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Tarikh al-Lughawiyyah

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  • Tarikh al-Lughawiyyah

    On behalf of Sunniipress

    takhreej by akhoona Abdullah ibn Moulay

    The Origins of Arabic Grammar

    It has been said - and many adduce it as fact - that the first grammarian in the Arabic language was Abu'l-Aswad al-Du'ali (d.69), a companion of 'Ali b. Abi Talib and an early poet.

    Ibn al-Nadim, author of the Fihrist said:

    "Muhammad b. Ishaq says that most scholars agree that grammar was taken from Abu'l-Aswad al-Du'ali, and that he took it from the Khalifah 'Ali"

    This is also the opinion of the famous language specialist Abu 'Ubayda (d.210), and the lexicographer al-Zubaydi (d.397) said about Abu'l-Aswad:

    "He was the first to establish [the science of] the Arabic language, to lay down its methods and to establish its rules"

    There are also stories in which both 'Ali and 'Umar acknowledge or refer the subject of grammar to Abu'l-Aswad al-Du'ali.

    The reason why Abu'l-Aswad began to lay formal rules for the Arabic language lies undoubtedly behind the multiply of non-Arabic Muslims - who recited the Qur'an. It has been illustrated by a report in which Abu'l-Aswad heard some Muslims pronounce the wrong reading of the Qur'an, owing to a mistake in voweling. As a consequence, following the order of the governor Ziyad b. Abi Sufyan, he instructed a scribe, saying:

    "When you see me open my mouth at a letter, put a dot above it. When I close it, put one next to the letter. When I draw them apart, put a dot under it."

    Another story describes Abu'l-Aswad's reason behind the beginning of grammar. Some Arabic people laughed once when a client of an Arab mispronounced an Arabic word, so Abu'l-Aswad rebuked them, saying:

    "These mawali (clients) have formed a desire for Islam, and have converted, so they have become our brothers; if only we were to lay down [the rules] of language for them!"

    Abu'l-Aswad al-Du'ali was the first grammarian (nahwi) and lexicographer (lughawi), though he's mentioned mostly as Nahwi [most regard al-Khalil formally as the first Lughawi]. A Nawhi's job is to ensure the right form and pronunciation of the Arabic speech (kalam), while a Lughawi specialise in the speech of the Arabs in so far he checks the words and expressions and their correct meaning; but both overlapped, and many were proficient in both sciences, especially the later specialists. As a Nahwi he's probably the first one who invented the fatha, damma and kasra; it has also been said that he coined the hamza and shadda.

    Two great language-specialists after Abu'l-Aswad al-Du'ali were to become each probably the greatest authorities in Nahw and Lugha: al-Khalil al-lughawi and Sibawayh al-nahwi - inshallah, we shall come back on these two Imams of the language.

    For references: see al-Zubaydi, Tabaqat al-Nahwiyyin wa'l-Lughawiyyin; Ibn al-Nadim, al-Fihrist; Ibn Khallikan, al-Wafayat al-A'yan; al-Suyuti, Bughyat al-Wu'ah.
    ابو نعيمة علي البريكي

    "I have debated with the Ash'aris
    and it has become clear to me that they believe that Allah does not exist"

    May Allah hasten the Muslims back to the path
    that granted victory to them before.

  • #2
    The Early Classical Arabic Grammarians/Nahwiyyin

    - al-Khalil b. Ahmad (d.175): originally a Persian, he became a proficient Nahwi, and later even the founder of Lugha (Arabic lexicography); he was the teacher of the famous Sibawayh; at least five books are attributed to him, the famous being K. al-'Ayn, a dictionary of the Arabic language, which is edited.

    - Sibawayh (d.177): the famous author of the first Arabic grammar book, known as al-Kitab; also of Persian origin he's the greatest authority in grammar; he was a Basran, just like his teacher al-Khalil.

    - al-Kisa'i (d.183): originally a Persian, he served as a teacher for Ma'mun's court; he was a famous acknowledged recitor of the Qur'an from Kufah; some 12 books are ascribed to him, among other al-Ma'ani al-Qur'an.

    - al-Farra' (d.207): another Persian, who lived his life in Baghdad as a teacher in Harun's court; author of the important Ma'ani al-Qur'an, which has been edited, as are a few other books of his.

    - al-Akhfash (d.215): originally from Khawarizm, he came to live in Baghdad; he was a student of Sibawayh and al-Kisa'i, and teacher of many famed linguists; he wrote also a Ma'ana al-Qur'an
    ابو نعيمة علي البريكي

    "I have debated with the Ash'aris
    and it has become clear to me that they believe that Allah does not exist"

    May Allah hasten the Muslims back to the path
    that granted victory to them before.