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Regarding the verse

فَمَا كَانَ دَعْوَاهُمْ إِذْ جَاءَهُم بَأْسُنَا إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ
And their declaration when Our punishment came to them was only that they said, "Indeed, we were wrongdoers!"
Qur'an 7:5

those punished (presumably those in cities have We destroyed Qur'a 7:4) are said to say "إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ", which Sahih International translates to "Indeed, we were wrongdoers".

I'm wondering if we're meant to interpret this as one of the following (or something else):

  1. those punished literally say "إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ", in Arabic, perhaps via divine means, or perhaps because those punished lived in places where Arabic was spoken;
  2. those punished say words that have this meaning, but not necessarily those exact words; or
  3. something else e.g., it's metaphorical (possibly allegorical), and people didn't literally say this (we're just meant to understand its meaning).

Question: Did those punished in Qur'an 7:5 literally say "إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ" in Arabic?

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I think the first point can be disregarded considering we don't see any quotes in the Quran beside than those which are in the Arabic langauge.

What is mostly important is to understand the meaning.

And if We had made it a non-Arabic Qur'an, they would have said, "Why are its verses not explained in detail [in our language]? Is it a foreign [recitation] and an Arab [messenger]?" Say, "It is, for those who believe, a guidance and cure." And those who do not believe - in their ears is deafness, and it is upon them blindness. Those are being called from a distant place. (41:44)

Your second point seems to be the strongest:

those punished say words that have this meaning, but not necessarily those exact words;

It could not be "something else" or "allegorical" because Allah explicitly mentions the word "Say":

فَمَا كَانَ دَعْوَاهُمْ إِذْ جَاءَهُم بَأْسُنَا إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ

Therefore it could not be something they felt or a thought that occurred.

The best I could think of, is that any quote you see in the Quran may not have originally been uttered in the Arabic language rather the meaning should be consistent with what was uttered. If this was not the case then it may amount to believing that those quotes are not true which is blasphemous.

There is also the possibility that the dwellers of hell speak Arabic.

This answer is still incomplete as I am searching for the Scholars input on the topic or relevant narrarations.

Allah Knows Best.

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