Investigating Accuracy in Translating the Qur'anic Trilateral Verbs Affixed With One Radical | April 2016 | Translation Journal

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Investigating Accuracy in Translating the Qur'anic Trilateral Verbs Affixed With One Radical

This paper investigates the accuracy in rendering certain forms of the Qur'anic Triliteral/trilateral verbs affixed with one radical. A survey of such verbs with their different forms and intended aspectual/semantic senses will be given. Then the translation of a s ample of these verbs as rendered by three of the well-known Qur'an translators will be analysed and checked against a standard translation . The main focus will be on whether or not these translators were able to grasp the intended aspectual sense of the radicals affixed to the trilateral verbs and what strategies have the translator adopted in their translation. It will be shown that the translators often manage to render the semantic senses of the verbs accurately but did not do so in conveying the aspectual senses of such verb forms. In concluding the paper, some recommendations for an accurate rendering of these derived verb forms will be presented.

Key words: trilateral verbs, derived forms, radicals, semantic sense, aspectual senses.


1. Introduction:

Translators of religious and sacred texts, such as the Holy Quran, often face difficulties in rendering the true intended senses of many linguistic aspects of such texts, such as the morphological additions to and variations of verbs. Arabic, the language of the Holy Qur'an is well-known for its morphological richness. The main base verb form, for instance, is identified as the tri-consonantal root out of which paradigms of new forms are derived which maintain the base meaning/reference of the root. In the following sections, an quick survey of main features of this system will be presented.


2. Verbs in Arabic Language

Verbs in Arabic are either trilateral or quadrilateral consonant root with vowel variations . The trilateral verbs consist of three consonants with all derivatives having the same consonant order and sharing a core meaning. For example, the verb for (he) wrote) is kataba كتب which has the root consonants /k-t-b/. A set of forms , such as kaatib ( a writer), maktuub (written or letter), kitaaba (writing), kitaab ( a book), may be derived from this root. As it is noticed, all forms have the same consonants in the same order with the same core meaning (write). This trilateral form is the most prevalent in Arabic morphology. The quadrilateral verbs, on the other hand, contain four radical letters/consonants and they are less in number and frequency/use (Haywood and Nahmad 1965; Wright 1955). Wright (1955) explains that in the trilateral verbs, the form فَعَلَ fa3ala is considered by Arab morphologists as the template (f_3_l) in which the (f) stands for the first consonant (radical) of the trilateral verb, the (3) represents the second consonant (radical) and the (l) stands for the third one. Accordingly, the act of 'killing', for instance, is expressed by the trilateral verb 'قَتَلَ, q _ t _ l', while (writing) is indicated by the verb 'كَتَبَ , k _ t _ b'. These two examples indicate that the 'basic meaning' of the verb is conveyed by the trilateral root of the verb (p.29). Wright (1955) states the same applies to quadrilateral verbs, in which the paradigm/template فعلل / f¬¬_¬3¬_l_l represents the basic form for the quadrilateral verbs.


3. The base and the derived forms

Derivation, by adding affixes (suffixes, prefixes or infixes) to the lexeme, is a salient feature of Arabic, where a paradigm of forms is derived from the root form of the verb in the template of /f-3-l/ ( فَعَلَ /fa3ala). Such forms may change the meaning of the root form or extend it but still share a core meaning (see 2 above) Thus, in the case of the verb kataba (he wrote), forms such as kattaba (he made/cause to him write), and kaataba (he corresponded with ...). In some verbs, a forth letter can be added making the new class of verbs referred to as "the derived forms or / الفعل المزيد ", i.e. the verb to which an affix is added in the form of another letter/consonant Al-kufi (1989) illustrates that the affixed letter(s) can be one to three of the ten letters combined in the word 'سألتمونيها', sa?altumuuiihaa (p.21). Accordingly, grammarians classify the base forms of Arabic verbs into trilateral verbs, the more common, with three letters (mainly consonants) and quadrilateral verbs, the less common, with four letters (mainly consonants) . Arabic grammarians indicate that the trilateral verbs can be affixed with one radical, two radicals or three radicals, with a total number of fourteen derived forms .The same holds true of the quadrilateral verbs which have only three derivative forms.


4. The trilateral verb affixed with one radical: its senses

The semantic and /or grammatical significance that derivation adds to the verbs differs according to the form of derivation. Therefore, the same verb may have different meanings based on the form of derivation it undergoes (Haywood and Nahmad, 1965). Such additions may also act as aspect markers as will be shown in the study.
This study investigates the translation of the trilateral verbs affixed with one radical (fa33ala/ فعّل – faa3ala/ فاعل – ?af3ala/ أفعل in the Holy Quran to see how far the translators succeed in rendering the intended senses of these forms. In the next section, a summary of the senses of each of the three forms will be presented .

4.1 Form فعّل/ fa33al

The form فعّل fa99ala is formed by doubling/geminating the second letter/consonant (i.e. the ain 3 العين ) of the trilateral verbs,. This gives new semantic or aspectual significance to the base form of the verb. Wright (1959) identifies the following meanings as the senses that are added to the basic meaning of the verb by doubling the second consonant. It will be shown also that this doubling can be considered as an aspect marker as it adds an extra dimension to the verb (.i.e. intensity)

4.1.1 The template, fa33ala فعّل indicates intensity (المبالغة) in carrying out an action, i.e. 'the act is done with a great intensity/violence'. For example, كسر kasara is (he broke); while kassara كسّر (he broke into pieces(smashed).Thus here doubling/gemination acts as an aspect marker . Similarly, It also implies that the act is extensive either in duration as in Taafaطـاف (went around) while Tawwafa طوّف (went around much more often) ; or in number as in maata مات (he died ) while mawwata in (mawwat ilmaashiya) موّت الماشية (he caused the cattle to die in great number) ; or in frequency as in baka بكى (he cried) while bakkaa? "cry a lot" or bakka (he caused or made someone cry a lot) Wright (1959: p.31) .

