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A Concordance of the Qur’an What is This? Links translated English words and corresponding transliterated Arabic terms to specific passages, chapters and verses in the Qur'an (click Help for further details)


The Qur’an is unique among sacred Books in style, unity of language and authorship, and significance in the life of the faith it governs. The Western reader should be prepared to receive it on its own terms. It is not too bold to suggest that the Qur’an is to the Muslim what Jesus Christ, and not the Bible, is to the believing Christian. No Muslim would question its divine revelation, and as a result, it has not been subjected to the same type of critical study as has the Bible. Unlike the Bible, it was revealed over a defined period of time and to one man, Muhammad. According to tradition, its canon was established under Divine guidance by the Prophet, prior to his death, and not by believers at a later time, as is the case with the Old and New Testaments. Consequently, there is no accepted body of literature in the tradition of Islam equivalent to the Apocryphal Gospels (Christian) or the Books of the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha (Jewish).

The Qur’an contains 114 Chapters (sūrah, pl. suwar), each of which has a title. Some have more than one title. A title does not necessarily reflect the content of the Chapter, but may simply be one of the words occurring somewhere in that Chapter. With the exception of Chapter 1 (al-Fātiḥah), the Chapters are arranged, roughly speaking, according to length, the longest located at the beginning of the Qur’an and the shortest at the end. Readers of the Bible may note a similar practice in the arrangement of the books of the Prophets in the Old Testament, as well as of the Epistles in the New Testament.

Each Chapter, with the exception of Chapter 9, begins with the "invocation", the basmalah, "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate". In some Chapters the basmalah is followed by one or more letters that have been described as "Mysterious Letters", whose exact meaning and function have defied scholarly ability throughout the centuries. The user finds them listed in the Index (II. B).

Each Chapter is divided into verses (āyah, pl. āyāt). There are two different senses to the word āyah. First, it is a "sign" of Divine authority in literary form in the same sense that, according to Christian belief, the person of Jesus Christ, his words and his deeds are also "signs". Second, it is a literary device to identify smaller textual units within a larger literary context (as is a stanza, a pentad or a Biblical verse). In this respect, the verses of the Qur’an are identified, in Arabic, by rhyme or rhythm. Although this is apparent in the written Arabic text, it is more evident in the recitation of the Qur’an. This element, as well as other aspects of the linguistic beauty of the language of the Qur’an, is irretrievably lost in translation. Some translators, notably Arberry, have attempted to recover the rhythmic nature of the Arabic text by rounding and rhyming the translated verses. It should be noted that, governed by the rhyme, a verse may end and another may begin in the middle of a sentence. Thus, the end of a verse marks a pause in the recitation of the Qur’an rather than the termination of an idea, a sentence or a revelation.

The numerical order of the verses is recent. Originally, the end of each verse was indicated in the text by a mark (a decorative design) and not a number. As there are seven main traditions of transmission ("Readings") of the Qur’an, there are also variations in the identification of some verses. When enumeration began to replace the decorative identification of the verses, the variations remained. As a result, there are some editions of the Arabic Qur’an in circulation, each with a different verse enumeration. Recently, the enumeration system of the Cairo edition of the Qur’an (based on that of the school of Kūfa) has gained greater popularity over others, in the Muslim World. Gustav Fluegel, whose edition circulated widely among Western scholars, based his text on an edition (North African) other than that of Cairo. Arberry employed the verse enumeration of Fluegel, grouping his verses in pentads. For him, however, the numerical order of the verses is subordinate to his attempt to provide a glimpse of the rhyming of the Arabic original. Because Marmeduke Pickthall and Yusuf Ali used still other editions (Istanboul and Anjuman, respectively), there are some variations in the verse enumeration in their editions of the Qur’an. This variation in verse enumeration does not pose a problem for the Muslim who, wishing to refer to the Qur’an, will cite the text rather than refer to it by chapter and verse. Citation by page or chapter and verse is an innovation of modern Western scholarship which Muslim scholars have also adopted, without abandoning the traditional mode of reference.

The Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad in two different places:

1) At Mecca where he first received the Faith (A.D. 610–622), and to which he returned triumphantly in A.D. 630 before his death (A.D. 632). These are commonly known as the "Meccan" revelations.

b) At Medīna, after his Migration (the hijrah, Latin "Hegira"), in A.D. 622, and the establishment of the Muslim state. These are known as the "Medīnan" revelations.

