Dr. Rashad Khalifa provided the following translation for verse 40 of Sura 22, Pilgrimage (Al-Hajj / الحج ) of the Quran.

[22:40] They were evicted from their homes unjustly, for no reason other than saying, “Our Lord is GOD.” If it were not for GOD’s supporting of some people against others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and masjids—where the name of GOD is commemorated frequently—would have been destroyed. Absolutely, GOD supports those who support Him. GOD is Powerful, Almighty.

 الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُمْ بِبَعْضٍ لَهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيهَا اسْمُ اللَّهِ كَثِيرًا وَلَيَنْصُرَنَّ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَنْصُرُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَقَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ

Some translators dispute this translation in regards to how Dr. Khalifa translated the following four words: ṣawāmiʿu ( صَوَامِعُ ), wabiyaʿun ( وَبِيَعٌ ), waṣalawātun ( وَصَلَوَاتٌ ), and wamasājidu ( وَمَسَاجِدُ ).

Two popular translations of the Quran among Quranists that provide a different translation are “The Quran: A Monotheist Translation” by The Monotheist Group and the “Quran: A Reformist Translation” by Edip Yüksel. Below are their translations of 22:40.

[Edip-Layth, 22:40] The ones who were driven out of their homes without justice, except that they said, “Our Lord is God!” If it were not for God defending people against themselves, then many places of gathering, markets, support centers, and temples where the name of God is frequently mentioned, would have been destroyed. God will give victory to those who support Him. God is Powerful, Noble.

[The Monotheist Group, 22:40] The ones who were driven out of their homes without justice, except that they said: “Our Lord is God!” And if it were not for God defending the people against themselves, then many places of gathering, and markets, and contact prayers, and temples where the name of God is frequently mentioned, would have been destroyed. God will give victory to those who support Him. God is Powerful, Noble.

Below is a summary of how each translation translates each of these words.

ArabicTransliterationKhalifaYükselM.G.
صَوَامِعُṣawāmiʿumonasteriesplaces of gatheringplaces of gathering
وَبِيَعٌwabiyaʿunand churchesand marketsand markets
وَصَلَوَاتٌwaṣalawātunand synagoguesand support centersand contact prayers
وَمَسَاجِدُwamasājiduand masjids –and templesand temples

So what evidence is there to justify the translation by Dr. Rashad Khalifa for these four words?

Sawāmiʿu ( صَوَامِعُ )

The word ṣawāmiʿu ( صَوَامِعُ ) comes from the root ( ص م ع ) and occurs only one time in the entire Quran. From this root, we get the meaning of a minaret, a monastery, a monk’s cell, or a cloister (a monastery or convent devoted to religious seclusion). Below are excerpts from various dictionaries of the Quran and Classical Arabic.

Dictionaries of Quran and Classical Arabic

Biyaʿun ( بِيَعٌ )

The word biyaʿun ( بِيَعٌ ) comes from the root ( ب ي ع ) and occurs 15 times in the Quran. In all other occurrences, this word is used in the context of trade, transaction, pledge, contract, or business. 22:40 is the only occurrence in the Quran where the root is used for the word church. The connection with the word “church” as used in 22:40 is believed to be of Syriac origin from the word ܒܝܥܬܐ • (bēʿṯā) f (plural ܒܝܥܬܐ (bēʿāṯā) or ܒܝܥܐ‎ (bēʿē)) which means egg or arch in connection with the rounded structure of the Syrian churches in Persia called by this name.

Salawātun ( صَلَوَاتٌ )

The word ṣalawātun ( صَلَوَاتٌ ) comes from the root ( و ص ل ), which means to connect or join. The term synagogue comes from the Greek words sun and agó, which forms the word sunagógé ( συναγωγή ), and means “to bring together” and is understood as a “place of assembly.” Therefore a ṣalawātun ( صَلَوَاتٌ ) in the context of a place would be best translated as a synagogue, a place where people connect, join, or assemble for worship.

Masājidu ( مَسَاجِدُ )

This last word does not have much ambiguity as the word in Arabic masājidu ( مَسَاجِدُ ) is identical to its meaning in English, which is masjid. The term masājidu ( مَسَاجِدُ ) comes from the root ( س ج د ), which means to prostrate. In Classical Arabic, when the prefix ( م ) is added to a word, it signifies a person or place that possesses that quality. So a masjid would be literally a place of prostration, or as understood in English, a masjid as translated by Dr. Rashad Khlafa.

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