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QUESTION: If this reading of the verse is incorrect, tell me what the correct reading is and why would it be read any other way? Clearly 'harama alaikum' means prohibited to you. So..reading it reads as 'prohibited that you do not associate anything with Him....' That means it is prohibited to not associate anything with Him. That is two negatives aka two 'nots' which means it's a positive' 'you should associate things with Him' etc. As a reader I'm expecting a list of things Allah says is prohibited. Not things which are allowed. Except it says its prohibited to 'not associate anything with Him..'

Quran: 6:151

Say, "Come (so that) I may recite what your Lord has prohibited you: that you do not associate anything with Him, and to show fairest (companionship) to (your) parents; and do not kill your children (out) of want. We provide for you and for them too. And do not draw near obscenities (i.e., irregular sexual intercourse; shameful) whatever (of these) is outward and whatever inward; and do not kill the self that Allah has prohibited, except with the truth (i.e., by right, in the course of justice). That He has enjoined you with, that possibly you would consider.

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  • Please make clear and distinguish what is your question, what is quoted from the qur'an, what are your own words and what exactly is your issue?
    – Medi1Saif
    Nov 16 '20 at 16:55
  • ok question updated
    – user41892
    Nov 16 '20 at 16:58
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There's no double negation in this verse

First of all the verse doesn't say:

حرم عليكم
'harama 'alaikum

and starts quoting what was prohibited.

Infact the verse started saying:

قل تعالوا أتل ما حرم ربكم عليكم
Qul ta'alaw atlu maa harrama rabukum 'alaikum.
Say, "Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you.

this initiates a list of things which are prohibited (and therefore this actually is not a double negation or negative but an affirmation):

  • [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him,
  • and to parents, good treatment,
  • and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them.
  • And do not approach immoralities - what is apparent of them and what is concealed.
  • And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right.

so one should take these orders as independent entities! And to emphasize that this is not a double negation the verse closes saying:

  • This has He instructed you that you may use reason. (6:151)

The verse therefore orders the following:

  • tawheed by prohibiting the association of Allah with others.
  • good treat of parents.
  • caring for the own children by prohibiting their killing.
  • the prohibition of the approach of all kinds of immoralities.
  • the prohibition of an innocent.

Please note that an apparent double negation in Arabic does not necessarily an affirmation. In many cases the effect of a negation might be lifted due to certain linguistic reasons. For example:

  • لا أريد أن لا أذهب

I don't want not to go

This means:

أريد أن أذهب
I want to go.

while:

  • لا لم أذهب
    No I did not go!

or

  • لا لا أذهب
    No, I don't go

In both cases the meaning is rather:

لم أذهب
I did not go

So the negation by "لا" (No) is lifted and doesn't have any impact on the sentence meaning. It is more like if the second negation actually confirms the first.

Examples of verses where a second negation would be a double negation

To make it clearer here a few examples of verses initiated by:

'harama 'alaikum

or similar wording where adding any negation in the listed rule would create a double negation -but it was not negated-:

  • إنما حرم عليكم الميتة والدم ولحم الخنزير وما أهل به لغير الله
    He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah... (2:173)

  • حرمت عليكم أمهاتكم وبناتكم وأخواتكم وعماتكم وخالاتكم وبنات الأخ وبنات الأخت وأمهاتكم اللاتي أرضعنكم وأخواتكم من الرضاعة وأمهات نسائكم وربائبكم اللاتي في حجوركم من نسائكم اللاتي دخلتم بهن فإن لم تكونوا دخلتم بهن فلا جناح عليكم وحلائل أبنائكم الذين من أصلابكم وأن تجمعوا بين الأختين إلا ما قد سلف
    Prohibited to you [for marriage] are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father's sisters, your mother's sisters, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters, your [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives' mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you. And [also prohibited are] the wives of your sons who are from your [own] loins, and that you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously, except for what has already occurred. (4:23)

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  • So the initial 'Al-la' at the beginning of the commandments there is what 'uplifts' that first negative (prohibited) ? Right أَلَّا تُشْرِكُوا۟ بِهِۦ شَيْـًٔا ۖ وَبِٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ
    – user41892
    Nov 19 '20 at 17:04
  • @user3542679 well as stated in my answer there's no initial negation in the verse. And each of these orders is independent from a linguitsic perspective. So order is rather like a list of: - do this, - don't do this, -do this, -avoid this ...! There's no you shouldn't do: this, and not this as you seem to understand. So the laa or al-laa is an independent order quoting a prohibition!
    – Medi1Saif
    Nov 20 '20 at 12:01
  • Ok I think I understand now.
    – user41892
    Nov 21 '20 at 7:56

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