiʿūna. I have used exclusively Islamic experts. Here's what the Qur'an Dictionary in the Qur'an Arabic Corpus has to say:
The triliteral root wāw sīn ʿayn (و س ع) occurs 32 times in the Quran, in six derived forms:So - even those who are so keen to show that 51:47 refers to the expansion of the universe can find no example of the root having this meaning other than this one verse. In every single one of the other 32 occasions that this root is used in the Qur'an it means simply VAST or BIG or EXTENDS.
- six times as the form I verb wasiʿa (وَسِعَ)
- six times as the noun saʿat (سَعَة)
- five times as the noun wus'ʿ (وُسْع)
- nine times as the active participle wāsiʿ (وَٰسِع)
- four times as the active participle wāsiʿat (وَٰسِعَة)
The translations below are brief glosses intended as a guide to meaning. An Arabic word may have arange of meanings depending on context. Click on a word for more linguistic information, or to suggestion a correction.Verb (form I) - to encompass, to extend
- twice as the form IV active participle mūsiʿ (مُوسِع)
(2:255:41) wasiʿa Extends (6:80:19) wasiʿa Encompasses (7:89:26) wasiʿa Encompasses (7:156:19) wasiʿat encompasses (20:98:9) wasiʿa He has encompassed (40:7:15) wasiʿ'ta You encompass
(2:247:23) saʿatan abundance (4:100:11) wasaʿatan and abundance (4:130:7) saʿatihi His abundance (24:22:6) wal-saʿati and the amplitude of means (65:7:3) saʿatin (of) ample means (65:7:5) saʿatihi his ample means
(2:233:21) wus'ʿahā its capacity (2:286:6) wus'ʿahā its capacity (6:152:20) wus'ʿahā (to) its capacity (7:42:9) wus'ʿahā (to) its capacity (23:62:5) wus'ʿahā (to) its capacity
Active participle(1) Noun
(2:115:11) wāsiʿun (is) All-Encompassing (2:247:42) wāsiʿun (is) All-Encompassing (2:261:23) wāsiʿun (is) All-Encompassing (2:268:12) wāsiʿun (is) All-Encompassing (3:73:31) wāsiʿun (is) All-Encompassing (4:130:10) wāsiʿan All-Encompassing (5:54:36) wāsiʿun (is) All-Encompassing (24:32:16) wāsiʿun (is) All-Encompassing (53:32:10) wāsiʿu (is) vast
(4:97:20) wāsiʿatan spacious (enough) (29:56:6) wāsiʿatun (is) spacious (39:10:15) wāsiʿatun (is) spacious
Active participle (form IV)
(6:147:7) wāsiʿatin Vast
(2:236:16) l-mūsiʿi the wealthy (51:47:5) lamūsiʿūna (are) surely (its) Expanders
Can any Muslim please explain how and why they believe the word lamūsiʿūna refers to expansion uniquely in 51:47? Where is the "hint of expansion", Farrukh, other than in your head and in the heads of all the other miracle seekers desperate to find proof of scientific miracles.
What really annoys me (as always!) is that this supposed miracle is used by the twits at iERA to persuade the gullible and vulnerable to convert to Islam.