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Taa marbouta and holy war and other matters

Reader comment on item: Arabist Snobs

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Nov 27, 2011 at 09:53

Dr, Pipes,

Thank you very much for a very interesting article. And you are correct as usual. One has to be able to read the primary sources in their primary language but you do not have to be fluent in such language

As for Sullivan he is really saying that Nafziger and Walton in the case of qilbah (sic) do not use proper Arabic transliteration and therefore they really do not know Arabic which is far from the truth as he is only concluding that: therefore we the readers cannot rely on their ability to read or comment on the primary sources in Arabic which is a bizarre conclusion

Now he is correct that there are two mistakes in the transliteration of the word قبلة and it is qaf beh (notice I'm using Egyptian Arabic abgad transliteration) lam teh marbouta or qibla

1. So what does we make of qilbah (sic)?

It very well could be a simple typo and no more or it could be a metathesis or reversing of letters and it is a common phenomenon in Arabic so ينعل or yun3al in Egyptian Arabic is really a metathesis of يلعن or yel3an and guz جوز is really a metathesis of زوج or zawj so could qilbah be a metathesis of qibla? I doubt it but you never can be sure

2. How about the ah at the end of the word? well he is right

For the readers; I hate to get into a bit of Arabic garmmar but here we go the letter in question here is the so called taa'/ta/teh marbouta or تاء مربوطة and to paraphrase the father of Arabic grammar a teh marbouta is a cross between a ت or T and ه or H and what we have here is a ة

So how can we tell the difference between a taa and a taa marbouta? notice that it has nothing to do with the Arabic letter heh/ha or H

A teh marbouta would be

1. A female noun and in fact words that end with a teh marbouta are almost always feminine

2. the vowel before the teh marbouta has a fatha or a added to it

3. the teh marbouta remains silent in vocalization and only the fatha that is before it that is vocalized unless the word is followed by a word that has al al-ta3reef or what is called idaafa

So here is an example مكتبَة or bookstore and this word would be transliterated as maktaba and vocalized as maktaba now if we add let us say al-balad of the city مكتبَة البلد then the vocalization would be different and the teh marbouta will sound like the letter T or teh and it would be maktabAT al-balad

So adding an ah at the end of the word qibla is not correct (and i only see this in transliterations by Indian and Pakistani Muslims and I'm not sure why) if one is saying that the ah is a reflection of the fact that a teh marbouta is equal to the letter heh that has a fatha in the vowel before the teh marbouta which is not correct

I would have no difficulty if a teh marbouta would be transliterated as a/at where the a is really the fatha before the teh marbouta and the at that reflects the vocalization if followed by a word that has al al-ta3reef or any idaafa

So who is right and who is wrong? well if we read the guidelines by the JMES this is what we get

• The Arabic tāʾ marbūṭa is rendered a not ah. In Persian it is ih. In Arabic iḍāfa constructions, it is rendered at: for example, thawrat 14 tammūz. The Persian izafat is rendered -i: for example, vilāyat-i faqīh.

It means that Sullivan is correct but if one is to reach his conclusion that Nafziger and walton are not reliable then he is wrong as he does not seem to tell us why they are not reliable readers of Arabic literary sources

Now for the readers: from the root SLM we have the following stems

1. Yislam of he becomes Muslim and islam is the verbal noun

2. Yistaslim means he surrenders and istislam or surrendering in the verbal noun

3. Yastalim means he recieves and istilam means recieving

4. Yusalim means he greets and salam or peace is the verbal noun

And I'm sure you agree with me surrender and receive and greet are not one and the same

Oh the word islam? It is a proper name and no more and i do happen to believe that Luxenburg is correct and that it is a loan from Syriac ܫܠܡܘܬܐ or shalmuta which can be rendered in Arabic as al-itifaq or the agreeing

As for the word Jihad and for the nth time from the root Jhd we have

1. mujahid or holy warrior and the verbal noun is jihad or holy war

2. mujtahid or he who strives to improve and ijtihad or striving to improve

3. majhood or he who is tired/strained and juhd is the verbal noun

And i'm sure you agree with me that a mujahid is not a mujtahid and is not a majhood


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