07.03.15

Preliminary Comments on the Symphonic Structure of the Qur’an

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:09 pm by Administrator

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

The Qur’an is rich in structural complexity.

In some suwar (chapters), all of the aayaat (verses) rhyme. In others, there is a complex pattern of sound, including alliteration, assonance, rhyme schemes and rhythmic patterns. In the Arabic language, the pattern of long and short syllables is built into the language. Maalik (“master”) and malik (“king”), for example, are two different words, different rhythms. Several suwar begin with several aayaat that have a common rhythmic pattern, which is the same rhythmic pattern found in some types of music. In music, such repetitive rhythmic patterns are called riffs.

There are also larger patterns, including recurrent refrains, and what could be called theme-and-variations.

In addition, the various suwar come in groups.

  • The second and third suwar begin with the letters Alif Laam Meem.
  • Suwar ten through 15 begin with the letters Alif Laam Raa’.
  • Suwar 26, 27 and 28 begin with the letters Taa Seen Meem.
  • Suwar 29 through 32 begin with the letters Alif Laam Meem (just as do the second and third suwar).
  • Suwar 34 and 35 begin with the phrase Al-Hamdu lil-Laah.
  • Suwar 40 through 46 begin with the letters Haa Meem.
  • Suwar 57, 59 and 61 begin with the phrase Sabbaha lil-Laah and suwar 62 and 64 begin with the similar phrase Yusabbihu lil-Laah, thus grouping suwar 57 through 61 together, suwar 62 through 64 together, and suwar 57 through 64 together into a larger group.
  • Suwar 65 and 66 begin with the phrase Yaa ayyuhan-Nabee (“Oh Prophet!”)
  • Suwar 73 and 74 begin with similar phrases, both meaning (roughly) “Oh you wrapped in a cloak!” Yaa ayyuhal-Muzzammil (soorah 73) and  Yaa ayyuhal-Muddaththir (soorah 74). (Soorah is the singular of suwar.)
  • Suwar 81 and 82 begin with similar phrases – Idhash-Shamsu Kuwwirat / Idhas-Samaa’-unfatarat.
  • Suwar 85 and 86 begin with Was-Samaa’.
  • Suwar 91 and 92 begin with similar phrases – Wash-Shamsi wa-Duhaahaa / Wal-Laili idhaa Yaghshaa.
  • The very short suwar 109, 112, 113 and 114 (at the very end of the Qur’an) begin with the command Qul (“Say!” — in the masculine singular, and therefore addressed specifically to the Prophet).

There are also other groupings of suwar.

The word qur’aan (“that which is to be recited”) actually means that the book is intended for recitation. This overall symphonic aspect of the Qur’an encourages us to appreciate it on a larger scale than brief quotations.

06.23.15

The Story of Noah 02 — Miscellaneous Comments

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:02 pm by Administrator

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

  • In the Bible, the whole world is flooded. In the Qur’an, only Noah’s people — those who don’t get on the ark — are flooded and drowned.
  • The story of Noah in Genesis is actually more than one story, but the narrative is laid out — contradictions included — as if it is all the same story. For example, there are different instructions regarding how many animals and which types of animals should be put on the ark. And there are two different numbers of days given for the duration of the flood.
  • The story of Noah in the Bible and the story of Noah in the Qur’an are almost opposites. Just because it’s a story about a flood, a man, and a boat – does that mean it’s the same story?
  • Just because the man’s name is Noah in both sources – does that mean it’s the same story?
  • In Genesis, God makes a mistake (creating the human being), repents, and decides to “start over” with Noah and his family; he floods the entire earth, drowning everybody not on the ark. What does “start over” mean? God could have started over without Noah. Why Noah? Why not Adam? Oh, Adam messed up! So, why not start over without Adam? God is depicted as quite a limited being in Genesis. Does God really need some “raw material” to start over with? Does he make mistakes, go “oops!” and then kill everybody because of his mistake? Does he start over and then — “oops!” — things are still going wrong. And so it goes?
  • In the Qur’an, God sends Noah to his people to tell them to repent. They refuse. God tells Noah to build the ark. His people laugh at him. God sends a flood which destroys all of those among Noah’s people (including Noah’s son) who don’t get on the ark. In the Qur’an, it is not God who has made a mistake. In the Qur’an, it is not God who — unmercifully — destroys people without giving them the opportunity to repent and be saved.
  • In one story, God is mistake-prone and changeable; in the other, he makes no mistake and does not change his ways. In one story, God drowns everybody on earth; in the other, God drowns only the people who reject the message and don’t get on the ark. Universal flood vs. local flood. All types of animals (as in Genesis) vs. a few domesticated animals (as also in Genesis, and in the Qur’an).
  • The Genesis story lays a foundation for racism by depicting God as saving Noah’s biological family (the good and the bad), whereas the Qur’an version is a story of how the bad are destroyed, regardless of blood-relation, and of how the salvation of God (the ark) is open to everyone that wants it.
  • In the Qur’an, the disbelievers laugh at Noah and his boat. Noah tells them that later he will be laughing at them. After the flood, Noah is not laughing. His son has drowned. In fact (as reported in chapter 71 of the Qur’an), Noah had asked God to destroy all of the disbelievers. His son was a disbeliever, so he drowned.
  • Does “true” mean “literal”? All language is symbolic. In what sense is the story of Noah — whichever version you choose — a “true” story?
  • What is a scriptural story “about”? Is the story of Noah about an ark and a flood? Is the story of Moses, about the opening of the sea? What’s the point? WHAT IS THE MESSAGE?
  • What is the significance of water? as life-giving? as life-taking?
  • Drowning and other forms of destruction in the scriptures — why? What is the significance? Why drown Pharaoh and people of Noah, but not people of Lot or the Thamood or `Ad or Midian?
  • We have all of these different religions and religious denominations. What was Noah’s religion?
  • As for it’s relevance to our times, I think the problem with Noah’s people is that they wanted to feel good about themselves. Being told to acknowledge their faults, repent, and throw themselves down before God, begging for mercy, did not fit their program. Noah’s ark represents forgiveness and mercy. The opening of the fountains of the earth and heaven — both — represents the people drowning in a flood of mutual recriminations and guilt.

