Saturday, September 29, 2007

Expressions in the Qur'an II

A simile is described as a comparison of two unlike things, typically marked by use of "like", "as", "than", or "resembles" 1

The Qur’an employs similes (amthal, singular mathal (مَثَلُ)) to explain certain truths or to drive home important points of the message. Similes are used by likening it to something well known or describing it in a pictorial, vivid manner. They are referred to the natural phenomena and existential situation the Arab was most familiar with, but one does not have to be an Arab to feel their force.

The particle كَ is used in the meaning of "like", "as", "than", or "resembles". It is also interesting to note that the كَ is a harfe Jar, therefore the word following it will be Majroor (in the state of Jar)

1. Jews who have the Torah but do not profit by it are compared to an ass loaded with books:

مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ حُمِّلُوا التَّوْرَاةَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَحْمِلُوهَا كَمَثَلِ الْحِمَارِ يَحْمِلُ أَسْفَارًا
THE PARABLE of those who were graced with the burden of the Torah, and thereafter failed to bear this burden, is that of an ass that carries a load of books [but cannot benefit from them] [62.5].

2. The works of unbelievers, from which they hope to benefit at the Judgement, are like ashes blown away by the wind [14.18], or like a mirage which appears to be water, but, when one comes to it, turns out to be nothing [24.39].

مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ بِرَبِّهِمْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَرَمَادٍ اشْتَدَّتْ بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي يَوْمٍ عَاصِفٍ
the parable of those who are bent on denying their Sustainer: all their works are as ashes which the wind blows about fiercely on a stormy day [14.18]

وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَسَرَابٍ بِقِيعَةٍ يَحْسَبُهُ الظَّمْآنُ مَاء حَتَّى إِذَا جَاءهُ لَمْ يَجِدْهُ شَيْئًا
But as for those who are bent on denying the truth, their [good] deeds are like a mirage in the desert, which the thirsty supposes to be water - until, when he approaches it, he finds that it was nothing [24.39].

1. Wikipedia

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Surah Kahf: An Explanation of the Dua of the Young Men

Surah Kahf starts off with the story of the men who fled from the torture of their disbeliever king, and took refuge in a cave. The first ayah we read on these young believing men is their dua. Sheikh Sohail Hanif1, explains how beautiful this dua is.

When the young men fled for refuge to the Cave and said: Our Lord! Give us
mercy from Thy presence and shape for us right conduct in our plight

إِذْ أَوَى الْفِتْيَةُ إِلَى الْكَهْفِ فَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا آتِنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّئْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا

Let's do a breakdown of the words used in this ayah:

  • الْفِتْيَةُ fitya - young men. Another usage of this term- chivalrous (indicate strength of character)
  • لَّدُن ladun - indicates a place near or next to something. They put the term “from you” in front of their dua. They're asking for a direct mercy, not from any intermediary distance.
    The prayer they made- O Our Lord, O you who cares about us, grant us, from you, a special mercy, not the general mercy of life and gifts in life.
    What they are asking for is all good- the good of this world and the hereafter, a mercy which will save them from all humiliation, a mercy which will free them from all hardships completely
    Their circumstance at the time of supplication was that they were in dire need, in a time when every opposite thing was expected, starvation, their fate threatened to be taken away from them, and to be exiled forever from their loved ones.
  • َهَيِّئْ hayyi' - The idea here is “to prepare something” [translated here as shape for us]
  • أَمْر amr - Meaning their circumstances [Translated here as right conduct]
    Make easy for us, our circumstance
  • رَشَدًا rashad - The meaning encompasses (1) goodness or khair, (2) an-nafu: everything most beneficial to one, and (3) salaah: everything perfect and upright
    Oh Allah make our circumstances, and grant us in it complete rashad

Subhanallah, this dua was answered by Allah subhana wa ta'ala.

How did Allah give the men rashad?

  • By warding off the enemies from the cave.
  • Also Allah showed them to the cave, the cave was in a perfect location
  • He put them to sleep and they woke up in times of belief
  • And finally, the most beautiful part to me is that, He made them a sign for all of mankind

What an immense reward Subhanallah!

