Difference between الحقيقة و الحق

According to Hans Wehr:
الحقيقة: truth, reality, fact.
الحَقّ: truth, correctness, rightness, etc.

These two words are very similar in meaning, sound similar, and have the same root letters (ح ق ق). Thus, it is no surprise that the two are often mixed up. Even Hans Wehr’s first definition of both words is “truth”. So what is the difference?

الحقيقة: This is referring to the essence of something, that which constitutes the identity of a thing.
Ex: The essence of a chair is that it has 4 legs and place to sit on. Everything else would be considered a characteristic of it.
*It is also something that can either be good or bad.


الحَقّ: This is something that is associate with wisdom, and thus can only be associated with good things.

This is why the Quran says:
هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ
“It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although those who associate others with Allah dislike it.”

*It can also be understood as when the reality of something is in accordance with what is being stated.

In summary: الحقيقة is the “true” nature of something, while الحَقّ is the embodiment of “truthfulness”, good, and correctness.

Can I learn Arabic online? Yes and No.

“Can I learn Arabic online and bypass the Arabic portion and go straight into [enter program/institute/university]?”

I have heard this question so many times that it is easier to answer it here. The quick answer is not really. The long answer:

There are a few reasons why I believe someone is asking this question:

1. They believe that learning Arabic [or any language] is like any other science.
This couldn’t be further away from the truth. Learning a language has less to do about intelligence and more to do with motivation and hard-work. Rewiring your brain to think in a different way takes time, especially after you have been trained to think in a certain way and in a certain language for a couple of decades.

2. Their sense of time is based on academic semesters.
Can I learn Arabic in 3 months or a summer? Yes, the fact of the matter is that many people only have summers/3 months at a time available, but this should not affect one’s mentality in approaching the language otherwise they limit learning a language to a certain amount of time instead of making it a life-long journey and establishing benchmarks. Setting a long-term approach reduces stress and frustration otherwise the student becomes demotivated because they didn’t accomplish their goal and then convince themselves that they are not capable when in reality their expectations were unachievable to begin with. I have seen this too many times. So change the intention before entering Arabic.

3. They believe that online education is the new best thing.
USA today reported that 85% finish their classes face to face and 79% of online students stick with their studies to the end of the semester. The statistics are clear, studying face to face leads to better results. If you can study face to face then you should always go for that.


“Why would I every want to learn online if studying face to face is better?

1. You are someone who has exhausted all their options.
If you tried your best and could not find a way to study face to face then online studies are a viable option. With motivation and dedication a student online can learn just as much as someone who learned face to face. It just takes extra motivation.

2. The hybrid approach.
The scenario presented before was if you could only choose online or face to face then you would choose face to face. However, there is a trend [and one that I highly approve of] which combines both approaches. With face to face learning it is important to have that human connection, but it also can take up a lot of time. You may have missed something in class and was not able to write it down. Driving back and forth may take a toll (especially with all those red lights!). This is where an online approach supplements face to face learning very well. Using a resource to go back to in order to fill the gaps is what pushes an average student over the hump.

3. Community.
If someone is motivated and interested in learning, online learning exposes you to people whom you would have not been able to reach before. I can’t tell you how many people I have been connections with studying or teaching online!


I strongly believe that everyone needs to have an online resource to study Arabic. The best approach is to use that resource to supplement their face to face learning, and if they are not able to learn face to face then they can still learn using that online resource. 

إضافة، مذكَّر، مؤنَّث – Their complicated relationship

A student recently asked me a difficult question:
Do we conjugate كُلُّ نَفْسٍ as feminine or masculine?


The reason why this is a tricky question is because technically the word كُل is a masculine word and نَفْسٍ is technically a feminine word. Generally the response would be that you go with the first word, and since it is masculine you would conjugate the verb accordingly. But when we read the translation “every soul” the emphasis is on “soul” not “every”, so shouldn’t the verb be conjugated on what is being emphasized? This is what I hope to explain.


It is important to state a few things. The conversation surrounding masculine and feminine words is not a conversation of strict rules but rather preferences. It is incorrect to say that either is wrong since there is always evidence supporting both opinions. (That is unless it is a an actual person or animal with that specific gender).


