Foreign Words in the Quran:-

       Contrary to what many Muhammadan Muslim authors have us believe, Muhammad and Arabia were surrounded by higher religions and civilizations with whom they had constant and full contact and from whom they borrowed numerous religious and cultural terms.

       This fact was fully recognized by the earliest Muslim exegetes , who showed no hesitation in noting words as of Christian, Iranian or Jewish origin as were compiled by
Al Suyuti in his Itqan, al Tabari,  al Baghawi, al Razi and many more.

       It was under the later theologians such as al Shafi'I that this fact, for obvious sectarian reasons, was pushed into the background and an orthodox doctrine was elaborated - later turned into a dogma - to the effect, that the Quran was a unique product of the Arabic language. The modern Muhammadan scholar is seriously distressed by any discussion of the foreign origin of words in the Quran.

       It is extremely rare, based on proven historical and linguistic grounds, that an uncivilized people, such as the pagan Arabs were, would not be enormously influenced linguistically by the surrounding more superior civilizations, religions and cultures.

       For the Muhammadan Arabs to pretend that the Arabic language per se, prior to the Arabian conquets of the surrounding civilizations contained all the words used in the Quran is totally absurd, contrary to facts, unsubstantiated and desperate wishful thinking.

       It is invariably, the more dominant powers that impose their language upon the lesser ones as actually happened initially by the Greeks, the Romans and finally the Arabs in their turn.

       According to Arthur Jeffry's list (The Foreign Vocabulary of the Quran; Oriental Institute; Baroda 1938), there are about 118 foreign - non Arabic - words in the Quran, many of which are among the most important, without which, the Quran could not possibly exist.

       Anyone dispassionately studying the Quran will realise that Muhammad drew his inspiration not from his own primitive pagan religious background but most certainly from the vocabulary and religious terms of the great monotheistic religions that had already found root in the spiritual soil of Arabia, especially the Jews and Christians.

       It is extremely important to point out that there were very powerful Arabian Christian tribes who were dominant both in Syria and Iraq and who wrote and spoke SYRIAC.

       Vocabulary of Syriac origin was already coming into use in Arabia long before Muhammad and his Quran. The court of al Hira was a rendezvous of the poets and literateurs of the day.

       Many of the most prominant poets of pre-Islamic Arabia such as Imru'l Qays, Mutalammis and Abdi b. Zaid were CHRISTIANS and their poetry was naturally impregnated with Christian words and ideas.

       Even in the extant poetry of such non-Christians as Al Nabigha and Al Ash'a, one finds the strong influences of Syrian Christianity because they spent time at the court of al Hira.

       The Ahadith and the biography of Muhammad assert that he travelled to Syria (al Sham) both as a child and later as a merchant on behalf of his wife Khadija who was not only a Hanif but also associated with Christianity through her uncle Waraqa bin Naufal.

       Muhammad was surrounded by enormously powerful non Arabian influences that shaped his thoughts, his inspirations and his Quranic prose and to pretend that he was not affected by them is contrary to logic, to reality to veracity and to history.

       Al Suyuti's Al Muhadhdhab has the most complete classification of borrowed words in the Quran that have survived the centuries. He divides them in his Mutawakkili into the following classes:

1        Ethiopic        Habashi
2        Persian        Farisiya
3        Greek        Roumiya
4        Indian        Hindiya
5        Syriac        Syriyaniya
6        Hebrew        Ibraniya
7        Nabatean        Nabatiya
8        Coptic        Coptiya
9        Turkish        Turkiya
10        Negro        Zinjiya
11        Berber        Barbariya

12: 2        We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an in order that ye may learn wisdom.

16: 103        We know indeed that they say "It is a man that teaches him." The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notable foreign while this is Arabic pure and clear.

       *** Muhammad's Quraysh tribe had a very good idea as to the human sources of his 'revelations' ***

20: 113        Thus have we sent this down an Arabic Qur'an and explained therein in detail some of the warnings in order that they may fear Allah or that it may cause their remembrance (of Him).

26:195 In the perspicuous Arabic tongue.

39: 28        (It is) a Qur'an in Arabic without any crookedness (therein): in order that they may guard against Evil.

41:3 A Book whereof the verses are explained in detail a Qur'an in Arabic for people who understand

41:44        Had We sent this as a Qur'an (in a language) other than Arabic they would have said: "Why are not its verses explained in detail? What! (a Book) not in Arabic and (a Messenger) an Arab?" Say: "It is a guide and a healing to those who believe; and for those who believe not there is a deafness in their ears and it is blindness in their (eyes); they are (as it were) being called from a place far distant!"