 

 

06.22.15

The Story of Noah — First Comments

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:47 pm by Administrator

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

In what sense is an allegory true? In what sense is an allegory false?

I was raised on the “spiritual interpretation” of the Bible, as taught by Mary Baker Eddy. As you may know, Pope Francis recently made clear that the creation story in Genesis is allegorical. In my opinion, after the first verse — “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” — the first chapter of Genesis becomes increasingly erroneous, regardless of any allegorical or “spiritual” interpretation. The story of creation is a big subject, which deserves a book to itself. By that, I mean my book — a book comparing the ideas of the Bible, the Qur’an, and contemporary astrophysics. With the help of Allah, I will write such a book. (Most of it is in my head already.)

The story of Noah has already ballooned into a book-sized concept, comparing the account in Genesis with the account in the Qur’an, and showing the relevance of both to our everyday lives.

Here is the story of Noah in the King James Version of Genesis:

5:28 — Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son.

5:29 — Now he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed.”

5:30 — Then Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years after he became the father of Noah, and he had other sons and daughters.

5:31 — So all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years, and he died.

5:32 — Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

6:1 — Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them,

6:2 — that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

6:3 — Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

6:4 — The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

6:5 — Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

6:6 — The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

6:7 — The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”

6:8 — But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

6:9 — These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

6:10 — Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

6:11 — Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.

6:12 — God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.

6:13 — Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.

6:14 — “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch.

6:15 — “This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.

6:16 — “You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.

6:17 — “Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish.

6:18 — “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark–you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

6:19 — “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.

6:20 — “Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.

6:21 — “As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.”

6:22 — Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.

7:1 — Then the LORD said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.

7:2 — “You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female;

7:3 — also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.

7:4 — “For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.”

7:5 — Noah did according to all that the LORD had commanded him.

7:6 — Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth.

7:7 — Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood.

7:8 — Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground,

7:9 — there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.

7:10 — It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth.

7:11 — In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.

7:12 — The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.

7:13 — On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark,

7:14 — they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds.

7:15 — So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life.

7:16 — Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed it behind him.

7:17 — Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth.

7:18 — The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.

7:19 — The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.

7:20 — The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.

7:21 — All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind;

7:22 — of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.

7:23 — Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.

7:24 — The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.

8:1 — But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.

8:2 — Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained;

8:3 — and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased.

8:4 — In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat.

8:5 — The water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.

8:6 — Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made;

8:7 — and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth.

8:8 — Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land;

8:9 — but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself.

8:10 — So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark.

8:11 — The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth.

8:12 — Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.

8:13 — Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up.

8:14 — In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.

8:15 — Then God spoke to Noah, saying,

8:16 — “Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.

8:17 — “Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”

8:18 — So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him.

8:19 — Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by their families from the ark.

8:20 — Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

8:21 — The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.

8:22 — “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.”

9:1 — And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

9:2 — “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given.

9:3 — “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.

9:4 — “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

9:5 — “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.

9:6 — “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.

9:7 — “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”

9:8 — Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying,

9:9 — “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you;

9:10 — And with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.

9:11 — “I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”

9:12 — God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations;

9:13 — I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.

9:14 — “It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud,

9:15 — and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.

9:16 — “When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

9:17 — And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

9:18 — Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan.

9:19 — These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.

9:20 — Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard.

9:21 — He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.

9:22 — Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.

9:23 — But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.

9:24 — When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.

9:25 — So he said, “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brothers.”

9:26 — He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant.

9:27 — “May God enlarge Japheth, And let him dwell in the tents of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant.”

9:28 — Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood.

9:29 — So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and he died.

The story of Noah is told in this one place in the Bible. In the Qur’an, the story of Noah is told in several places, some more complete than others. Here, in chapter eleven, is the most complete narrative — more complete than in chapter 71, which is entitled Noah:

Qur’an 11:25 – We sent Noah to his people, saying, “I come to you as a clear warner.