4.1.2 It gives causative sense (converting the intransitive verbs into transitive verbs) or factitive sense (changing the verb from having one object to having two objects) again here acting as an aspect marker. . For instance, the basic form fariHa فرح (he felt happy) is intransitive; while the form farraHa فرّح, (to cause someone else to be happy) is transitive, which is a case of causative sense (ibid: p.31).

4.1.3 It has an estimative sense. For instance, the verb kaðaba كذب (he lied); while kaððaba كذّب (is to consider someone a liar, or accuse of lying (p.31).

4.1.4 It can be found in denominal verbs; i.e. verbs derived from nouns as in jild (n. skin leather) while jallada (to cover, with a skin or to bind for book) (p.32). Haywood and Nahmad, (ibid.p.161) and Wright (ibid. p.32) state that when denominating the verb, the meanings of 'making, doing of, being occupied with' are attached to the verb.

4.2 Form فاعل / faa3ala

This pattern is formed by lengthening the vowel-sound a after the first consonant (or in fact doubling this vowel) Consequently, the root acquires new senses, such as the following: 'reciprocity' (المشاركة) i.e. both parties participate in the action, as in raasalahu "the corresponded with him), sabaqahu سبقه (outran him) while saabaqahu (he ran a race with him); transitivity, in which the verb takes the accusative of the person. Thus, the indirect object becomes a direct object. For instance, the verb كتب kataba as in kataba ?ila ummihi كتب الى امه has an indirect object (he wrote (a letter) to his mother). On the other hand, the verb kaataaba ummah/ كاتب (he corresponded with his mother) takes a direct object.

4.3 Form أفعل / afa3al

This form is produced by adding the prefix hamza (?)أ (glottal stop affix) to the root form. Haywood and Nahmad (1965.pp.164-165) and Wright (1959, pp.34-35) list several senses resulting from this process of derivation : e.g. changing the verb from intransitive to transitive (accusative) as in the intransitive verb jalasa جلس , (he sat down) turns to ?ajlasa (to bid someone to sit down); and changing a noun to a denominal verb as in ?awraqa (to put out leaves), is derived from the noun ورق waraq (leaves. .


5. The trilateral verbs affixed with one radical in the Holy Quran

The trilateral verbs affixed with one letter are common in the Holy Quran. Al- kufi (1989) gives a list of the verbs that take any of the three forms fa33ala/ فعّل – faa3ala/ فاعل – af3ala/ أفعل .His list includes 243 verbs of the form afa3ala, 70 of the form فعّل fa33ala and (65) verbs of the form فاعل faa3ala.

5.1.Translating the trilateral verbs affixed with one radical in the Holy Quran

Translating the meaning of the verbs' derivatives has been given little attention despite its paramount importance (cf. Al-Ghazalli (2012) who states that no previous studies have been conducted in this area. In fact, the results that his study reaches are crucial for reconsidering the accuracy of the English renditions of the Holy Quran. To be precise, Al-Ghazalli's study reveals limitations in the translation of the semantic value of the derivative forms, especially when the forms do not have equivalents in English such as the case of gemination. This result is not surprising given the fact that the translator deals with two different linguistic systems. Consequently, mistranslating the senses of these forms is expected because, as stated by Sharaf and Atwell (2009:10) who explain that "The semantic significance of each derivation is a subtle aspect of Arabic grammar which has no direct equivalence in the grammar/morphology of English or European languages".

As a result, investigations in this area of research must be condensed to raise the awareness to the importance of considering the meaning of the morphological aspects in translating the Holy Quran and to assess the accuracy of the current Quranic translations, which is what this study intends to achieve through examining the accuracy of the Quranic renditions of the trilateral verbs affixed with one radical.


6. Methodology

In this study a content analysis is conducted, in which the verse that includes the examined verb is compared with its three English renditions of Pickthall, Shakir, and Y. Ali, which are adapted from an online corpus for the Holy Quran entitled Quranic Arabic Corpus. Moreover, the dictionary meanings of the verbs are collected from Arabic–English Dictionary of Quranic Usage, while the senses of the derivative forms are taken from Al-Kufi's (1989) and Al-Sayyid's (2007) analysis of the Quranic verbs. This method is chosen as it can provide an objective assessment as it compares the meanings of the translated verbs with each other and measures them against the dictionary and the exegetic meanings, which takes into account the meaning of the morphological forms.

A sample of 24 verbs is collected randomly from the Holy Quran. However, to limit the number of the verbs in the selected sample, the following has been done. First, the verbs are taken from "The verbs in the Holy Quran" by Al-Sayyid (2007), in which the verbs are listed in entries of the base verbs along with all the different forms derived from it. Then, only the verbs with more than one derived form affixed with one radical are chosen. Namely, the verbs which have at least two of the three forms fa33ala فعّل – faa3ala فاعل – af3ala أفعل are selected. Furthermore, guided by Al-kufi's (1989) classification, the verbs which share the same meaning with their base forms and the verbs with meaning totally independent of their base from are excluded.

The research follows a qualitative assessment of the verbs. That is, the accuracy of the English renditions will be measured by comparing them to the meaning specified in the Arabic–English Dictionary of Quranic Usage and in the Quranic exegesis by Al-Zamakhshari (1986). The verbs which hold in their renditions the meaning of the derivative forms are the accurate ones. Due to morphological differences between Arabic and English, accuracy does not entail a one-to-one equivalence. That is, any compensation strategy for the loss in the intended meaning will be deemed accurate. Finally, after investigating the accuracy in the English renditions of these forms, an overall evaluation regarding the accuracy of the English renditions of the Quranic verbs will be made. (see appendix one for a list of the verbs together with their three transaltions given by the three translators)


7. The analysis

Data analysis shows different senses for the derivative forms of the Quranic trilateral verbs affixed with one radical. Moreover, while the three translators succeed in rendering a few cases of these senses, the majority of these senses are not transferred in the English renditions. An analysis of these cases will be presented in what follows; however, it is deemed necessary to clarify that in order to avoid repetition, the organization of the analysis is based on the senses rather than on the forms themselves as the three forms in some cases share the same aspectual significance. To be precise, the indicated sense will be the theme under which cases from the three forms, if available, will be included.