43:3        We have made it a Qur'an in Arabic that ye may be able to understand (and learn wisdom).

       *** According only to the Ahadith, the Quran was 'revealed' to Muhammad in SEVEN modes.

       Why were so many modes necessary if it were such a pure form of Arabic in the first place?***

Al-Tirmidhi HadithHadith 2215        Narrated byUbayy ibn Ka'b
Ubayy told of Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) meeting Gabriel and saying, "I have been sent, Gabriel, to a people who are unlettered, among whom are old women and old men, boys and girls, and men who have never read a book."  He replied,

"The Qur'an, Muhammad, has been sent down in seven modes."

Tirmidhi transmitted it.

Sahih Muslim HadithHadith 1787        Narrated byUbayy ibn Ka'b
I was in the mosque when a man entered, and prayed and recited (the Qur'an) in a style to which I objected. Then another man entered (the mosque) and recited in a style different from that of his companion. 

When we had finished the prayer, we all went to Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) and I said to him: This man recited in a style to which I objected, and the other entered and recited in a style different from that of his companion.  The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) asked them to recite, so they recited. The Apostle (peace be upon him) expressed approval of their efforts (their modes of recitation), and there occurred in my mind a sort of denial which did not occur even during the Days of Ignorance. When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saw how I was affected (by a wrong idea), he struck my chest, whereupon I broke into a sweat and felt as though I were looking at Allah in fear.  He (the Holy Prophet) said to me: Ubayy, a message was sent to me to recite the Qur'an in one dialect, and I replied: Make (things easy for my people. It was conveyed to me for the second time that it should be recited in two dialects. I again replied to him: Make affairs easy for my people.

It was again conveyed to me for the third time to recite in seven dialects and (I was further told): You have got a seeking for every reply that I sent you, which you should seek from Me. I said: O Allah! Forgive my people, forgive my people. So I have deferred the third one for the day on which the entire creation will turn to me, including even Ibrahim (peace be upon him) (for intercession).

Sahih Al-Bukhari HadithHadith 6.300        Narrated byAbu Huraira
One day while Allah's Apostle was sitting with the people, a man came to him walking and said, "O Allah's Apostle. What is Belief?" The Prophet said, "Belief is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Apostles, and the meeting with Him, and to believe in the Resurrection." The man asked, "O Allah's Apostle. What is Islam?" The Prophet replied, "Islam is to worship Allah and not worship anything besides Him, to offer prayers perfectly, to pay the (compulsory) charity, i.e. Zakat, and to fast the month of Ramadan." The man again asked, "O Allah's Apostle. What is Ihsan (i.e. perfection or benevolence)?" The Prophet said, "Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you do not achieve this state of devotion, then (take it for granted that) Allah sees you." The man further asked, "O Allah's Apostle. When will the Hour be established?"

The Prophet replied, "The one who is asked about it does not know more than the questioner does, but I will describe to you its portents. When the lady slave gives birth to her mistress, that will be of its portents; when the bare-footed naked people become the chiefs of the people, that will be of its portents. The Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah. Verily, the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah (alone). He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs."  (31.34) Then the man left. The Prophet said, "Call him back to me." They went to call him back but could not see him. The Prophet said, "That was Gabriel who came to teach the people their religion." (See Hadith No. 47 Vol 1)

Sahih Al-Bukhari HadithHadith 7.650        Narrated byAbu Huraira
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "There is no Tiyara, and the best omen is the Fal." They asked, "What is the Fal?" He said, "A good word that one of you hears (and takes as a good omen)."

       *** There are several Hadiths similar to the one above where in Muhammad mentions a word that his Arab listeners never heard of and ask him for its meaning ***

Sahih Al-Bukhari HadithHadith 7.803        Narrated byUbaidullah bin Hafs
that 'Umar bin Nafi' told him that Nafi', Maula 'Abdullah had heard 'Umar saying, "I heard Allah's Apostle forbidding Al-Qaza'." 'Ubaidullah added: I said, "What is Al-Qaza'?" 'Ubaidullah pointed  (towards his head) to show us and added, "Nafi' said, 'It is when a boy has his head shaved leaving a tuft of hair here and a tuft of hair there." Ubaidullah pointed towards his forehead and the sides of his head. 'Ubaidullah was asked, "Does this apply to both girls and boys?" He said, "I don't know," but Nafi' said, -The boy." 'Ubaidullah added, "I asked Nafi' again, and he said, 'As for leaving hair on the temples and the back part of the boy's head, there is no harm, but Al-Qaza' is to leave a tuft of hair on his forehead unshaved while there is no hair on the rest of his head, and also to leave hair on either side of his head.' "

       Since Muhammad's beliefs were not invented or created in a vacuum, but were actually influenced by surrounding incredibly powerful civilizations and cultures:

Byzantine Christian/New Testament; Sassanid Persian/Zoroasteria; Jewish/ Hebrew Bible; Indian/Hindu; Ethiopian/Christian etc.

therefore it is natural that the Quran should contain a large number of religious and cultural terms borrowed from these surrounding communities.

