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Quranic Terminology: Perhaps

Quranic Terminology: Perhaps

Published in June 15, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy



Firstly: the term (perhaps) as used by the Lord God in the Quranic text:

The term (perhaps) indicates not to prefer one thing to another:

1- For instance, God says in the Quran: "Fighting is ordained for you, even though you dislike it. But it may be that you dislike something while it is good for you, and perhaps that you like something while it is bad for you. God knows, and you do not know." (2:216). Human beings never know the future; God the Omniscient Lord is the Only One to know the future. This is why human beings may dislike good things and like bad ones; we infer from the verse 2:216 that most of the early believers in Yathreb feared and hated to engage into self-defense military endeavors when imposed on them by God Who has addressed them here to remind them of His Omniscience and their ignorance.

2- God says the following in the Quran: "Have they not observed the government of the heavens and the earth, and all the things that God created, and that their time may have drawn near? Which discourse, besides this, will they believe in?" (7:185). No mortals would know the time of their own death; those polytheists who insist on believing in other discourses/hadiths/narratives (i.e., the ones authored by Al-Bokhary and his likes) besides the Quran should contemplate on the universe and God's creatures to reach the conclusion that God is One and His Book is one and there are no other sources for His Religion; they must never deify and follow Al-Bokhary and his likes because the Only Legislator in Islam is God within His Word: the Quran. God the Omniscient Lord is the Only One Who knows the timing of each living person's death.

3- God says in the Quran: "O you who believe! No people shall ridicule other people, for perhaps they may be better than they. Nor shall any women ridicule other women, for perhaps they may be better than they. Nor shall you slander one another, nor shall you insult one another with names. Evil is the return to wickedness after having attained faith. Whoever does not repent; these are the unjust ones." (49:11). God is the Omniscient Lord who knows which people/groups are better than the others; no mortals can decide this. This is why it is better to adhere to the divine command in 49:11 and never to mock/ridicule other people.

Theterm (perhaps) indicates a conditional promise:

 The promise of God to make one enter into Paradise is linked directly to one condition: performing good deeds within piety and monotheism while dedicating one's religion only to God. The term (perhaps) here does NOT indicate inevitability but that a person can enter into Paradise based on one's faith, piety, and good deeds and on sincere repentance that lasts for the rest of one's lifetime. We provide some examples to illustrate this in the points below.

God says the following regarding this transient world:

1- God says in the Quran: "So fight in the cause of God; you are responsible only for yourself. And rouse the believers. Perhaps God will restrain the might of those who disbelieve. God is Stronger in Might, and More Punishing." (4:84). The term (perhaps) here shows that the aggression of the disbelievers will stop only if the Yathreb believers fight in self-defense; the promise of victory depends on their (non)response to the command in the verse 4:84.

2- God says in the Quran: "While the angels are removing the souls of those who have wronged themselves, they will say, "What was the matter with you?" They will say, "We were oppressed in the land." They will say, "Was God's earth not vast enough for you to emigrate in it?" These - their refuge is Hell. What a wretched retreat! Except for the weak among men, and women, and children who have no means to act, and no means to find a way out. These - perhaps God may well pardon them. God is Pardoning and Forgiving." (4:97-99). This means that the term (perhaps) here shows that changing conditions will decide if persecuted ones in religion can immigrate or not or that their being persecuted would end or not; their being pardoned or cursed by God depends on their conditions/circumstances and their choices made during their lifetimes.

3- God says in the Quran: "O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies; some of them are allies of one another. Whoever of you allies himself with them is one of them. God does not guide the unjust people. You will see those in whose hearts is sickness racing towards them. They say, "We fear the wheel of fate may turn against us." But perhaps God will bring about victory, or some event of His making; thereupon they will regret what they concealed within themselves." (5:51-52). The fake biographies of Muhammad never mention such battles between the Yathreb believers and the aggressors among the People of the Book in Arabia; the hypocrites allied themselves to the aggressors for fear of being defeated; God mentions here that He will lend the believers victory if they are serious enough in self-defense endeavors; this will make hypocrites regret their stances of betrayal and treachery.

