; An English Guide to Classic Qur'anic Arabic: 1.1/1.2/1.3 - Alphabets and Words

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1.1/1.2/1.3 - Alphabets and Words



 

 

Chapter 1 - Alphabets and Words اَلْحُرُوْفُ الأَبْجَدِيَةُ /اَلْفَاظٌ

al-Huroof-ul ab-ja-di-ya-tu/Al-faa-zun


Section 1.1 - Arabic Alphabets اَلْأَبْجَدِيَةُ الْعْرَبِيَّةُ

 (al-abja-di-ya-tul ara-bi-yya)

 

 

Trans-literation key

 

Harakah

 

Harakah

name

Transliteration

alphabets

 َ

Fathah

a as in ha

ِ

Kasrah

i as in sin

ُ

Dammah

u as in uno

ً

Tanween Fathah

an as in undo

ٍ

Tanween kasrah

in as in sin

ٌ

Tanween dammah

un as in uno

اْ

Alif/hamzah

aa

وْ

waaw

oo

يْ

yaa

ee

ْ

Saakin/Jazm

عُلْ/اُلْ

ul

For (ا) ul as in full/

 For (ع) 'ul and 'u is pronounced from back of the throat

اَلْ/عَلْ

al

For (ا) al as in hull/

 For (ع) 'al and 'a is pronounced from back of the throat

اِلْ/عِلْ

il

For (ا) il as in fill/

 For (ع) 'il and 'i is pronounced from back of the throat

 

 

In Arabic, the first thing to note is that it is written from right to left. Arabic has 28 alphabets. These are from right to left:

 

Table 1 - Arabic Alphabets

خ

ح

ج

ث

ت

ب

ا

Khaa

Haw

Djeem

Thaa

Taa

Baa

Alif

 

ص

ش

س

ز

ر

ذ

د

Saad

Sheen

Seen

Zayn

Raa

dhaal

Daal

 

ق

ف

غ

ع

ظ

ط

ض

Qaaf

Faa

Ghayn

'Ayn

Zaa

Taw

Daad

 

ي

 

و

ه

ن

م

ل

ك

Yaa

Waw

Haa

Noon

Meem

Laam

Kaaf

 

Besides, another alphabet which is ء  (Hamzah) is sometimes counted and the total number of alphabets is counted as 29. Hamzah is the consonant version of the alphabet Alif (ا).

 

Alphabets are divided into two categories. They are Sun alphabets اَلشَّمْسِيْ (ash-Shamsi) and Moon alphabets اَلْقَمَرِيْ (al-Qamari).  This division is because of the way they are pronounced when the Arabic alphabets ا (Alif) and ل (Laam) are in front of them. For example, al-shamsi is read as ash-shamsi and al-qamari is read as written, that is, al-qama-ri.

 

Section 1.2 – Sun and Moon Alphabets حُرُوْفُ اَلشَّمْسِيْ / حُرُوْفُ الْقَمَرِيْ hu-roo-fus-sham-si/huroo-ful qama-ri

 

(1)    Sun Alphabets حُرُوْفُ الشَّمْسِيْ (huroof-ush-shamsi):

 

There are 14 Sun alphabets. These are:

 

س

ز

ر

ذ

د

ث

ت

Seen

Zaa

Raa

Dhaal

Dal

Tha

Ta

 

ن

ل

ظ

ط

ض

ص

ش

Noon

Laam

Zaw

Taw

Dod

Sod

Sheen

 

 

(2)    Moon Alphabets الْقَمَرِيْ حُرُوْفُ (huroof-ul-qamari)

 

Remaining all alphabets are Moon alphabets.

 

Section 1.3 - Vowels /Hara-kaa-tun حَرَكَاتٌ

 

Arabic has 3 long vowels and 3 short vowels. Long Vowels are three of the alphabets ا, ي, و (alif, yaa, and waw) which act both as consonants and as long vowels. Short Vowels are also called harakahs. These are described in more detail below.

 

All 28 alphabets in Arabic are consonants, but three of these alphabets are also used as vowels as mentioned before and are called long vowels. These are alphabets ا, ي, و (alif, yaa, and waw) and are used for producing long vowel sounds. These three alphabets are also called weak alphabets الْعِلَّتِ حَرُوْفُ (huroof-ul illati) because of the dual role of being consonants and vowels. Usually, ا requires a fathah before it, يrequires a Kasrah before it and و requires a dammah before it. There are always a few exceptions though.

 

The three weak alphabets can be joined when they denote long vowels just like when they denote consonants. The exception is weak ا. If the alif has the sign ء, this means that it is a هَمْزَةٌ hamzah-tun or hamzah. The hamzah is the consonant form of an alif.

 

If the alif is not carrying the sign of hamzah, then it must be a long vowel except when it occurs as the first alphabet in a word. In that case, the alif is a hamzah (consonant) but it is a special type of hamzah that is pronounced only when it is the first sound coming out of the mouth (i.e. when you begin speaking by pronouncing that hamzah). This hamzah is called the hamzah-tulWasli ("connecting hamzah") الْوَصْل هَمْزَةُ . The other hamzah at the beginning of a word is called the (hamzah-tulQat-ee) disconnecting hamzah  هَمْزَةُ الْقطْعِ  which is always pronounced.