7.1 Part 1: The translated senses

Based on data analysis, causative- transitivity and reciprocity are the main and probably only semantic meanings/or aspectual indications of the derivative forms that the translators succeed to render. Yet , the three translators employ different strategies to render these senses.

7.1.1 Causative- transitivity

Transitivity, causative or factitive, is a shared sense for the three forms fa33ala فعّل– faa3ala فاعل – af3ala أفعل. Ibn Al-Hajeb , cited in Al-kufi (1989), demonstrates that transitivity in this sense differs from the normal sense of transitivity in that it results from a causative relationship. In other words, it results from the fact that someone causes another to do something. Thus, in this context, the term causative-transitivity as a generic term for both causative and factitive transitivity will be used.

It is important to note here that causativity is common in the two languages: Arabic and English; however, each expresses it differently, using its constructions of formation. Arabic employs derivation fa33ala فعّل and af3ala أفعل and ablaut (vowel alteration accompanied by a change in grammatical function) to indicate causativity. English, on the other hand, uses causative verbs (made, let, get), passive structures (had + object+ past participle) and lexical causativity (implied meaning) to construct causativity.
The analysis of the sample reveals two main methods used by the translators in translating the causative–transitivity in the Quranic trilateral verbs affixed with one radical into English: translating with lexical causativity or with causative verbs. Translation with lexical causativity

In some cases where the Quranic verb holds the meaning of causative-transitivity, the three translators resort to render them using transitive verbs that mainly carry the causative sense. That is, the idea of causativity is part of the semantic load of the verb. For instance, in the following verse qaaluu ?aaðannaaka maa minna min šahiid/ (41/47)/قَالُوا آذَنَّاكَ مَا مِنَّا مِنْ شَهِيد (41/47)) ) the verb ?aaðana آذن takes the form af3ala/ أفعل , which signifies, according to Al-Kufi (1989) and Al-Sayyid (2007), the causative–transitivity . In fact, the intransitive verb أذن becomes transitive with one object after the addition of the أ ) ) Hamza (?) "glottal stop". Al-Zamakhshari (1986) clarifies that the exegetic meaning of the verb آذن is 'we inform you' (3/p.204). Thus, the core meaning of the base verb changes from 'to know' to 'informing/telling or confessing to another person about something,' which implies making someone know about something (Al-Bedawi & Abdel-Haleem, 2008). The three following renditions of this verse reflect the same meaning, though implicitly:

Yusuf Ali, "We do assure thee not one of us can bear witness!"
Shakir, "They shall say: We declare to Thee, none of us is a witness."
Pickthall, "they will say: We confess unto Thee, not one of us is a witness (for them)."

The verbs in the three translations 'assure, declare and confess' are transitive either with direct object, as the case of the verb assure, or indirect object, as in declare and confess. Moreover, these verbs semantically hold the meaning of causativity. That is, the verb 'assure', for example, implies that someone makes another person certain about something. The same holds true with the other two verbs, which indicate that someone makes another know about something. Therefore, the sense of causativity is implied in the verbs' basic meaning. Eventually, the causative- transitivity is accurately conveyed in this case.

The same applies to the verb 3ajjala عجّل (lit. to speed up ..) which takes the form fa33ala/ فعّل. The gemination in this verb, as illustrated by Al-kufi (1989) and Al-Sayyid (2007), carries the meaning of causative –transitivity; the factitive sense. Therefore, the renditions of this verb as in the verse man kaana yuriidu il-3aajilata 3ajjalnaa lahu fiihaa.../ (17/18) (مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعَاجِلَةَ عَجَّلْنَا لَهُ فِيهَا مَا نَشَاءُ لِمَنْ نُرِيدُ (17/18)), should carry this meaning. In fact, this meaning corresponds with Al-Zamakhshari's (1986) interpretation of the verb عجّل, which is defined as 'to patronize someone with something' (2/p.655). A look at the three renditions of this verse should clarify the transferred meaning.

Yusuf Ali, "If any do wish for the transitory things (of this life), We readily grant them - such things as We will, to such person as We will"
Shakir, "Whoever desires this present life, We hasten to him therein what We please for whomsoever We desire."
Pickthall, "Whoso desireth that (life) which hasteneth away, We hasten for him therein what We will for whom We please"

The verbs used in the three renditions are factitive with the meaning of causativity. However, this meaning is not lexically stated but implied in the meaning of the verbs. That is, the verb 'grant' shows that the person is bestowed the grant by another, while the verb 'hasten' shows that someone makes something happen faster than usual (here the aspectual meaning is maintained but the lexical one is not though implied).. Thus, the sense of causative- transitivity is successfully carried within the semantic meaning of the verb. Translation with causative verbs

In some cases, English employs causative verbs such as (give, cause, made, and let) to transfer the sense of causative-transitivity. This structure is realized invariably in the sample. For instance, in the verse wayurbii iSSadaqaat 2/276 وَيُرْبِي الصَّدَقَاتِ (2/276)), the base form rabaa ربى is 'to increase', however, doubling the second radical rabbaa adds the sense of causativity to the verb and changes it to 'make increase' (Al-Bedawi & Abdel-Haleem, 2008). This sense is rendered in different causative verbs in the English translations, as in:

Yusuf Ali, "And but will give increase for deeds of charity
Shakir, and He causes charitable deeds to prosper
Pickthall, and made almsgiving fruitful.

