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The fatiha in Hebrew; thoughts on poetry,

scripture, translation
In our second Qur'an class we focused on the fatiha, the opening sura of the Qur'an. Its seven
short verses make use of poetic techniques, especially assonance and rhyme. It's chock-full of
Hebrew-rabic cognates, and we talked about some of those. !"e also talked about ramaic-
rabic cognates# $ill e%plained that some words, including salat & set daily prayer and zakat &
charity, come to rabic from 'yriac, which was the language of the early (hristians and is
related to ramaic.)
I was so fascinated by the linguistic similarities that when I got home I googled *Hebrew
Qur'an,* and learned that the first official translation of the Qur'an into Hebrew is underway.
!+ther Hebrew translations have been available for some time, but are considered by some
,uslims to distort the meanings of the te%t.)
$ecause the first few lines of the fatiha were so intelligible to me, I wanted to read the whole
fatiha in Hebrew. t first I couldn't find a translation online, so I wondered, could I create one
of my own- s I read about the etymology of the rabic words I became increasingly intrigued
by the linguistic overlaps, so I decided to give it a shot, as an e%ercise to help me understand
the te%t more deeply. .he last couplet proved the most difficult, but when I got stuck there, I
tried searching for the first line as I'd rendered it in Hebrew, at which point I found three
Hebrew renderings of the fatiha, here / 0# and then a friend pointed me to another, here /
0 !with bonus commentary in Hebrew, if you're both interested 1 fluent.)
"ith assistance from those webpages, from this post about al-2atiha which offers a close
analysis of each rabic word, and from Israeli friends whose Hebrew is better than mine by far,
here's what I came up with. I offer this as food for thought and as a springboard for
conversation# no offense is intended, and if I've mangled either language, I do apologi3e4

bismi llhi r-rahmni r-rahm - in the 5ame of 6od, the (ompassionate, the (aring
& B'shem Elohim ha-rachaman v'ha-rachum
!" # $ %& '( )
al-hamdu li llhi rabbi l-lamn - praise be to God, lord sustainer of the worlds
* / ha-t'hilah l'Elohim rav kol olamim
+
r-rahmni r-rahm - the Compassionate, the Caring
/ ha-rachaman v'ha-rachum
,'" - . , / 0
mliki yawmi d-dn - master of the day of judgment
1 2 / melech yom ha-din
( 3 4 5 ,6

7 '( 8( 4 5 ,6

iyka na`budu wa iyka nasta`n - to you we turn to worship/serve; to you we turn


in time of need
1 29 ; 1 9 / ot'kha na'avod; alecha nashuv
: 3( ; <" ++++4' =
ihdin s-sirta l-mustaqm - guide us on the straight road (road of uprightness)
99 12 / hanchenu b'derech ha-yashar
> ? %@ A 4B

