A Question on a Qur’ānic Usage
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

The Qur’ān has used the word ‘Rasūl’ (Messenger) for ‘a person who is sent’ and at several places it used as a word to connote a person commissioned by the Almighty to serve Him for some divine tasks. I gather that the former is the literal meaning of this word, while in the latter meaning it is used as a term. My question is that why does the Qur’ān use a word in its literal meaning and also as a term because it becomes difficult to understand which is implied where?


This usage of the Qur’ān is a common feature of all languages. We can find examples of several words in every language which are both used in the literal sense and as a term. It is not at all difficult to understand which is implied where. Even a casual deliberation leads us to the correct meaning. Let me give you some examples from the English Language.

The word ‘blessing’ literally means ‘a favour’ (specially from the Almighty) and as a term denotes a short prayer. The word ‘resistance’ literally means ‘hindrance’, ‘obstruction’ but as a term of Physics connotes ‘the opposition offered by a conductor to an electric current’. The word ‘pentagon’ means ‘a five sided geometrical figure’ but as a term connotes the defence headquarters of the US. The list is almost endless.

You would agree that there is no difficulty in recognizing what sense a word conveys where.

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