Sunday, December 08, 2013

Q&A: Use of metaphors in Qur'an

Question:
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:
قَالَ مَنْ يُحْيِ الْعِظَامَ وَهِيَ رَمِيمٌ
"Who will give life to bones while they are disintegrated?"
(YaSin, 36:78)
Is the phrase يُحْيِ الْعِظَامَ "give life to bones" in the above verse a metaphor where a part is mentioned to represent the whole?
May Allah reward you goodness, and may He preserve you support and treasure for the great Muslim Ummah. May He سبحانه وتعالى grant you victory.
From: A. Hamza

Answer:
We do not rely on metaphor unless applying the reality is impossible, for example:
يَجْعَلُونَ أَصَابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِمْ مِنَ الصَّوَاعِقِ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ
"They put their fingers in their ears against the thunderclaps in dread of death"
أصابعهم "their fingers" is a metaphor for the ends of the fingers because the whole finger in reality cannot be put in to the ears. Only the ends of the fingers can be put in the ears.
Another example is:
وَدَخَلَ مَعَهُ السِّجْنَ فَتَيَانِ قَالَ أَحَدُهُمَا إِنِّي أَرَانِي أَعْصِرُ خَمْرًا
"And there entered the prison with him two young men. One of them said, "Indeed, I have seen myself [in a dream] squeezing wine."
Here wine is a metaphor for grapes because wine cannot be squeezed in reality, but grapes are squeezed to form wine.
Whereas if the reality is not impossible, we don't rely on metaphor, so Allah's سبحانه وتعالى saying:
وَضَرَبَ لَنَا مَثَلًا وَنَسِيَ خَلْقَهُ قَالَ مَنْ يُحْيِ الْعِظَامَ وَهِيَ رَمِيمٌ
"And he presents for Us an example and forgets his [own] creation. He says, "Who will give life to bones while they are disintegrated?"
(YaSin, 36:78)
The reality of giving life to bones is not impossible for Allah سبحانه وتعالى so we say يُحْيِ "Give life" in reality and not metaphorically, and we understood from it that the bones of the dead bodies are dead as well.
Your brother,
Ata Bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah
04th Rajab 1434 AH
14/5/2013 CE
Link to the answer from the Ameer's Facebook page:

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