Qur’an 11:26 – “You shall not worship except Allah. I fear for you the retribution of a painful day.”

Qur’an 11:27 – The leaders who disbelieved among his people said, “We see that you are no more than a human being like us, and we see that the first people to follow you are the worst among us. We see that you do not possess any advantage over us. Indeed, we think you are liars.”

Qur’an 11:28 – He said, “O my people, what if I have a solid proof from my Lord? What if He has blessed me out of His mercy, though you cannot see it? Are we going to force you to believe therein?

Qur’an 11:29 – “O my people, I do not ask you for any money; my wage comes only from Allah. I am not dismissing those who believed; they will meet their Lord (and He alone will judge them). I see that you are ignorant people.

Qur’an 11:30 – “O my people, who can support me against Allah, if I dismiss them? Would you not take heed?

Qur’an 11:31 – “I do not claim that I possess the treasures of Allah, nor do I know the future, nor do I claim to be an angel. Nor do I say to those despised by your eyes that Allah will not bestow any blessings upon them. Allah knows best what is in their innermost thoughts. (If I did this,) I would be a transgressor.”

Qur’an 11:32 – They said, “O Noah, you have argued with us, and kept on arguing. We challenge you to bring the doom you threaten us with, if you are truthful.”

Qur’an 11:33 – He said, “Allah is the One who brings it to you, if He so wills, then you cannot escape.

Qur’an 11:34 – “Even if I advised you, my advice cannot benefit you if it is Allah’s will to send you astray. He is your Lord, and to Him you will be returned.”

Qur’an 11:35 – If they say, “He made up this story,” then say, “If I made it up, then I am responsible for my crime, and I am innocent of any crime you commit.”

Qur’an 11:36 – Noah was inspired: “No more of your people are going to believe, beyond those who already believe. Do not be saddened by their actions.

Qur’an 11:37 – “Build the ark under our watchful eyes, and with our inspiration, and do not implore Me on behalf of those who have transgressed; they are destined to drown.”

Qur’an 11:38 – While he was building the ark, whenever some of his people passed by him they laughed at him. He said, “You may be laughing at us, but we are laughing at you, just as you are laughing.

Qur’an 11:39 – “You will surely find out who will suffer a shameful retribution, and incur an everlasting punishment.”

Qur’an 11:40 – When our judgment came, and the atmosphere boiled over, we said, “Carry on it a pair of each kind, together with your family, except those who are condemned. Carry with you those who have believed,” and only a few have believed with him.

Qur’an 11:41 – He said, “Come on board. In the name of Allah shall be its sailing, and its mooring. My Lord is Forgiver, Most Merciful.”

Qur’an 11:42 – As it sailed with them in waves like hills, Noah called his son, who was isolated: “O my son, come ride with us; do not be with the disbelievers.”

Qur’an 11:43 – He said, “I will take refuge on top of a hill, to protect me from the water.” He said, “Nothing can protect anyone today from Allah’s judgment; only those worthy of His mercy (will be saved).” The waves separated them, and he was among those who drowned.

Qur’an 11:44 – It was proclaimed: “O earth, swallow your water,” and “O sky, cease.” The water then subsided; the judgment was fulfilled. The ark finally rested on the hills of Judea. It was then proclaimed: “The transgressors have perished.”

Qur’an 11:45 – Noah implored his Lord: “My Lord, my son is a member of my family, and Your promise is the truth. You are the wisest of the wise.”

Qur’an 11:46 – He said, “O Noah, he is not of your family. It is unrighteous to ask Me for something you do not know. I enlighten you, lest you be like the ignorant.”

Qur’an 11:47 – He said, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You, lest I implore You again for something I do not know. Unless You forgive me, and have mercy on me, I will be with the losers.”

Qur’an 11:48 – It was proclaimed: “O Noah, disembark, with peace and blessings upon you, and upon nations who will descend from your companions. As for the other nations descending from you, we will bless them for awhile, then commit them to painful retribution.”

Qur’an 11:49 – This is news from the past that we reveal to you. You had no knowledge about them – neither you, nor your people – before this. Therefore, be patient. The ultimate victory belongs to the righteous.

I am not happy with any translation of the Qur’an, but at least you can get the basics of the story and see the clear differences between the two versions — the Bible version and the Qur’an version.

It’s Ramadan. The sun has set. I must not delay breaking the fast and performing the sunset salaah. More later.

 

06.17.15

Books of the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) — Masoretic Text

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:34 pm by Administrator

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

The Tanakh is the Hebrew Bible. The Masoretic Text is the authoritative text. It corresponds to the Old Testament of the King James Version and other Protestant Bibles. Except for the first five books, the books of the Tanakh are arranged and grouped differently from the Christian Old Testament.

