Are There Non-Arabic Words In The Quraan?


The Qur’an explicitly states that it is all communicated in pure and clear Arabic (al-Nahl, 16:3o). Although the ulema are in agreement that words of non-Arabic origin occur in the Qur’an, they are, nevertheless, words which were admitted and integrated into the language of the Arabs before the revelation of the Qur’an.

To give just a few examples, words such as qistas (scales – occurring in the Sura al-Isra’, 17:35), ghassaq (intense cold) in Sura al-Naba’ (78:2 5) and sijjil (baked clay – in al-Hijr, 15:74) are of Greek, Turkish and Persian origins respectively (1). But this usage is confined to odd words; a phrase or a sentence of non-Arabic origin does not occur in the Qur’an (2).

Since the Qur’an consists of manifest revelation in Arabic, a translation of the Qur’an into another language, or its commentary whether in Arabic or other languages, are not a part of the Qur’an.

However, Imam Abu Hanifah has held the view that the Qur’an is the name for a meaning only, and as such, salah may be performed in its Persian translation. But the disciples of Abu Hanifah have disagreed with this view and it is reported that Abu Hanifah himself reversed his initial ruling, and this is now considered to be the correct view of the Hanafi school (3).

Footnotes:

(1) For an exclusive treatment of words of foreign origin in the Qur’an see Shawkani, Irshad, p. 22ff. See also Ghazali, Mustasfa, I, 68.

(2) Shaltut, Al-Islam, P. 486; von Denffer, ‘Ulum, P. 73.

(3) This report is attributed to a Nuh b. Maryam who has confirmed that Abu Hanifah changed his initial ruling. See Aba Zahrah, Usul, p. 60; Shaltut, Al-Islam, P. 478; Sabuni, Madkhal, P. 4.

[Taken from “Principles Of Islaamic Jurisprudence” by M. H. Kamali, p.19]

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