// The word al in Arabic?
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« on: Jul 29, 2009 07:16 PM »

Arabic language

Can anyone please explain the usage of al and Al in Arabic names.  Should this have a capital letter and a hyphen when used with the forename in English transliteration or is this not important? Various publications seem to adopt a different usage. Thank you...

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« Reply #1 on: Jul 29, 2009 11:02 PM »


that's a good question!! al just means 'the' in the Arabic language, it is the definitive article.  Like i went to 'the' store. versus I went to 'a' store (indefinite).

there are no capitals in Arabic so it really doesn't matter if it is capitalized in english or not, but you might see it capitalized out of respect if it's one of God's names like ... Al-Kareem 'The Most Generous' Al-Rahman 'The Most Merciful' etc.
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« Reply #2 on: Jul 30, 2009 05:24 AM »

Speaking of capitals... the other day i looked up a translation of an ayat in the Qur'an. Now off the top of my head i can't remember the # of the ayat...do remember it is in sura Maryam. It was about Prophet Ishmael.

Anyway... i was really surprised to see the words Prayer and Charity capitalized in the translation. any idea why?

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« Reply #3 on: Jul 30, 2009 05:54 AM »

Asalamualaikum wrt wb,

All praise be to Allah.

Barakallahu feeki sister, what I noticed in Yusuf Ali's translation is that often times words that have a specific or deep meaning are capitalized to indicate that they have a special meaning in the Arabic, for example:

Salat is translated as Prayer, since Salat is a special form of prayer, whereas Dua is translated as simply prayer, with a lower case p.

Zakat is Charity, whereas Sadaqa is charity.

Also, when referring to Allah's attributes, like His Hand, Yusuf Ali uses capital letters, perhaps to denote that His Hand is not like our hands, etc.

Of course, the Quran cannot be translated, and these are only approximations of the true meanings.

And Allah knows best.

Be merciful to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens will be merciful to you.
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« Reply #4 on: Jul 30, 2009 06:49 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum  bro

On the topic of translations, I think it’s really useful to read different translations from time to time since I’m always amazed how things strike me differently when I read a different wording of the same verse.

As Br Abdurahman says above, the meaning of the original Arabic is so vast that one translation cannot really do it justice which, in my view, is one of the beauties of the Qur’an.

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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