Torah: The Five Books of Moses

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy

Nevi’im: The Prophets

  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 2 Kings
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Ezekiel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

Kethuvim: The Writings

  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Job
  • The Song of Songs
  • Ruth
  • Lamentations
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Esther
  • Daniel
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles

06.16.15

The Names of the Chapters of the Qur’an

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:14 pm by Administrator

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

Largely due to my upbringing as a Christian Scientist (the denomination founded in the 19th century by Mary Baker Eddy) and by parents (especially my Dad) who read books and had many books in the house, I have taken the idea of actually reading the Qur’an seriously. Unlike the Bible, the Qur’an is one book, and it is one book that is intended for reading from beginning to end. Reciting would be a better word, but reciting must be done with understanding. The word qur’aan means both — reading with understanding, and reciting audibly. Obviously, what is recited must be the original language — the Arabic — of the Qur’an, and not of any attempted translation.

The names of the chapters — properly called suwar (the singular is soorah) — vary from straightforward to mystifying. My intention is to preface this list with a brief explanation of the different types of chapter names, but I am going to publish this list right now, for fear of procrastinating or spending half the day on one thing and neglecting other tasks that need doing.

There are 114 chapters. Each chapter consists of verses — properly called aayaat (the singular is ayah). The chapters range in length from extremely long (286 verses) to extremely short (three verses), and the overall arrangement is generally from longest to shortest (with the notable exception of the first chapter, which has only seven verses).

Here is the list:

  1. al-Faatihah – The Opening
  2. al-Baqarah – The Heifer (A heifer is a female calf.)
  3. Aali `Imraan – The Family of Amram (Amram was the father of Moses and Aaron)
  4. an-Nisaa’ – The Women
  5. al-Maa’idah – The Supper-Table
  6. al-An`aam – The Cattle
  7. al-A`raaf – The Heights
  8. al-Anfaal – The Spoils of War
  9. at-Taubah – The Repentance
  10. Yoonus — Jonah
  11. Huud – (a prophet of Arabia, after Noah)
  12. Yoosuf – Joseph (of the Old Testament)
  13. ar-Ra`d – The Thunder
  14. Ibraaheem – Abraham
  15. al-Hijr – The Rock
  16. an-Nahl – The Bee
  17. Banee Israa’eel – The Children of Israel
  18. al-Kahf – The Cave
  19. Maryam – Mary
  20. Taa Haa – (two letters of the Arabic alphabet)
  21. al-Anbiyaa’ – The Prophets
  22. al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage
  23. al-Mu’minoon – The Believers
  24. an-Noor – The Light
  25. al-Furqaan – The Criterion
  26. ash-Shu`araa’ – The Poets
  27. an-Naml – The Ants
  28. al-Qasas – The Narrative
  29. al-`Ankaboot – The Spider
  30. ar-Ruum – Rome
  31. Luqmaan – (a famously wise man, thought to be from what is now Sudan, possibly a prophet)
  32. Sajdah – Prostration
  33. al-Ahzaab – The Allies
  34. Saba’ – Sheba
  35. Faatir — Initiator
  36. Yaa Seen – (two letters of the Arabic alphabet)
  37. as-Saaffaat – Those Ranging in Ranks
  38. Saad – (a letter of the Arabic alphabet)
  39. az-Zumar – The Crowds
  40. al-Mu’min – The Believer
  41. Haa Meem – (two letters of the Arabic alphabet)
  42. ash-Shooraa – Mutual Consultation
  43. az-Zukhruf – Gold
  44. ad-Dukhaan – The Smoke
  45. al-Jaathiyah – The Kneeling
  46. al-Ahqaaf – The Dunes
  47. Muhammad
  48. al-Fath – The Victory
  49. al-Hujuraat – The Inner Apartments
  50. Qaaf – (a letter of the Arabic alphabet)
  51. Adh-Dhaariyaat – The Scatterering Winds
  52. at-Toor – The Mountain
  53. an-Najm – The Star
  54. al-Qamar – The Moon
  55. ar-Rahmaan – The Beneficent
  56. al-Waaqi`ah – The Inevitable Event
  57. al-Hadeed — Iron
  58. al-Mujaadilah – The Pleading Woman
  59. al-Hashr – The Banishment
  60. al-Mumtahinah – The Questioned Woman
  61. as-Saff – The Ranks
  62. al-Jumu`ah – The Congregation
  63. al-Munaafiqoon – The Hypocrites
  64. at-Taghaabun – Mutual Loss and Gain
  65. at-Talaaq – Divorce
  66. at-Tahreem – Prohibition
  67. al-Mulk – The Kingdom
  68. al-Qalam – The Pen
  69. al-Haaqqah – The Sure Truth
  70. al-Ma`aarij – The Ways of Ascent
  71. Nooh – Noah
  72. al-Jinn – The Jinn
  73. al-Muzzammil – Someone Who is Wrapped in a Garment
  74. al-Muddaththir – Someone Who is Wrapped in a Garment
  75. al-Qiyaamah – The Resurrection
  76. ad-Dahr – Time – (also named al-Insaan – The Human Being)
  77. al-Mursalaat – Those Sent Forth
  78. an-Naba’ – The Announcement
  79. an-Naazi`aat – Those Who Yearn (or, Those Who Tear Out)
  80. `Abasa – He Frowned
  81. at-Takweer – The Folding Up
  82. al-Infitaar – The Cleaving Asunder
  83. at-Tatfeef – Cheating (or, al-Mutaffifeen – The Cheaters)
  84. al-Inshiqaaq – The Bursting Asunder
  85. al-Burooj – The Galaxies
  86. at-Taariq – The Night Visitor
  87. al-A`laa – The Most High
  88. al-Ghaashiyah – The Overwhelming Event
  89. al-Fajr — Dawn
  90. al-Balad – The Town
  91. ash-Shams – The Sun
  92. al-Lail – The Night
  93. ad-Duhaa – The Brightness of Day
  94. al-Inshiraah – The Expansion
  95. at-Teen – The Fig
  96. Iqra’ – Read! (or, al-`Alaq – The Clot)
  97. al-Qadr – Absolute Determination
  98. al-Bayyinah – The Clear Evidence
  99. az-Zilzaal – The Quake
  100. al-`Aadiyaat – The Swift Mares
  101. al-Qaari`ah – The Calamity
  102. at-Takaathur – The Abundance of Wealth
  103. al-`Asr – The Time
  104. al-Humazah – The Slanderer
  105. al-Feel – The Elephant
  106. Quraish (the tribe of Makkah)
  107. al-Maa`oon – Acts of Kindness
  108. al-Kauthar – The Abundance of Good
  109. al-Kaafiroon – The Disbelievers
  110. an-Nasr – The Help
  111. al-Lahab – The Flame
  112. al-Ikhlaas – Purity
  113. al-Falaq – Daybreak
  114. an-Naas – Mankind

 

 

 

06.13.15

The Books of the Bible: King James Version

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:38 pm by Administrator

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

I was raised as a Christian Scientist, a denomination established by Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) — a remarkable woman — and attended Sunday School regularly. One of our tasks was to memorize the names and the order of the books of the Bible. I don’t remember much else from those years of Sunday schooling, but if asked, I could probably recall from memory most of the following list.

These are the 66 books of the King James Version.

Old Testament

Genesis

Exodus

Leviticus

Numbers

Deuteronomy

Joshua

Judges

Ruth

I Samuel

II Samuel

I Kings

II Kings

I Chronicles

II Chronicles

Ezra

Nehemiah

Esther

Job

Psalms

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes

Song of Solomon

Isaiah

Jeremiah

Lamentations

Ezekiel

Daniel

Hosea

Joel

Amos

Obadiah

Jonah

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

Haggai

Zechariah

Malachi

New Testament

Matthew

Mark

Luke

John

Acts of the Apostles

Romans

I Corinthians

II Corinthians

Galatians

Ephesians

Philippians

Colossians

I Thessalonians

II Thessalonians

I Timothy

II Timothy

Titus

Philemon

Hebrews

James

I Peter

II Peter

I John

II John

III John

Jude

Revelation

01.01.15

Genesis 1:1

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:41 pm by Administrator

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

That is the first verse of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

One day, I read it and had an epiphany. “This is not religion! This is everything!”

  • “In the beginning”

The astronomer Fred Hoyle supported his own “Steady State” theory to the end of his days. According to this theory, the entire cosmos has always existed. There was no beginning. Hoyle ridiculed the idea of the cosmos having a beginning by calling the alternate theory the “Big Bang” theory. But the “Big Bang” theory has proven to be correct, according to an overwhelming amount of evidence. Almost every astronomer now believes that there was a beginning.

  • “God”

The one who created everything that exists is known by many names. Few American Christians seem to be aware that millions of Arab-speaking Christians know the creator by the name “Allah”, or that Christians and others throughout the world who speak thousands of different languages know the creator by at least dozens if not hundreds of different names.

While there are many scientists who do not believe in God, there are also many who do. Whether they believe in God or not, they struggle with the mystery of how the cosmos came into being. Simply believing that God created it does not answer fundamental questions of “How?” In other words, how does the world work? This is what people study. People who do this professionally are called “scientists”. But we all do it, in our own way.

  • “created”

According to the “Big Bang” theory, the entire cosmos came into being out of nothing. Not every scientist believes this. Not every person of faith believes this. Some scientists believe there was something before the “Big Bang”. Some religious teachers teach that God began the creation with some raw materials. (My conviction is that the creation came out of nothing.)

  • “the heavens and the earth”

This expression — especially “the heavens” — has several meanings. “Heaven” is an archaic English word for “sky”. In Arabic (and Hebrew is similar), the words used in the scriptures (Bible and Qur’an) are “samaa‘” (singular) and “saamaawaat” (plural) — which simply mean “sky” and “skies”. In the King James Version, “heaven” is singular”. In other English translations, and in other languages — including the Hebrew and Arabic versions of Genesis– the word for “heavens” is plural.

In physical terms, the sky is where birds and airplanes fly and clouds float, but it is also where the moon is, far far beyond. We say the sun is in the sky, but the Earth is actually in the sun’s sky — orbiting the sun as the moon orbits the Earth. We say the planets are in Earth’s sky, but they too are in the sun’s sky. We say the stars are in the sky, but they are inconceivably far beyond the moon, the sun, and the planets. And then there are distant galaxies, most of them invisible to the naked eye. We say, also, that those galaxies are in the sky. So — in strictly physical terms — there are multiple skies, not just one.

In contrast, the word for “earth” is invariably singular.

  • The meaning of “the heavens and the earth”

When this statement — “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” — was first put into writing, over 25 centuries ago at least, and most probably in Hebrew, people were absolutely convinced that the Earth is flat and that the heavens are clearly distinct from Earth and in constant motion around the Earth. A few centuries later, knowledgeable people became aware that the Earth is round, but continued to believe that the heavens are clearly distinct from Earth and in constant motion around the Earth. (I have recently learned that, thousands of years ago, learned men in India had come to the humble conclusion that all of that motion in the sky must mean that we are the ones in motion, not the things in the sky.)

What fascinates me is that, in all commotion over Galileo’s support of Copernicus’ proposal that the Earth is in orbit around the sun — as you may know, Galileo was dragged before the Inquisition, shown the instruments of torture, and threatened with torture and execution if he did not recant (which he did, but was still placed under house arrest for his remaining days) — in all that commotion, and in all the centuries since then, no one has pointed out that the idea that the Earth is in orbit around the sun completely obliterates the literal, physical understanding of the phrase “the heavens and the earth”. If the Earth is in orbit around the sun, the distinction between the heavens and the Earth is non-existent. The Earth is — literally — in heaven, in the sky, floating around its orbit in what we now call “outer space”.

I am convinced that the one who created us — Allah — is our teacher. I am also convinced that this statement is an authentic message from Allah, and is therefore true and accurate. (After much reading and study, I accept all of the Qur’an as authentic, but not all of the Bible.)

So, what does it mean — this reference to “the heavens and the earth” (or “the heaven and the earth”, as in the KJV)?

When we read the Gospels, and when we read the Qur’an, we become aware that “heaven” (or “samaa'”) refers quite often to the higher, non-physical reality. (I prefer to avoid the word “spiritual” because: (1) for many people “spiritual” things exist within the framework of physical reality; and (2) for many people “spiritual” reality is more about feelings and emotions than about the fundamental nature of the creation.) When the phrase “kingdom of heaven” is used in the Gospels, it refers to that higher realm. (There are greedy, power-hungry people who insist on having their own version of a “kingdom of heaven” here on Earth.) When Allah is referred to as “man fis-samaa‘” (“the one in the sky”) in the Qur’an, it refers to the creator being present in the higher realm, not in the physical sky or in outer space.

The counterpart to the higher reality is called “earth” but what it refers to is the entire cosmos — all of physical reality, all of what many think is the only reality. “Reality is physical,” it is said. And the word “universe” implies exactly that — that there is no “heaven and earth” duality to existence, that there is only one reality (as expressed in the prefix “uni-“, meaning “one”), and that that one and only reality is physical. Whether this is true or not, it is important to understand that much of our society, much of world governance is based on this worldview — a worldview in which the physical world created itself, in which somehow life evolved, in which somehow consciousness came into being, in which the human being as a conscious being created God (or gods) in his own mind.

If we accept the statement “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” as true, then we have a different worldview on which to base our lives and the governance of our society and the world. In this view, the Creator is self-existent (has no beginning and therefore does not need to be created), alive and conscious, without need of physical agency; he created the higher and lower realities of the world, created physical life and endowed living creatures with consciousness, created the human being as a living and conscious creature who is aware of the higher reality and of the one who created all things.

What is really instructive is not so much the words but the physical reality that confronts us: THE EARTH IS IN THE SKY. What this tells me is: (1) physical reality (as symbolized by the planet Earth) is subject to the higher reality; and (2) the higher reality (as symbolized by the sky or outer space) is inconceivably more vast and more complex than the physical reality which occupies so much of our attention and into which we have been placed, inescapably, to struggle and work out our destiny.

 

08.13.14

Genesis 1:1 in Thirty Languages

Posted in Language at 1:09 pm by Administrator

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

English (KJV) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

 

English (NASB) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

 

German Im Anfang schuf Gott den Himmel und die Erde.

 

Afrikaans In die begin het God die hemel en die aarde geskape.

 

Dutch In den beginne schiep God den hemel en de aarde.

 

Danish I Begyndelsen skabte Gud Himmelen og Jorden.

 

Norwegian I begynnelsen skapte Gud himmelen og jorden.

 

Swedish I begynnelsen skapade Gud himmel och jord.

 

Icelandic Í upphafi skapaði Guð himin og jörð.

 

Latin In principio creavit Deus caelum et terram.

 

Italian Nel principio Iddio creò i cieli e la terra.

 

Spanish En el principio creó Dios los cielos y la tierra.

 

Portuguese No princípio criou Deus os céus e a terra.

 

French Au commencement, Dieu créa les cieux et la terre.

 

Esperanto En la komenco Dio kreis la cxielon kaj la teron.

 

Lithuanian Pradžioje Dievas sutvėrė dangų ir žemę.

 

Russian В начале сотворил Бог небо и землю.

 

Czech Na počátku stvořil Bůh nebe a zemi.

 

Bulgarian В началото Бог създаде небето и земята.

 

Croatian U početku stvori Bog nebo i zemlju.

 

Albanian Në fillim Perëndia krijoi qiejt dhe tokën.

 

Greek εν αρχη εποιησεν ο θεος τον ουρανον και την γην

 

Greek
(transliteration)
En arkhee epoieeseoo o Theos ton ouranon kai teen geen

 

Arabic

وَالأَرْضَ

السَّمَاوَاتِ

اللهُ

خَلَقَ

الْبَدْءِ

فِي

     ←

Arabic
(transliteration)
Fil-bad’i khalaq-Allaah-us-samawaati wal-`ardz.

 

Hebrew בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ     ←

 

Hebrew
(transliteration)
be-re’shith bara’ Eloheem eth ha-shamayim wa-eth ha’aredz

 

Xhosa Ekuqalekeni uThixo wadala amazulu nehlabathi.

 

Finnish Alussa Jumala loi taivaan ja maan.

 

Estonian Alguses lõi Jumal taevad ja maa.

 

Hungarian Kezdetben teremté Isten az eget és a földet.

 

Turkish Başlangıçta Tanrı göğü ve yeri yarattı.

 

Tagalog Nang pasimula ay nilikha ng Dios ang langit at ang lupa.

 

Maori He mea hanga na te atua i te timatanga te rangi me te whenua.

 

 

03.08.13

John 3:16 in Thirteen Languages

Posted in Language at 7:28 pm by Administrator

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

This is fundamental to Christian belief and contrary to Muslim belief. I plan to include Arabic, because there are millions of Arabic-speaking Christians and because in their Bible and in their speech the Creator of the heavens and the earth is referred to as “Allah” — and that includes John 3:16.

I do not remember where I found the Gullah version. This is the language of the Georgia Sea Islands (off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia), and you can hear it on the Smithsonian recordings of the music of the Georgia Sea Islands.

I plan to include additional languages in this list.

 

English (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
English (NASB) For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Gullah Cause God lobe all de people een de wol so much dat e gii we e onliest Son. God sen we um so dat ebrybody wa bleebe on um ain gwine ded. Dey gwine libe fa true faeba mo.
German Denn Gott hat die Welt so geliebt, daß er seinen eingeborenen Sohn gab, damit jeder, der an ihn glaubt, nicht verloren gehe, sondern ewiges Leben habe.
Afrikaans Want so lief het God die wêreld gehad, dat Hy sy eniggebore Seun gegee het, sodat elkeen wat in Hom glo, nie verlore mag gaan nie, maar die ewige lewe kan hê.
Dutch Want alzo lief heeft God de wereld gehad, dat Hij Zijn eniggeboren Zoon gegeven heeft, opdat een iegelijk die in Hem gelooft, niet verderve, maar het eeuwige leven hebbe.
Danish Thi således elskede Gud Verden, at han gav sin Søn den enbårne, for at hver den, som tror på ham, ikke skal fortabes, men have et evigt Liv.
Norwegian For så har Gud elsket verden at han gav sin Sønn, den enbårne, forat hver den som tror på ham, ikke skal fortapes, men ha evig liv;
Swedish Ty så älskade Gud världen, att han utgav sin enfödde Son, på det att var och en som tror på honom skall icke förgås, utan hava evigt liv.
Icelandic Því svo elskaði Guð heiminn, að hann gaf son sinn eingetinn, til þess að hver sem á hann trúir glatist ekki, heldur hafi eilíft líf. 
Latin Sic enim dilexit Deus mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret, ut omnis, qui credit in eum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam aeternam.
Italian Poiché Iddio ha tanto amato il mondo, che ha dato il suo unigenito Figliuolo, affinché chiunque crede in lui non perisca, ma abbia vita eterna.
Spanish Porque de tal manera amó Dios al mundo, que ha dado á su Hijo unigénito, para que todo aquel que en él cree, no se pierda, mas tenga vida eterna.

