Friday, March 27, 2020

Shades of Meanings in Quranic Words 01

Semantics of Quran

Shades of Meanings in Quranic Words 01

Sometimes we learn the meaning of a Quranic word in a verse and try to apply the meaning in other verses. But in many cases, the certain meaning of a word might not be applicable to other contexts and it may lead to misinterpretation of the verse. Most of the content keywords of the Quran have multiple (and sometimes more than a dozen of) shades of meanings depending on their contexts and collocations. Many of these words have Primary Meanings (PM) and several other Secondary Meanings (SM) that are quite distinctive from the ones commonly perceived by the beginners who strive to grasp the meaning of the Quran. Even the most commonly used everyday Quranic words can confuse some learners while matching English translation with the Arabic text unless they have some prior knowledge of the topic being discussed in today’s blogpost.

In the following sections, I will be discussing some common Quranic Arabic words with their Primary Meanings (PM) and Secondary Meanings (SM) with examples from the Quranic verses. InShaAllah this will make the learners aware of the semantic diversity of Quranic Arabic and guide them to prepare for their future plans to address the issue.

1. Kitab (كِتَابٌ)
1.1 Primary Meaning: (a) Book, Written Text, (b) The Quran
وَلَن نُّؤْمِنَ لِرُقِيِّكَ حَتَّىٰ تُنَزِّلَ عَلَيْنَا كِتَـٰبًۭا نَّقْرَؤُهُۥ 
And [even then], we will not believe in your ascension until you bring down to us a book we may read (17:93)

 ذَ‌ٰلِكَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبُ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ هُدًۭى  لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ
This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah. (2:2)

1.2 Secondary Meaning: A Letter
قَالَتْ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلْمَلَؤُا۟ إِنِّىٓ أُلْقِىَ إِلَىَّ كِتَـٰبٌۭ كَرِيمٌ
She (The Queen of Sheba, Bilqis) said, "O eminent ones, a gracious letter has been dropped before me.” (27:28)

1.3 Secondary Meaning: Record of Deeds
ٱقْرَأْ كِتَـٰبَكَ كَفَىٰ بِنَفْسِكَ ٱلْيَوْمَ عَلَيْكَ حَسِيبًۭا
[It will be said], "Read your record. Sufficient is yourself against you this Day as accountant." (17:14)

1.4 Secondary Meaning: Fixed, Appointed (Time)
لِكُلِّ أَجَلٍۢ كِتَابٌۭ
for every term there is an appointment. (13:38)

1.5 Secondary Meaning: Duration, Prescribed Period of Waiting (for women)
وَلَا تَعْزِمُوا۟ عُقْدَةَ ٱلنِّكَاحِ حَتَّىٰ يَبْلُغَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبُ أَجَلَهُۥ 
And do not determine to undertake a marriage contract until the prescribed period reaches its end.

1.6 Secondary Meaning: Writing
وَيُعَلِّمُهُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلْحِكْمَةَ وَٱلتَّوْرَىٰةَ وَٱلْإِنجِيلَ
And He will teach him writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel. (3:48)
[It appears that the BOOK the Ayah mentioned here refers to Writing: Tafsir Ibn Kathir. Also similar opinion found in Tafsir Qurtubi, Sa’adi and Bagawi]

وَكُلَّ شَىْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَـٰهُ كِتَـٰبًۭا
But all things We have enumerated in writing. (78:29)

1.7 Secondary Meaning: Devine Decree, Verdict, Ordinance
لَّوْلَا كِتَـٰبٌۭ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ سَبَقَ لَمَسَّكُمْ فِيمَآ أَخَذْتُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌۭ
If not for a decree/ordinance from Allah that preceded, you would have been touched for what you took by a great punishment. (8:68)

1.8 Secondary Meaning: Scripture a) Tawrat b) Injeel c) All sriptures revealed before
وَإِذْ ءَاتَيْنَا مُوسَى ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلْفُرْقَانَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
And [recall] when We gave Moses the Scripture and criterion that perhaps you would be guided. (2:35) ie Tawrat

