69 million page views

Quran 20:12 and the strange word Tuwa or طوى

Reader comment on item: Israel Has a War to Win
in response to reader comment: Our dear Hamzah (sic) and "The Earth is Flat" verse disaster and the claim that Dahaha means "Egg-Shaped" is a lie

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Jan 9, 2022 at 17:09

Dr. Pipes,

I was reading the story of Moses in the Quran and I came across this very strange word طوى in Q20:12 and al-Mufasereen had no idea what this word really means. They tell us it is a name of a valley.

Here is the context: Allah is speaking to Moses in the very dry, parched and scorched Sinai and He says:

إنك بالوادِ المقدس طوى

This can be rendered as: You (Moses) are with (sic) the holy valley Tuwa

Very strange grammar! Notice that بالوادِ should be في الوادي or in the valley.

The word طوى is most likely from the Aramaic/Syriac ܛܘܐ or Tuwa which means: parched, scorched, dry


Notice that there is no Arabic definite article as in الطوى and notice that the last letter is a ى or Alif Maksura which is the Aramaic/Syriac Alif or ܐ and it is the definite article in Aramaic/Syriac

So the author of the verse is saying: You (Moses) are in the holy (and) parched valley.

Or : إنك في الوادي المحترق المقدس

Notice that al-Tabari says that this sentence means: بالوادي المبارك or with the blessed valley and he also provides several meanings and then he states that طُوى: اسم الوادي or this strange word Tuwa is the name of the valley. He does not seem to know. He corrects the word الوادِ and notice the kasra below the last letter dal. And he corrects it as الوادي which is the correct Classical Arabic

Here is a link to al-Tabari's tafsir


And more Aramaic/Syriac in the Qur'an


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2023 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)