October 26, 2003

The rumor that a "son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle" is spoken of in Quran 9:11 (or anywhere in the Quran) is NOT true.

Stephen Wright's response to an email query

You wrote:

> I received this e-mail and cannot believe it to be true. Can you verify or dispel this?
> >
> >
> > This is something to think about! Since America is typically represented by
> > an eagle, Saddam should have read up on his Muslim passages... The following
> > verse is from the Quran, (the Islamic Bible)
> >
> > Quran (9:11) --For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a
> > fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of
> > Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more
> > rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there
> > was peace.
> >
> > Note the verse number!

Your hunch was correct.

Qur'an 9:11 says something completely unrelated to the apparently invented "quotation" that you received. I quote the Yusufali translation below from my website (www.wright-house.com/religions/islam/) of not only Surah 9 Ayah 11, but also of the surrounding Ayat (9-13). I also can't find anything remotely like that "quotation" anywhere else in the Qur'an.

In fact, what 9:11 says is that all those who repent, pray, and engage in charity are brothers in faith. The Qur'an recognizes the religious that worship God (that were present in that part of the world at that time--Jews, Christians, Sabians), and says their adherents will be saved (2:62 and 5:69).

According to a searchable database created by the Muslim Students Association at the University of Southern California (http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/reference/searchquran.html), the word "eagle" does not appear ANYWHERE in the Qur'an in ANY of the three translations that they provide (Yusufali, Pickthal, and Shakir).

Sometimes finding a reference in a translated work is a matter of alternate translations of key words. American symbolism holds the eagle to be noble and lofty (though Benjamin Franklin didn't want the national bird to be an eagle, because it was "a Bird of bad moral Character.") The symbolic significance of the eagle was not the same in all times and places. You may or may not be familiar with the verse in the Bible, Matthew 24:28, which reads "Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together" (Revised Standard Version). There is a footnote that gives "vultures" as an alternate translation for "eagles" (after all, eagles scavenge on dead bodies too). I also checked the Qur'an database for "eagles," "vultures," "vulture," but there was not a single result.

There are 15 Ayat that contain the word "birds" (as in "birds of prey," a possible substitute for "eagles"), and 4 that contain the word "bird." Most of these are clearly talking about literal birds (such as birds singing praise to Allah, birds being given life by Allah, the miracle of flight being given by Allah), and none of them are anything like the "quotation" you received.

Believe it or not, the word "Arabia" does not appear anywhere in the Qur'an either. There is only one Ayah (in ANY Surah, e.g., in the entire Qur'an) that contains the word "Arab," and that has to do with the Qur'an being revealed to Muhammad (PBUH) in Arabic.

Surah 9. Repentance, Dispensation

9. The Signs of Allah have they sold for a miserable price, and (many) have they hindered from His way: evil indeed are the deeds they have done.

10. In a Believer they respect not the ties either of kinship or of covenant! It is they who have transgressed all bounds.

11. But (even so), if they repent, establish regular prayers, and practise regular charity,- they are your brethren in Faith: (thus) do We explain the Signs in detail, for those who understand.

12. But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and taunt you for your Faith,- fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith: for their oaths are nothing to them: that thus they may be restrained.

13. Will ye not fight people who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the Messenger, and took the aggressive by being the first (to assault) you? Do ye fear them? Nay, it is Allah Whom ye should more justly fear, if ye believe!

      -Stephen Wright

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