0

Bismillah. Alhamdulillahi rabbil-'alamin was-Salatu was-Salam 'ala Sayyidil-Mursalin wa 'ala 'Alihi wa Sahbihi Ajma'in.


enter image description here

I was reading translations of verse 75 of Surat Sad (The Letter "Saad") (38) and noticed a small but very important difference. First, let me give Sahih International translation

Sahih International

[ Allah ] said, "O Iblees, what prevented you from prostrating to that which I created with My hands? Were you arrogant [then], or were you [already] among the haughty?"

Translations by Yusuf Ali and Dr. Ghali are using the same noun phrase "My hands".

However, translations by Muhsin Khan, Pickthall and Shakir are using noun phrase "Both hands" or "Two hands" which give the same meaning. Here is translation by Muhsin Khan

Muhsin Khan

(Allah) said: "O Iblis (Satan)! What prevents you from prostrating yourself to one whom I have created with Both My Hands. Are you too proud (to fall prostrate to Adam) or are you one of the high exalted?"

and Shakir

Shakir

He said: O Iblis! what prevented you that you should do obeisance to him whom I created with My two hands? Are you proud or are you of the exalted ones?

The problem is

"My hands" means more than one hands, which can be two or three or four or five ... .

"Both hands" or "Two hands" means two hands.

Which translation is correct? What is the explanation that translators used the words they used?

3
  • It is two hands.. Arabic grammar is different than English in counting a couple of things. It is named Mothanna in Arabic for two things.. And more than two it is like English
    – Zain
    Sep 13 at 10:01
  • @Zain, you can post an answer
    – Muslim
    Sep 14 at 5:31
  • Sorry for that, I believe that @The Z provided a good answer for that.
    – Zain
    Sep 19 at 7:41
2

In Arabic, the word یَدَیَّ means "my two hands." See Quranic Corpus:

The ninth word of verse (38:75) is divided into 3 morphological segments. A preposition, noun and possessive pronoun. The prefixed preposition bi is usually translated as "with" or "by". The noun is feminine dual and is in the genitive case (مجرور). The noun's triliteral root is yā dāl yā (ي د ي). The attached possessive pronoun is first person singular. Together the segments form a preposition phrase known as jār wa majrūr (جار ومجرور).

In many languages including English, there are only two forms of a noun: singular (1) and plural (2 or more). It is only "hand" or "hands." In Arabic, there are three: singular (1), dual (2), and plural (3 or more) forms of every noun. Here, the word hand is used in its dual form which is يَدَي.

The translation "my hands" loses some of the meaning as it does not specify the number while the Arabic does. However, it is still a fine translation as two hands can be called "hands" in English. English plurals do not differentiate between dual and more than dual.

Those who translated like this probably did so for the sake of readability. Saying "two" or "both" may be more cumbersome and wordy in English.

11
  • I am trying reverse translation with google-translator, from English to Arabic. The noun phrase "with my hands" is not giving expected result "biyadayya". Can you explain that?
    – Muslim
    Sep 14 at 5:10
  • 1
    @Muslim Not sure what answer you expect other than that Google Translate is a terrible idea to use for such purposes.
    – The Z
    Sep 14 at 5:15
  • It means that Sahih International way of translation is not fine.
    – Muslim
    Sep 14 at 5:18
  • @Muslim I suggest you read my answer again. Also, it's a good idea not to make judgements of translations based on Google Translate.
    – The Z
    Sep 14 at 5:21
  • @Muslim Yes, it does. I updated the answer a bit to elaborate that.
    – The Z
    Sep 14 at 5:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .