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Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
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The Koran Interpreted Translation by A.J. Arberry

20 TA HA (1 – 50)

The Qurʾan Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

20. Taha (1 – 35)

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Ta Ha

We have not sent down the Koran upon thee for thee to be unprosperous, but only as a reminder to him who fears, a revelation from Him who created the earth and the high heavens; the All-merciful sat Himself upon the Throne; to Him belongs 5all that is in the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and all that is underneath the soil.

Be thou loud in thy speech, yet surely He knows the secret and that yet more hidden. God— there is no god but He. To Him belong the Names Most Beautiful.

Hast thou received the story of Moses? When he saw a fire, and said to his family, ‘Tarry you here; I observe a fire. 10Perhaps I shall bring you a brand from it, or I shall find at the fire guidance.’ When he came to it, a voice cried, ‘Moses, I am thy Lord; put off thy shoes; thou art in the holy valley, Towa. I Myself have chosen thee; therefore give thou ear to this revelation. Verily I am God; there is no god but I; therefore serve Me, and perform the prayer of My remembrance. 15The Hour is coming; I would conceal it that every soul may be recompensed for its labours. Let none bar thee from it, that believes not in it but follows after his own caprice, or thou wilt perish. What is that, Moses, thou hast in thy right hand?’ ‘Why, it is my staff,’ said Moses. ‘I lean upon it, and with it I beat down leaves to feed my sheep; other uses also I find in it.’ 20Said He, ‘Cast it down, Moses!’ and he cast it down, and behold it was a serpent sliding. Said He, ‘Take it, and fear not; We will restore it to its first state. Now clasp thy hand to thy arm-pit; it shall come forth white, without evil. That is a second sign. So We would show thee some of Our greatest signs. 30Go to Pharaoh; he has waxed insolent.’ ‘Lord, open my breast,’ said Moses, ‘and do Thou ease for me my task. Unloose the knot upon my tongue, that they may understand my words. 35Appoint for me of my folk a familiar, Aaron, my brother; by him confirm my strength, and associate him with me in my task. So shall we glorify Thee, and remember Thee abundantly. Surely Thou seest into us.’ Said He, ‘Thou art granted, Moses, thy petition. Already another time We favoured thee, when We revealed what was revealed unto thy mother: “Cast him into the ark, and cast him into the river, and let the river throw him up on the shore. An enemy of Mine and his shall take him.” And I loaded on thee love from Me, 40and to be formed in My sight, when thy sister went out, saying, “Shall I point you to one to have charge of him?” So We returned thee to thy mother that she might rejoice, and not sorrow. Then thou slewest a living soul, and We delivered thee out of grief, and We tried thee with many trials. Many years among the people of Midian thou didst sojourn, then camest hither, Moses, according to a decree. I have chosen thee for My service; go therefore, thou and thy brother, with My signs, and neglect not 45to remember Me. Go to Pharaoh, for he has waxed insolent; yet speak gently to him, that haply he may be mindful, or perchance fear.’ ‘O our Lord,’ said Moses and Aaron, ‘truly we fear he may exceed against us, or wax insolent.’ ‘Fear not,’ said He. ‘Surely I shall be with you, hearing and seeing. So go you both to Pharaoh, and say, “We are the Messengers of thy Lord, so send forth with us the Children of Israel and chastise them not; we have brought thee a sign from thy Lord; and peace be upon him who follows the guidance! It has been revealed to us that 50chastisement shall light upon him who cries lies and turns his back.”

A Meccan sura that both begins and ends with mention of the Qurʾan: it was not sent to the Prophet to cause him grief but is a clear proof from his Lord. The example of Moses is given as a lengthy account in order to encourage the Prophet and show the end of the disbelievers. The destruction of earlier generations is cited as a lesson from which the disbelievers should learn. The Prophet is ordered to be patient and to persevere with his worship.

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

1Ta Haa There is an opinion that ta ha are not isolated letters but ‘O man!’ in the Yemeni dialect of ‘Akk (Razi). For the significance of the isolated letters as a whole, see note to 2: 1.

2It was not to distress you [Prophet] that We sent down the Qurʾan to you, 3but as a reminder for those who hold God in awe, 4a revelation from the One who created the earth and the high heaven,5the Lord of Mercy, established on the throne.6Everything in the heavens and on earth, everything between them, everything beneath the soil, belongs to Him. 7Whatever you may say aloud, He knows what you keep secret and what is even more hidden. 8God—there is no god but Him—the most excellent names belong to Him.

9Has the story of Moses come to you [Prophet]?b This construction is an idiom in Arabic implying ‘think well about it’ or ‘take a lesson from this’. 10He saw a fire and said to his people, ‘Stay here—I can see a fire. Maybe I can bring you a flaming brand from it or find some guidance there.’ 11When he came to the fire, he was summoned, ‘Moses! 12I am your Lord. Take off your shoes: you are in the sacred valley of Tuwa. 13I have chosen you, so listen to what is being revealed. 14I am God; there is no god but Me. So worship Me and keep up the prayer so that you remember Me. 15The Hour is coming—though I choosec Abu Muslim interprets akadu as uridu, ‘I wish’ or ‘I choose’ (Razi). to keep it hidden—for each soul to be rewarded for its labour. 16Do not let anyone who does not believe in it and follows his own desires distract you from it, and so bring you to ruin.’

17’Moses, what is that in your right hand?’ 18’It is my staff,’ he said, ‘I lean on it; restrain my sheep with it;a Or ‘beat down leaves for my sheep with it’. I also have other uses for it.’ 19God said, ‘Throw it down, Moses.’ 20He threw it down and—lo and behold!—it became a fast-moving snake. 21He said, ‘Pick it up without fear: We shall turn it back into its former state. 22Now place your hand under your armpit and it will come out white, though unharmed: that is another sign. 23We do this to show you some of Our greatest signs. 24Go to Pharaoh, for he has truly become a tyrant.’25Moses said, ‘Lord, lift up my heart 26and ease my task for me. 27Untie my tongue, 28so that they may understand my words, 29and give me a helper from my family, 30my brother Aaron— 31augment my strength through him. 32Let him share my task 33so that we can glorify You much 34and remember You often: 35You are always watching over us.’

Notes:

a There is an opinion that ta ha are not isolated letters but ‘O man!’ in the Yemeni dialect of ‘Akk (Razi). For the significance of the isolated letters as a whole, see note to 2: 1.

b This construction is an idiom in Arabic implying ‘think well about it’ or ‘take a lesson from this’.

c Abu Muslim interprets akadu as uridu, ‘I wish’ or ‘I choose’ (Razi).

a Or ‘beat down leaves for my sheep with it’.

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