The Perplexing Accusative in Quranic Arabic Grammar

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Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim,

(Note: This article will make complete sense only to students of Arabic grammar.)

For non-native students of Arabic grammar, one of the most confusing and difficult topics is the various uses of the accusative case (mansub). For your quick reference, and for easy comparison and contrast, below is a very short summary of some of its uses with examples from the Quran.

  1. Al Maf’ool Feehi

Also known as dharf, perhaps this one most resembles ‘adverb’ in English grammar. There are two types: adverbs of time and place.

Dharf Zaman (Adverb of Time)

وَجَاءُوا أَبَاهُمْ عِشَاءً يَبْكُونَ

And they came to their father at night, weeping. [12:16]

قَالُوا لَبِثْنَا يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ ۚ

They said, “We have lingered a day, or part of a day.” [18:19]

Dharf Makan (Adverb of Place)

وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِهِ

And He is the subjugator over His servants. [6:18]

لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا وَمَا تَحْتَ الثَّرَىٰ

To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is on the earth and what is between them and what is under the soil. [20:6]

  1. Al Maf’ool al Mutlaq (cognate accusative)

It is a verbal noun which comes after the verb, and it resembles the verb in form, or sometimes in meaning. It has three types:

  1. for emphasis:

وَكَلَّمَ اللَّهُ مُوسَىٰ تَكْلِيمًا

And Allah spoke to Moses with [direct] speech. [4:164]

فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِهِ أَنَّا صَبَبْنَا الْمَاءَ صَبًّا ثُمَّ شَقَقْنَا الْأَرْضَ شَقًّا

Then let mankind look at his food – how We poured down water in torrents. Then We broke open the earth, splitting [it with sprouts]. [80:24-26]

كَلَّا إِذَا دُكَّتِ الْأَرْضُ دَكًّا دَكًّا

No! When the earth has been leveled – pounded and crushed. [89:21]

  1. Stating number:

الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِي فَاجْلِدُوا كُلَّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا مِائَةَ جَلْدَةٍ

The [unmarried] woman or [unmarried] man found guilty of sexual intercourse – lash each one of them with a hundred lashes. [24:2]

 

  1. Stating type:

وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا

Speak to them [parents] a noble word. [17:23]

  1. Maf’ool li Ajlihi (The Accusative of Purpose)

Also called ‘maf’ool lahu’, this one is a verbal noun that gives a reasoning behind the action of the verb. A maf’ool lahu can be replaced with the preposition ‘li’, and will give the same meaning.

For example:

ضَرَبْتُهُ تَأديباً.

ضَرَبْتُهُ للتَّأديب.

Both the above sentences mean: ‘I beat him for disciplining.’

Examples from the Quran:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْرِي نَفْسَهُ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِ اللَّهِ

And of the people is he who sells himself, seeking means to the approval of Allah . [2:207]

وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ

And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. [17:31]

يَجْعَلُونَ أَصَابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِم مِّنَ الصَّوَاعِقِ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ

They put their fingers in their ears against the thunderclaps in dread of death. [2:19]

  1. At Tamyeez

This is an indefinite word used to specify the general, or removes ambiguity. For example:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَمَاتُوا وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْ أَحَدِهِم مِّلْءُ الْأَرْضِ ذَهَبًا وَلَوِ افْتَدَىٰ بِهِ ۗ

Indeed, those who disbelieve and die while they are disbelievers – never would the [whole] capacity of the earth in gold be accepted from one of them if he would [seek to] ransom himself with it. [3:91]

فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ   وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ

So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it. [99:7-8]

وَكَانَ لَهُ ثَمَرٌ فَقَالَ لِصَاحِبِهِ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ أَنَا أَكْثَرُ مِنكَ مَالًا وَأَعَزُّ نَفَرًا

And he had fruit, so he said to his companion while he was conversing with him, “I am greater than you in wealth and mightier in [numbers of] men.” [18:34]

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِّمَّن دَعَا إِلَى اللَّهِ

And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah… [41:33]

  1. Al Haal (circumstance)

This is an extra adjective (or it can be a clause) that describes the attitude, state or circumstance of its possessor. You can find out if it’s a haal by asking the question, ‘how?’ and see if it can answer that.

For example:

يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً

[To the righteous it will be said], “O reassured soul, Return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him], [89-27-28]

وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَاعِبِينَ

And We did not create the heavens and earth and that between them in play. [44:38]

رَّبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِمَن دَخَلَ بَيْتِيَ مُؤْمِنًا

My Lord, forgive me and my parents and whoever enters my house a believer. [71:28]

أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ

Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? [49:12]

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2 Comments

  1. samina August 16, 2017 Reply

    jazakallahu khairan kaseera,very beautifully explained,very very useful for understanding the different types of mafool, may allah bless you with best of both the worlds. aameen

    • Author
      UQA_S August 17, 2017 Reply

      Aameen, JazakAllahu Khair help us spread this noble work by sharing in your circles.

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