Another example of the difference of meaning of words from different families can be found in Al Baqarah 286, and this is mind blowing to me subhaanallah!
Al Baqarah Ayat 286
Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.”
The word here is كَسَبَتْ and اكْتَسَبَتْ . The translation of these words in English are as in red above. In translation, they are respectively translated as ‘it has gained’ and ‘it has earned’ which I think hints at the difference in meaning, which will be explained below.
كَسَبَتْ follows the form of Family I (كَسَبَ يَكْسِبُ كَسباً) which gives the general basic meaning of ‘to earn‘.
اكْتَسَبَتْ follows the form of Family VIII (اقتَرَبَ يَقْتَرِبُ اقْتِرَابًا), which gives the general meaning of something that takes more effort to do. I think that’s why in translation, it uses ‘ to gain’ for the former and ‘earned’ for the latter, to show the degree in required effort between the two. For example, if you find yourself on a career path doing something that you actually love and enjoy, you can say that you are gaining a steady salary and satisfaction. But if you are in a career where you actually loathe what you are doing with your life, it might be more befitting to say that you are earning your salary.
So, just from that difference, there is more to the meaning of the translated ayat that we see above. When Allah mentions the soul earning/gaining good or doing good deeds, He uses the simple form (Family I) which has the basic meaning of ‘to earn'(translated as ‘gained’). But when Allah mentions the soul earning evil or doing bad deeds, He uses the form that has the meaning of doing something that takes more effort, or doing something with effort (from Family VIII), which is translated as ‘gained’.
The prepositions that Allah uses in each of these situations also highlight these differences. For ‘what good it (the soul) has gained’, Allah uses the harf لِ which is usually used for that which is in favor of what it is connected to. Here, it’s in لَهاَ ما كَسَبَتْ [for it (the soul) is whatever (consequences) it has gained (easy) (in terms of good deeds)].
For the consequences of evil deeds, however, Allah uses the harf على which can mean ‘against’.
So here, it’s عَلَيْهاَ ماَ اكْتَسَبَتْ [against it (the soul) is whatever (consequences) it has earned (takes effort) (in terms of evil deeds)].
This implies that it’s generally easier to do good deeds compared to doing bad deeds. How so? Why do people do good? Why do people put so much effort in humanitarian causes? Why do people give in charity? Why do people smile at each other? Because it feels good. It makes people feel good inside even if that is not the main reason why they do good. Doing good in and of itself is rewarding and that acts as a motivator for doing more good. I guess you can say that good deeds begets more good deeds.
Doing evil on the other hand, is for one, against our fitrah. In non Islamic terms, this basically means that there is always little Jiminy Cricket
telling you that you shouldn’t be doing what you’re about to do or what you’re doing because it’s wrong. It’s called your conscience. So when someone does something wrong, especially for the first time, or if he’s not used to it, something in him stirs. This is what shows up on a lie detector. When you lie (it is something wrong by the way ;), your body will naturally react physiologically, because it is against the good potential that Allah has created us for. How amazing is that ? Subhaanallah! So, doing evil is then actually takes effort.
Unfortunately though, once a person is in the habit of doing bad deeds, it may no longer take that much effort for him to do bad. It will in fact become easier to do bad than to do good, and this is the flipping of the fitrah we have been created in, and it happens because we countered the default, so it’s like we are the ones who flipped the switch by force. In essence, we are the ones who have wrecked our souls, because Allah has created us to heed our conscience, but when we ignore or belie it, then we have corrupted our souls. May Allah protect us from that, Ameen!