The verbs 'give, cause, and made' are causative verbs, which show that someone is made to do something. Moreover, the three verbs are transitive with one object. Here, the three translators are able to transfer the sense of causative- transitivity accurately.

The same strategy for transferring the sense of transitive-causativity is realized in the verb yubaSSiruunnahum 70/10 يُبَصَّرُونَهُمْ ۚ (70/11)). Here, the verb baSSara بصّر means "is made to see each other", according to (Al-Bedawi & Abdel-Haleem, 2008) or it can also mean "to enlighten them, make them enlightened". Its sense is rendered by the use of the causative, and at the same time transitive, verbs 'made, put, and give' in the following English renditions.

Yusuf Ali, "Though they will be put in sight of each other,"
Shakir, "(Though) they shall be made to see each other."
Pickthall, "Though they will be given sight of them"

Thus, it can be concluded that the three translators managed successfully to transfer the sense of causativity accurately in this verse too.

7.1.2 Reciprocity

Reciprocity is a dominant sense for the form faa3ala/ فاعل. . It signifies that both participants are involved in carrying out the action. Transferring the meaning of mutuality in doing the action is crucial as this is the sense that this form intends to carry. For instance, the verb qaatala قاتل in the verse walaw qaatalakum illaðiina kafaruu...(وَلَوْ قَاتَلَكُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوَلَّوُا الْأَدْبَار (48/22)َ ) , which Al-Bedawi & Abdel-Haleem ( 2008) define as 'to fight against', is rendered as ' fight, fight with and join battle with' in the three following translations:

Yusuf Ali, "If the Unbelievers should fight you, they would( certainly turn their backs) "
Shakir, "And if those who disbelieve fight with you"
Pickthall, "And if those who disbelieve join battle with you they will take to flight"

When analysing the meaning implied in the three verbs, it can be realized that Yusuf Ali' translation does not show mutuality in the action; i.e. fighting from both parties. This can be attributed to the ideological implication where there is not mutual action taken by the Prophet (PBUH) .. the disbelievers fought him (attack, rally against him) . However, the use of 'with' in Shakir's translation and the phrase 'join battle with' in Pickthall's translation preserve the meaning of reciprocity but seem to violate the ideological sense. To be brief, the sense of participation is compensated by the use of the preposition 'with' which indicates that the agent is accompanied by another person in doing the action or by the employment of paraphrasing which includes both the verb's and the derivation's meanings.

Another example for the sense of reciprocity is in the verse yaa bani Israa?ila qad ?anjaynaakum min 3aduwwikum wawaa3adnaakum jaaniba...( يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ قَدْ أَنْجَيْنَاكُمْ مِنْ عَدُوِّكُمْ وَوَاعَدْنَاكُمْ جَانِبَ الطُّورِ الْأَيْمَنَ (80:20)). The verb waa9ada واعد (from wa3ada) is translated as:

Yusuf Ali, "O ye Children of Israel! We delivered you from your enemy, and We made a Covenant with you on the right side of Mount (Sinai)"
Shakir, "O children of Israel! indeed We delivered you from your enemy, and We made a covenant with you on the blessed side of the mountain"
Pickthall, "O Children of Israel! We delivered you from your enemy, and we made a covenant with you on the holy mountain's side"

In the three translations the verb is translated as 'made a covenant,' which corresponds to Al-Bedawi & Abdel-Haleem's (2008) meaning 'to exchange pledges with or to make covenant with'. In fact, the translations render the meaning of the mutuality accurately. That is, the word 'covenant' refers to a mutual agreement between two parties. Therefore, the sense of the form is preserved by the use of the noun 'covenant'. Ultimately, the three translators render the verb's meaning accurately.

7.2 Part 2: The untranslated senses

While the previous part deals with the translated senses of the derivative forms, the following part investigates the untranslated senses, i.e. the senses the translators failed to or did not render.

7.2.1 Intensity

Intensity, as previously discussed in depth, is a salient meaning for the form fa33ala/ فعّل . However, it is known that English does not have geminate verbs in its verb system. Therefore, translating geminated verbs may pose a challenge to the translators. This challenge can be recognized in the renditions of the verb qattala قتّل in the verse ?uxiðuu wa quttiiluu taqtiilaa 33/61 ((33/ 61) ) أُخِذُوا وَقُتِّلُوا تَقْتِيلًا ). The verb quttila قتّل , according to Al-Bedawi & Abdel-Haleem's (2008), means 'to kill in large number' which is can be seen as an aspectual dimension. Unfortunately, the translators failed to render this in their translations:

Yusuf Ali, "they shall be seized and slain (without mercy).",
Shakir, "they shall be seized and murdered, a (horrible) murdering." and
Pickthall, "they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter"

As can be realized, the translations carry only the semantic meaning of the base verb qatal قتل / "to kill" with its different connotations. However, the abundance in killing, which the gemination denotes here, is not transferred in the three English renditions. This sense could be indicated by using the verb 'massacre' instead or by adding the adverb 'abundantly' to show the big number of the killed people.

The verb ?aððana أذّن in the verse θumma ?aððana mu?aððinun ....(ثُمَّ أَذَّنَ مُؤَذِّنٌ أَيَّتُهَا الْعِيرُ إِنَّكُمْ لَسَارِقُونَ (12/70) ) also provides another example of the failure in translating the aspectual significance of intensity. In fact, the verb أذّن , according to Al-Zamakhshari (1986), means ' over-informing someone of something' (2/p.490). This aspectual sense is lost in the English renditions of this verse.

Yusuf Ali, "Then shouted out a crier: "O ye (in) the caravan! behold! ye are thieves, without doubt!"
Shakir, "Then a crier cried out: O caravan! you are most surely thieves."
Pickthall, "and then a crier cried: O camel-riders! Lo! ye are surely thieves!"

In fact, the verb ?atððana أذّن is translated as 'shouted out, cried out, and cry.' However, none of the three translations carries the sense of 'overdoing the action.' The addition of a relevant adverb or the prefix 'over' to the verb can show the meaning of intensity.