4- God says in the Quran: "Perhaps God will plant affection between you and those of them you consider enemies. God is Capable. God is Forgiving and Merciful." (60:7). Some of the believing immigrants in Yathreb felt homesick and this led them to ally themselves to their relatives who were among the polytheistic aggressors who drove away Muhammad and believers out of Mecca. The promise of God to bring peace is based only on both sides who are willing to adhere to peace and non-violence after the believers would achieve victory over the aggressors. 

5- Muhammad suffered from troubles with his wives; God has threatened them here of being divorced if they did not repent: "Perhaps, if he divorces you, his Lord will give him in exchange wives better than you: submissive, believing, obedient, penitent, devout, fasting - previously married, or virgins." (66:5).

6- God commands all husbands to treat their wives kindly even in case of their disliking such wives; goodness is provided by God in such cases only if husbands treat their wives in a fair, kind manner: "And live with them in kindness. If you dislike them, perhaps you dislike something in which God has placed much good." (4:19).

7- God's mercy here depends only on good conduct and behavior of the Israelites: "If you work righteousness, you work righteousness for yourselves; and if you commit evil, you do so against yourselves. Then, when the second promise comes true, they will make your faces filled with sorrow, and enter the Temple as they entered it the first time, and utterly destroy all that falls into their power. Perhaps your Lord will have mercy on you. But if you revert, We will revert. We have made Hell a prison for the disbelievers." (17:7-8).

God says the following regarding the Paradise of the Hereafter:

1- God has said the following to Muhammad within a direct mode of address: "And keep vigil with it during parts of the night, as an extra prayer. Perhaps your Lord will raise you to a laudable position." (17:79). Performing prayers does not mean mere movements; rather, one should try hard to attain piety and perform them within the fear of the Lord God so that one avoids sinning; all acts of worship aim to attain piety (see 29:45 and 2:21). One can perform extra prayers at night and read some Quranic verses at dawn to attain the laudable position; i.e., Paradise in the Hereafter: "All of them, every single one of them, will be arraigned before Us. And there is a sign for them in the dead land: We give it life, and produce from it grains from which they eat. And We place in it gardens of palm-trees and vines, and cause springs to gush out of it. That they may eat from its fruits, although their hands did not make it. Will they not be thankful?" (35:32-35); these verses descended in Mecca and it is linked to the degree of obeying the commands of the Lord God during the lifetime of Muhammad and his contemporaries among believers who strove for God's sake and performed many good deeds: "But the Messenger and those who believe with him struggle with their possessions and their lives. These have deserved the good things. These are the successful. God has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great victory." (9:88-89). It is silly on the part of Sunnite authors to assume that the term "laudable position" means the so-called intercession on the Last Day ascribed falsely to Muhammad. 

2- God says in the Quran: "The only people to attend God's places of worship are those who believe in God and the Last Day, and pray regularly, and practice regular charity, and fear none but God. These are perhaps most likely to be guided." (9:18); the term (perhaps) here indicates the link of the Divine Promise to performing good deeds within piety and the fear of the Dominant Lord God.

3- God says the following in the Quran: "Others have confessed their sins, having mixed good deeds with bad deeds. Perhaps God will redeem them. God is Forgiving and Merciful. Receive contributions from their wealth, to purify them and sanctify them with it; and pray for them. Your prayer is comfort for them. God is Hearing and Knowing." (9:102-103). The repentant ones who confess their sins to God should offer charity donations to consolidate their repentance and purify their souls; the term (perhaps) here indicates the link of the Divine Promise to performing good deeds within piety and the fear of the Dominant Lord God and how people would respond to the Quranic commands.

4- The same thing applies to all repentant ones: "But he who repents, and believes, and does righteous deeds, perhaps he will be among the winners." (28:67); "O you who believe! Repent to God with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remit your sins, and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow, on the Day when God will not disappoint the prophet and those who believed with him. Their light streaming before them, and to their right, they will say, "Our Lord, complete our light for us, and forgive us; You are capable of all things."" (66:8).

The term (perhaps) when used to indicate predictions:

1- God says the following in the Quran: "Say, "Even if you become rocks or iron. Or some substance, which, in your minds, is even harder." Then they will say, "Who will restore us?" Say, "The One who originated you the first time." Then they will nod their heads at you, and say, "When will it be?" Say, "Perhaps it will be soon."" (17:50-52). This is about the prediction of the Hour as it draws near; one of its major signs is the advent of the Quranic Revelation as the Last Message from God to the humankind.