Benefit of reciting this prayer :

  • Gathers together all good of this world.
  • It's a sign of Allah (swt) accepting the duas soon after they are made.
1. Commentary on Key Chapters of the Qur'an

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Expressions in the Qur'an

There are a number of expressions used in the Quran. Some are used to clarify, others used to draw an imagery.

In Surah Al bayyinah (96) verse 16, Allah SWT uses a hyperbole. A hyperbole is a figure of speech in which statements are exaggerated. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, and is not meant to be taken literally1

نَاصِيَةٍ۬ كَـٰذِبَةٍ خَاطِئَةٍ۬ - translated as "The lying, sinful forelock"

If you look back at verse 13, there's a mention of a "kadhib" - a liar, someone who denies. From there on the verses describe the punishment of such a person. And verse under question declares the forelock as lying and sinful, as if to say, the person is so sinful, that every part of him is sinful.

This is an instance of a part of the body being attributed with the attribute of the whole. He is such a big liar that, it is as if every part of his body lies seperately. That's the stage of his sins - gives us an idea of the extreme2

1. Defination of Hyperbole, Wikipedia
2. Tafseer Ruhul Ma 'aani

Friday, September 14, 2007

Conjunctions in the Qur'an III


Indicates choice. Can also mean unless, except, that when followed by a subject.

Here's a beautiful ayah, that starts with this conjunction:

أَوْ كَالَّذِي مَرَّ عَلَى قَرْيَةٍ وَهِيَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَى عُرُوشِهَا قَالَ أَنَّىَ يُحْيِـي هَـَذِهِ اللّهُ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا فَأَمَاتَهُ اللّهُ مِئَةَ عَامٍ ثُمَّ بَعَثَهُ قَالَ كَمْ لَبِثْتَ قَالَ لَبِثْتُ يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ قَالَ بَل لَّبِثْتَ مِئَةَ عَامٍ فَانظُرْ إِلَى طَعَامِكَ وَشَرَابِكَ لَمْ يَتَسَنَّهْ وَانظُرْ إِلَى حِمَارِكَ وَلِنَجْعَلَكَ آيَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَانظُرْ إِلَى العِظَامِ كَيْفَ نُنشِزُهَا ثُمَّ نَكْسُوهَا لَحْمًا فَلَمَّا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ قَالَ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ اللّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
Or (take) the similitude of one who passed by a hamlet, all in ruins to its roofs. He said: "Oh! how shall Allah bring it (ever) to life, after (this) its death?" but Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again). He said: "How long didst thou tarry (thus)?" He said: (Perhaps) a day or part of a day." He said: "Nay, thou hast tarried thus a hundred years; but look at thy food and thy drink; they show no signs of age; and look at thy donkey: And that We may make of thee a sign unto the people, Look further at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh." When this was shown clearly to him, he said: "I know that Allah hath power over all things." [2:259]

It's interesting that this ayah follows the one where Ibrahim (as) asks the King to bring the sun from the West, but the King disbelieves. And in the ayah after it, the one above, Allah (swt) shows that even Ibrahim (as) wondered about life after death.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Conjunctions in the Qur'an II


Meaning: and, and also, and... too

و ان : even if, even though, although

و لو : even if, even though, even in case that

و لكن : but, however, yet

This conjunction, with the all too familiar meaning of 'and' (simultaneity) conveys slightly different meanings depending on how it's used in sentences, although it's usage is fairly flexible.

In a previous post, Hafsa discussed the different types of "ifs". That will give you an idea of how the different meanings appear in the Qur'an.
As much as using these particles are important to convey the meaning you want, when such particles are omitted in parallel ayahs in the Qur'an, there's a significance to that which Sh Sohail Hanif explains1 .

In Surah Ash-Shu'ara two verses are repeated, with a subtle difference.

  • قَالُوا إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مِنَ الْمُسَحَّرِين مَا أَنتَ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُنَا
    Thay said: "Thou art only one of those bewitched! "Thou art no more than a mortal like us: ..." [26:153-154]
  • قَالُوا إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مِنَ الْمُسَحَّرِين و مَا أَنتَ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُنَا
    They said: "Thou art only one of those bewitched! "Thou art no more than a mortal like us, ..." [26:185-186]

In the first instance, people are speaking to Prophet Saleh (pbuh), and in the second, it's to Prophet Shuaib (pbuh). Yusuf Ali translated (الْمُسَحَّرِين) musahharin as bewitched in both the ayahs. However, musahharin has two meanings- one is to be bewitched, and the other is "to be from from those who eat and drink"- In other words, you are nothing but a man like us.

