What is “ism” in Surah 7:33?

Question

Salam,

In the translation of the Ayah 33 of Surah 7, where Allah (SWT) mentions the things which are absolutely Haram, Mr. Ghamidi translates the Arabic word

"ism" as "Haq Talfee" (usurping of rights). Most other translators translate it as "sin", such as Maududi, Muhammad Junagarih, and even Sahih International to name a few. Could you please elaborate the basis of why Mr. Ghamidi translates "ism" as infringement of rights, and not sin as other scholars have done so?

Best regards.


Answer

Salaam

اثم 'ism' in Arabic comes as an antonym of بر 'bir'. 'Bir' stands for giving due rights and 'ism' stands for usurping the rights of others. Yes it is generally used in the sense of sin, but in such cases it occurs in isolation without any indicator in the discourse that could move it from its generally understood meaning and that meaning depends on the context. However, here it occurs in consonance with فواحش 'fawaahish' and بغی 'baghyi'. Therefore, it cannot be translated vaguely as sin; because both these acts are also sins. Therefore, in this Aayah, just as in Qur'an 2:182, 'ism' connotes 'usurping the rights of others'.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

About the Author

Mushafiq Sultan


Mushafiq Sultan, born in Kashmir (Indian Administered) in 1988, has been studying world religions from his school days. In 2009 Mushafiq came across the works of Ustaz Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and since then has been highly influenced by his thought. He has an exceptional interest in world religions, their philosophies and their mutual relations. He formally joined Al-Mawrid in 2016 as Assistant Fellow (Honorary). Presently, he is in charge of Al-Mawrid’s query service. In 2016, he published his first book ‘Muhammad (sws) in the Bible- An Exposition on Isaiah 42’. He has written articles on Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. He has also translated several articles of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi into Hindi.

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