The story’s secret.

open-book.gifal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

To look back to the original meaning of a word is to embark on more than just a linguistic voyage; in some cases, tracing a word back to its original meaning is actually the key to unlocking one of the treasures of the guidance of the Qur’an.

For example, Allaah said in the introduction to the story of Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him),

نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ هَـذَا الْقُرْآنَ وَإِن كُنتَ مِن قَبْلِهِ لَمِنَ الْغَافِلِينَ

We relate to you, the best of stories (qasas) in what We have revealed to you of this Qur’an although you were, before it, among the unaware.

wherein the real secret behind Allah relating this story to us lies in none other than the word story itself.

The word being used for story in this verse is qissah قصة (pl. qasas قصص), is derived from the root qaaf-saad ق-ص. The primary connotation of this root is ‘to follow’. This meaning is further evidenced by the verse,

وَقَالَتْ لِأُخْتِهِ قُصِّيهِ

And she said to his sister, “Follow him”

wherein the mother of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) told his sister to follow Musa after the family of the Pharoah had picked him from the river, and the word used by Allah for ‘follow’ in the verse was qusseehi قُصِّيهِ– also derived from the root ق-ص.

Similarly, the juridical term qisaas قصاص referring to the law of equality in punishment, is so called because it involves following in the footsteps of another – doing to one person what they have done to another.

And thus we find that the word qissah قصة (story) as has been used in the Qur’an has been chosen over all other synonyms (such as hadeeth حديث or hikaayah حكاية) because it indicates that the story is not being narrated for the sake of amusement or entertainment, but rather within the word itself lies the explanation that the story is being related for the reader to follow in the footsteps of the one being spoken about in the story… although you were, before it, among the unaware.


28 responses to “The story’s secret.

  1. Masha’Allah, I benefit so much from your lessons. Barakallahu feek wa jazakallahu khayr.

  2. Subhanallah! Jazakallah Khairan for such insights! May Allah continue to make this a source of blessings for you and and everyone reading and make this a possible avenue of intercession on the Day of Judgement. Please keep me in your ad’iyyah!

  3. Alhamdulillah, great post. This is a great way to explain the purpose of the stories in al-Qur`an.

    Jazak Allahu khayr

  4. أنا أحسدك
    أنا أحسدك

  5. salamonalaikom
    After thanks about قصاص
    I woul like to point my view.
    In the قصاص ,folwing the footsteps to find out the t ruth of what happend and cause of it and the way of its prevention aredemanded.

  6. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmat Allaah wa barakaatuhu,

    ummadam, Yaser, mujahid7ia, wa feekum khayr al-jazaa’.


    abbas, thank you for the clarification on the fiqh of the qisas.

  7. Salamu alaykum,

    In “Sabrun Jameel”, can you expand on what “Jameel” means? And how it relates to Sabr?

    Wa Salam,


  8. Wa Alaykumus Salam,

    May Allah reward you for this excellent question.

    In surah Yusuf (alayhis salam), I believe ‘sabrun jameel’ is mentioned twice. Once in ayah 18 and then again in ayah 83. Both times, the speaker is Sayyiduna Yaqoub (alayhis salam). After he hears the gut wrenching news of what had happened to his beloved son Prophet Yusuf (alayhis salam), he ends by saying: My course of action is ‘sabrun jameel’.

    What is ‘Sabrun Jameel’? It is the process of patience or perseverance during which one does not complain about one’s situation/circumstance to creation (khalq). Rather, one realizes that it is from Allah and so one turns to Him completely. This is what is referred to as having beautiful patience (loose translation of Sabrun Jameel). And that is exactly what Sayyiduna Yaqoub (alayhis salam) did. If we read further in the Blessed Surah we learn that eventually relief was brought to Sayyiduna Yaqoub and he was reunited with Sayyiduna Yusuf (alayhis salam).

    And Allah ta’ala knows best.


  9. Asalaamu Alaikum

    I believe it also comes in Surah Ma3arij in the form of an amr, commanding the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to be patient with the mushrikeen who weren’t responding to the call of Islam, and of course their denial of the Hour.

    Wasalaamu Alaikum

  10. Wa alaykumus Salam,

    Jazakallah Khayr.

