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Quranic Terminology: Sakan/Masaken

Quranic Terminology: Sakan/Masaken



Published in November 19, 2019

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy




 We trace the meanings of the derivations of both Quranic/Arabic terms sakan (a singular noun and a root-word which literally means: home/house & stability/serenity + a verb: to rest or be still) and masaken (a plural noun which literally means: homes/houses & chambers) in the points below.


Firstly: stability or motionlessness juxtaposed to mobility:

1- About the Lord God's Dominance and Kingship, we read the following: "To Him belongs whatever rests in the night and the day. He is the Hearing, the Knowing." (6:13).

2- This is about ships in seas moved by the winds: "And of His signs are the ships sailing the sea like flags. If He willed, He could have stilled the winds, leaving them motionless on its surface..." (42:32-33).


Secondly: sakan in the sense of serenity, calmness, and peace of mind:

 We mean, of course, the comfort/serenity (or sakina, a noun derived from the term/root sakan) in one's soul/heart resulting from the deep, monotheistic faith mentioned here: "Those who believe, and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of God. Surely, it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find comfort.”" (13:28).

1- "And their prophet said to them, “The proof of his kingship is that the Ark will be restored to you, bringing serenity/sakina from your Lord, and relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron. It will be carried by the angels. In that is a sign for you, if you are believers.”" (2:248).

2- Within a self-defense battle during Muhammad's lifetime: "God has given you victory in numerous regions...Then God sent down His serenity/sakina upon His messenger, and upon the believers; and He sent down troops you did not see; and He tormented those who disbelieved. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers." (9:25-26).

3- This is about Muhammad with another person inside a cave during his journey to Yathreb as an immigrant to flee from the unjust Meccan disbelievers: "If you do not help him, God has already helped him, when those who disbelieved expelled him, and he was the second of two in the cave. He said to his friend, “Do not worry, God is with us.” And God made His serenity/sakina descend upon him, and supported him with forces you did not see, and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the Word of God is the Highest. God is Mighty and Wise." (9:40).  

4- Within a certain self-defense battle followed by a peace treaty as per the Quranic Chapter 48: "It is He who sent down serenity/sakina into the hearts of the believers, to add faith to their faith. To God belong the forces of the heavens and the earth. God is Knowing and Wise." (48:4); "God was pleased with the believers, when they pledged allegiance to you under the tree. He knew what was in their hearts, and sent down serenity/sakina upon them, and rewarded them with an imminent victory." (48:18); "Those who disbelieved filled their hearts with rage - the rage of the days of ignorance. But God sent His serenity/sakina down upon His Messenger, and upon the believers, and imposed on them the words of righteousness - of which they were most worthy and deserving. God is aware of everything." (48:26).

5- The term sakan is employed here in the same meaning of sakina but in the sense of peace of mind, comfort, calmness, and serenity among human beings:

1- This is about Muhammad and the believing ones among his contemporaries: "Receive contributions from their wealth, to purify them and sanctify them with it; and pray for them. Your prayer is comfort/sakan for them..." (9:103).

2- This is about Adam and his wife: "It is He who created you from a single person, and made from it its mate, that he may find comfort/sakan with her..." (7:189).

3- This is about how the ideal marital life should be: "And of His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, so that you may find comfort/sakan in them; and He planted love and compassion between you. In this are signs for people who reflect." (30:21).


Thirdly: sakan in the sense of repose/rest by night juxtaposed with day which is for movement/work:

1- "It is He who made the night for your rest, and the daylight for visibility. Surely in that are signs for people who listen." (10:67).

2- "Do they not see that We made the night for them to rest therein, and the day for visibility? Surely in that are signs for people who believe." (27:86).

3- "It is He Who breaks the dawn. And He made the night for rest, and the sun and the moon for calculation. Such is the disposition of the Almighty, the All-Knowing." (6:96).

4- "It is God Who made the night for you, that you may rest therein; and the day allowing sight. God is gracious towards the people, but most people do not give thanks." (40:61).

