Missing “Oh,”

Today, we learned that  when a harf nidaa is calling an idhaafah, the mudhaaf becomes mansoob. A mudhaaf is part of a fragment that consists of a mudhaaf and mudhaaf ilayh. This fragment is called an idhaafah. It shows the relationship of ownership. So for example, ‘house of the man’ is an idhaafah where the house is the mudhaaf and the man is the mudhaaf ilayh. So basically, the mudhaaf is the item that is owned by the mudhaaf ilayh. So, if for example, a harf nidaa calls a mudhaaf, the mudhaaf will be nasb in status.

يا معهدَ بينةٍ is such a case. Here, translated, it means “Oh Bayyinah Institute!” To put it in a mudhaaf + mudhaaf ilayhi construction, it would be “Oh, Institute of Bayyinah!” So the harf nidaa is “Oh” and it’s calling Institute of Bayyinah.

In Arabic, for the word معهد it can be in either of 3 states: raf3(end with dhammah ُ  ) nasb (ends with fatha َ  ) or jarr (ends with kasrah ِ  ). The meaning or role it plays in a sentence is determined by these little markings. So they matter a lot.

Here, because the word معهد is a mudhaaf and is part of the idhaafah that is being called by harf nidaa, it will have a fatha as an ending and thus be in nasb state. So it will be,

يا مَعْهَدَ بَيِّنَةٍ

In the Quran, Ustaadh Adam showed us where this occurs, and trust me, it opens up more of the Quran to us in ways that even those with no Arabic grammar knowledge can appreciate.

In Surah Araaf 7:150, we see the story of Musa a.s.. He had gone to Mount Toor for the meeting with Allah and received the Tauraat, but his people had broken into chaos and some of them worshipped the calf. Basically, when Musa a.s. came back, he saw his people committing shirk. For a husband, it’s like coming home to find your wife betraying you, for a parent of teenagers, it’s like coming home and finding your son or daughter doing the unthinkable.

Naturally, Musa’s a.s. temper flared. After all, he had been sent to free his people from the cruel clutches of Firawn and they had just gone through miracles upon miracles and they had gone back to idol worship??! So imagine how he must have been feeling at that time. In his anger and grief, he grabbed his brother Haroon’s a.s. hair and pulled him towards him and addressed Haroon a.s.

وَلَمَّا رَجَعَ مُوسَىٰ إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ غَضْبَانَ أَسِفًا قَالَ بِئْسَمَا خَلَفْتُمُونِي مِن بَعْدِي ۖ أَعَجِلْتُمْ أَمْرَ رَبِّكُمْ ۖ وَأَلْقَى الْأَلْوَاحَ وَأَخَذَ بِرَأْسِ أَخِيهِ يَجُرُّهُ إِلَيْهِ ۚ قَالَ ابْنَ أُمَّ إِنَّ الْقَوْمَ اسْتَضْعَفُونِي وَكَادُوا يَقْتُلُونَنِي فَلَا تُشْمِتْ بِيَ الْأَعْدَاءَ وَلَا تَجْعَلْنِي مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ
Sahih International

And when Moses returned to his people, angry and grieved, he said, “How wretched is that by which you have replaced me after [my departure]. Were you impatient over the matter of your Lord?” And he threw down the tablets and seized his brother by [the hair of] his head, pulling him toward him. [Aaron] said, “O son of my mother, indeed the people oppressed me and were about to kill me, so let not the enemies rejoice over me and do not place me among the wrongdoing people.”

قَالَ ابْنَ أُمَّ

Here, we see that the mudhaaf(ابْنَ)[son] is in nasb state, but there is no harf nidaa after قَالَ. Why is the يا not there? The situation is an intense one, where from Haroon’s a.s. perspective, here he was, being grabbed by the hair by his angry brother. He had to speak to Musa a.s., calm him down, so the situation was so intense that there was no time for يا.

In another instance, in surah Taha, the same scene is narrated, but note the difference. Here, when Haroon a.s. addressed Musa a.s., he said “Yaa Musaa..” Here, the harf nidaa (Yaa) is present. Why?

Sahih International

[Moses] said, “O Aaron, what prevented you, when you saw them going astray,

Sahih International

From following me? Then have you disobeyed my order?”

قَالَ يَا ابْنَ أُمَّ لَا تَأْخُذْ بِلِحْيَتِي وَلَا بِرَأْسِي ۖ إِنِّي خَشِيتُ أَن تَقُولَ فَرَّقْتَ بَيْنَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَلَمْ تَرْقُبْ قَوْلِي
Sahih International

[Aaron] said, “O son of my mother, do not seize [me] by my beard or by my head. Indeed, I feared that you would say, ‘You caused division among the Children of Israel, and you did not observe [or await] my word.’ “

In this scene, it was after the fact. It wasn’t right at the moment when Musa a.s. had just come back from Mount Tuur, but this a bit later on, where Musa a.s. was asking Haroon a.s. what had happened. So, the intensity of the moment was not as high as it was before. Musa a.s. was calmer and so Haroon a.s. addressed him normally with the harf nidaa (Yaa).
In the English translation, you won’t see a difference. They both say “O son of my mother,” and here is where knowledge of Arabic grammar plays a significant role in opening up the beauty of the Quran and the subtleties that give us more context and human experience that we can relate to. Just from the missing harf nidaa, we find out more details of this incident. Subhaanallah!
For notes on Sh AbdulNasir Jangda’s tafseer on Surah Taha on these ayaat, go here for ayaat 90-96. For tafseer of the whole surah, click here and scroll down until you find the listings for the separate posts.

One thought on “Missing “Oh,”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s