same, so [the Qur’an] calls [him] “blind,” extinguishing that hope too.
Fourthly: nothing now remains to him but to try to return. But the dark- ness has descended on him and he is like someone who has got stuck in a quagmire of his own accord and can find no way out. Indeed, how many matters there are that you get involved in willingly then against your will you cannot turn back; you desist from them but they do not let you go. So the Most High says: “and they cannot turn back” to shut this door on them too, severing this last cord that they were clinging on to. So they fall into the darkness of despair, desolation, wretchedness, and fear.
Now for the third aspect, I mean the positioning of
[and relationships between] the constituents of the phrases:
Consider “Their parable is that of people who kindle a fire (Mathaluhum ka-mathal alladhī istawqada nāran),” and see how the sparks of fine points fly off in all directions from its words.
The word “parable” indicates the strangeness of the dissemblers’ situation and that their story is remarkable. For a parable is something that is on every tongue and people recount it to each other because it is odd and unusual; its most salient characteristic is its curiousness. It is because fundamental principles are included in parables and proverbs that they are called “common wisdom” and “popular philosophy.” What is intended here by the parable is [to describe] this characteristic strangeness and their curious story and abhorrent state. In other words, the metaphorical use of the term “parable” to describe their situation indicates their being unusual and odd. And this indication implies that characteristically, this attribute of theirs is met with disgust and condemnation by everyone, as with a proverb.
As for the “ka-” of “ka-mathali – is that [the parable] of:”
• If you were to ask: If this had been omitted it would have been an elegant simile. Wouldn’t that have been more eloquent?
You would be told: It is of greater eloquence in this context (maqām) to mention it, for its explicitness alerts the mind, causing it to look on the parable in second place and to transfer from the main points [the parable is making] to what it is alluding to. For if [the reader’s mind] were to become intentionally absorbed in [the parable itself], its subtleties that should be applied [to what it is alluding to] would elude it.
The second [instance of the word] “parable (mathal)” indicates that with its strangeness and existence in the common mind, the situation of the one kindling the fire is as though proverbial.
Now for “who (alladhī):”