The subtleties usually fall under what words are feminine, since the original state is considered to be a masculine word in the linguistic sense, not in terms of gender. One of the categories of feminine words is called:

المؤنث الحكمي
The scenario presented here is when there is an إضافة construction (meaning there is a مضاف و مضاف إليه), as in the example above كُلُّ نَفْسٍ.
If the مضاف is masculine and the مضاف إليه is feminine, the مضاف can be treated as a feminine word.

An example of this can be found in the Quran:
﴾وَجَاءَتْ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّعَهَا سَائِقٌ وَشَهِيدٌ﴿ – And every soul will come, with it a driver and a witness.

This is not unusual when it comes to an إضافة construction. We also see that the مضاف إليه has the ability to affect the definiteness of the مضاف.

For example if I wanted to say: “The tall boy of Azhar” it would be, طالبُ الأزهر الطويلُ. The reason why الطويلُ is definite is because it is the adjective of طالبُ, and adjectives must copy the definiteness of the word it is describing, hence طالبُ is be treated as a definite word.


For Nerds:
As stated earlier, this conversation is a fluid one. For example, how would someone say 3 souls? The rules for numbers are complicated:

  1. You can use numbers as an إضافة construction
  2. If you choose to do that, the number has to be the مضاف and the مضاف إليه must be plural
  3. The gender of the number will be the opposite of the singular gender version of the مضاف إليه

The way we would say 3 souls is: ثَلاثُ الأَنْفُسِ. The reason why ثَلاثُ is masculine is because the singular of الأَنْفُسِ is نَفْسٍ which is feminine, thus the number would need to be masculine.

There is a category of masculine words called المذكر المؤوَّل. Essentially this is when one interprets a feminine word as masculine. So in this case someone may understand نَفْسٍ to be رجل, which is masculine which in turn would make the number feminine. Thus you could also say ثَلاثَةُ الأَنْفُسِ.

Why is اللَّهُمَّ translated as “O Allah”?

In order to understand this question, we need to first ask what word gives the meaning of “O”, as in a call to something.

The answer to this is the preposition يا  also known as حرف النداء. It will come before a word and give the meaning “O”.
For example, يا بلالُ اِذْهَبْ – O Bilal! Go!

One of the tricky things about this preposition is that it affects the ending voweling of the following word in a unique fashion. Although the rules get complicated, I will break it down very simply.

  1. If the word that comes after يا is a proper name, that name will take a single dhamma at the end, as in the example above: يا بلالُ****** (For Nerds) In this situation, although there is a dhamma, it is in the state of نصب, acting as the direct object (مفعول به) to a hidden verb. In other words, يا بلالُ can also be understood a أُنادي بلالاً (I am calling Bilal)
  2. If the word that comes after يا is a compound structure (مضاف و مضاف إليه) then the first word will take a fatha.
    For example: يا أَميرَ المُؤمنين. “O leader of the believers.” Leader of the believers is a compound structure, and the first word, leader, takes a fatha.

Based on these examples, if we wanted to say “O Allah” it would be يا اللهُ


We all wish it were this simple, but Arabic is an endless wonder. But don’t worry, I’ll guide you along 🙂

Sometimes the يا is missing. The reason? A lot. One of the major reasons is for simplicity or possibly for rhyming. This discussion could go on forever so I will leave it at that. The question is, what happens when the يا drops? That is where the discussion of اللَّهُمَّ enters.

If the يا drops in يا اللهُ, a مَّ will attach at the end of الله (linguistically) to make up for the يا so the reader knows it means “O Allah” instead of simply “Allah”. The fatha on the meem has no real significance.

******* (For Nerds) Remember how there was a dhamma on a proper name? Well that still is on اللَّهُمَّ, on the ه letter. Since الله is actually in the state of نصب it will affect other words as well, specifically adjectives. This is why in the verse:
﴾ قُلِ اللَّـهُمَّ مَالِكَ الْمُلْكِ ﴿, the reason why مَالِكَ has a fatha is because it is an adjective to الله which is in the state of نصب, and all adjectives copy states. 