7.2.2 Declarative or estimative sense

The verb form af3ala أفعل can denote the sense of 'the coincidence of finding someone to have a specific characteristic' by making the object characterized by the event. For instance, the verb ?akbarnahu أكبرنه as in the verse falamma ra?aynahu ?akbarnahu (فلَمَّا رَأَيْنَهُ أَكْبَرْنَهُ (12/31) ) (when they saw him, they found him awesome/greater than they thought) . In this case not only the object is described as being kabiirكبير (great) but a sense of surprise is implied. Examining the following English translations of this verb reveals that this sense is overlooked in some of these translations:

Yusuf Ali, "When they saw him, they did extol him "
Shakir, "So when they saw him, they deemed him great."
Pickthall, "And when they saw him they exalted him "

It is noticeable from the three renditions that Shakir's translation embraces the sense intended from the derivation. However, the other two translations do not imply the intended sense as they focus only on the overall meaning of the verb and ignore the meaning of the derivative form, which has its effect on the overall context of this verse. To be exact, although the three translations include the meaning of 'raising someone in honour', Shakir's translation is closer to but not exact the intended aspectual sense of coincidence, surprise and unexpectedness.. In fact, the verb in the Holy Quran in this context is meant to show the element of surprise where the women were surprised about the beauty of Yusuf since they had imagined him as a normal lad. Hence, conveying this meaning, as in Shakir's translation, is crucial. Furthermore, this shows that Y.Ali's and pickthall's translations fail to capture the aspectual sense of this derivative form.

7.2.3 Continuity

The last sense to be discussed is continuity, which is one of the aspectual senses of the form faa3ala / فاعل . The only example of this form in the data is the verb tusaaqiT تُسَاقِطْ in the verse tusaaqiT 3alaiki ruTaban... 19/25 (تُسَاقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَبًا جَنِيًّا (19/25)) . The intended meaning and aspectual sense is "dropping the dates continuously and in sequence :one after the other as long as you are there (Al-Bedawi & Abdel-Haleem's 2008) . Consider now the three renditions given by the translators which seem to overlook this aspectual sense.

Yusuf Ali, "It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee"
Shakir, " it will drop on you fresh ripe dates"
Pickthall, "thou wilt cause ripe dates to fall upon thee"

In fact, the three renditions show no indication of continuity. They focus only on showing the causativity in their translations. However, this form, in this verse, shows continuity in the action of falling. This can be compensated by adding the adverb 'constantly, steadily, continuously ..' or changing the verb to 'showering on you', Thus, none of the three translators succeeded in rendering the exact meaning of the verb here.


8. Discussion

The analysis of the three English renditions of some verbs of the derivative forms fa33ala فعًل – faa3ala فاعل – af3ala أفعل demonstrates that the English translations could render the senses of causative transitivity and reciprocity. However, the senses of intensity, declaration/estimation and continuity are not rendered as well.

With regard to the rendered senses, the translators resort to different translation strategies to bridge the gap of the mismatch between Arabic and English morphological systems. That is, as English does not always possess a morphological equivalence for the Arabic verbal derivative forms, the meaning of derivation is reproduced by other linguistic items. As for the causative-transitivity, the meaning is accurately rendered either by resorting to lexical items in the target text that carry the sense of causativity or by employing causative verbs that indicate that the doer is made to do the action. In fact, what facilitates the translation of the sense of causative-transitivity is that both English and Arabic have this feature in their linguistic systems, irrespective of the different construction forms of causativity in the two languages. The same also holds true in case of the sense of reciprocity. That is, despite the inexistence of the morphological forms that carry the sense of participating in English, the meaning could be compensated lexically or grammatically. As shown in the analysis, the translators succeed in translating the sense of reciprocity by using the preposition 'with' or by employing paraphrasing to express the meaning of mutual participation.

In contrast, the three translations fail to convey the meanings and aspectual senses of intensity, declaration/estimation and continuity, which results in producing inaccurate translations of the verbs. Although there is no correspondence for the Arabic derivative forms that reflect these senses in English, the translation of these senses is not impossible. Jakobson (1959), as cited in Munday (2008), remarks that languages differ in their structures, however, languages never stand short of expressing the same meaning in different ways or forms. Thus translators can resort to different compensation strategies to express the intended meaning in the ST. The suggested translations in the analysis, such as translating with words that have a stronger connotative meaning or replacing the senses with lexical or grammatical items, indicate the possibility of rendering the senses of these forms. In general, translator of religious or sacred texts seem to focus more on the lexical meanings while overlooking the aspectual dimensions of certain derivative forms of verbs thus they succeed in rendering the lexical meaning but very often fail to render the aspectual sense. Is this due to lack of competence in the source language (here Arabic) with all its grammatical complexities or is it the result of failing to grasp the intended aspects of some verb forms. In fact, the difference in translations among the translators may be considered as evidence of this.


This paper investigates the accuracy in translating the triliteral verbs affixed with one radical. It is found that the translators could not achieve full accuracy in their translations of these verbs into English, which goes in line with the only study conducted in this field of research. The absence of the senses of the derivative forms in the English translations, which is apparent in many cases, is the main manifestation for the lack of accuracy in the English renditions.
To achieve accuracy in their translation translators are recommended to consult both the exegeses and Arabic grammar and morphology books to stand on a firm ground that can help them to achieve the optimal equivalence. If translators are able to comprehend the whole meaning of the forms accurately, translating these forms will not be problematic as different strategies can be employed to convey the intended meaning.
Finally, the findings of this study open the door for reconsidering the accuracy of the recent Quranic interpretations. However, this area of research is still open for further investigations such as the translation of the Quranic trilateral verbs affixed with two or three radicals and the translation of the derivative forms of the Quranic quadrilateral verbs.


