In groups, we have to do drills, and part of them it translating Arabic to English and vice versa. Weeks back, we had to translate,
“Fatima! Go clean the room.”
and I wasn’t sure where to put the Fatima. Do I put يا فاطمة in front or at the end of the sentence? I asked my TA and she not only answered my question, but gave me more than what I had asked for. I said,
“Ya Fatima, go clean the room!…Go clean the room, Yaa Fatima.”
and she explained how the order of where we put the harf nidaa(يا)[the exclamation of calling someone, kind of like our “Hey Mike!” Hey is the harf nidaa in this case] and munaadaفاطمة [the one being called. In this case, Mike is the munaada] produces different effects in the conversation. The one where it comes at the end has a gentler tone to it.
In the Quran, in the scene where Allah talks to Musa a.s.
And when he came to it, he was called, “O Moses,
يَا مُوسَىٰ comes in front. The following ayaat are what Allah was saying to Musa a.s.
Indeed, I am your Lord, so remove your sandals. Indeed, you are in the sacred valley of Tuwa.
And I have chosen you, so listen to what is revealed [to you].
Indeed, I am Allah . There is no deity except Me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance.
Indeed, the Hour is coming – I almost conceal it – so that every soul may be recompensed according to that for which it strives.
So do not let one avert you from it who does not believe in it and follows his desire, for you [then] would perish.
And what is that in your right hand, O Moses?”
Try to visualize this scene. Musa a.s. was traveling with his family back to Egypt across the desert. It was night time and they were lost, so he told his family to stay where they were and he would go off to find some information. Somehow he ended in the Tuwa Valley where Allah spoke to him.
Imagine being in the desert, at night, and if you have ever been in the desert at night, you know it can be scary. What’s more, he was lost and he had left his family somewhere in the desert in the dark. Out of nowhere, a voice addressed him, and it mentioned serious heavy commands.
So, O Moses that came in the beginning of this conversation, was to get his attention. But then, Allah spoke in a more conversational tone to him, as if to calm him down, And what is that in your right hand, O Moses?” and here, the O Moses came at the end. It’s somewhat gentler and so has a different effect.