 

A single alif can never denote a long vowel when it is the first alphabet of a word; there is no Arabic word that begins with a long-vowel-denoting alif.

 

The hamzah is not a weak alphabet. The weak alif is only that alif which is not the first alphabet of a word and which does not carry the sign of hamzah.

 

The Yaa ي and Waav و have no such differentiation. They are always called weak alphabets, whether they were denoting long vowels or not.

 

Short vowelsare called Harakahs حَرَكَاْتٌ in Arabic. Long vowels are called Extended Characters الْمَدِّ أَحْرُفُ  ah-ra-ful mad-di.An alphabet that is followed by a harakah is called a مُتَحَرِّكٌ حَرْفٌ har-fun mu-ta-har-ri-kun.An alphabet that is not followed by any vowel is called a silent alphabet سَاكِنٌحَرْفٌ harf-un saakin-un.

 

Short vowels do not have any alphabets but are designated by signs. Harakahs are represented with a short-stroke above or below the consonant as shown below. The three short vowels (harakahs) are:

 

a) dammah ضَمَّةٌ -ُ (U as in Uno).

b) fathah فَتْحَةٌ - َ (A as in Art).

c) kasrah كَسْرَةٌ- ِ (i as in sin).

 

Please note that we will be using alphabet U for dammah sound which makes an (ou) sound, A for fathah, and I for kasrah in this book.

 

The dotted circle is shown to indicate that an alphabet exists at this location. The sign above the dotted circle is the short vowel. Also, there are other harakahs that are used but they do not produce the change in the direction of the sound of a word. Nevertheless, they play an important role in pronunciation. These harakahs are:

 

1)     Jaz-mun or Silent/Sukoon ْ: With it, the Alphabet is pronounced without any vowel sound and have zero duration vowel. For example, alphabet lam (ل) with Jaz-mun (ْ) on top (لْ) is pronounced as alphabet “l” in “until”. Important to note is that two alphabets next to each other cannot both have jaz-mun, otherwise, the word becomes unreadable. When this happens, there are rules to either drop or replace one jaz-mun with another harakah. This will be discussed later when situations arise.

 

2)     Standing/Vertical fathah ٰ is pronounced as stretched fathah and is used inمَقْصُوْرَةٌ  اَلِفٌ (Alif-un Maq-soo-ra-tun) ىٰ in place of fathah.

 

3)     Reverse dammah - ، is used in Al-Qur’an. If a dammah is preceded by a fathah or dammah, it is written as a reverse dammah. It is still pronounced as a dammah.

 

4) آ Maddah - fathah sound with a stretch.

 

5) Tanween – There are three of these and they are ٌ, ً, ٍ. These sound like alphabet Noon ن with a Jaz-mun. ٌ is pronounced “un” as in uno, ً is pronounced as “un” as in sun and ٍ is pronounced as “in” as in income. These are essentially double dammah, double fathah, and double kasrah.

 

6) ّ (shaddah) - This is used to replace two of the same alphabets that are next to each other and pronounced with emphasis and there is always a dammah, fathah, or kasrah on it and the alphabet is pronounced twice. For example, إِنَّ which is pronounced as (in-na) meaning surely/without a doubt.

 

Please note that there is a separate science of Tajweed and Script for Al-Qur’an. One needs to study these fields to better understand the writing and reading of Al-Qur’an.

Note that the three weak alphabets can also be joined when they denote long vowels just like when they denote consonants.

  i.     مَقْصُوْرَةٌ اَلِفٌ (Alif Maq-soo-ra-tun): Alphabet ي(Ya) is written normally with two dots below it. It is also written as ى without the dots. In this case, it is read as Alif and is called Ya Maq-soo-rah. For example, فَتًى is pronounced (Fa-tan) meaning a youth.

 ii.     مَمدُوْدَةٌ اَلِفٌ (Alif Mam-doo-da-tun): Also know that ا (Alif) and ء (Hamzah) written together اء (sometimes also written as أ and إ) are also read as Alif with any of the Harakahs on hamzah and is called اَلِفٌ مَمدُوْدَةٌ (Alif Mam-doo-da-tun).  For example, سَمَاءٌ (samaa-un) meaning sky. Here  ء(Hamzah) has a Tanween ٌ(un) on it.

iii.     هَمْزَةُ الْوصْلِ (Hamza-tul Wasli) or Joining hamzah:

As described before, when two words are joined and the second one has hamzah and lam in front of it, hamzah in it is written but not pronounced. It is called hamzah-tul was-li. For example, مَا اِسْمُكَ which is written as (maa is-mu-ka) but spoken as (mas-mu-ka) or mas-muk and hamzah اِis not pronounced.

iv.     Note also that, harakah on the last alphabet of a sentence, a proper Noun or where the meaning of a sentence is complete, is not pronounced in spoken Arabic as a general rule.

 v.     To be consistent in transliteration, I have tried to use consistent alphabets as much as possible but the attempt has been to use commonly pronounced words as samples. The transliteration key has been mentioned at the beginning of this chapter.

 

   If you do  not need a refresher on reading and writing Arabic , You can skip  to Section 2.3

 

 

 

 

 

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2 comments:

  1. You are doing a commendable job Chacha. 👏🏻👏🏻 Jazakallah khair
    May Allah reward you with the best of both the worlds. Ameen

    ReplyDelete