Which sura is the shortest?

Sura 108 verses 1-3The principles of the Koran interpretation

"We have given you abundance. So pray to your Lord and sacrifice. He who hates you is deprived of good."

Practically all the principles and methods of historical-critical interpretation of the Koran can be demonstrated in this shortest sura, in German "section" of the Koranic text collection - here in the translation by Hans Zirker.

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For the common Muslim understanding, the three verses refer to an incident in Muhammad's life. The "hater" mentioned in verse 3 is an adversary of Muhammad whom God curses.

Manfred Kropp was director of the Orient Institute in Beirut and Istanbul for a long time. As a professor, he taught at home and abroad. (priv.)

Verses 1 and 2 remind Muhammad of the benefits of Allah and the duties arising therefrom. Almost all non-Muslim declarations follow this pattern almost slavishly. It is based on the idea and the attempt, wherever possible, to see a reference to Mohammed and his life in Koranic sentences.

Different explanations can only be found for the last Arabic word in verse 3 "abtar", translated here as "deprived of good", literally perhaps to be understood as "cut off", either as cut off from the goodness of Allah, or without me here can elaborate on the idea of ​​a progeny.

The last Arabic word in the first verse, "kawṯar", is either interpreted as "fullness", but would then have an unusual linguistic form. Or it is interpreted according to a proven principle of the Koran interpretation: "If you cannot understand or interpret the word, then it is a proper name"; in this case "kawṯar" is mostly understood as the name of one of the rivers in paradise. By the way, both words, "abtar" and "kawṯar", only appear once in the Koran.

One of the critical directions of scientific research into the Koran tries to see the Koranic texts as general religious statements. The expression "who hates you" would be a widely used description of the devil, the misanthropist and misanthropist par excellence.

Furthermore, the direct speech of God in the verses of this sura can be understood as an answer to a supplication. This is immediately apparent when one says this prayer. It would go something like this:

"Give me, (oh Lord) al-kawṯar!
Then I want to bless you, my Lord, and to slaughter sacrifices.
And whoever hates me should be 'cut off'! "

Incidentally, these formulations also sound good and authentic in Arabic. Such an explanatory procedure is particularly successful with Koranic texts. With this one can usually bring the numerous and often confusing changes of speaking, spoken and discussed in the Koran into a clear perspective.

However, in this transformation of the sura into a supplication, the two words in question "kawṯar" and "abtar" are only more noticeable than not being properly connected. This also applies to the word "naḥara" "slaughter" or "sacrifice" in verse 2, which also occurs only once in the Koran.

As a further step, albeit controversial in current research, the attempt is made to interpret these three words not from Arabic but from Aramaic. * "Kawṯar" would then be Aramaic "kuttara", which means: " Duration; steadfastness "; "naḥara" is read as "ngar" and then means "persistent, steadfast". And "abtar" becomes "atbar", derived from an Aramaic loan root often used in the Koran, meaning "completely shattered, annihilated, ruined".

A text of sura 108 reconstructed from the Aramaic would read as follows:

"We gave you steadfastness!
So pray steadfastly to your Lord!
But he who hates you (the devil) will be crushed! "

*The author attaches particular importance to the statement that the Aramaic interpretation of words in the Sura was first published by Christoph Luxenberg in 2000.

The audio version is a slightly shortened version of this text for reasons of broadcasting time.