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List of Arabic Phonetic Symbols

List of Arabic Phonetic Symbols


Arabic Consonant       Description                                         Symbol

أ                                  Voiced glottal stop                                               ?

ب                                Voiced bilabial stop                                 b

ت                                Voiceless dento-alveolar stop                 t

ث                                Voiceless interdental fricative                 θ

ج                                 Voiced post-alveolar fricative                            j

ح                                 Devoiced pharyngeal fricative                            H

خ                                 Voiceless velar fricative                                       x

د                                  Voiced dento-alveolar stop                   d

ذ                                  Voiced interdental fricative                 ð

ر                                  Voiced alveo-palatal trill                                  r

ز                                  Voiced alveolar fricative                                   z

س                                Voiceless alveolar fricative                    s

ش                                Voiceless alveo-palatal fricative                       š

ص                               Voiceless velarised alveolar fricative    S

ض                               Voiced velarised dento-alveolar stop    Đ

ط                                 Voiceless velarised dento-alveolar stop   T

ظ                                     Voiced velarised interdental fricative            Z

ع                                    Voiced pharyngeal fricative                            3

غ                                     Voiced uvular fricative                                   γ

ف                                  Voiceless labio-dental fricative                        f

ق                                   Voiceless uvular stop                                       q

ك                                  Voiceless velar stop                              k

ل                                   Voiced alveolar lateral                                     l

م                                    Voiced bilabial nasal                          m

ن                                   Voiced alveolar nasal                                      n

ھ                                   Voiceless glottal fricative                                h

و                                    Voiced labiovelar glide                                   w

ي                                   Voiced palatal glide                                        y



Appendix 1


Ayah/ verse

1-Meaning          &

2- form’s sense

3-Yusuf Ali’s translation

3- Shakir’s translation

3-Pickthall’s translation

أذن aððana

To permit; to listen; to allow; to be warned

ثُمَّ أَذَّنَ مُؤَذِّنٌ أَيَّتُهَا الْعِيرُ إِنَّكُمْ لَسَارِقُونَ (12/70)

To declare, announce publicly; proclaim


Then shouted out a crier: "O ye (in) the caravan! behold! ye are thieves,

without doubt!"

Then a crier cried out: O caravan! you are most surely thieves

and then a crier cried: O camel-riders! Lo! ye are surely thieves!

قَالُوا آذَنَّاكَ مَا مِنَّا مِنْ شَهِيد (41/47)

To inform; tell; confess; admit


"We do assure thee not one of us can bear witness!"

They shall say: We declare to Thee, none of us is a witness.

they will say: We confess unto Thee, not one of us is a witness (for them).


To see; comprehend ; to keep an eye on, watch

يُبَصَّرُونَهُمْ ۚ (70/11)

To be made to see/ comprehend; to be given insight

(transitivity- factitive)

Though they will be put in sight of each other,-

(Though) they shall be made to see each other.

Though they will be given sight of them.

فَمَنْ أَبْصَرَ فَلِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَنْ عَمِيَ فَعَلَيْهَا


To see; comprehend ; to understand


if any will see, it will be for (the good of) his own soul; if any will be blind, it will be to his own (harm)

whoever will therefore see, it is for his own soul and whoever will be blind, it shall be against himself

so whoso seeth, it is for his own good, and whoso is blind is blind to his own hurt


To reach ; to reach a point; to approach;  overtake ; to attain a high degree; to achieve; to measure up

ياأَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنْزِلَ          إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ ۖ وَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ


To announce, declare; broadcast


O Messenger! proclaim the (message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou didst not, thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His mission

O Messenger! deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message

O Messenger! Make known that which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord, for if thou do it not, thou wilt not have conveyed His message

وَقَالَ يَا قَوْمِ لَقَدْ أَبْلَغْتُكُمْ رِسَالَةَ رَبِّي



To inform s.o or deliver a message to s.o

(transitivity- factitive)

saying: "O my people! I did indeed convey to you the message for which I was sent by my Lord:

and said: O my people I did certainly deliver to you the message of my Lord

and said: O my people! I delivered my Lord's message unto you


To become   humiliated, docile; easy to reach

وذَلَّلْنَاهَا لَهُمْ فَمِنْهَا رَكُوبُهُمْ وَمِنْهَا يَأْكُلُونَ


To tame; to cause to be docile


And that We have subjected them to their (use)? of them some do carry them and some they eat

And We have subjected them to them, so some of them they have to ride upon, and some of them they eat.

And have subdued them unto them, so that some of them they have for riding, some for food?

وَتُعِزُّ مَنْ تَشَاءُ وَتُذِلُّ مَنْ تَشَاءُ


To humiliate , to abase


Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest

and Thou exaltest whom Thou pleasest and abasest whom Thou pleasest

Thou exaltest whom Thou wilt, and Thou abasest whom Thou wilt

ربى rabaya

To grow ; increase

2) to swell up,come to life

وَيُرْبِي الصَّدَقَاتِ (2/276)

From the verb (أربى) ; to cause to grow , to increase


but will give

increase for deeds of charity

and He causes charitable deeds to prosper

and made almsgiving fruitful

وَقُلْ رَبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا (17/24)

To raise , bring up, to rear (p.345-346)

(living things)


"My Lord! bestow on them thyMercy even as they cherished me in childhood.

O my Lord! have compassion on them, as they brought me up (when I was) little.

and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was little.