The tone and content of these revelations change as the community developed. One senses in the earliest Chapters—short, vibrant and rhapsodic—the mystery, fear and fascination (to borrow the vocabulary of Rudolph Otto) of the confrontation with and submission to the Divine Will. After the Migration and the establishment of the Muslim state, the Qur’an, while maintaining the initial themes, introduces revelations dealing with the various aspects (judicial, social and religious) of the daily life of the community under the rule of God. The Chapters, whatever their subject, become increasingly developed in style and structure. It would be wrong, however, to thus assume, as sometimes is done, that the rhapsodic language of the earlier period gave way entirely to the elaboration of legal formulations.

The revelations came to the Prophet in one or more verses at a time. According to Muslim belief, their content as well as the time and manner of their revelation, were determined by God and not by Muhammad, who was simply the recipient and transmitter of the revelations. These revelations were memorized and written down by the believers as the Prophet conveyed them. When the "Authorized Version", the Qur’an in its present form, was redacted, during the lifetime of the first converts to Islam, more attention was paid to the authority of the text being assembled than to the logical or chronological sequence of the contents of the revelations. However, while the arrangement of the Chapters followed the traditions current in the Near East, the chronological and historical background of the revelations, as well as the location of these revelations (Mecca or Medīna) remain the subject of intense study in Muslim and Western scholarship. Muslim tradition, though without consensus, has established a chronological order of the Chapters and, in some cases, the verses, as well as the locus of their revelation. The dominant traditional chronological order (adopted in the Cairo edition, said to be based on the "reading" of ʿĀṣim as narrated by Ḥafṣ) is not in agreement with the results of Western scholarship, significant among which is the work of Th. Noeldeke (see Appendix to this Introduction).

While the language of the Qur’an is poetic, it is not poetry. It is prosodic but not exactly prose. Stylistically, it stands apart from any known body of literature in Arabic (or other languages of the Muslim community) and has remained inimitable. With the exception of Chapter 12, which has literary unity and narrative continuity, the style of the Qur’an is generally not that of didactic, folkloric or historical narrative, although these elements are present in it. As a result, one cannot use the Qur’an as one would the Bible. It cannot be reduced to the level of a child for religious instruction, nor be employed either as "source material" for the reconstruction of the biography of the Prophet and his companions, or as "church history". One may not find in it elaborate details of the practices, sagas, myths or history of the Arabs at the time of the rise of Islam. There are, however, Divine oracles regarding these and other matters.

The great degree to which the Qur’an shapes and governs the lives of millions of Muslims around the world is becoming increasingly evident. It is my conviction that in order to understand Islam and the Muslims, one should endeavour first to comprehend the "Word" that gave the faith its birth and continues to give the community of Islam its nourishment and sustenance. The Qur’an, according to Islam, is God’s Word revealed to mankind in Arabic through the agency of the Prophet. Thus, in spite of their differing linguistic backgrounds, Muslims continue to the present day to recite the Scripture in the language of its revelation. While there is no doubt that it is the content of the Qur’an which is of paramount importance in the life of Islam and the Muslims, the language and the vocabulary of revelation, both divinely chosen, are also important. When the Muslim considers the Qur’an, three elements are of significance to him: what was revealed, the language in which it was revealed, and the vocabulary that was selected to convey the revelation. It follows, therefore, that the student of Islam should be able to read the Qur’an in Arabic. Unfortunately, this is an ideal which is not easily attainable, and translation must suffice. Although it is commonly and correctly argued that the Qur’an is neither translatable nor imitable, translations and interpretations do exist, even if none has claimed or received authenticity or the authority of Scripture. Translation tends to limit exegesis, to rigidify concepts and minimize or even obscure the different shades of meaning of a given word or text. But it would be quite wrong, in spite of these drawbacks, to limit the study of the Qur’an to those who have a command of Arabic.

This work, then, is a concordance of the Arabic vocabulary of the Qur’an for the use of the non–Arabist. A concordance, according to Samuel Johnson, is "a book which shows in how many texts of scripture any word occurs." This Concordance fits exactly Johnson’s definition. It should be possible to locate in it all the texts in the Qur’an in which a given word occurs.

By listing English language entries in an alphabetic index rather than in some conceptual arrangement, I spare the user the imposition of the findings or opinions of any school of exegesis or interpretation. By grouping these entries according to Arabic root in the concordance proper (see sec. C. 3, below) I demonstrate the generic and semantic relationship of the vocabulary of the Qur’an. There is, for example, no visible relationship in English between the verb "to oppress" and the noun "darkness". By contrast, the semantic and generic relationship between their equivalent terms in Arabic is quite evident when one finds them listed under ẓalama and ẓulmah, respectively, and stemming from the same root *Ẓ L M.

