; An English Guide to Classic Qur'anic Arabic: 4.1D - Possessive Compound


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4.1D - Possessive Compound


Possessive Compound الْمُرَكَّبُ الْإِضَافِيْ


The possessive compound is the most extensively used phrase in Al-Qur’an. This compound consists of at least two Nouns and relates one Noun to the other. Arabic does not have an equivalent word for the word “of” and its effect is created by the order and flexibility of the Nouns used in this compound, as in, the messenger of Allah رَسُوْلُ اللّٰهِ, and day of judgment يَوْمُ الدّيْنِ. The first Noun is called the Possessed مُضَافٌ (Mu-daaf), and the second Noun is called the Possessor مُضَافٌ إِلَيْهِ (mu-daaf ilai-hi).


Five very important rules need to be followed to make this compound:


Rule no. 1: Mu-daaf is always the first word in a possessive compound as in the English language.

Rule no. 2: Mu-daaf cannot have (ال) in front of it.

Rule no. 3: The flexibility of the first part of the sentence Mu-daaf is always lightened. This can be understood by the following examples:

a)     Mu-daaf can never have a tanween. If the word has one of the three tanweens ٌ, ً, and ٍ, then, to be used as mu-daaf they become ُ, َ, and ِ. Note that a tanween for (un) sound ٌ has two dammahs and it becomes one dammah ُ with (oo) sound as in كِتَابٌ  becomes كِتَابُ. Or a tanween with (un) sound ً has two fathahs and it reduces to a single fathah َ (aa) sound as in كِتَابًا becomes كِتَابَ. Or a tanween with (in) ٍ sound has two kasrahs and it reduces to a single kasrah ِ (ee) sound as in كِتَابٍ becomes كِتَابِ.

b)     If a mu-daaf is a dual, for example, كِتَابَانِ, then alphabet (نِ) is dropped and it becomes كِتَابَا.

c)     If a mu-daaf is a plural as in كِتَابُوْنَ kita-boo-na, then it becomes كِتَابُوْا kitaa-boo, where again, alphabet نَ is dropped. When this happens, alphabetا  is added after alphabet و (only with this alphabet).

Rule no. 4: Mu-daaf ilaihi, which is the second part of the compound is always in Genitive state جَرٌّ. A mu-daaf can be Nominative, Accusative نَصْبٌ (nas-bun) or Genitive جَرٌّ (jarr-un) depending upon the position of the compound in the sentence.

Rule no. 5: There can be no other word between mu-daaf and mu-daaf ilaihi. If an adjective صِفَّةٌ(sif-fa-tun) has to be added to define a property of a mu-daaf, it is added after the mu-daaf ilaihi. See example 2.



1.     Zaid’s Book كِتَابُ زَيْدٍ kitaa-buZai-din: كِتَابُ kitaa-bu (book) is possessed (mu-daaf) and therefore it comes first, and زَيْدٍ Zaid is the possessor and it comes later and also it is in Genitive جَرٌّ(jarr-un) state.


Note most of the times tanweens ٌ, ً, andٍ  and harakahs ُ, َ, and ِ are Nominative, Accusative نَصْبٌ (nas-bun) and Genitive جَرٌّ(jarr-un) respectively. Please also note that, these harakahsdo not always represent these states. As we mentioned earlier, Non flexible مَبْنِيْ Nouns will have the same harakahsin all three states and diptotes will have one harakah for Nominative رَفْعٌ (raf-un) and one harakahfor both Accusative نَصْبٌ (nas-bun) and Genitive جَرٌّ (jarr-un) states.

2.     Zaid’s big book كِتَابُ زَيْدٍ الْكَبِيْرُ kitaa-bu Zaidinul kabee-ru. Note that الْكَبِيْرُ al-kabee-ru (Big) is the adjective for the book and it is after the mu-daaf ilaihi.


Important Note: Note that if an indefinite Noun (na-ki-ra-tun) is used as a mu-daaf for a definite Noun (maa’ri-fa-tun), it also becomes a definite Noun (maa’ri-fa-tun).


