There’s always a first.

al-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

Arabic often has the ability to convey a very precise meaning using a single world, due to the richness and breadth of its vocabulary. In line with this, scholars of the language would often compile lexicons based on concepts shared between words rather than alphabetically, and thus the thesaurus genre in Arabic literature could be seen as early as the 9th Century, predating the first English thesaurus by approximately nine centuries.

Early on in his book Fiqh al-Lughah wa Sirr al-'Arabiyyah, al-Tha'aalibee presents an exposition of the words that deals with the 'first of…' matters in Arabic. Among these are:

The first light of the day is known as the subh الصُبح
The first dark of the night is known as the ghasaq الغَسق
The first drizzle of the rain is known as the wasmiyy الوسميّ
The first milk from the udder is known as the libaa' اللِّباء
The first juice extracted from a fruit is known as the sulaaf السلاف
The first faction of the army is known as the talee'ah الطليعة
The first signs of sleep is known as the nu'aas النُّعاس
The first hours of the night are known as the zulaf الزُّلَف
The first signs of water in a well once it has been dug is known as the nabat النَّبَط

The first garment worn by an infant is known as the 'ilqah العِلقة
The first cry of the baby when he is born is known as the istihlaal الاستهلال
The first waste to come out of the child's body is known as the 'iqyu الِعقيُ


11 responses to “There’s always a first.

  1. Yaser Al-Hotaki


  2. Salam
    Is it ok to copy your posts on to other websites with the link to your blog added at the end?

  3. Salamu’alaikum wa rahmatallah.

    Jazakamullahu khairan.

    Is this book good suitable for beginners? I looked through it but couldnt really understand what it’s all about. Theres a few pages of something else before it goes into what you’ve translated, right?

    Barakallahu feekum


  4. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmat Allaah,

    anon, it is okay in shaa’ Allaah. Please refer to the About Arabic Gems page at the top for conditions of use.

    Yusuf, wa iyyaakum. In order to fully benefit from the book, the reader would have to already have reached a certain level of comprehension and understanding. They may, however, be able to benefit from part 1 – Fiqh al-Lughah – as that is mainly related to vocabulary and lexical entries. Before the section I translated, there is an introduction and also a few other lexical entries, yes.

  5. aslamu alaykum,

    It says the first cry of a baby is known as istihlaal. Istihlaal is also used when we declare something halaal (i.e. make istihlaal of it). I was wondering what’s the linguistic connection between these two usages of this word. (Please excuse my ignorance though :s)

    barakAllahu feekum

  6. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    One is with a haa’ هـ, and the other is with a Haa’ حـ.

  7. oops I didnt notice that…indeed indeed…

  8. Beautiful little article. It is a rather unique and wonderful concept for your site. I look forward to being able to benefit from the information here once my Arabic studies improve!

    ma’a salama.

  9. Jazaakum Allaahu khayran, dawud.

    If you read the About Arabic Gems page, one of the aims of this site was to try to provide content presented in such a way that anyone could benefit from it regardless of what level their knowledge of Arabic was at, as well as to encourage the reader to take up or deepen their language study by showing them glimpses of the depth and beauty of this language, and how such knowledge could benefit them in their deen.

    If you feel that you yourself need a higher level of knowledge of Arabic before you can benefit from the site, we sincerely welcome suggestions from you as to how we could allow you to benefit right now in shaa’ Allaah, without actually teaching the language (going into grammar and morphology) as that is outside the folds of this current project.

    May Allaah grant you tawfeeq. Ameen.

  10. Salams,

    Well, it is grammar and morphology that I am learning now, from the ground up. It is more to do with me having a limited vocabulary, especially understanding how to trace words back to their root. This becomes even more awkward when it is jama’ al-takseer, for example, but this is only because I am a beginner and it will come through exposure and practise.

    Some of the more technical things are over my head right now, but an article such as this one, explaining the concept of caring so much about a language as to write an exposition of all the terms for the “first of”, is something anyone can appreaciate and find beauty in, regardless of if they know the language or not. It is simply beautiful… sheer eloquence and mastery of the language on display.

    Keep up the good work! 🙂

    ma’a salama

  11. Excellent work…

    May allah reward you for this

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