This may be sufficient to impress on the student of the Qur’an that a knowledge of Arabic, the language of the Qur’an, albeit a cursory one, is a necessity. If the Qur’an is the lifeline of Muslim life, thought and institutions, the Arabic language, in which it was revealed, is the fibre of that lifeline.

The Concordance consists of two major parts: the Concordance proper and the Index. The non-Arabist user of the Concordance is advised to begin with the Index in his search for the vocabulary, and hence the ideas, of the Qur’an. He should first draw up a list of the English vocabulary for the words or concepts he wishes to study in the Qur’an. He should then, a) refer to the Index (in its various parts) to locate the terms on his list, b) locate the derivative(s) and root(s) that are given for each English term, and c) refer to the Concordance proper to locate the Arabic vocabulary and the Qur’anic citations (see the examples given below).


The Index is composed of all the English words that occur as translations of the Arabic vocabulary of the Qur’an. It comprises two main parts, corresponding to the two parts of the Concordance proper as follows:

I. The Divine Name (Allāh) = Index I Terms Associated with the Divine Name
II. The Remaining Vocabulary = Index II.AIndex II.BIndex II.C Divine AttributesProper NounsGeneral Index

The Index is arranged alphabetically. Wherever there is more than one Arabic term (and root) listed against the English entry, the roots are also arranged alphabetically.

EXAMPLE:- Let us assume that the user wishes to find out what the Qur’an has to say about "pride". By looking up the word in the Index (II.C) he would come up with the following typical entry:

Pride, proud

ʿalā (*ʿl w)

ʿatā (*ʿt w)

kabura (*k b r)

mukhtāl (*kh y l)

He will learn immediately that the English term "pride" is a translation of four different Arabic words and constitutes four entries in the main part of the Concordance, to which he should now turn.


The vocabulary of the Qur’an is listed in the Concordance under the roots (identified by an asterisk) from which it stems. The main part of the Concordance (other than the Index), is divided into two sections:

a) The Divine Name (Allāh):- Because of the significance of the Divine Name and the number of times it is mentioned in the Qur’an, its occurrences are subdivided according to the root of the term with which the Divine Name is associated. For example, "God loves", "God creates", etc. are listed under the equivalent Arabic term(s), to "to love", "to create", etc. This subdivision should facilitate analysis of the texts in which the Name occurs and, through reference to the parallel root and derivative in the Concordance proper, of the terms with which it is associated.

b) Concordance of the Remaining Vocabulary:- The main part of the Concordance proper consists of the rest of the vocabulary of the Qur’an.

EXAMPLE (continued):-Having located the relevant entries for "pride" in the Index, the user should turn to the main part of the Concordance to locate the first term on his list, ʿalā under (*ʿL W). There he would find the following entry (whose various elements are explained in Notes a-e which follow the Example):


a) *ʿL W:- This is the root (sec. C 3, below). The entries in the Concordance are arranged alphabetically by root, following the order of the English alphabet with the modifications outlined in the Table of Transliterations, above. Each root is preceded by an asterisk (*).

b) ʿALĀ:- This is the main entry in the Concordance. It is the derivative or the Arabic term derived from the root. The main entry could be a verb, a noun or possibly a particle, although particles have been largely excluded from the Concordance (see Acknowledgments). The derivatives are arranged under the root according to the following order:-

*Root (sec. C 3)
Triliteral Verb, Form I (sec. C 5)
Noun(s) (sec. C 12–16)
Triliteral Verb, Form II–X (sec. C 5, 10)
Quadriliteral Verb, Form I–IV (sec. C 6)

c) Notations:- Each main entry, whether verb or noun, is followed by a notation. In the example above, this begins with "vb. (I) to ascend, to rise up", etc. The notation comprises the following: a) a grammatical abbreviation and b) the meaning(s) of the entry, preceded by the sign (˜), in the translation cited (Arberry). Wherever consultation was necessary and alternative meanings or shades of meaning were found, these are included in the notations and are identified by the initials of the source within square brackets (thus [Ali], [Bl], and [Pk] in addition to [Ar]).

d) "a) perf. act.":- This element appears when the main entry is a verb. It is the abbreviatian of "Perfect active" (sec. C 7, 9) and is one of eight possible forms of the Arabic verb (see "The Grammatical Form of the Main Entries", below), one or more of which may occur.