Table 20 - Possessive Compound Examples


Servant of Zaid

غُلَامُ زيْدٍ

Ghu-laa-mu Zai-din

House of Allah

بَيْتُ اللهِ


Messenger of Allah

رَسُوْلُ اللهِ


Noble messenger of Allah

رَسُوْلُ اللهِ الْكَرِيْمُ

Rasool-ul-lahil karee-mu

Messenger of Gracious Allah

رَسُوْلُ اللهِ الْكَرِيْمِ

Rasool-ul-lahi karee-mi

Man’s righteous son

وَلَدُ الرَّجُلِ الصَّالِحُ


Righteous daughter of man

بِنْتُ الرَّجُلِ الصَّالِحُ


Son of a righteous man

وَلَدُ الرَّجُلِ الصَّالِحِ


Daughter of a righteous man

بِنْتُ الرَّجُلِ الصَّالِحِ







Use of Pronouns in a Possessive Compound


As mentioned before in chapter 3, pronouns اَلضَّمَائِرُ (ad-damai-ru) are used in place of Nouns., for example, instead of Zaid’s book, we can say his book and instead of Zainab’s pencil, we can say her pencil.


As we have learned before, pronouns are always Definite Nouns مَعْرِفَةُ (maa’ri-fa-tu). Also, remember the rule that to define a Noun, 4 properties need to be known which are its capacity, its gender, its quantity and its e’raab or vowel. Since we know that pronouns are definite Nouns, we need Table 4 for the rest of the three properties.

Some examples of use of pronouns are:


1.     Zaid’s book كِتَابُ زَيْدٍ(kitaabu Zaidin) without a pronoun

2.     his book كِتَابُهُ (kitaab-bu-hu) with pronoun هُ (hu)

3.     her book كِتَابُهَا (kitaab-bu-haa) with pronoun هَا (haa)


Note that since mu-daaf ilaihi is always in Genitive جَرٌّ (jarr-un) state, we will be using Table 4 which lists pronouns in Accusative نَصْبٌ (nas-bun) and Genitive جَرٌّ (jarr-un) states to provide a complete list of possessive compounds with pronouns.



Table 21 – Possessive Compound with Personal Pronouns










3rd person (absent)







His book





Their (two males) book





 (all males) book





Her book




Their (two females) book





 (all females) book

2nd person (present)






Your book




Your (two males) books





 (all males) book





Your book




Your (two females) book




Your (

all females) book

1st person (speaker)





My book




Our book (two males or two females)



Our book (two males or two females)












Rules of combining pronouns

As you may have noticed only the possessor can be a pronoun and not possessed. Therefore, pronouns used here are in Genitive جَرٌّ (jarr-un) state per the rule of the possessive compound.

1)     Three basic rules to remember in this respect are:

               i.     Alphabet alif (ا) requires a fathah on the alphabet before it.

             ii.      Alphabet Ya (ي) requires a kasrah on the alphabet before it.

            iii.     Alphabet waw (و) requires a dammah on the alphabet before it.


How to combine 1st person male pronoun in Genitive جَرٌّ (jarr-un) state (هُ):


1)     If the Noun (mu-daaf) before it has fathah or dammah on its last alphabet, then its harakah is not changed as in كِتَابُهُ(ki-taa-bu-hu)

2)     If the Noun before it has kasrah on its last alphabet, then dammah on it is changed to kasrah also as in كِتَابِهِ(kitaa-bi-hi).

3)     If the Noun before it has 1st person ya (ي), then also dammah on it is changed to kasrah as in كِتَابَيْهِ(kitaa-bai-hi).



Use of Demonstrative Pronoun with Possessive Compound


When a demonstrative compound is needed to point to mu-daafor mu-daaf ilaihi, the following method is used:


1)     If the (mu-daaf) Noun is being pointed at, then demonstrative pronoun is added at the end. For example, in the phrase “the boy’s this book”, the book (mu-daaf) is being pointed at. So, the Arabic phrase would be:

كِتَابُ الْوَلَدِ هٰذَا(kitaab-ul-waladi haaza)


2)     If mu-daaf ilaihi is pointed at, then demonstrative pronoun is added before it. For example, in the phrase “the Lord of this house”, the house (mu-daafilaihi) is being pointed at. So, the Arabic phrase would be:

رَبُّ هٰذَاالْبَيْتِ(rab-bu hazal-bait)





Complex Possessive Compound


A complex possessive compound is that in which there is more than one mu-daaf or mu-daaf ilaihi. For example, Master of the day of judgment or doors of the house of Allah.




In the phrase “Master of the day of judgment”, easy way to construct this is to break it into two parts: 1) Master and 2) the day of judgment


First, we start with the day of judgment. We need to make the day as mudaaf and judgment as mudaaf ilaihi. The Arabic phrase for this would be يَوْمُ الدِّيْنِ


Next, we take مَالِكُ Master and make it a mudaaf and the phrase يَوْمُ الدِّيْنِ the day of judgment as mudaaf ilaihi. This causes يَوْمُ to go into jarr يَوْمِand the combined sentence would be:   

                        مَالِكُ يَوْمِ الدِّيْنِ









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