5- "Say, “Have you considered? Had Allah made the day perpetual over you until the Day of Resurrection, which deity other than Allah will bring you night to rest in? Do you not see?” It is out of His mercy that He made for you the night and the day, that you may rest in it, and seek some of His bounty; and that you may give thanks." (28:72-73).


Fourthly: about the stability or settling of water into soil:

"And We sent down water from the sky in proper quantity, and settled it in the ground, and We are Able to take it away." (23:18).


Fifthly: masaken and sakan in the sense of house(s) or (abode) for human beings and other creatures:

1- This is about bees: "And your Lord inspired the bee: “Set up hives in the mountains, and in the trees, and in what they construct.”" (16:68).

2- This is about spiders: "The likeness of those who take to themselves protectors other than God is that of the spider. It builds a house. But the most fragile of houses is the spider’s house. If they only knew." (29:41).

3- This is about ants: "Until, when they came upon the Valley of Ants, an ant said, “O ants! Go into your homes, lest Solomon and his troops crush you without noticing.”" (27:18).

4- This is about Adam and his wife who inhabited Paradise as their abode: "We said, “O Adam, inhabit the Garden, you and your spouse, and eat from it freely as you please, but do not approach this tree, lest you become among the unjust ones.”" (2:35); "And you, Adam, inhabit the Garden, you and your spouse, and eat whatever you wish; but do not approach this tree, lest you become among the unjust ones..”" (7:19).

5- This is about types of homes/houses for human beings: "And God has given you in your homes habitats for you, and has provided for you out of the hides of livestock portable homes for you, so you can use them when you travel, and when you camp; and from their wool, and fur, and hair, furnishings and comfort for a while." (16:80).

6- This is about houses of divorced women which must be as per the financial level of the ex-husbands; these divorced women are never to leave their houses until the three-month period has passed or until they deliver their babies if they are pregnant: "O prophet! If any of you divorce women, divorce them during their period of purity, and calculate their term. And be pious before God, your Lord. And do not evict them from their homes, nor shall they leave, unless they have committed a proven adultery. These are the limits of God - whoever oversteps God’s limits has wronged his own soul. You never know; God may afterwards bring about a new situation." (65:1); "Allow them to reside where you reside, according to your means, and do not harass them in order to make things difficult for them..." (65:6).

Within the Quranic stories of prophets/messengers: sakan means to settle somewhere:

1- This is about Abraham when he left his wife and first-born son, Ishmael in Mecca: "“Our Lord, I have settled some of my offspring in a valley of no vegetation, by Your Sacred House, our Lord, so that they may perform the prayers. So make the hearts of some people incline towards them, and provide them with fruits, that they may be thankful.”" (14:37).

2- This is about Moses and the Israelites: "And it was said to them, “Settle this town, and eat therein whatever you wish, and speak modestly, and enter the gate in humility - We will forgive your sins, and will promote the righteous.”" (7:161).

3- This is about the Israelites settling in Egypt for a while, after the drowning of Moses' Pharaoh and his people, before heading  to the Promised Land: "After him, We said to the Israelites, “Settle in the land, and when the promise of the Hereafter arrives, We will bring you all together.”" (17:104).

4- By the way, this happened typically to believers, within stories of prophets/messengers, after the destruction of disbelievers/sinners; the Lord God has said the following to all prophets/messengers despite their different locations and eras: "“And We will settle you in the land after them. That is for him who fears My Majesty, and fears My threats.”" (14:14).

Within the destruction inflicted by the Lord God on disbelievers/sinners, they leave behind their homes/houses:

1- "And how many a city did We destroy for turning unappreciative of its livelihood? Here are their homes, uninhabited after them, except for a few. And We became the Inheritors." (28:58).

2- "How many an unjust town have We crushed, and established thereafter another people? Then, when they sensed Our might, they started running away from it. Do not run, but come back to your luxuries, and to your homes, that you may be questioned." (21:11-13).

3- "How many a town have We destroyed while it was doing wrong? They lie in ruins; with stilled wells, and lofty mansions." (22:45); sadly, this verse applies to the countries of the Muhammadans whose citizens witness such a repeated tragedy: facilities of the poor are out of order while few affluent, corrupt persons live in spacious mansions/palaces.