Scholars have differed in the meanings of these verses- Are the people saying you are bewitched, or are they saying you are from those who eat and drink?
In the second ayah, the و means and. So the translation is, You are from the musahharin, and you are like us.

Dr Fadhl Abbas says because of the missing و in the first instance, both ayahs refer to the same meaning, which is, you are from those who eat and drink, you are like us. And in the latter it means bewitched, because the two verses are separated by an and.
This is not only a miracle in the concise use of language, but also in historical accuracy. The early prophets weren't accused of being bewitched. And it appears that sorcery became a widespread phenomena in the Pharoanic Egypt. Shuaib (as) was in Madyan as the same time as Prophet Musa (as). Prophet Saleh was from the Prophets of early Arabia.

And we derive all these facts because of the و .

1 Introduction to the Qur'an- SunniPath

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Types of "if"


A harf; used when you are looking back at events. It is also used for hypothetical statements. ل indicates the start of the second phrase


لَوْ أَنزَلْنَا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَى جَبَلٍ لَّرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعًا مُّتَصَدِّعًا مِّنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ
Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah. Al-Hashr [59:21]


A harf; used for connecting two future events. For instance, 'if something happens, something will happen'. If إِن enter on a ماضى (past) verb, then the meaning of the verb changes to present.

انْ جَاءك زيدٌ
here the verb - جَاء - is a ماضى
(past) verb, but the translation is, if Zaid comes to you. The verb has changed to مضارى (present)
If it enters on a
مضارى (present) verb, then the meaning is restricted to مستقبل (future)


وَإِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا
And if you doubt any part of what We have, bestowed from on high, step by step, upon Our servant [Muhammad]...... 2:23

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Rabbi Zidni 'ilma

(20:114) وقُلْ ربِّ زِدْنِي عِلْماً




منادى مضاف لياء المتكلم المحذوفه

فعل امر


Evocation (Calling out, hidden “oh”)

Rabb is connected to pronoun “my” (which has been dropped) to form “my lord”.

The “my” pronoun can be dropped because nasb pronouns are allowed to be omitted. The indication of the drop is with the kasra on "ب"

second person command verb (active)

the object of the verb is the rest of the sentence




وعملا ً مفعول به ثان

اؤ تميز

فعل امر والنون للوقاية

والياء مفعول به اوٌل

Second object to the command verb

تميز is a noun that removes the ambiguity or

Command verb (Active)

The “nun” is the “nun” of protection (because it protects the end of the word from any change. It doesn’t hold any meaning)

“ya” (meaning “my”) is the first object of the command verb

Meaning: and say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.

Source: Irab-ul-Quran - Muhuddin Darwish

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Conjunctions in the Qur'an I

Meaning: then, and then, and so, so, but, thus, however, because, so that, and so

فانَّ: for, because

This is a common conjunction that occurs over and over again in the Qur'an, which implies a close connection between sentences before and after it. This connection may be either definite cause and effect or a natural sequence of event.

  1. Cause and effect:
    فَتَلَقَّى آدَمُ مِن رَّبِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ
    Then Adam learnt from his Lord (certain) words and He repented towards them [2:37]
  2. وَرَأَيْتَ النَّاسَ يَدْخُلُونَ فِي دِينِ اللَّهِ أَفْوَاجًا فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوَّابًا
    And thou seest mankind entering the religion of Allah in troops. Then hymn the praises of thy Lord, and seek forgiveness of Him. Lo! He is ever ready to show mercy [110:2-3]

  3. Natural sequence:
    الَّذِي خَلَقَ فَسَوَّى
    Who hath created and then proportioned [87:2]

    وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا
    And a soul and Him who perfected it. And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it [91:7-8]

  4. Junction of two phrases following the particle denoting the result of a condition in the other:
    قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي
    Say: If you love Allah follow me [3:31]

    فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ وَلَن تَفْعَلُواْ فَاتَّقُواْ النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِين
    And if you cannot do it-and most certainly you cannot do it-then be conscious of the fire whose fuel is human beings and stones which awaits all who deny the truth! [2:24]

Friday, August 3, 2007

Why Arabic?