e) Citation of the Quranic Text:- The first citation in our example reads as follows :-

17:7 (7) destroy utterly that which they ascended to
The number "17" refers to the Chapter (or Sūrah) in the Qur’an. Numbering of the Chapters of the Qur’an is a recent innovation employed by both Muslims and non-Muslims (see Appendix to this Introduction). The numbers following the colon (:) are those of the verse (āyah). Two verse numbers are given, the second one in brackets. In our example, these are identical. They may be different in other citations. The first is that of the Cairo edition of the Qur’an, which is increasingly considered as the "standard" edition of the Arabic Qur’an. The second, within brackets, is that found in Fluegel’s edition of the Arabic Qur’an, a text which, in spite of its variation from the accepted systems of enumeration, is still widely used in Western scholarly circles and has been followed by most English translators of the Qur’an. Thus 17:7 (7) refers to Chapter 17, verse 7 (in the Cairo edition) and 7 (in Fluegel’s edition). In the third text cited in the Example, 28:4 (3) refers to Chapter 28, verse 4 (in the Cairo edition) but 3 (in Fluegel’s edition). These references are followed by a brief citation of the Qur’anic text as interpreted by Arberry. The user should notice that very often several entries may appear under the same root. Under the root *ʿL W, cited above, he will find the following additional derivatives:
ISTAʿLÁ He should examine these entries in order to discover a truer sense of the Arabic term than that conveyed in the translations. Furthermore, he may detect possible semantic correlations between the term he is concerned with and others derived from the same root.


The user may discover three types of brackets employed in the citation of the Qur’anic text: rounded ( ), squared [ ] or angular < >. This may be explained as follows:-

a) The Use of the Rounded ( ) Brackets:- Since the cited text is intended to illustrate only one entry at a time, the same citation is repeated as many times as the entry occurs in the same verse. In such cases, the English term that is not being referred to in that specific citation is placed within brackets ( ). An example of this is the following verse which is cited to refer to the term yad (= a hand) in which there are two occurrences of the term:

48:10 (10) God’s hand is over their (hands)
48:10 (10) God’s (hand) is over their hands
In addition, since the citation is intended to illustrate the occurrence of the Arabic word, it is not unusual to find the English translation of that word occurring more than once in a specific verse, while the original text of the Qur’an shows only one such occurrence. This may be due to stylistic reasons imposed by the exigencies of the English language. Or it may be due to the fact that the repeated English term is a translation of two different Arabic terms. In such cases also, the English term that is not applicable in that specific citation is placed within brackets ( ).

b) The Use of the Squared [ ] Brackets:- There are two situations in which these brackets may be used:-

i) In some cases the Arabic term of the entry may not appear in the English translation for stylistic reasons (which should not be construed as an alteration of the meaning of the Arabic text). In such cases squared brackets [ ] are used to enclose the word or words that would restore the missing Arabic term to the English text. An example of this is the following verse listed under the entry Allāh (= God):
33:39 (39) and were fearing Him, and fearing not any one except [God]
In this verse the Divine Name Allāh occurs in the Arabic text, while the English translation, for stylistic reasons, uses “Him”. Consequently, the Divine Name is restored to the English text of the citation, and is enclosed within squared brackets.
ii) In other places, the entire text in which the term of the entry occurs is too lengthy to cite, or the verb or the subject of the sentence is quite removed from the term of the entry. Here also, the squared brackets [ ] are used to make the cited portion of the text more complete. An example is the following verse:
24:22 (22) Let not those of you who possess bounty and plenty swear off giving kinsmen and the poor and those who emigrate in the way of God
which in the citation, illustrating "poor", becomes:
24:22 (22) [let them not] swear off giving kinsmen and the poor and those who emigrate in the way of God

c) The Use of the Angular < > Brackets:- These are used to identify the English rendering of the verbal noun. The user should refer to the discussion of this complex structure below (sec. C 19). It should suffice here to give an example:-

17:4 (4) you shall ascend <exceeding> high
The bracketed term "exceeding" is used here to translate the sense of the action of the verb in the example cited above.