Why does one verse of the Qur’an have ليس البرَّ and the other ليس البرُّ?

There is no doubt that the Qur’an is the gold standard of Arabic. Regardless if one is interested in learning Classical or Modern Arabic it is something every Arabic learner and enthusiast needs to be familiar with.

Those who memorize the Qur’an are particularly familiar with the nuances of the language. They know that many verses are repeated that help aid the memorization. On the contrary, they also know that two verses may be similar with only a slight difference such as with a vowel, the absence or addition of one word, or the rearrangement of words. These verse are known as المتشابهات, or the similar verses. There are so many that they end up memorizing this list separately to avoid confusion later on.

In this blog post, my hope was to analyze one set of these متشابهات.


In Surah Baqarah there are two verses:

﴾لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ﴿
Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west (2:177)

﴾وَلَيْسَ الْبِرُّ بِأَن تَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِن ظُهُورِهَا﴿
Righteousness is not to enter houses from the back (2:189)

Right away one notices that the word الْبِرَّ (which means righteousness) has a fatha, and in the second verse الْبِرُّ has a dhamma.

*When reciting or understanding it is important that the appropriate vowel is mentioned, otherwise it changes the grammar. (Although the meaning is not severely affected as opposed to different situation)

Why is that occuring? In order to understand this we need to break a few things down.

  1. لَيْسَ is a special verb. It only comes in the past tense form, yet it is not translated in the past. Rather, it is translated as “not”.
  2. Normal verbs come with a doer. ليس comes with its own subject (اسم ليس) and predicate (خبر ليس)
  3. Normal subjects (مبتدأ) and predicates (خبر) are in the state of رفع, or in other words, they take a dhamma at the end.
    The subject of ليس takes a dhamma but the predicate of ليس takes a fatha.
  4. Thus, we translate it as: “x is not y”, where x (dhamma at the end) is the subject, and y (takes a fatha) is the predicate.

Looking back at the verses:

﴾لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ﴿
That you turn your faces toward the east or the west is not righteousness (2:177)

Here we see that البرَّ takes a fatha. This means it must be the predicate, or in others words the “y” in “x is not y”. This is why the verse ends with “is not righteousness”. The questions remains, where is the subject for ليس? The answer is that it is the rest of the sentence. Many times when you see an أن the rest of the sentence can be taken as one unit. The reason why it has no dhamma is because it is a unit with multiple words.

Summary: x = أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ (That you turn your faces toward the east or the west)
y = لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ (is not righteousness)

﴾وَلَيْسَ الْبِرُّ بِأَن تَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِن ظُهُورِهَا﴿
Righteousness is not to enter houses from the back (2:189)

Here we see that الْبِرُّ takes a dhamma. This means it must be the subject, or in others words the “x” in “x is not y”. This is why the verse begins with “Righteousness is not…”. The questions remains, where is the predicate for ليس? The answer is that it is the rest of the sentence. The reason why it has no fatha is because it is a unit with multiple words.

Summary: x = وَلَيْسَ الْبِرُّ (Righteousness is not)
y = بِأَن تَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِن ظُهُورِهَا (to enter houses from the back)


As we can see it is very nuanced, and that is where the beauty lies.

Why is ‘Umar spelled عُمَر and ‘Amr عَمْرو?

In Arabic there are two types of words:

  1. مْنْصَرِف – words that follow the normal pattern
    (indefinite=tanween, state of raf’=dhamma, state of nasb=fatha, state of jarr=kasra)
  2. غَير منصرف – words that break the normal pattern
    (never takes tanween, state of jarr=fatha)

Going back to the names, عُمْر is pronounced ‘Umar, and عَمْرو is pronounced ‘Amr.

What you probably recognized by now is that the letter و is not pronounced. So the question remains, why is it there? The reason it is there is to avoid confusion between ‘Amr and ‘Umar. If the و was dropped, one would not be able to tell the difference between the two since the majority of texts do not include vowels. So it is only meant as a place marker. This is important so that one does not mix up ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab and ‘Amr ibn al-‘As when reading historical texts.