       The Quran asserts repeatedly that it is a new scripture for the Arabs hence it would have been impossible for the native Arabic vocabulary and language to, all of a sudden, create new words and terminology to express all its new ideas to fit the occasion. In fact, many of the words, terms and concepts were already available - off the shelf, so to speak - for Muhammad to

               plagiarise, plunder, pirate and or pervert

to suit his agenda.

       The proof for the latter statement resides in the fact that Muhammad used borrowed words and expressions the meaning of which he had not correctly grasped such as Furqan and Sakhina as well as the Shabbath being a day of rest, to name just a few. He had a penchant for the use of exotic words as well as his own invented ones so that they rhyme in his Quran.

       Although the Quran informs its readers that it was revealed in the best of Arabic dialects, it is none the less a clear fact that the most important and relevant words in it were derived from other non Arabic languages such as:

Words and names pertaining to the Bible and Biblical characters;

Words dealing with civil administration;

Words pertaining to writings, books, education and knowledge that were all lacking in the language of a mainly nomadic and illiterate people.

       The Muhammadan exegetes were themselves unsure of the meaning and sources of many of these words as shown in their own reports.

       Al Suyuti cites in his al-Itqan (Cairo 1925), vol.1, ch. 38 pp (135/41) about 118 words which are not of Arabic origin but from Hebrew, Persian, Abyssinian, Aramaic, Syriac etc.

As examples:

Hebrew: Jahannam (Hell ), Jibril (Gabriel), Medina (Town), Madrassah (School), Shaytan (Satan), Jabbar (Mighty), Sadaqah (Charity), Surah (Chapter, Revelation), Mus'haf (Holy Book), Malak (Angel), Ma'idah (table), Sakinah (Holy Spirit); Tahara (Purity); :Malak/Angel (Malakh); Jahannam/Hell (Gehinnom); Medina/Town (Medinah); Shaytan/Satan (Satan); Jibril/Gabriel (Gibbor-El); Kanisah/Church (Kinnesset); Mushaf/Holy Book); Nabi/prophet (Nabi); Zakah/Charity (Zakah); Deen/Religion (Din);

Christian Abyssinian: Mirhab (Niche), Minbar (Pulpit), Burhan (Proof), Hawariyoun (Apostles/Jesus' disciples); Mi'raj/Ladder; Mushaf/Holy Book); 

Persian: Barzakh (Obstacle) (S23:102; 55:20; 25:55), Firdaws (Paradise) (S18:107; 23:11); Zanjabil (Ginger) (S76:17); Sijjil (Stones) (S105:4);, Firind (Sword), Khandaq (To Dig/Ditch); Zandaqah (Zandiq=Fire Worshipper)

Syriac: (Dawud/David; Sulayman/Solomon; Isa/Jesus; Nuh/Noah; Bi'ah/Church; Salah/Prayer

Greek: Kharaj (Land Tax)/Choregia; Dinar (Currency)/Denarius;
[ Arthur Jeffery's : The Foreign Vocabulary of the Quran]

       *** When one studies the subjects above, based upon the works of the Muhammadan exegetes who had dealt with this very difficult but important subject, one will find out that they were themselves at a loss as to the roots of many of the words especially since they were not linguists in the four, five or six languages that the Quran had copied words from.

        They actually had the most meagre philological resources at their disposal; so much so, that al Suyuti and those who preceded him completely missed the fact that several of the words that they alleged to have been foreign were in fact Arabic in origin.

Taht 19:24 (Nabataean);
Hayt laka 12:23 (Coptic);
Sayidha 12:25 (Coptic);
Mazjat and Bidtha'a 12:88 (Coptic);
Abadta 26:21 (Nabataean);
Abla'a 11:46 (Nabataean);
Akhlad 7:175 (Hebrew) etc etc are actually all Arabic

       The extant records from the Muhammadan exegetes as well as from all linguists on the subject, assert that the most important WORDS and EXPRESSIONS in the Quran are FOREIGN in origin and most definitely NOT Arabic ***