    Br Imran: Have you checked in which Ayah of Surah Ma’arij does it occur?

    I believe you’re thinking of ‘Hajran Jameel(an)’, which occurs in Ayah 10 of Surah 73 Muzzammil (Folded in Garments).

    Side note: Surah Ma’arij is the 70th Surah of the Qur’an.

    ‘Hajran Jameel’ is quite different from ‘Sabrun Jameel’. The former means (loose translation) a ‘courteous farewell’, and the meaning of the latter was already posted.

    And Allah ta’ala knows best.


  11. Baarak Allahu feek!

  12. Asalaamu Alaikum Qushayri,

    It’s in verse 5 of Surah Ma3arij

    070.005 فَاصْبِرْ صَبْرًا جَمِيلا

    Wasalaamu alaikum.

  13. As-salaamu `alaykum

    Wow mashaa’Allaah!

    Jazaak’Allaahu khayran

    Zarafahasooda….??? Subhan’Allaah

    Arabicgems, do you know if the Itqaan of any other ‘Uloom al-Qur’aan book goes into any details regarding this topic of going to the asl of words in the Qur’aan to derive deeper meaning? This is something I’d like to do further research on inshaa’Allaah

    Barak’Allaahu feek!

  14. Br Imran,

    Jazak’Allahu khayran.


  15. As salaam alaikum.

    Mashallah! Beautiful blog.

    I write poems, essays, short fiction and articles for a largely Muslim audience. Please come by when you have time to read.

    Wa salaama,


  16. Mashallah…sister
    JazakAllah…its very helpful to learn arabic language..May Allah give u the best of rewards

  17. al-Salaamu ‘alaykum,

    Qushayri and Imran, jazakumaa Allaahu khayran for your contributions.

    fajr, wa iyyaaki. You can look into the Muzhir by al-Suyuti, but in my opinion it is best to look into the linguistic tafaseer themselves. The point made in this post, though not taken from a book, has probably been mentioned in one of them, wallaahu a3lam.

    nuh ibn, wa ‘alaykum as salaam. I will in shaa’ Allaah.

    shaheen, wa iyyaaki. Ameen.

  18. I have a question which had been asked at
    To quote:
    Scholars of the Arabic langauge differed as to whether any two words can truly be synonymous. One of those two words must provide an additional meaning.

    Along these lines, lets look at Zakat and Riba. Both mean to increase, to become more. What then is the wisdom in this choice of words?

    Any thoughts

    It would be great if someone here could elaborate on this question for the benefit of all. I will then re-reference it back on the original website
    May Allah bless you for this!

  19. This site may interest your readers.
    Subscribe to

  20. sheepoo, from what I know, and as the previous two posters commented, the word zakaah has an added meaning of purification (tahaarah), as Allah said in verse 103 of surah al-Tawbah خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِمْ بِهَا
    “Take, [O, Muْammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase.”

    I think brother Hood will be able to shed more light on it, in shaa’ Allaah.

    AWAD, looks like a very beneficial site al-Hamdu lillah. I especially like the etymology part, jazakum Allaahu khayran.

  21. Assalaamu alaikum,

    Brilliant site masha’Allah!

    May Allah increase you in knowledge and all that is good!


  22. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    Jazakum Allaahu khayran.

    Wa iyaaki, Ameen.

  23. AOA;

    It is excellent effort to facilitate people in education of Holy Quran in a perspective which only known by few.

  24. Excellent work…

    May allah reward you for this

  25. Alhamdulillah, great post. This is a great way to explain the purpose of the stories in al-Quran.

  26. Yes, this verse in fully talking of Awareness. قصة express more than “story”. Awareness (Q) pur sight (Ts) and could mean “have to face facts”, much powerful than “story”.
    Story is nearess than حديث cause the Th express a relativity, a report. Hikaayah حكاية express a likeness of lived fact, a kind of copy (K), again, a report. قصة is not dwell by a notion of report or any imitation, but something to impact our ‘Aql and Qalb directly from Allâh al Haqq. Al Qur’ân the book which organized us!


  27. Pingback: The story’s secret. (via Arabic Gems ~ جواهر العربية) | quran reciter blog

  28. Pingback: The story’s secret. | ServisTech

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