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  5. "Baghdad is the capital of Ir…

"Baghdad is the capital of Iraq."

Translation:بَغْداد عاصِمة اَلْعِراق.

July 27, 2019



why is it "capital' and not 'the capital' in arabic?


I think that must be becasue in a "genitive" construction (iDaafah), the first word never takes the article, but the second one always does, unless it's a proper name. Ah, what happens if Palestine had been the "possessor", given that it doesn't take the article? I suppose it still wouldn't? Just as eg Tariq wouldn't?

  • 1420

Indeed, it wouldn't take (AL), like the case with Baghdad.


Thank you! It's SO interesting! And it feels marvellous to be learning. To think that six months ago I knew NO Arabic at all.

  • 1420

Good luck!


But we are not asked to translate " Baghdad is Iraq's capital". We are asked to translate "Baghdad is the capital of Iraq." If this is a common usage issue, then it is very confusing to a new learner of the language.

  • 1420

I'm not sure what happened there but I know many people reported that to Duolingo and they didn't fix it. Because "capital of Iraq" is the same as "Iraq's capital" and both answers should be accepted.


Why is it Baghdad and not albaghdad?

  • 1420

Baghdad, originally, is not an Arabic name, and probably this is why it doesn't get AL. Other cities in Iraq are actually defined (except of few beside Baghdad), e.g. Al-Bassrah, Al-Kufah, Al-Najaf. Some of the towns and cities which are not defined in Iraq as well, include Karbala, and Samarra.


Indeed. I find online: "a pre-Islamic name apparently of Indo-European origin and probably meaning "gift of god," with the first element related to Russian bog "god" and the second to English donor [Ed: and Latin do, datum etc]" But I read in Encyclopaedia Britannica, "The city was founded in 762 as the capital of the ʿAbbāsid dynasty of caliphs", and it seems curious that an Arabic-speaking caliphate should found a city and give it a non-Arabic name. Can anyone enlighten us?

  • 1420

Not sure about the theory of the Indo-European name and its relation to Russian (this seems a far fetch). Anyway, there was indeed a name for Baghdad in Arabic but then it was a spot of land that not populated much and probably just a stop for caravans on their way to various destinations. The original Arabic name was الزوراء (az-zawrá'), which I think means something like (the one on the neck) but not sure about my own conclusion here; And the name is probably related to its location between the 2 rivers. Anyway, the meaning of Baghdad as "the gardens of God" has been reported and I've read about it on various occasions.

The name Baghdad was given, supposedly, by Al-Mansúr (Not to be confused with the Andalusian Almanzor, who in Arabic, has the same name). Al-Mansúr المنصور was the 2nd Abbasid ruler (coming after 4-year rule of his brother, Abdullah Al-Saffah, i.e. Abdullah the Butcher). The Abbasid dynasty came about after years of preparations in secret for a revolution against the Umayyad dynasty. There is a long history here and quite a drama (like in the movies) about stories and events that took place; Events that would initially establish the Emirate of Cordoba in Europe, established under the remaining last prince of the Umayyad dynasty, Abdul-Rahman Al-Dakhil عبدالرحمن الداخل, who continued the Umayyad line for 300 years more in Europe, while it died in the East under the Abbasid (and the inter-conflict inside the Umayyad house).
In order to ignite the revolution, the Abbasids maintained a close tie with non-Arabs, specially Persians (whose large part of them then was still yearning for the glorious days of Sasanid) in a systematic manner and tactics:

  • They used the unjustice done by Umayyads against non-Arabs and new-coming Muslims to gain further support and entice a revolt.
  • Propaganda; Announcing that they are the closest in lineage to prophet Mohammed, as they are the descendants of the prophet's uncle, Al-Abbás العباس (hence the name, Abbasids).
  • Since Umayyads used mainly Arabs and favored them over others (in clear contradiction to the Islamic teachings), they ignited the tribal struggle (as if in pre-Islamic days). Abbasids used that to their advantage, and by using non-Arabs, they were safer in that perspective, because the tribal system and the connection to the tribe for non-Arabs (specially Persians) was not as strong as it was (and is still) for the majority of Arabs, who would still be clinging on their tribal name and reputation even after decades of the establishment of Islam.

For all of that, when Abbasids came to rule, they had to strike a balance and they favored their allies of non-Arabs to maintain the control and pacify the land. The first phase of the Abbasid rule was influenced heavily by Persians, while the second phase (which probably started around the 10th ruler, Al-Motawakkil) was influenced heavily by Turks.
So, end of the story, my guess is that Al-Mansúr chose that name, Baghdad, as an attempt to keep his Persian allies closer to the rule and to avoid letting them feel being estranged after helping the revolution against the Umayyads.

Note: The Abbasid Al-Mansúr was also called or entitled in history as المنصور الدوانيقي (Al-Mansúr Al-Dawáníqí), where the title الدوانيقي means something like (one of the Daniq). Daniq was an ancient measure of weight (and hence currency back then) and comes from a Persian word meaning (sixth) I think, and was used beside the Dirham درهم in ancient times (I think a Daniq is 1/6 of a Dirham), and the plural for Daniq is Dawániq دوانيق. Al-Mansúr was famous for his care of the treasury and some say that he would personally check the ins and outs and the inventories for the financial issues like taxes collected and all such things, and hence people entitled him by Al-Dawáníqí - but not sure if this title was given in his life-time or after his death.


why once it is el kahiri asima which means cairo is the capital and in the other sentence bagdad asima which means bagdad is the capital i.e no el bagdad. it does not make sence

  • 1420

Depends on the origin of the name. Cairo القاهرة is originally Arabic in meaning, while Baghdad بغداد is not originally Arabic. It is not like a rule, but it is just related how the name was formulated originally. Some names are originally with (AL) and some are not.


بَغْدادُ عاصِمَةُ العِراقِ

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