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A Saying: For Condolences

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As we have a somewhat sad atmosphere here, with the departure of one famous Egyptian actor, I thought maybe I would post some phrase that "was" used for condolences in classical times. I say "was" because nowadays the common everyday phrases for condolences are different and probably what I will be posting here is not used much nowadays by people. This particular saying also does have an important writing tip to take note of. So, here we go:

للهِ ما أَعْطى وَللهِ ما أَخَذ

Translation: (belongs) to God whatever He gave, and (belongs) to God whatever He took.

Transliteration: lilláhi má a3ŧá wa lilláhi má axað

Moral: Life and Death, all is destined and given by God. This phrase is said to the troubled person who has lost a beloved one to ease their sadness and let them remember that there is nothing that could be done about it; All is in the hands of God.


ِلله: To God, to Allah.
ما: What, whatever.
أَعْطى: (He) gave; past tense.
وَ: And.
أَخَذ: (He) took; past tense.


I've noted above that there is a writing tip in this saying, and this comes with the first word: للهِ. Originally, the word is (الله: Allah). As you can see, there is Alif in the beginning. However, when we put the preposition (لـِ:li) at its beginning, this Alif is simply removed and the preposition is not really written. This is because writing it with the Alif would look cumbersome and confusing (specially to new readers), as well as removing the Alif and adding one extra ل in the beginning would look confusing as well (imagine للله, this is wrong). This tip is only for the word "Allah" and does not apply for other nouns starting with Alif. By the way, system fonts like Times New Roman and Arial, which can be used to type Arabic in Windows (probably on Mac too?) are programmed to automatically combine the letters of (الله) and show some sort of ligature with Shaddah and short Alif on top, as you can see here (hopefully!).
Second, we have a conjugation article (ما:má). This article can be confused sometimes with another (má) which is used as a negative article which also comes before verbs. It is one of these instances that a reader, specially a non-Arab, would deduce the meaning from the context. I have to say though that in my own readings, it is common to use other negative articles with verbs, other than (má), thus with some confidence, this article would mean (what, whatever, which) in 90% of times when it comes in the middle to connect between a noun and a verb coming after.
I remember I've posted once about the verb (يعطي:yu3ŧí) few days ago in another proverb. Now, I introduce you to the past tense of this verb: (أعطى:A3ŧá). One important thing here to notice, and that is the usage of the Alif Maqssúrah [ألف مقصورة] (or Alif Maqcúrah, I like to use "c" for the sound of ssád ص), and this is the letter that looks like ي but it is dot-less, like this ى. In other languages, like Farsi, they would naturally use no dots under the letter ي when it comes at the end of the word or isolated. However, in Arabic, this is critical. Unfortunately, lot of Arabs do not care about this difference and hence make a lot of typos. Why it is there? Well, in this verb we see that the present tense يعطي ends with ي sound [-í]. To make a note about this origin, when this verb is made into the past, we do not write it as a regular Alif (ـا) but as Alif Maqcúrah (ى), which is still Alif by sound, but in shape it alerts us that in present tense this "A" sound should be turned into "-í" sound. This is however for the verbs. There are common names written with Alif Maqcúrah and frankly, I'm not sure why (specially that most of them are non-Arabic names in origin), like Moses (موسى:Músa) and Jesus (عيسى: 3ísá). Funny how some people still write موسي (Músí) and عيسي (3ísí) not caring about this grave mistake. It really vexes me.
Finally, we have the past tense (أَخَذ: axað), the "x" is like German "Ch" sound while "ð" is like "Th" in "There" in English. As stated above, it translates to "he took".

Time for me to post this and try to get some sleep. It's almost 7 in the morning here, and it's weekend! So, may you all have a nice weekend, whether today or tomorrow, or the day after! تصبحون بخير

July 26, 2019


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