Muhammad Ali gives an interesting translation of verse 4 in Surah Falaq as “And from the evil of those that cast (evil suggestions) in firm resolutions.” This is a more general description as compared to other translators, who normally translate it as “And from those that blow over knots”. His translation is also derived from his understanding of how the Surah refers to the various levels of spiritual progression. The first level is total spiritual darkness of an individual, the second is when people attempt to cast aspersions in one’s decisions whose will is not yet strong, and the final stage is that of envy, where people will act in any manner to destroy one’s goals along with the individual himself, because that individual’s will has strengthened beyond being influenced by other’s aspersions.
This is also enhanced by the oaths themselves, which refer to how the light gradually penetrates from behind the horizon, taking the world from a state of total darkness to absolute light. These same states of evil are gradual progressions of spiritual advancement. Can you comment on his choice of translation for verse 4 in particular, if it is valid, and especially how it generalizes what normal commentators it seem narrow down to only an issue of magic?
The phrase under consideration can literally be translated as follows:
[I seek refuge] from those that breathe into knots…
The phrase “those that breathe into knots” is known to be generally used for those who try to cast magical spells on others.
I do not agree with the referred interpretation of the verses. The opinion is not supported by the common usage of the various phrases. The referred interpretation would only be considerable if it could be established that these phrases were commonly used in the classical Arabic language, in the particular sense that they are being interpreted.
I hope this helps.
April 15, 2002