How Arabic definitions work?


How do Arabic Definitions work?

To understand the Scientific definitions given in this section, we need to understand the following points:

1 – Arabic words are ‘Description words’.
They describe different phenomena, and if that description word matches another object which is similar in description, a similar root word will be used.

An example: the word ‘Alaq = that which Clings/Holds on to something else.

If we use this Word and its Definition, it can be applied to different concepts;

Example #1:
The statement: ‘they became attached (‘allaqat) to it and adopted (ta’Allaqoo) it as their culture.’

So the word ‘Alaq implies in this (classical) sentence of the ‘Arabs that these people Held/Clinged onto something (a culture), because they became Attached to it.

Example #2:
The Classical Arabs also called a Leech, ‘Ulooq / doodat al ‘Alaq (Leech worm), because the Leech CLINGS onto the skin and sucks blood.

Example #3:
Refers to the human Embryo which HANGS/Clings to the lining of the uterus (womb).
All these words are based on the same root letters of; ‘Ayn-Lam-Qaf [‘A-L-Q]. So we see that all these meanings are;

a –  Directly rooted to describing ‘Hanging/clinging’ (this is what the root of; ‘A-L-Q means).
b –  Is used in Classical Arabic by the Arabs also.
c –  If a Description Word describes a phenomena which was unknown to the Arabs earlier in Islamic history, that Description word can still be used today. (i.e. now that we know the human embryo Hangs/Clings off the Uterus, we can be amazed at the Qur’an using this specific word when many others could have potentially been used instead of it.)


In Relation to Explanation of Qur’an;

When scholars do explanation (tafseer) of the Quran, they consider the Arabic language at the time of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasalam) or before him, since Arabic was at its purest form during that time period (undistorted by other cultures and languages).

This is why the Quranic definitions in this Science section have been produced from Classical Arabic Lexicons like Lisaan al ‘Arab, Taaj al Uroos etc. Since these lexicons main aim was to produce the Classical, original and pure Arabic words and their meaning and usage from the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and from before him.
Let’s see some examples of how Scholars of Tafseer (Quranic explanation) used Classical Root words and their meanings to reach their conclusions;


The word Bakkah in the Quran – surah aal Imran (3:96) implies the city of Makkah in Arabia.

Scholars gave different interpretations of this word, based on Classical Arabic language.

Some said it comes from the root Bakk = Overcrowdedness. (because it is overcrowded during Hajj pilgrimage.)

Others said, it comes from; BuKaa = to Cry. (i.e. When you are in Bakkah, you feel in awe and cry out of repentance.)

Their is a difference in explanation, but both explanations make sense- even if we combined their meanings.

So by looking at these differences between the scholars interpretations, we can see that; so long as words are based on their Classical Root meaning (in this case it was the root letters; B-K-K), we may be able to combine their Classical meanings which are related to the context of the Quranic verse. And then describe i.e. Bakkah as the city of Makkah which is Overcrowded (Bakka) during Hajj, and makes you Cry (Bukaa) out of awe and repentance.


Final Point about Root Meanings:

Even though there are alot of phrases using one Root word, they all have a similar Root meaning.

We are to target this Root meaning and apply it to the Word in the Ayah/verse.

Then 2 approaches are taken:

a – the classical interpretations are taken.

b – In addition to (a), we can understand the modern scientific implications (while using the Classical arabic).

The fact that an accurate Root word was mentioned instead of others is part of the miraculous nature of the text.


There will be some meanings of the Classical Root word whose meanings will not be added, due to either of the following reasons;

i – they weren’t mentioned in classical explanations.
ii – they are not relevant in context.
I.e. As you will see – when I mention the 4th meaning of ‘Maniy’ referring to MuSeebah – (a calamity which Strikes you), we saw that it’s meaning was Irrelevant (as per our understanding.). So it was discarded.
NOTE: This is not a ‘pick and choose’ of meanings, because the root meaning of the word is the same anyway, its application in context is only different.]
End word: the fact that an Accurate Root word was used to describe the concept, when easily another word from Arabics rich vocabulary could be used instead of it, shows a part of the miraculous nature of Word Choice in the Quran.

Source : LinguisticMiracle

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Hafsa was born and brought up in India. After receiving the blessings of Allah and the light of Islam she migrated to Qatar with her family. She is now a Muslim by the grace of Allah practicing Islam since around 4 years. Constantly trying to learn and share whatever she learns. The most important thing is to learn from the right source. To spread the right knowledge. She started off with this website with her brothers and husband only to learn and share from the right source. The visitors of this page are free to use the content only for the right cause and strictly without any alterations. Anybody who finds a flaw in the content are free to criticize while providing the right sources. Taqabbal Allahu Minna wa Minkum, Ameen