سقط  saqaTa

To fall ; fall down

فَأَسْقِطْ عَلَيْنَا كِسَفًا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ (26/187)

To drop or let fall


Now cause a piece of the sky to fall on us

Therefore cause a portion of the heaven to come down upon us

Then make fragments of the heaven fall upon us

تُسَاقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَبًا جَنِيًّا (19/25)

To drop in sequence one after the another , shower, cause trail

( continuity)

It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee

it will drop on you fresh ripe dates

thou wilt cause ripe dates to fall upon thee



Partnership, sharing, part ownership;2)


وَأَشْرِكْهُ فِي أَمْرِي


To make a partner


"And make him share my task

And associate him (with me) in my affair

And let him share my task

وَشَارِكْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ


Share with ; take a share in


mutually share with them wealth and children

and share with them in wealth and children

and be a partner in their wealth and children

صلى  Salaya

To roast; boil; burn;

ثُمَّ الْجَحِيمَ صَلُّوهُ (69/31)

To burn up before or in the fire; lead into fire

(transitivity- factitive )

And burn ye him in the Blazing Fire

Then cast him into the burning fire

And then expose him to hell-fire

سَأُصْلِيهِ سَقَر (74/26)َ

To cause to suffer burning ; burn up, roast to the point of burning completely

(transitivity- factitive)

Soon will I cast him into Hell-Fire

I will cast him into hell

Him shall I fling unto the burning

ظهر  Zahara

1) to appear; 2) become manifest; 3) spread out;


; 4)to show;

 5) to


وَظَاهَرُوا عَلَىٰ إِخْرَاجِكُمْ (60/9)

To support; back up; aid


and support (others) in driving you out

and backed up (others) in your expulsion

and helped to drive you out

لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ (9/33)

To cause prevail; to cause overcome; to exalt


It is He Who hath sent His Messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth, to proclaim it over all religion

He it is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that He might cause it to prevail over all religions

He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion


to hasten ; speed, rush; 2) to harry away from a task and leave it unfulfilled  

مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعَاجِلَةَ عَجَّلْنَا لَهُ فِيهَا مَا نَشَاءُ لِمَنْ نُرِيدُ (17/18)

To speed up; to give in advance ; hurry up


If any do wish for the transitory things (of this life),We readily grant them - such things as We will,

to such person as We will

Whoever desires this present life, We hasten to him therein what We please for whomsoever We desire

Whoso desireth that (life) which hasteneth away, We hasten for him therein what We will for whom We please

وَمَا أَعْجَلَكَ عَنْ قَوْمِكَ يَا مُوسَىٰ (20/83)

To cause to hurry away from; to urge to make a haste ; cause to leave in haste     


"What made thee hasten in advance of thy

people, O Moses?"

And what caused you to hasten from your people, O Musa?

And (it was said): What hath made thee hasten from thy folk, O Moses ?

عقب  3aqaba

To follow; pursue , to arrive at one’s heel

فأَعْقَبَهُمْ نِفَاقًا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يَلْقَوْنَهُ (9/77)

To cause to happen to s.o. as a consequence or a result, to reward s.o with , pay back


So He hath put as a consequence hypocrisy

into their hearts, (to last) till the Day, whereon they

shall meet Him:

So He made hypocrisy to follow as a consequence into their hearts till the day when they shall meet Him

So He hath made the consequence (to be) hypocrisy in their hearts until the day when they shall meet Him

وَإِنْ عَاقَبْتُمْ فَعَاقِبُوا بِمِثْلِ مَا عُوقِبْتُم بِهِ ۖ (16/ 126)

To punish, take reprisal



And if ye do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you out

And if you take your turn, then retaliate with the like of that with which you were afflicted

If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted


1)to become blind; 2) to become obscure , to fail to find a way

فَأَصَمَّهُمْ وَأَعْمَىٰ أَبْصَارَهُم (47/23)ْ

To cause to be blind


He has made them deaf and blinded their sight

so He has made them deaf and blinded their eyes

He deafeneth them and maketh blind their eyes

فَعُمِّيَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنُلْزِمُكُمُوهَا وَأَنْتُمْ لَهَا كَارِهُونَ (11/28)

To be made obscure, to be hidden


but that the Mercy

hath been obscured from your sight? shall we compel you to accept it when ye are averse to it?

nd it has been made obscure to you; shall we constrain you to (accept) it while you are averse from it?

and it hath been made obscure to you, can we compel you to accept it when ye are averse thereto ?


 To cover up , enshroud; 2) to envelop

فَغَشَّاهَا مَا غَشَّىٰ (53/54)

1)to completely cover 2) to cause to cover or overcome else

(transitivity / factitive) 

So that (ruins unknown) have covered them up.

So there covered them that which covered

So that there covered them that which did cover

فَأَغْشَيْنَاهُمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُبْصِرُونَ (36/9)

To become completely cover

(transitivity- factitive ) 

We have covered them up; so that they cannot see.

then We have covered them over so that they do not see.

and (thus) have covered them so that they see not


To split, to part; to spread over a period of time   

انَّ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُوا دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُوا شِيَعًا لَسْتَ مِنْهُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ(6/159)

To fragment ;  split into fragment;  divide; splinter


s for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least

Surely they who divided their religion into parts and became sects, you have no concern with them

Lo! As for those who sunder their religion and become schismatics, no concern at all hast thou with them

فَأَمْسِكُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ فَارِقُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ (65/2)

Part from ; separate from


either take

them back on equitable terms or part with them on equitable terms

then retain them with kindness or separate them with kindness

take them back in kindness or part from them in kindness


To kill; 2) to suppress  one’s own lusts

أُخِذُوا وَقُتِّلُوا تَقْتِيلًا

 (33/ 61)

To sly all; kill in large number ; exterminate

( intensity)

they shall be seized and slain (without mercy).

they shall be seized and murdered, a (horrible) murdering

they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter

وَلَوْ قَاتَلَكُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوَلَّوُا الْأَدْبَار (48/22)َ

1)to fight; 2) combat; fight against; attack


If the Unbelievers should fight you, they would( certainly turn their backs

And if those who disbelieve fight with you

And if those who disbelieve join battle with you they will take to flight

كبر  kabira

1)to be great ; be awesome ;2) cause distress or burdensome 

وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّر (74/3)ْ

To magnify, glorify , exalt Allah


And thy Lord do thou magnify!

