It is important to note that Yusuf Ali, Sarwar, Khalifa, Al-Hilali & Khan, and Pickthall use the term "forelock" (or the hair on the forehead) while only Shakir uses the word "forehead".
We need to look at the historical and literary context of this passage before we make generalizations concerning anatomy! What was the significance of the "forelock" in Muhammad's time and how did this term fit into the events described in this passage?
The man with the "lying sinful forelock" was none other than Abu Jahl, a major enemy and source of problems for Muhammad. Abu Jahl was a rather disgusting fellow. On one occasion, he dumped a camel's intestine on Muhammad's back while he was praying at the Kaa'bah. (see Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 4, Number 241)
The incident recorded in Sura 96:15-16 is recounted in Sahih Muslim, Book 38, Number 6718:
AbuJahl asked (people) whether Muhammad placed his face (on the ground) in the presence. It was said to him: Yes. He said: By Lat and Uzza, if I were to see him do that, I should trample his neck, or I should besmear his face with dust.
He came to Allah's Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) as he was engaged in prayer and thought of trampling his neck. (The people say) that he came near him but turned upon his heels and tried to repulse something with his hands. It was said to him: What is the matter with you? He said: There is between me and him a ditch of fire and terror and wings. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) said: If he had come near me the angels would have torn him to pieces.
Then Allah, the Exalted and glorious, revealed this verse--(the narrator) said: We do not know whether it is the hadith transmitted to AbuHurayrah or something conveyed to him from another source: "Nay, man is surely inordinate, because he looks upon himself as self-sufficient. Surely to thy Lord is the return. Hast thou seen him who forbids a servant when he prays? Seest thou if he is on the right way, or enjoins observance of piety? Seest thou if he (AbuJahl) denies and turns away? Knowest he not that Allah sees? Nay, if he desists not, We shall seize him by the forelock--a lying, sinful forelock. Then let him summon his council. We shall summon the guards of the Hell. Nay! Obey not thou him" (lcvi.6-19). (Rather prostrate thyself.)
Ubaydullah made this addition: It was after this that (prostration) was made obligatory, and Ibn AbdulAla' made this addition that by Nadia he meant his people.
Our claimants continue:
Yes, but the question is: what is the meaning and significance of "forelock" in the Qur'an and Hadith? In Muhammad's day, horses were often pulled by the forelock. Wives and slave girls could also be pulled by the forelock: Malik's Muwatta, Book 28, Number 28.22.52:
Even Satan can grab us by the forelock:
Malik's Muwatta, Book 3, Number 3.15.61:
Last, but certainly not least, God can lead us by the forelock, Sahih Muslim, Book 34, Number 6551:
AbuSalih used to command us (in these words): When any one of you intends to go to sleep, he should lie in bed on his right side and then say: "O Allah, the Lord of the Heaven, the Lord of the Earth and the Lord of the Magnificent Throne; our Lord, and the Lord of everything: the Splitter of the grain of corn and the date-stone (or fruit kernel), the Revealer of the Torah, Injil (Bible) and the Criterion (the Holy Qur'an), I seek refuge in Thee from the evil of everything Thou art to seize by the forelock (thou hast perfect control over it).
The Qur'an tells us (Sura 11:56):
Yusuf Ali : "I put my trust in Allah, My Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving creature, but He hath grasp of its fore-lock. Verily, it is my Lord that is on a straight Path.
Pickthall: Lo! I have put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Not an animal but He doth grasp it by the forelock! Lo! my Lord is on a straight path.
Shakir: Surely I rely on Allah, my Lord and your Lord; there is no living creature but He holds it by its forelock; surely my Lord is on the right path.
It is interesting to note that Shakir translated nassiyyah as "forelock" in this Sura while he translated it as "forehead" in Sura 96:15.
But that is not what the Qur'an says! If we read Sura 96:15, paying special attention to the denotative meaning of "forelock" (nassiyyah) used in the Qur'an and the Hadith, a very different interpretation emerges. Sura 96:15 warns Abu Jahl that God will grab him by the "forelock", or the hair on the front of his head, if he does not behave himself. As I mentioned earlier, the Hadith tells us that animals as well as humans can be grabbed by the "forelock" and, according to the Qur'an, God holds all living things by the "forelock". The lying sinful part is probably a bit of hyperbole that Muhammad threw in for good measure.
The Qur'an DOES NOT claim, nor does it imply, that man's thoughts or sins originate in the "forelock". Where do these thoughts and sins originate according to the Qur'an?
So, according to the literal interpretation of the Qur'an, our thoughts, lies, and sins are in our breasts, not in our "forelock"!
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