10.13.12

Genesis 1:1 in Thirty Languages

Posted in Language at 7:52 pm by Administrator

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

English (KJV) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
English (NASB) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
German Im Anfang schuf Gott den Himmel und die Erde.
Afrikaans In die begin het God die hemel en die aarde geskape.
Dutch In den beginne schiep God den hemel en de aarde.
Danish I Begyndelsen skabte Gud Himmelen og Jorden.
Norwegian I begynnelsen skapte Gud himmelen og jorden.
Swedish I begynnelsen skapade Gud himmel och jord.
Icelandic Í upphafi skapaði Guð himin og jörð.
Latin In principio creavit Deus caelum et terram.
Italian Nel principio Iddio creò i cieli e la terra.
Spanish En el principio creó Dios los cielos y la tierra.
Portuguese No princípio criou Deus os céus e a terra.
French Au commencement, Dieu créa les cieux et la terre.
Esperanto En la komenco Dio kreis la cxielon kaj la teron.
Lithuanian Pradžioje Dievas sutvėrė dangų ir žemę.
Russian В начале сотворил Бог небо и землю.
Czech Na počátku stvořil Bůh nebe a zemi.
Bulgarian В началото Бог създаде небето и земята.
Croatian U početku stvori Bog nebo i zemlju.
Albanian Në fillim Perëndia krijoi qiejt dhe tokën.
Greek εν αρχη εποιησεν ο θεος τον ουρανον και την γην
Greek
(transliteration)
En arkhee epoieeseoo o Theos ton ouranon kai teen geen
Arabic وَالأَرْضَ السَّمَاوَاتِ اللهُ خَلَقَ الْبَدْءِ فِي     ←
Arabic
(transliteration)
Fil-bad’i khalaq-Allaah-us-samawaati
wal-`ardz.
Hebrew בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ     ←
Hebrew
(transliteration)
be-re’shith bara’ Eloheem eth ha-shamayim
wa-eth ha’aredz
Xhosa Ekuqalekeni uThixo wadala amazulu nehlabathi.
Finnish Alussa Jumala loi taivaan ja maan.
Estonian Alguses lõi Jumal taevad ja maa.
Hungarian Kezdetben teremté Isten az eget és a földet.
Turkish Başlangıçta Tanrı göğü ve yeri yarattı.
Tagalog Nang pasimula ay nilikha ng Dios ang langit at ang lupa.
Maori He mea hanga na te atua i te timatanga te rangi me te whenua.

Languages come in families and sub-families.

At the top of this list are the Indo-European languages — some Germanic languages (from English to Icelandic), some Romance languages (derived from Latin, and listed from Latin to French), Esperanto (an invented language, based on Indo-European models), Lithuanian (a Baltic language), some Slavic languages (Russian to Croatian), and Albanian and Greek (each in a class by itself, no sub-family).

Arabic and Hebrew are both members of the Asiatic (or Semitic) branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, along with Amharic (spoken in Ethiopia), Ge’ez (written language of the Ethiopian scriptures), and Aramaic (the common language of Judea in Roman times). The African (or Hamitic) branch of this family includes ancient Egyptian as well as Hausa, the language of northern Nigeria which is also widely spoken throughout West Africa.

Xhosa is Nelson Mandela’s language, part of the Nguni sub-family of languages, along with Zulu. These are Bantu languages, spoken throughout central and southern Africa. You may notice the word “amazulu” in the text. It means “heaven”. In their own language, the Zulu are known as the people of heaven.

Finnish and Estonian are closely related languages and, along with the less closely related Hungarian, are members of the Finno-Ugric language family spoken eastward from eastern Europe to Siberia. These are not Indo-European languages and, along with Turkish, are thought to be part of a super-family of Altaic languages, spoken throughout Central Asia.

Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines (under the name Filipino), and Maori, the language of the original inhabitants of New Zealand, are both members of the Malayo-Polynesian language family, along with Malay, Indonesian, Samoan and Hawaiian.

The two English quotes are from the King James Version (KJV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB), respectively. For whatever reason, the KJV has “heaven” in the singular.  Most translations are in the plural. If the Arabic and Hebrew quotes are any indication, the original source was probably in the plural. In both the Bible and the Qur’an, heaven is referred to in both singular (samaa’ in Arabic) and plural (samaawaat in Arabic), seemingly interchangeably.

The word for “God” in the Germanic languages is almost identical to English. In the Romance languages, and in Esperanto and Lithuanian, the word for God resembles the Latin word “Deus” (although I suspect that the Lithuanian “Dievas” is older and more closely related to “diva”, which is rooted in ancient Sanskrit, the oldest known Indo-European language).

I’m slightly familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet used to write Russian and Bulgarian. It was originally derived from the Greek alphabet (by St. Cyril). Not familiar enough to offer a transliteration, however. But, if you look closely, you may notice that the Czech and the Croatian quotes are quite close to the Russian and Bulgarian. It seems that all of them refer to the deity by some word that resembles the Croatian “Bog” (which doesn’t sound so nice in English).

Albanian, classified as an Indo-European language, seems to have its own words for everything, in this quote.

In the Greek quote, in addition to the word “Theos” for God (similar to the Latin “Deus”, and part of many words incorporated from Greek into English, such as “theology”), we find several words that have been incorporated into English. From the word for beginning, we get “archeo-” (as in “archeology”). From the word for create, we get “poetry”. From the word for heaven, we get “Uranus” (originally the name of an early Greek sky god). And from the word for earth, we get “geo-” (as in “geology” and “geography”).

More to come, and soon, hopefully.

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