Discover your roots.

Rootsal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

A common phenomenon known to linguists is that of semantic shift, whereby a word acquires new shades of meaning over time. This phenomenon is also noticeable when we take a look at Islamic terminology, such as zakat, or Shari’ah, or the Names and Attributes of Allah, or words related to the prayer such as rukoo’, sujood, tashahhud; they all connote a meaning in an Islamic framework that was completely unknown to the pre-Islamic Arabs.

A number of Arabic scholars of the past researched this issue and recorded their findings in books, sometimes solely related to this topic. One of the best known sources in this regard was authored by Abu Hatim al-Razi (d. 322 Hijri) which he called, “al-Zeenah fee al-Kalimaat al-Islamiyyah al-‘Arabiyyah.”

As Arabic was the language chosen by Allaah for His Qur’an, and as the eternal miracle of Islam lies in the inimitable nature of the Qur’anic language, it is important to study as many aspects and angles of the language as possible, to gain a fuller and more complete understanding of the Qur’anic message. Such knowledge can serve to strengthen one’s faith and bring their hearts closer to the Qur’an.

For example, when we look at words related to Jannah (Paradise):

Jannatu ‘Adn جَنَاتُ عَدن (the Gardens of Eden): al-Asma’i said: The Arabs say ‘adanat al-iblu bi-makaani kadhaa wa kadhaa عدنت الإبل بمكان كذا وكذا to mean ‘the camels chose to remain and stay put in such-and-such place,’ indicating that the root ‘ayn-daal-noon ع – د – ن indicates constancy in one place. Thus, the Jannaat ‘Adn were so called because they are everlasting; when one is entered into them they will never leave.

Toobaa طوبى: The Prophet (may the peace and prayers of Allah be upon him) mentioned in a hadith:


Islam began as something strange, and will return to being something strange as it once began, so Toobaa طوبى is for the strangers.

Allaah said in the Qur’an (al-Rad, verse 29)

الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ طُوبَى لَهُمْ وَحُسْنُ مَآبٍ

Those who believe and work righteousness, Toobaa طوبى is for them and a beautiful place of (final) return.

Toobaa is the name of a tree in Paradise. Some linguists say its name was derived from the root taaba-yateebu طاب – يطيب which means ‘to be pleasant/ delightful’, as though to indicate that it will be delightful for the dwellers of Paradise to take shelter under it. The word Toobaa is of the pattern fu’laa فعلى, and this is a superlative pattern indicating the topmost end of a thing. Thus, Toobaa refers to the most extreme type of pleasure and delight; when one reclines and relaxes and takes shade under this tree it will be incomparable to any relaxation ever taken before – a reward awaiting the believers.

Kawthar الكوثر: It is a river in Paradise, whiter than milk and sweeter than honey, out of which branch out all other rivers. It is specifically for the Prophet (may the peace and prayers of Allah be upon him). It’s name was derived from the root kaaf-thaa’-raa’ ك – ث – ر which indicates abundance and plenty, reflecting the great blessings and bounty that lie within this river, as a reward to the Prophet (may the peace and prayers of Allah be upon him).


14 responses to “Discover your roots.

  1. السلام عليكم

    سبحان الله

    جزاكم الله خيرا

  2. Nice to have you back.


  3. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salam,

    Yusuf, Wa iyyaakum.

    Johan, thank you. Nice to still have readers after being away so long!

  4. Bint Habib aka Stucko

    jazakAllaah khayr for this website ukthee. It’s great. I need some advice from you. Hope to speak to you soon inshaAllaah.

  5. Ramadan Mubarak! It is a pleasure to have you back; your wisdom was greatly missed.

    Ya Haqq!

  6. as-salamu alaikum,

    as always the posts on this blog always amaze me and I always learn new things…Jzaki Allahu khaira…

    just a quick side question though: if im not wrong isn’t kauthar name of the hawdh around which beleivers gather on yawm al-qiyamah and drink from it??? Or is there a different name for that hawdh and im possibly mixing the two up???

    Thank you.

  7. wa ‘alaykum al-Salam,

    Bint Habib, in shaa’ Allah. Wa iyyaakum.

    Irving, Ramadan Mubarak to you as well. Thank you for your comments.

    sleeplesslonging, wa iyyaakum. The Kawthar is said to be the river that feeds the hawd (pool) which you are speaking of, and Allah knows best. You can read more about it at this link:

    wa al-Salamu ‘alaykum

  8. Assalam ‘Alaykum

    Jazakallah Khairan once again. You have no idea how happy I am to see posts appearing once again. May Allah bless you and keep us on the right path. May Allah make this Ramadhan fruitful for all of us, full of forgiveness & mercy from our Lord. Please keep me in your du’aa.

    مع السلامة

  9. Welcome back, dear friend 🙂 Ramadan Mubarak wa Jazaakum Allahu Khairan.

  10. As salamu alaykum,

    Each post seems to amaze me. It makes me want to learn Arabic even more. I’ve linked your blog on mine so the rest of my class-mates can benefit inshaAllah.

    JazakAllahu Khair for sharing the knowledge, each bit of ilm you share is like a precious jewel for us, students of Ilm…May Allah (swt) increase your Ilm, Iman and taqwa and May you be successful on both worlds. Ameen.

  11. JazakAllah for that…

    Glad to see you back…

  12. wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    Yaser, ameen, wa iyyaakum.

    mujrimah, wa jazaaki khayran. Taqabbal Allaahu minnaa wa minkum.

    sumaiya, wa iyyaakum, ameen. May Allaah grant you success in your studies, ameen.

    seekerofwisdom, wa iyyaakum, and thank you. Good to be back.

  13. Assalamu’alaykum,

    I discovered your blog when you were away. Since then I’ve been eagerly waiting for your reappearance.

    Jazaakarallaah for all your good deeds.

  14. Excellent work…

    May allah reward you for this

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