Some ruins of houses of the nations of disbelievers/sinners destroyed and smitten by the Lord God are still there so that believers draw useful lessons:

1- This is about the people of Aad: "It will destroy everything by the command of its Lord. And when the morning came upon them, there was nothing to be seen except their houses. Thus We requite the criminal people." (46:25).

2- This is about the people of Thamood: "“And remember how He made you successors after Aad, and settled you in the land. You make for yourselves mansions on its plains, and carve out houses in the mountains. So remember God’s benefits, and do not roam the earth while committing corruption.”" (7:74); "And you skillfully carve houses in the mountains?" (26:149); "So note the outcome of their planning; We destroyed them and their people, altogether. Here are their homes, in ruins, on account of their iniquities. Surely in this is a sign for people who know." (27:51-52).

3- This is about the people of Madian: "They used to carve homes in the mountains, feeling secure. But the Blast struck them in the morning." (15:82-83).

4- This is about the people of Sheba: "In Sheba’s homeland there used to be a wonder: two gardens, on the right, and on the left. “Eat of your Lord’s provision, and give thanks to Him.” A good land, and a forgiving Lord." (34:15).

5- The Qorayish tribesmen have been warned here as their trade caravan passed through the ruins of ancient nations destroyed by the Lord God: "Is it not instructive to them, how many generations before them We destroyed, in whose houses/masaken they walk? Surely in that are signs for people of understanding." (20:128); "Is it not a lesson for them, how many generations We have destroyed before them, in whose habitations/masaken they walk? Surely in that are signs. Do they not hear?" (32:26); "And Aad and Thamood. It has become clear to you from their dwellings/masaken. Satan embellished for them their deeds, barring them from the path, even though they could see." (29:38).

6- The Lord God has warned the contemporaries of Muhammad here: "Say, “If your parents, and your children, and your siblings, and your spouses, and your relatives, and the wealth you have acquired, and a business you worry about, and homes/masaken you love, are more dear to you than God, and His Messenger, and the struggle in His cause, then wait until God executes His judgment.” God does not guide the sinful people." (9:24).

7- The unjust disbelievers will hear the following on the Last Day: "And you inhabited the homes/masaken of those who wronged themselves, and it became clear to you how We dealt with them, and We cited for you the examples." (14:45); this means not only did they inherit and use the literal/physical homes/houses left by the unjust ones but also they followed their footsteps in committing enormous injustices and grave sins within a similar climate of injustice/tyranny. This is an invaluable lesson in the Quran never heeded by the enthroned tyrants or unjust pharaohs in the countries of the Muhammadans.


Lastly: masaken or chambers of the dwellers of Paradise:

 Of course, today's enthroned tyrants and their corrupt, affluent courtiers and retinue members vie in erecting many palaces and mansions and purchasing many yachts, jet-planes, fancy cars,...etc., and in most cases, they have not enough lifetime to enjoy all these possessions; they die leaving all such possessions behind. In contrast, the pious ones will enjoy Eternal Paradise and its bliss and pleasures include eternal homes/chambers wherein they will dwell forever: "God promises the believers, men and women, gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein forever, and fine homes/masaken in the Gardens of Eden. But approval from God is even greater. That is the supreme achievement." (9:72); "O you who believe! Shall I inform you of a trade that will save you from a painful torment? That you believe in God and His Messenger, and strive in the cause of God with your possessions and yourselves. That is best for you, if you only knew. He will forgive you your sins; and will admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow, and into beautiful mansions/masaken in the Gardens of Eden. That is the supreme success." (61:10-12). Of course, the Hell dwellers will have no homes and no settled land as they will suffer the endless cycle of torment for eternity without the least hope of getting out of it: "Here are two adversaries feuding regarding their Lord. As for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be tailored for them, and scalding water will be poured over their heads. Melting their insides and their skins.And they will have maces of iron.Whenever they try to escape the gloom, they will be driven back to it: “Taste the suffering of burning.”" (22:19-22). 

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