The Verbs (sec. C 5–11) are always entered in the perfect active (third person, masculine, singular). They are arranged in the following order:-

a) Perfect active  (sec. C 5, 7, 9)

b) Imperfect active  (sec. C 7–10)

c) Imperative  (sec. C 7, 8, 10)

d) Perfect passive  (sec. C 7, 9, 10)

e) Imperfect passive  (sec. C 7, 9, 10)

f) Verbal noun  (sec. C 19)

g) Active participle  (sec. C 20)

h) Passive participle  (sec. C 20)

The tenses and nouns derived from the verb (items b to h, above) are always followed by the romanized form of the verb (third person, masculine, singular) or noun. If more than one verbal noun (sec. C 19) is derived from a specific verb, each is listed separately. The active and passive participles (sec. C 20) are normally listed in the masculine singular.

The Nouns (other than the verbal noun, which is listed under the verb from which it is derived) are arranged in alphabetical order and are entered after Form I of the verb (if it occurs). They are generally entered in the form in which they occur in the Qur’an. If both the singular and plural forms occur, then the main entry is that of the singular, followed in the notation by the plural. The plural is listed in the notation only if it occurs in the Qur’an and is a broken (irregular) plural that cannot be constructed according to the rules outlined below (sec. C 16). If only the plural form occurs in the Qur’an, then that form constitutes the main entry, followed in the notation by the singular of which it is the plural.

Having read this far, the researcher should be able to use the Concordance without difficulty. It would be worthwhile, however, for him to make a few trials to familiarize himself with the methodology employed. As he proceeds with his search, he might find it advantageous to acquire some understanding of the different parts of speech of Arabic, and for this purpose the section on the language of the Qur’an that follows should be of value.

While the non-Arabist user of the Concordance may find the following remarks on the language of the Qur’an of some benefit, it should be pointed out that the grammatical outline that follows is extremely oversimplified and should be supplemented, as the need arises, by reference to the relevant explanatory notes in some of the more complete grammars of the Arabic language.


- Arabic, the language of the Qur’an, is a member of the so-called "Semitic" family of languages. This implies that it shares with other members of this "family" certain characteristics of structure and lexicography. Arabic stands closer than any other "Semitic" language to what has been hypothetically reconstructed by philologists as “proto-Semitic”. In other words, Arabic, more than any other “Semitic” language, conserves phonological and morphological elements once common to all members of this linguistic family.

Whereas several forms of Arabic were current in the Arabian Peninsula during the period of revelation (ca. A.D. 610–632), the Qur’an was proclaimed in the Arabic of Koraish, the tribe to which the Prophet belonged. It is a matter of debate whether or not the Arabic of Koraish was written down in the period preceding Islam. It is notable that no written evidence survives from that period, although an oral corpus of poetry and prose was recollected and eventually written down during the first few centuries of Islam. The Qur’an, it may safely be said, is the earliest extant and complete text in the Arabic language.


- Arabic, which is written from right to left, has twenty-eight consonants and three vowels. The vowels have long and short values. In addition, there are two diphthongs (see Table of Transliterations, above).


- Arabic derives its vocabulary from "roots". These are triliteral or, rarely, quadriliteral clusters of consonants from which the words grow. The derivatives are, in most cases, constructed in accordance with established vocalic molds or patterns to which certain prefixes, infixes or suffixes are added. At the risk of oversimplification, the following illustration may demonstrate the point. In the hypothetical root C C C each radical C may represent any of the consonants in the language. The addition of the short vowel a after each consonant generates the ground form (or stem) CaCaCa. Certain roots take the short vowel u or i instead of the middle a. The resulting ground form (or stem) CaCaCa, CaCuCa or CaCiCa is a verb, perfect active, third person, masculine, singular. The meaning of this verb (rendered in English by the infinitive) is determined by the consonants. Other verbal forms (discussed below), as well as nouns, may be developed from the same root. Thus, the verbs salima, sallama, aslama and the nouns islām, salām, silm, taslīm, etc., are all developed from the same root *S L M. While the roots of the greater proportion of Arabic vocabulary are triliteral, there are many words that are derived from quadriliteral roots. In rare cases, especially with loan words or foreign proper nouns, a root may be reconstructed, for lexicographical purposes, from all the consonants of the word. Arabic lexicons are arranged in the alphabetical order of the roots and not that of the vocabulary of the language, as is the case in English dictionaries.

Philologists have not always been in agreement on the roots of certain words. Difficulties have arisen in regard to loan words that were arabicized prior to the Qur’anic period as well as to defective roots (i.e., roots containing a w or y in the middle or final position).


- Arab grammarians have traditionally divided the vocabulary of the language into three parts of speech: verbs, nouns and particles.