2- This meaning is repeated here in this Quranic context: "And they say, "When is this promise, if you are truthful?" Say, "Perhaps some of what you are impatient for has drawn near."" (27:71-72).


Secondly: the term (perhaps) when used by human beings:

Within supplications by prophets addressing the Lord God:

1- Abraham distanced himself away from his polytheistic contemporaries and hoped that he would not be disappointed in his prayers/supplication to the Lord God: "He said, "Peace be upon you. I will ask my Lord to forgive you; He has been Kind to me. And I will withdraw from you, and from what you pray to besides God. And I will pray to my Lord, perhaps I will not be disappointed in my prayer to my Lord."" (19:47-48). Zachariah mentioned the same meaning here about not being disappointed: "He said, "My Lord, my bones have become feeble, and my hair is aflame with gray, and never, Lord, have I been disappointed in my prayer to you." (19:4).

2- Jacob told the following to his sons when they told him that the Potiphar of Egypt (i.e., Joseph, without their knowing his true identity as yet) had retained their younger brother: "He said, "Rather, your souls have contrived something for you. Patience is a virtue. Perhaps God will bring them all back to me. He is the Knowing, the Wise."" (12:83). Of course, God has answered the prayers/supplication of Jacob who wished ardently to be reunited with his two lost sons.

3- God says the following about Moses when he fled from Egypt to settle in Madian: "As he headed towards Madian, he said, "Perhaps my Lord will guide me to the right way."" (28:22). Of course, God has answered the prayers/supplication of Moses.

4- Moses returned to his people later on in Egypt, and the Israelites complained to him about the severe persecution inflicted on them by Pharaoh and Moses replied to them by supplicating to God: "They said, "We were persecuted before you came to us, and after you came to us." He said, "Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy, and make you successors in the land; then He will see how you behave."" (7:129). Of course, God has answered the prayers/supplication of Moses.

5- God has said the following to Muhammad: "And never say about anything, "I will do that tomorrow." Without saying, "If God so wills." And remember your Lord if you forget, and say, "Perhaps my Lord will guide me to nearer than this in guidance."" (18:23-24). This type of prayers/supplication is also a legislation to all Quran-believing people as well.

The term (perhaps) when employed within prayers/supplications uttered by other human beings among the non-prophets:

1- God has answered the prayers of the believing man who argued with the disbelieving neighbor in this Quranic parable: "His friend said to him, as he conversed with him, "Have you disbelieved in Him who created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then evolved you into a man? But as for me, He is God, my Lord, and I never associate with my Lord anyone. When you entered your garden, why did you not say, "As God wills; there is no power except through God"? Although you see me inferior to you in wealth and children. Perhaps my Lord will give me something better than your garden, and release upon it thunderbolts from the sky, so it becomes barren waste. Or its water will sink into the ground, and you will be unable to draw it." And ruin closed in on his crops, and so he began wringing his hands over what he had invested in it, as it lays fallen upon its trellises. And he was saying, "I wish I never associated anyone with my Lord." He had no faction to help him besides God, and he was helpless." (18:37-43).

2- Within this Quranic parable of the brothers who owned a garden and were stingy and God destroyed their lush garden, they supplicated to God to make amends for them after they repented: "They said, "Woe to us - we were indeed tyrants. Perhaps our Lord will give us a better substitute for it. We are turning to our Lord."" (68:31-32).

The term (perhaps) when employed within expressing hope or wishing:

This is not about prayers/supplications addressed to the Lord God, but about one's aspirations, hope, or wishes.

1- This is exemplified by what the Potiphar of Egypt said to his wife when he bought Joseph and brought him to his house while hoping to make him his adoptive son: "...Take good care of him; perhaps he may be useful to us, or we may adopt him as a son..." (12:21).

2- This is exemplified by what Moses' Pharaoh's wife said to her husband about hoping to make Moses her adoptive son: "Pharaoh's household picked him up, to be an opponent and a sorrow for them. Pharaoh, Haman, and their troops were sinners. Pharaoh's wife said, "An eye's delight for me and for you. Do not kill him; perhaps he will be useful to us, or we may adopt him as a son." But they did not foresee." (28:8-9).

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