Now that you understand this, let’s discuss some details.


The name عُمَر is غَير منصرف. This means that it has 2 special rules.
1. It nevers takes tanween
2. In the state of jarr (when it comes after a preposition or is a mudaf ilaih), it will take a fatha.

Let’s look at some examples:
جَاءَ عُمَرُ – Umar came
ضَرَبَ زَيْدٌ عُمَرَ – Zaid hit ‘Umar
مَرَرْتُ بِعُمَرَ – I passed by ‘Umar


The name عمرو is مْنْصَرِف meaning that it follows the normal pattern of words. However, it is important to remember one fundamental: the only reason the و is present is to differentiate itself from عمر. Thus, if one is able to differentiate between the two without a و then the و will disappear.

Let’s look at some examples:
جَاءَ عَمْرُو – ‘Amr came
مَرَرْتُ عَمْرٍو – I passed by ‘Amr
ضَرَبَ زَيْدٌ عَمْرًا – Zaid hit ‘Amr.
(In this case the و dropped because an alif was needed – that is for another post – and since عمر cannot take an alif we know it must be ‘Amr.)


What is the difference between ضُعف and ضَعف (weakness)

There are many words in the Arabic language where one vowel (حَرَكَة) can change the meaning of the word completely such as with قَدُمَ, which means to be old, and قَدِمَ, which means to arrive. Other times the difference is nuanced.

One example of a nuanced difference is between the words ضُعف and ضَعف, the first with a dhamma and the second with a fatha.

They both mean weak but are used differently

  • ضُعف: used only in regard to body
  • ضَعف: can be attributed to body, mind, or sight.

This is why in the Quran it says:
اللَّـهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن ضَعْفٍ ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِن بَعْدِ ضَعْفٍ قُوَّةً ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِن بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ ضَعْفًا وَشَيْبَةً
Allah is the one who created you from weakness, then made after weakness strength, then made after strength weakness and white hair.

The weakness here is referring to the body, mind and sight of humans.


***There is also the word ضِعف. Some may think it means weakness but it actually means a multiple of something, more specifically double of something.

Arabic words that indicate time and place

As has been mentioned previously, Arabic is based on a tri-lateral root system. One of the beautiful characteristics of Arabic is that it will take this three letter root and give it the meaning of a time or place. There are other words whose inherent nature is to indicate time and place. Often the two are confused with one another. Thus, there are some terminology that we need to learn:

  1. ظرف زمان – a word that inherently indicates time (Ex. قَبْلَ – before)
  2. ظرف مكان – a word that inherently indicates place (Ex. فَوْقَ – above)
  3. اسم زمان – a word that is derived to indicate time (Ex. مَغْرِبٌ – time of sunset)
  4. اسم زمان – a word that is derived to indicate place (Ex. مَسْجِد – place of prostration)

There are a few differences between ظرف زمان\مكان and اسم مكان\زمان

1. Generally, ظرف are words whose default state is منصوب, meaning it takes a fatha on the end. (Ex. قَبْلَ – before)
اسم مكان\زمان default state is مرفوع, meaning it takes a dhamma. (Ex. ٌمَسْجِد – place of prostration)

2. ظرف takes a مضاف إليه. In other words, it sounds incomplete without a word coming after it. (Before what? Before noon قبل الظهر, Before lunch, etc. ) ***
اسم مكان\زمان don’t require a مضاف إليه.

3. ظرف are a set of words one needs to memorize.
فَوْقَ – above
أَيْنَ – where?
تَحْتَ – below
أَمَامَ – in front

اسم مكان\زمان usually follows the pattern of (مَفْعِل\مَفْعَل)  where the فعل letters can be replaced with any three root letters.
مَدْخَل – a place of entering (entrance)
مَخْرَج – a place of leaving (exit)
مَدرَسة – a place of studying (school)
مَقْبَرة – a place of graves (graveyard)
مَغْرِب – time of sun setting (sunset)

One of the reasons these differences need to be explained is because some may explain اسم مكان\زمان as a ظرف because they share the meaning of time and place, but as can be seen above, they differ grammatically in many different ways.