The Verb


- In addition to the ground form (Form I or stem) discussed above, there are fourteen additional secondary forms, derived from triliteral roots, of which nine are in common use. These are constructed by adding to the stem specific vowels, prefixes or infixes or both, according to established patterns. Using the root *Q T L, the ten most frequently used forms are:

Form I qatala The ground form (the stem)
Form II qattala Formed by doubling the middle consonant; generally intensive or causative in meaning
Form III qātala Formed by lengthening the first vowel; generally signifies reciprocity, effort to perform the action of the verb or an attempt to realize the action in another person
Form IV aqtala Formed by adding the prefix a- (consonant) and the loss of the first vowel; generally causative in meaning although, at times, it may also be declarative
Form V taqattala Formed by adding the prefix ta- to Form II; generally reflexive and, though more difficult to discern, intensive in meaning
Form VI taqātala Formed by adding the prefix ta- to Form III; generally reflexive and responsive in meaning. In the latter case it signifies someone doing an action already done in Form III
Form VII inqatala Formed by adding the prefix in- to Form I; generally reflexive in meaning
Form VIII iqtatala Formed by adding the prefix i- (consonant) and the infix t (the first of the two) to Form I; generally reflexive and, occasionally, passive in meaning
Form IX iqtalla Formed by adding the prefix i- to Form I, dropping the first vowel and doubling the final consonant. This form is rare and is used mainly to express colours or defects
Form X istaqtala Formed by adding the prefix ista- to Form I, and dropping the first vowel; generally converts a verb into a reflexive action, indicating, in particular, that the quality expressed in Form I is applicable to the speaker


- There are, in addition, four forms that stem from quadriliteral roots. They occur only rarely in the language. They are:

Form I zaḥzaḥa (*Z Ḥ Z Ḥ) generally intensive or causative
Form II tajalbaba (*J L B B) generally reflexive and, though more difficult to detect, intensive in meaning
Form III iḥranjama (*Ḥ R J M) generally reflexive in meaning
Form IV iṭmaʾanna (*Ṭ Mʾ N) generally conveys a state or a quality


- The verb appears in three states, two of which, the Perfect and the Imperfect, are “tenses”, while the third, the Imperative, is a “mood”. The Perfect usually signifies an action that is done and completed; the Imperfect signifies an action in the process of being done or completed, and the Imperative is simply an order or a command. This nomenclature does not necessarily refer to the time of the action (past, present or future), which is determined by the context rather than by the state of the verb. It should be noted that there are other “moods” in Arabic in addition to the Imperative (Indicative, Subjunctive, Jussive, Conditional and Energetic), but the user of the Concordance does not need to concern himself with these.


- While the Perfect is constructed according to the patterns discussed above (sec. C 5), the Imperfect is formed by the addition of specific prefixes and suffixes that indicate and are determined by the Form of the verb as well as by the gender and number of the doer of the action. The final vowel is determined by the "mood" of the verb, of which there are five in Arabic (but the user of the Concordance need not concern himself with these). Changes in the middle vowel of the stem are governed, in Forms II to X, by pre-established patterns (see sec. C 10). These changes, however, are unpredictable in Form I and the Arabist is compelled to consult the lexicon for them.

The Imperative is formed by replacing the prefix of the Imperfect with i- (or u-, if the middle vowel is u) and by dropping the final vowel altogether. The following table will illustrate this vowel variation in the ground Form (Form I):

fataḥa yaftaḥu iftaḥ the middle a in the Perfect remains constant; ya- of the Imperfect is replaced by i- in the Imperative (= to open, etc.)
jalasa yajlisu ijlis the middle vowel a in the Perfect changes unpredictably to i in the Imperfect (= to sit)
kataba yaktubu uktub the middle vowel a in the Perfect changes unpredictably to u in the Imperfect; the initial i of the Imperative also changes to u (= to write, etc.)
shariba yashrabu ishrab the middle vowel i in the Perfect changes unpredictably to a in the Imperfect (= to drink)
ṣaghura yaṣghuru uṣghur the middle vowel u in the Perfect remains constant while the initial i of the Imperative changes to u (= to be small)


- Arabic verbs have two "voices": active and passive. These appear only in the Perfect and Imperfect and are constructed according to established molds or patterns (see sec. C 10).