,C ; D
sirta l-ladhna an`amta `alayhim - the road of those to whom you are giving
*2 E9 / b'darcham shel eleh asher n'tiyat lahem
? %@ ! .F( G "F H 7
hayri l-mahd!bi `alayhim wa la d-dln - not those who receive your anger, who
have lost their way.
I / asher lo charon apo aleihem v'lo min hato'im"
ttempting even this small translation ma!es me hyper-conscious of the language of
these lines. "#n the name" is pretty straightforward (and the $ebrew words there match
the rabic ones closely), but by the second word #%m already ma!ing complicated
choices. &ome translations transliterate the word llah into $ebrew characters, as one
might phonetically render any name. 'thers use Elohim, one of the names of God in
the $ebrew scriptures. 'thers say ha-El, "the God," since that%s what "llah" means. #n
choosing to use this $ebrew name for God to render the rabic name for God, #%m
implicitly ma!ing a theological statement( that God is God, regardless of what name we
use.
# rendered nasta`n as nashuv because the )nglish translations # read suggested that
the rabic root signifies turning toward God in a time of need. *he $ebrew root # chose
is the root of the word teshuvah, repentance or return, which is much on our minds at
this time of year. #t doesn%t imply "in a time of need," necessarily, but # li!e the
resonance of it. t the end of the ne+t-to-last line, some of the translations # found
online add a word, chesed, which means loving!indness. #t%s not in the rabic, which
simply says "those to whom you are giving," but to my ear it sounds strange without a
direct object( giving what, # went bac! and forth on that, but decided in the end to
preserve the open-endedness of the rabic. #t felt li!e a more faithful translation,
though in the strictest sense any translation of the -ur%an is an interpretation anyway,
since only the rabic te+t is considered God%s revealed word.
s we wor!ed through the rabic words in class this wee!, # felt electrified by the
e+perience of beginning to understand the translation. &po!en rabic is almost
completely opa.ue to me, and written rabic even more so. (/ow, did # become aware
of that in 0erusalem this summer1) 2ut there%s a big difference between encountering
rabic in the streets, and encountering -ur%anic rabic in this way.
# aspire to be the !ind of rabbi who understands (and spea!s) some rabic, someday.
t my visit to the ll 3ations Caf4, # was moved by the number of participants who
were trilingual. $earing #sraelis and 5alestinians translating comfortably between
rabic, $ebrew, and )nglish was incredibly powerful for me. &o # loved hearing these
rabic verses, which are holy to my 6uslim friends, rendered slowly in a way that
allowed me to see the connections between rabic words and $ebrew words.
/hen # was a student at 2ennington, several of my teachers encouraged us to ma!e the
translation of poetry a regular part of our writing lives. #t enriches one%s attentiveness
to linguistic detail, they said, and it gives one a deeper appreciation both of the original
poem in the foreign tongue, and of translations into one%s own language. # haven%t done
much poetry translation, and #%d certainly never tried before to translate from a
language # do not spea! into a language where # still feel li!e a relative beginner1 (nd
#%m also aware that the -ur%an presents itself as something other than poetry7 # don%t
wholly understand the importance of the distinction, but 2ill has flagged it as
something we%ll be learning more about in the wee!s to come.)
&till, this process ma!es me feel differently about these opening verses of the -ur%an. #
!now them in a new way now. s a poet, and as someone who%s in relationship with my
own tradition%s holy te+ts, that%s a fascinating place to be.
ProofofGod Offline
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$"ote:
Originally Posted by arimoff
Kaddish - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
as you can see it is pretty old.
Shalom Arimof,
The link is indeed very informative.
Have you heard of the following prayer alled !Ha Pathah!"
HA PAT#HAH
$TH% OP%&'&G P(A)%(*
+% SH%, %-AH HA (AHA,',
'n the name of God, the ,ost Graious $%.r./012 3an.404*
T5H'-AH -5%-OH%'&6 ('+OH& HA7O-A,',
All praise be to God, -ord of the universe $8ewish liturgy*
HA (AHA,',
The ,ost Graious $3an.404*
,%-%9 )O, HA 3'&
,aster of the 3ay of 8udgment $8ewish terminology*
%-%9HA A3O&A) %:A(A ;% %- A3O&A) %T HA&A&
To you, O -ord, ' implore < and to my -ord ' seek help $Psalm =>04*
H%H%&' +% O(A#H ,'SHO(
Guide us in the straight path $Psalm ?@011*
A-%9H%T +% 3%(%H6 ;% -%)A(%H 'TTO
The way of life aording to His path by reverening Him $3eut A0B*
-% HA-A9 +% %TSAH ('SHAH ;% -A SAGHAH
&ot by the advie of the ursed, nor of the strayers $Psalm 1140?1*
' do not know if this is a pretty reent arrangement of +iblial verses or a very old inherited
prayer. ;hat is the origin of !Ha Pathah!" The answer would be eCtremely valuable.
Obviously Sura 1 of the :uran reads0
1:1
In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
1:2
Praise be to GOD, Lord of the universe.
1:3
Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
1:4
He who reigns over the Judgment da.
1:5 !
It is !ou whom we worshi"# it is from !ou that we see$ hel".
1:6 " #$ %!
Guide us onto the right "ath,
1:7 #& ' () *+ , -. *+ / -
%he "ath of those whom !ou blessed, not that of those who have incurred !our wrath, nor that of
those who have gone astra.
Peae.
DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
&'()* He is the One GOD# there is no other god beside Him. %he +ing, the Most ,acred, the Peace,
the Most -aithful, the ,u"reme, the .lmight, the Most Powerful, the Most Dignified. GOD be
glorified# far above having "artners.
http0EEwww.islamrevolution.orgEindeC.htm
Al-Fatiha in Hebrew
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