InshAllah this helps,


*** If the مضاف إليه drops then the ظرف will take a single dhamma to indicate that it dropped.
بَلْ بَدَا لَهُم مَّا كَانُوا يُخْفُونَ مِن قَبْلُ 6:28
But what they concealed before has [now] appeared to them.

What are the root letters for the word مُصْطَفَى?

Arabic is based on a tri-lateral root system. What that means is that majority of words go back to 3 root letters which give it its base meaning. Let’s look at an example:

The three letter root د- ر- س means to study. From there we get a myriad of words such as:

  1. دَرْسٌ – lesson
  2. مَدْرَسَة – school
  3. دِرَاسَة – studying
  4. مُدَرِّس – instructor

While they mean different things, they all have a relation to “study.” Knowing the three letter root helps because even if you don’t know the words you can make an educated guess based on the three letter root. Also, a quick rule of thumb: م and ت are usually not root letters.

So now let’s look at the word مُصْطَفَى. There seems to be a lot of words, so let’s break it down.
As we said, م is usually not a root letter. Now we are letter with ص، ط، ف، ى. This means one of these letters is not part of the root letter. So what is happening?

The word مُصْطَفَى comes from the pattern of اِفْتَعَلَ where the root letters are فعل.
(These are generally used as a template which can be replaced. For example, in the word اختلف, the root letters are خلف which followed the same pattern as افتعل)

The pattern of افتعل is tricky because it has some irregularities, especially with the ت. The reason is because ت is a light letter, and it becomes difficult to pronounce the ت if a heavy letter precedes it. An example of this ضرب. If we apply it on the pattern of افتعل you end up with اضترب. But pronouncing the ض, which is a heavy letter and then quickly switching to the ت becomes too difficult. The solution to this is to change the ت to its heavier version, ط so that pronouncing it is easier. So now that we understand this, let us go back to our original question.

What are the root letters for the word مُصْطَفَى?

مُصْطَفَى does fall under the pattern of افتعل, however we see no ت . That is because the letter before it, ص is a heavy letter, and thus forced the ت to become a ط. Thus, the only letters left are ص، ف، ى which means to be pure. مُصْطَفَى  means to be chosen, but not just any type of choosing, a choosing based on purity. Thus, that is why the Prophet is called مُصْطَفَى.


In the hadith: “وَ أنا خاتم النَّبِيِّين” is the word خاتِم (last) or خاتَم (seal)?

There is a hadith of the Prophet ﷺ where he said:

إِنَّ مَثَلِي وَمَثَلَ الأَنْبِيَاءِ مِنْ قَبْلِي كَمَثَلِ رَجُلٍ بَنَى بَيْتًا فَأَحْسَنَهُ وَأَجْمَلَهُ، إِلاَّ مَوْضِعَ لَبِنَةٍ مِنْ زَاوِيَةٍ، فَجَعَلَ النَّاسُ يَطُوفُونَ بِهِ وَيَعْجَبُونَ لَهُ، وَيَقُولُونَ هَلاَّ وُضِعَتْ هَذِهِ اللَّبِنَةُ قَالَ فَأَنَا اللَّبِنَةُ، وَأَنَا خَاتِمُ النَّبِيِّينَ 

متفق عليه

Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “My similitude in comparison with the other prophets before me, is that of a man who has built a house nicely and beautifully, except for a place of one brick in a corner. The people go about it and wonder at its beauty, but say: ‘Would that this brick be put in its place!’ So I am that brick, and I am the last/seal of the Prophets.”


Many times we hear that he was the seal of the Prophets or the last of the Prophets. While they generally mean the same thing, they are slightly different. So how do we understand this? Let’s first look at the meanings:

  1. خاتِم – last
  2. خاتَم – this literally means a ring. The reason ring is understood as seal is because the Prophet would use his ring to seal documents and other important things.

So which is correct? They are actually both permissible. ملا علي بن سلطان محمد الهروي القاري in his مرقاة المفاتيح شرح مشكاة المصابيح mentions:

بكسر التاء ويفتح #5745 – that it can be either with a fatha or kasra on the ت