- The following table lists the “states” and “voices” of the ten triliteral and four quadriliteral forms:

Triliteral Verbs

(Root *Q T L)

I qatala yaqtulu uqtul qutila yuqtalu
II qattala yuqattilu qattil quttila yuqattalu
III qātala yuqātilu qātil qūtila yuqātalu
IV aqtala yuqtilu aqtil uqtila yuqtalu
V taqattala yataqattalu taqattal tuquttila yutaqattalu
VI taqātala yataqātalu taqātal tuqūtila yutaqātalu
VII inqatala yanqatilu inqatil inqutila yunqatalu
VIII iqtatala yaqtatilu iqtatil iqtutila yuqtatalu
IX iqtalla yaqtallu iqtalil
X istaqtala yastaqtilu istaqtil istuqtila yustaqtalu

Quadriliteral Verbs

(Root *Q M Ṭ R)

I qamṭara yuqamṭiru qamṭir qumṭira yuqamṭaru
II taqamṭara yataqamṭaru taqamṭar tuqumṭira yutaqamṭaru
III iqmanṭara yaqmanṭiru iqmanṭir uqmunṭira yuqmanṭaru
IV iqmaṭarra yaqmaṭirru iqmaṭrir uqmuṭirra yuqmaṭarru


- Arabic recognizes three persons: a first person (the speaker), a second person (the one who is addressed) and a third person (the one spoken about). The order in which these are listed, however, is the reverse: third, second and first. There are only two genders in Arabic: masculine and feminine. The neuter gender of other languages (signified by the pronoun "it") does not exist. Finally, there are three numbers in Arabic: singular, dual and plural. It should be noted that in the first person form of the verb there is no distinction between masculine and feminine genders, and the dual number does not exist.



- In addition to the primitive nouns (the Substantives) that are names of things or persons, Arabic has a class of derivative nouns (deverbal nouns). The latter are derived from verbs and may be adjectival or substantive in use. Notable among these are the verbal nouns and the participles (active and passive). Pronouns and numbers form a third class of nouns. While the construction of the verb is controlled by the different Forms, patterns or molds, there are, generally, no strict patterns for the formation of the nouns. This unpredictability does not, however, apply to the derivative (deverbal) nouns, nor to changes in number or gender.


- The definite article al- is always prefixed to the noun; thus walad (a boy) becomes al-walad (the boy). The "l" of the article is assimilated orally (but not in writing) to the consonant that follows it if the consonant is a dental, sibilant or liquid. Thus al- becomes ad-, adh-, aḍ-, an- ar-, as-, ash-, aṣ-, at-, ath-, aṭ-, az- or aẓ-. While the "l" has been preserved in the definite article in all cases, the user should endeavour to observe the rules of assimilation in pronouncing the Qur’anic vocabulary. He should, for example, pronounce the Divine epithet as ar-raḥmān rather than as al-raḥmān.


- While there is no indefinite article (such as the English "a" or "an"), the indefinite noun is terminated with a short vowel followed by the phoneme "n" (-un, -an and -in). This process, known as tanwīn or, sometimes, the "nunation", has been omitted except in the very few cases where terms or expressions are otherwise more difficult to comprehend.


- (See also sec. C 11). Nouns have only two genders in Arabic: masculine and feminine. A noun is masculine unless a) it is clearly a designation of a female, or b) it is identified (in the singular) by the ending -at or -ah (the pausal form of -at). There are a few exceptions to this rule. The words arḍ (= earth, land), samāʾ (= sky, heaven) or yad (= hand), for example, are feminine although they neither designate a female nor end with the feminine ending. It should be mentioned that there are some nouns that have a common gender and may be treated either as a masculine or as a feminine.


- (See also sec. C 11). Nouns have three numbers: singular, dual and plural. The dual is formed by the addition of the suffix -an (in the nominative case) or -ayn (in the other cases). Thus, walad (= a boy) becomes waladān or waladayn, and shafah (= a lip) becomes shafatān or shafatayn (note that the pausal -ah reverts to -at).

The plural is more complex. The regular masculine plural has the ending -ūn (in the nominative case) or -īn (in other cases), while the regular feminine plural has the ending -āt (for all cases). The other, very common, type of plural is the so-called "broken" or irregular plural, which must be determined from the lexicon. Regular plurals have been listed only rarely in the Concordance; irregular plurals have been listed if they occur in the Qur’an.


- The adjective follows the noun it qualifies and agrees with it in number and gender as well as in being either definite or indefinite. Some nouns may function only as adjectives, expressing an inherent and permanent quality, such as kabīr (= big).