And your Lord do magnify

Thy Lord magnify

فَلَمَّا رَأَيْنَهُ أَكْبَرْنَهُ (12/31)

To deem great ; formidable; awesome



When they saw him, they did extol him

So when they saw him, they deemed him great,

And when they saw him they exalted him

كثر  kaθara/ kaθura

To become a lot, many and numerous

وَاذْكُرُوا إِذْ كُنْتُمْ قَلِيلًا فَكَثَّرَكُمْ (7/86)

To cause increase in number or multiply



remember how ye were little, and He gave you


and remember when you were few then He multiplied you

And remember, when ye were but few, how He did multiply you.

قَدْ جَادَلْتَنَا فَأَكْثَرْتَ جِدَالَنَا (11/32)

To do in great quantities or frequency; cause to increase or multiply


thou hast disputed with us, and

(much) hast thou prolonged the dispute with us

indeed you have disputed with us and lengthened dispute with us

Thou hast disputed with us and multiplied disputation with us

كرم  karama

To be generous ;

وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ


To honour


We have honoured the sons of Adam

And surely We have honored the children of Adam

Verily we have honoured the Children of Adam

فَأَمَّا الْإِنْسَانُ إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَأَكْرَمَهُ وَنَعَّمَهُ


To treat with generosity; to honour


Now, as for man, when his Lord trieth him, giving him honour and gifts

And as for man, when his Lord tries him, then treats him with honor and makes him lead an easy life

As for man, whenever his Lord trieth him by honouring him, and is gracious unto him

كره  kariha

1)to dislike ; 2) to be against or averse to

وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ (49/7)

To cause to be hated, loathed , disliked


and He has made hateful to you Unbelief, wickedness, and rebellion

and He has made hateful to you unbelief and transgression and disobedience

and hath made disbelief and lewdness and rebellion hateful unto you

وَمَا أَكْرَهْتَنَا عَلَيْهِ مِنَ السِّحْرِ(20/73)

To compel ; to force


and the magic to which thou didst compel us

and the magic to which you compelled us

and the magic unto which thou didst force us

كفل  kafila

To foster ; take responsibility of a child

وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا (3/37)

To place s.o under guardianship of another ; entrust s.o to charge another

(transitivity- factitive)

To the care of Zakariya was she assigned

and gave her into the charge of Zakariya

and made Zachariah her guardian

فَقَالَ أَكْفِلْنِيهَا وَعَزَّنِي فِي الْخِطَابِ (38/23)

To transfer the responsibility to another

(transitivity- factitive)

Yet he says,

´commit her to my care,´ and is (moreover) harsh to me in speech."

but he said: Make it over to me, and he has prevailed against me in discourse.

nd he said: Entrust it to me, and he conquered me in speech

نجا  najaya

To go free

فَلَمَّا نَجَّاكُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ أَعْرَضْتُم (17/67)ْ

To rescue ; deliver ; conduct to safety


but when He brings you back safe to land, ye turn away (from Him)

but when He brings you safe to the land, you turn aside

but when He bringeth you safe to land, ye turn away

لَئِنْ أَنْجَانَا مِنْ هَٰذِهِ لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ (6/63)

To deliver ; rescue; conduct to safety


If He only delivers us from these (dangers), (we vow) we shall truly show our gratitude'?"

If He delivers us from this, we should certainly be of the grateful ones.

If we are delivered from this (fear) we truly will be of the thankful.

نزل  nazala

To descend; come down;2) alight ; be fall; 3) be revealed; 4) bring down  

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ نَزَّلَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ

( 2/176)

To reveal  in instalments or succession


(Their doom is) because Allah sent down the Book in truth

This is because Allah has revealed the Book with the truth

That is because Allah hath revealed the Scripture with the truth

وَأَنْزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً


To bring down; to cause to come down


and sent down rain from the heavens

Who) sends down rain from the cloud

and causeth water to pour down from the sky

تشأ našaya

To rise, to grow , to emerge

وَمَنْ يُنَشَّأُ فِي الْحِلْيَةِ وَهُوَ فِي الْخِصَامِ غَيْرُ مُبِينٍ (43-18)

To raise; brought up; be rear


 then one brought up among trinkets, and unable to give a clear account in a dispute (to be associated with Allah)?

What! that which is made in ornaments and which in contention is unable to make plain speech!

(Liken they then to Allah) that which is bred up in outward show, and in dispute cannot make itself plain?

هُوَ أَنْشَأَكُمْ مِنَ الْأَرْضِ وَاسْتَعْمَرَكُمْ فِيهَا


To create; to fashion out


It is He Who hath produced you from the earth and settled you therein

He brought you into being from the earth, and made you dwell in it

He brought you forth from the earth and hath made you husband it

وعد  wa3ada

to promise; to threaten

وَلَا تَقْعُدُوا بِكُلِّ صِرَاطٍ تُوعِدُونَ (7/86)

To threaten

( intensity)

And squat not on every road, breathing threats,

And do not lie in wait in every path, threatening

Lurk not on every road to threaten (wayfarers)

يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ قَدْ أَنْجَيْنَاكُمْ مِنْ عَدُوِّكُمْ وَوَاعَدْنَاكُمْ جَانِبَ الطُّورِ الْأَيْمَنَ

(20: 80)

To exchange pledges with , to make covenant with



O ye Children of Israel! We delivered you from your enemy, and We made a Covenant with you on the right side of Mount (Sinai)

O children of Israel! indeed We delivered you from your enemy, and We made a covenant with you on the blessed side of the mountain

O Children of Israel! We delivered you from your enemy, and we made a covenant with you on the holy mountain's side

1- adapted from Badawi and Abdel Haleem (2008)
2- adapted from Al-Kufi (1989) and Al-Sayyid (2007)
3- adapted from Quranic Arabic Corpus

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