قَالَ إِنِّى عَبْدُ ٱللَّهِ ءَاتَىٰنِىَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَجَعَلَنِى نَبِيًّۭا
[Jesus] said, "Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. (19:30) ie Injeel

وَمَا ٱخْتَلَفَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا۟ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ إِلَّا مِنۢ بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَهُمُ ٱلْعِلْمُ بَغْيًۢا بَيْنَهُمْ 
And those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after knowledge had come to them - out of jealous animosity between themselves. (3:19)

1.9 Secondary Meaning: Devine Record/Design, Lawh Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet)
مَآ أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍۢ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِىٓ أَنفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِى كِتَـٰبٍۢ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّبْرَأَهَآ
No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being (57:22)

وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلَّا يَعْلَمُهَا وَلَا حَبَّةٍۢ فِى ظُلُمَـٰتِ ٱلْأَرْضِ وَلَا رَطْبٍۢ وَلَا يَابِسٍ إِلَّا فِى كِتَـٰبٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ

Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record. (6:59)

Practice Materials

# 1. The word KitaAb with its plural form Kutub occurs 261 times in the Quran in 28 unique surface forms and syntactic notations. Have a Look at these forms with their frequencies in brackets:
الْكِتَابَ (78) الْكِتَابُ (8) الْكِتَابِ (77) بِالْكِتَابِ (4) بِكِتَابٍ (3) بِكِتَابِكُم (1) بِكِتَابِي (1) كُتُبٌ (1) كُتُبٍ (1) كِتَابًا (12) كِتَابٌ (18) كِتَابٍ (15) كِتَابَ (5) كِتَابَكَ (1) كِتَابَهُ (5) كِتَابَهُم (1) كِتَابُ (2) كِتَابُنَا (1) كِتَابِ (7) كِتَابِهَا (1) كِتَابِيَه (2) لَكِتَابٌ (1) لِلْكُتُبِ (1) وَالْكِتَابَ (2) وَالْكِتَابِ (6) وَبِالْكِتَابِ (1) وَكُتُبِهِ (3) وَكِتَابٌ (1) وَكِتَابٍ (2) = 261
Try to locate these word forms in the Quran in order to apply the shades of meanings they belong to. The Quranic verse references are given below. The verse location reference for example (2:2:2) refers to (Surah No: Verse No: Word No).
(2:2:2)           (2:44:8)         (2:53:4)         (2:78:5)         (2:79:4)         (2:85:25)      (2:87:4)            (2:89:3)         (2:101:15)    (2:101:16)    (2:105:7)      (2:109:5)      (2:113:15)    (2:121:3)       (2:129:10)    (2:144:24)    (2:145:5)      (2:146:3)      (2:151:11)    (2:159:15)    (2:174:8)            (2:176:5)      (2:176:11)    (2:177:17)    (2:213:12)    (2:231:34)    (2:235:33)    (2:285:13)            (3:3:3)           (3:7:5)           (3:7:11)         (3:19:10)      (3:20:12)      (3:23:8)         (3:23:11)            (3:48:2)         (3:64:3)         (3:65:2)         (3:69:5)         (3:70:2)         (3:71:2)         (3:72:5)            (3:75:3)         (3:78:6)         (3:78:9)         (3:78:13)      (3:79:7)         (3:79:25)      (3:81:9)            (3:98:3)         (3:99:3)         (3:100:10)    (3:110:16)    (3:113:5)      (3:119:7)      (3:145:9)            (3:164:17)    (3:184:11)    (3:186:9)      (3:187:7)      (3:199:4)      (4:24:8)         (4:44:8)            (4:47:4)         (4:51:8)         (4:54:14)      (4:103:19)    (4:105:4)      (4:113:22)    (4:123:6)            (4:127:12)    (4:131:12)    (4:136:7)      (4:136:12)    (4:136:21)    (4:140:5)      (4:153:3)            (4:153:7)      (4:159:4)      (4:171:2)      (5:5:8)           (5:5:21)         (5:15:2)         (5:15:13)            (5:15:22)      (5:19:2)         (5:44:19)      (5:48:3)         (5:48:10)      (5:57:14)      (5:59:3)        (5:65:4)         (5:68:3)         (5:77:3)         (5:110:23)    (6:7:4)           (6:20:3)         (6:38:16)            (6:59:30)      (6:89:4)         (6:91:18)      (6:92:2)         (6:114:9)      (6:114:13)    (6:154:4)            (6:155:2)      (6:156:5)      (6:157:7)      (7:2:1)           (7:37:15)      (7:52:3)         (7:169:6)            (7:169:23)    (7:170:3)      (7:196:6)      (8:68:2)         (8:75:16)      (9:29:22)      (9:36:10)            (10:1:4)         (10:37:16)    (10:61:41)    (10:94:11)    (11:1:2)         (11:6:15)      (11:17:12)            (11:110:4)    (12:1:4)         (13:1:4)         (13:36:3)      (13:38:21)    (13:39:8)      (13:43:15)      (14:1:2)         (15:1:4)         (15:4:7)         (16:64:4)      (16:89:17)    (17:2:3)         (17:4:6)            (17:13:11)    (17:14:2)      (17:58:17)    (17:71:8)      (17:71:12)    (17:93:17)    (18:1:7)            (18:27:6)      (18:49:2)      (18:49:12)    (19:12:3)      (19:16:3)      (19:30:6)      (19:41:3)            (19:51:3)      (19:54:3)      (19:56:3)      (20:52:6)      (21:10:4)      (21:104:6)    (22:8:12)            (22:70:13)    (23:49:4)      (23:62:7)      (24:33:13)    (25:35:4)      (26:2:3)         (27:1:5)            (27:28:2)      (27:29:7)      (27:40:6)      (27:75:9)      (28:2:3)         (28:43:4)      (28:49:3)       (28:52:3)      (28:86:7)      (29:27:9)      (29:45:6)      (29:46:4)      (29:47:4)      (29:47:7)            (29:48:7)      (29:51:6)      (30:56:9)      (31:2:3)         (31:20:29)    (32:2:2)         (32:23:4)            (33:6:14)      (33:6:28)      (33:26:6)      (34:3:31)      (34:44:4)      (35:11:29)    (35:25:12)            (35:29:4)      (35:31:5)      (35:32:3)      (35:40:21)    (37:117:2)    (37:157:2)    (38:29:1)            (39:1:2)         (39:2:4)         (39:23:5)      (39:41:4)      (39:69:6)      (40:2:2)         (40:53:8)            (40:70:3)      (41:3:1)         (41:41:8)      (41:45:4)      (42:14:24)    (42:15:15)    (42:17:4)       (42:52:11)    (43:2:1)         (43:4:4)         (43:21:3)      (44:2:1)         (45:2:2)         (45:16:5)            (45:28:9)      (45:29:2)      (46:2:2)         (46:4:19)      (46:12:3)      (46:12:8)      (46:30:5)            (50:4:8)         (52:2:1)         (56:78:2)      (57:16:18)    (57:22:12)    (57:25:7)      (57:26:9)            (57:29:4)      (59:2:8)         (59:11:12)    (62:2:13)      (66:12:14)    (68:37:3)      (69:19:4)            (69:19:9)      (69:25:4)      (69:25:10)    (74:31:17)    (74:31:26)    (78:29:4)      (83:7:3)            (83:9:1)         (83:18:3)      (83:20:1)      (84:7:4)         (84:10:4)      (98:1:7)         (98:3:2)            (98:4:5)         (98:6:6)

Look ! : The following link (link No. 2) will provide you with Quranic Arabic text along with locations and meanings. But keep in mind that these simple straightforward translations might not always reflect all the shades of meanings we have talked about. Consult a Tafseer like Ibn Kathir (English) in this regard. Tafseer Ibne Kathir Link Apk:

QAC link for the word KitaAb:

[NB: Here you will get 260 occurrences. The missing one is (27:28:2)]

(to be continued)


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