Substantive and deverbal nouns may sometimes function adjectivally. For example, sayyid (= a lord, a master) is a noun which in rajul sayyid is used adjectivally, qualifying the noun rajul (= a man) to give the meaning "a lordly man".

The Comparative and Superlative are expressed in Arabic by adapting the adjective to the mold or pattern aqtal (comparative) and al-aqtal (superlative). Thus the adjective jamīl (= beautiful) becomes ajmal (= more beautiful) or, with the addition of the definite article, al-ajmal (= the most beautiful). Although the same pattern is often used for both genders, the pattern qutlá is used for certain feminine adjectives.


- The noun may be used as an adverb to determine the time, space, state, quality or quantity of the action of the verb. The same noun may be used both adjectivally or adverbially.


- This noun, which is derived from the verb, is an abstract that conveys the idea of the action of the verb. Although it is basically a substantive noun, it may, nevertheless, be used adjectivally or adverbially. While there are at least forty patterns for constructing it from the ground form (Form I), the patterns for its derivation from the remaining verbal forms are more or less regular.

In some cases, more than one verbal noun of different patterns may be derived from the same verb. These may have similar or different meanings. Omitting the ground form, the main patterns for the verbal noun are listed below:

a) Patterns of the Verbal Nouns of Triliteral Verbs

II qattala taqtīltaqtilah
III qātala qitālMuqātalah
IV aqtala iqtāl
V taqattala taqattul
VI taqātala taqātul
VII inqatala inqitāl
VIII iqtatala iqtitāl
IX iqtalla iqtilāl
X istaqtala istiqtāl

b) Patterns of the Verbal Nouns of Quadriliteral Verbs

I qamṭara qamṭarahqimṭār
II taqamṭara taqamṭur
III iqmanṭara iqminṭār
IV iqmaṭarra iqmiṭrār

The verbal noun plays an important role in the Arabic language, but at the same time, it poses problems for the translator. It may be taken by a verb as a complement (in the accusative) to emphasize the action of the verb. For example, in the phrase māta mawtan, the first word is a verb (Perfect tense) while the second is the verbal noun taken by the verb as a complement. The phrase translates literally as "he died a dying" but more accurately as "he certainly died". In the Concordance this phrase would appear as, "he <certainly> died", the special brackets indicating that the term "certainly" stands for the verbal noun.

The verbal noun may be qualified by an adjective. In this case it may be translated as an ordinary noun or, depending on the context, both verbal noun and adjective may be translated as an adverb. In some other cases, the adjective may be translated as an adjective or adverb and, for reasons of style, the verbal noun not translated. In such cases, the special brackets <…> have been used to indicate the space occupied by the verbal noun in the Arabic text of the Qur’an.

Since the verbal noun conveys the idea of the action of the verb, it is often translated as a regular verb. Finally, it is frequently translated as either an infinitive ("to read", "to live", etc.), or a gerund ("reading", "living", etc.).


- The participles are derived from the verb to signify the doer (active participle) or recipient (passive participle) of the action. In addition, they signify an action which may be temporary, continuous or in a habitual state of being. And although adjectival in nature, they are also used as substantive nouns. The construction of the participles is very regular and follows a set of clear patterns in all forms of the verb. These patterns are:

Patterns of the Participles of Triliteral Verbs

I qatala qātil maqtūl
II qattala muqattil muqattal
III qātala muqātil muqātal
IV aqtala muqtil muqtal
V tạqattala mutaqattil mutaqattal
VI taqātala mutaqātil mutaqātal
VII inqatala munqatil munqatal
VIII iqtatala muqtatil muqtatal
IX iqtalla muqtall
X istaqtala mustaqtil mustaqal

Patterns of the Participles of Quadriliteral Verbs

I qamṭara muqamṭir muqamṭar
II taqamṭara mutaqamṭir mutaqamṭar
III iqmanṭara muqmanṭir muqmanṭar
IV iqmaṭarra muqmaṭirr muqmaṭarr

Although they are more regular than the verbal nouns in their derivation, the participles pose similar difficulties for the translator, though to a lesser degree. The most common meaning of the active participle is that of the doer of the action. The term qātil (active participle of Form I) may be translated as "killer" or "he who kills". Not infrequently, however, it may appear as the infinitive "to kill". If prefixed with the particle la-, it may, at times, be translated as a verb with a future meaning.

The active participle is very frequently translated as an adjective or as a substantive noun. Thus kātib (active participle of Form I, kataba, "to write") may be translated, depending on the context, as either "writing" (adj) or "scribe" (n).

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