The Qur'an

  1. Translations or interpretations are not considered to be the Qur'an itself
  2. The Qur'an explicitly declares itself an Arabic recital 11 times
  3. The unanimously agreed upon aspect of the Qur'anic miracle is its language.
  4. Concentration in prayer is contingent upon the understanding of recitation.

Sahabah on the subject of Arabic

Abu Bakr:
"I'd rather forget a portion of Qur'an than make a grammatical mistake."

"Learn Arabic as it increases your dignity"

"Learn Arabic as it is from your way of life. Learn your religious obligations as they also are from your way of life"

"Develop a grammatically sound understanding of the Qur'an, for no doubt it is meant to be in Arabic"

"No one should be teaching the Qur'an except the one who knows the language well."

Ibn Abi Ka'b:
"Teach your children Arabic like you teach them to memorize Qur'an"

"Learn Arabic as it enhances intellectual capacity"

Ibn Abbas:
"The wishful thinking imposed on the Book in regards to the Sons of Israel mentioned in Al Baqarah actually refers to the fact they knew their Book only in terms of recitation and memorization, not knowing what truly lies therein"

Scholarly Points of Views

Al Suyooti:
"There is no possibility of a path leading to knowledge of the Qur'an and to a valid inquiry to its meanings except by one diving deep into this language first"

Ibn Taymiyyah:
"It is no secret that the Arabic language is the symbol of Islam and its people"

"On account of the fact that Allah sent His book in the Arabic language, chose its communicator to be an Arab who expounded on its teachings in Arabic, and chose from the Arab people the generation of role models, there remain no alternatives to a deep study of Arabic if a strong grasp, rather even a familiarity of this way of life is sought after."

"The Arabic language is a component of this way of life and its awareness is a binding obligation"

Al Shafi'i:

"It is absolutely mandatory on every Muslim to study the Arabic language to the utmost of his ability. Thereafter whatever he pursues of Islamic knowledge will actually be of significant benefit"

"I spent twenty years in the study of Arabic literature intending nothing from it but assistance in acquiring a truly grounded understanding of Islam"

Source: Why Arabic by The Bayyinah Arabic Studies Institute

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Introducing the authors

Hafsa: QLC opened the door for Hafsa to learn Arabic, three years ago in 2005. Now, for a year, Hafsa has been a student of Mufti Yusuf Mullan, of the Toronto Shariah Program. Hafsa's an avid learner of the language, with a keen interest in Qur'anic Arabic.

Humairah: Hailing from the Middle East, Humairah has a good command on every day Arabic vocabulary. Humairah started off with Quran Learning Course (QLC), and is currently studying with the Toronto Shariah Program. In addition, Humairah is a teaching assistant to an Introductory Arabic course on SunniPath this summer 2007.

Kahkashan: Kahkashan started off with QLC as well, and joined the Toronto Shariah program at the same time as Hafsa and Humairah, in February 2006. She now teaches the QLC course in Pickering.


In life, we often learn and experience new things, and often, that creates a desire within us to do something different, to initiate a change that will make an everlasting impact, to spread waves that are as powerful as the waves in the ocean and to open up a new door into an exciting world, colorful, better and... just different :)

That doesn't really have anything to do with Arabic, does it? I thought so!

The purpose of this blog, inshallah, will be to educate ourselves (the authors), and our readers with what we consider interesting and informative in the language. Our goal will be to be resourceful (so you'll find lots of link on the side), diverse (so from time-to-time we'll have guest writers), and educational (we'll teach you what we learn in our style).

We'll talk about verbs (lots of them!), verses from the Qur'an, grammatical complexities, beauty of the language, and if you're lucky, we'll even talk about our exciting journeys to seek knowledge :D

Personally, I'm honored to be part of this blog with 2 of my friends, so we will strive to bring the best in us.

And our dua is...

Allahumma 'allimna ma yanfa 'una, wa anfa 'na bima 'allamtana wa zidna 'ilma. (Ibn Majah)

اللهُمَّ علِّمنا مَا يَنْفَعُنا وَانْفَعْنا بِما عَلَّمتَنَا وزِدْنَا عِلما
[O Allah, help us learn what is beneficial to us, help us benefit from what You have enabled us to learn, and increase to our knowledge.]