Mind over matter

al-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

Sibawahyi is the forefather of Arabic grammar, the Imam of the grammarians, the first person to systemize the rules of Arabic grammar and present them in a book form to be available to the masses for generations to follow. Although there is doubt whether the contents of his book al-Kitaab are his words or the words of his teacher, al-Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Farahidi, there is no doubt that Arabic grammar is indebted to Sibawayhi.

There is an interesting story behind how he came to be the grammar genius he was though. As a young boy living in Basrah, he used to learn Fiqh and Hadith from the scholars there. One day he went to his shaykh Hamad al-Basri to learn hadith, but when he recited a hadith to his teacher he made a grammatical mistake [he made the khabar of laysa marfoo' instead of mansoob] which changed the meaning. His teacher interrupted him and said, "You made a grammatical error, O Sibawayhi!"

Sibawayhi did not like to have made such an error, so he made a promise, "By Allaah, I will seek out a type of knowledge by which nobody will be able to point out any errors I make!" He then went to learn from grammarians such as al-Khalil ibn Ahmad and others, and thus began the journey of Sibawahyi through grammar, which took him to the heights that it did.

Mind over matter.


14 responses to “Mind over matter

  1. Mashaa’ Allaah I really enjoy your blog and I pray Allaah gives you tawfeeq to continue to update it on a daily basis and that this blog is recorded from among your good deeds.

    I wanted to add that another inspring part of Sibawayhi’s life for those striving to learn Arabic is the fact that Sibawayhi (rahimahullaah) was from Persia not an Arab country! His Kitaab as-Sibawayhi is so powerful and a shield for Arabic Grammar that the modernists who are trying to destroy the Arabic language and make it “up-to-date” have written books with titles like “Litahyah al-Lughah al-Arabiyyah… Falyaskot Sibawayhi” (“In Order for Arabic to Live… Sibawayhi Should Fall”). Subhanallaah!

  2. Ameen.

    That is an important and very inspiriting point, Jazakum Allahu Khayran for adding it.

  3. I don’t understand, why do they care to change the grammar of classical Arabic? Do they want MSA to have different grammar?

    Jazaakallahu khayran

  4. al-Salaamu ‘alaykum,

    This article speaks about the issue, in shaa’ Allaah it will be of benefit:


  5. Jazakallah khayran for the article.

  6. Wa iyyaaki. I hope it was of benefit and answered your query.

  7. JazakAllah for this blog.

  8. asalamo alaykom,could you please give more information about sibawaihi i’m doing a raserch about him please help me

  9. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    Please refer to http://www.hf.uio.no/ikos/studier/fag/arabisk/sibawayhi/HomePage/kitab.htm or do a search for ‘sibawayhi’ in shaa’ Allaah.

    All the best.

  10. I have recently ordered this book on Sibawayhi. Hopefully this will throw more loght on the life and works of Imam-us-Sarf wa Nahw 🙂

  11. as-salâmu ‘alaykum

    Mâ châ’a-Llâh
    Jazaka-Llâhu kharayn for this blog !

  12. Pingback: Al-Kanz, le blog » Anecdote : Sibawahyhi le grammairien

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