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In the Name of God بسم الله
Sumerian

الحكايات والامثال تغير الاحوال (Arabic Literature with English Translations)

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Post your fave Arabic sayings and stories and poems, and it doesn't matter in which format or dialect you post them. But there's a catch: You have to translate it and explain it (if you can). lol

Edited by Sumerian

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The hilarious backstory behind the Arabic idiom  "أحمق من هبنقة" (Aḥmaqu min Habannaqah -- stupider than Habannaqah). It's after a comically stupid Bedouin man from Banī Qays b. Thaʿlabah named Yazīd b. Thawrān. The first story is about how his brother had a necklace he would wear, and one day as Yazīd slept, his brother put the necklace on him. When Yazīd awoke he exclaimed "You are me, and I am you!" The Second story is about how when he lost his camel he had put out a "Juʿālah" (essentially a notice) for it, and as the reward he said that whoever finds it may keep it. When he was asked why even seek it then. He replies "then where would be the sweetness of finding it", meaning that there's some pleasure in at least knowing where his camel is.

Jamharat al-Amthāl v. 1 pg. 309

أحمق من هبنقة.jpg

Edited by Ibn Al-Ja'abi

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Salams,

A piece of Arabic prose I really like about the qualities of the world. This is something only properly appreciated in Arabic. The first two lines:

"If the world draws near it tests, and if it withdraws it exhausts."

It's filled with what are known as أفعال معتلة, or weak verbs. These verbs have defective root letters (و, ي, ى) and experience mutations in their conjugation (though they are still entirely regular, they have their own set of rules). So it seems as if each second verb, which is the consequence of the world, is the first verb, which si the act of the world, just cut in half. It shows how remarkable the Arabic language is in its ability to make such clever poetry and prose.

From Mawsu'ah Hada'iq al-Ans (Qom, 1400 AH) by al-Kashani.

كلام البلغاء في صفات الدنيا.PNG

Edited by Ibn Al-Ja'abi

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فرد جحا عليه قائلاً: وما العجب في ذلك؟ القرية التي يشرب فيها الفئران العسل لا تستبعد أن تحمل النسور فيها حصانًا وبضائع!

So Juha replied to him saying: "And what is strange about this? In the village which rats drink honey [in], it is not far-fetched that vultures carry horses and luggage".

________

This was the response of the famous character Juha, who supposedly left his honey with a merchant. When he came back to the merchant to ask him about his honey that he left over, the merchant said the rats drank it all. Juha was angry and clearly didn't believe such nonsense.

So when he caught the merchant loading up his luggage onto his carriage, he quickly took his move and stole the load and the horse behind the merchant's back.

Then he came back to the merchant and saw him upset, so he asked the merchant why he seems sad. The merchant told him he had just been robbed off his horse and load.

Juha said he saw vultures carrying his load and horse.

The merchant asked how is that possible, so Juha hit him back with that killer response which I translated at the top :hahaha:

Edited by Sumerian

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Salams,

A difficult couplet showing the complexity of Arabic vocabulary:

ألم ألم ألم ألم بدائه إن أن آن آن آن أوانه

It's vocalized:

alamun alamma alam ulima bidāʾihi / in anna ānun āna ānu awānihi

It means:

وجع أحاط بي لم أعلم بمرضه / إذا توجّع صاحب الألم حان وقت شفائه

"A pain encompasses me and I do not know it's cause / When the pained expresses his pain the time of his healing nears."

Wassalam

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Salams,

This is taken from the twitter of Ahmad al-Jallad, an epigraphist, philologist, and historian of Arabic:

image.png.8f4ac336624e1abceef9fa9493316730.png

It's written a pre Islamic Ancient North Arabic script, it was pronounced like this:

1) ḥagga mōtu wal-lāẓẓu ṯarām
2) fa-muyakānu layālī-hu wa-ʾaywām-uh
3) wa-hāʾ baʿalu yabītu wa-lā-hu bāta wa-mā nām

It can be put into the Arabic script like this:

حَجَّ مُوتُ وَاللَّاظُّ ثرَام
فَمُيَكَانُ لَيَالِيهُ وَأَيوَامُه
وَهَا بَعَلُ يَبِيتُ وَلَاهُ بَاتَ وَمَا نَام

It means:

1) Mōt has held a feast; the scorner eats
2) Established is the alternation of his nights and days
3) Behold Baʿal slumbers; he slumbers indeed, but not dead…

It isn't the prettiest poem but as far as I'm aware, this is the oldest Arabic poem that's been discovered, undated but the language of these inscriptions (in the Safaitic script) appeared from 100 BC to 300 AD so at latest it is 300 years older than Islam. It tells us many interesting facts about how the Arabic language varied before Islam which the nuhat couldn't have written about.

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الطول طول النخلة

والعقل عقل السخلة

The height [is the] height of a palm tree

[but]

the intellect [is the] intellect of a goat

___

An Iraqi saying, probably used against adults who behave with a small brain attitude.

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An Arabic proverb which goes to show the cultural context in which it was said:

أول الغزو أخرق

"The beginning of the raid is the most clumsy."

It's used to express "قلة التجارب", or inexperience. 

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Salams,

I thought it might be interesting to have some pre-Classical Arabic (though I gather it was likely adapted somewhat to standard Classical Arabic over its transmission) from the Era of Ignorance/Jahiliyyah. This is supposed to be the proclamation of obedience/talbiyah of Banu ʿAkk which they recited when setting out as pilgrims. In front of them would be two black slaves leading the procession saying: "we are the crows of ʿAkk". Banu ʿAkk would respond after them: "ʿAkk is subservient to you, (they are) your Yemeni slaves, (we go forth) in order that we might make pilgrimage again!"

Some lexical notes I've found on this verse:

غرابا عك has غراب in the dual and according to the editor, the "aghrubah" (أغربة), or crows, of the Arabs meant the black people among them. Thus here it means the black members of ʿAkk. This was noted by the editor of K. al-Asnam.

ʿAkk were an Arab (or Arabized) tribe from Yemen (as عبادك اليمانية would imply) that lived in the southern end of Tihama near Wadi Zabid.

عانية comes from the word عنو which also appears in the Qur'an (Q.20:111) and according to Lanes Lexicon and Hans Wehr means "to be humble", "submissive", "subservient", "servile".

God alone knows how true this is though.

For those interested, if you search on Youtube نحن غرابا عك you'll find the opening scene from the Egyptian film Hijrat al-Rasul (هجرة الرسول) where you have Kuffar in Mecca reciting this talbiyah, although in Mecca rather than on their way to Mecca.

 

Ref. to Hisham b. Sa'ib al-Kalbi, Kitab al-Asnam. e.d. Ahmad Zaki Basha. (Cairo: 1995).

image.png.ced91605821455467e7326bd4ef2094f.png

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تبي وأبي!

تقول العامّة لا سيّما في الخليج: 
أنا أبي وأنت تبي
يعنون: أنا أريد وأنت تريد

وأصل الكلمة: أبغي وتبغي
وهي فصيحة
قال ﷻ:
﴿قلْ أغيرَ ﷲِ أبـغي ربًّا وهوَ ربُّ كلِّ شَيْءٍ﴾

فأكلت الناس الغين مع مرور الزمن
ولهذا لا يزال بعضهم يقول: «أبغَى»
بل ولا يزال الأقل يقول: «أبغي»

Posted on twitter: https://twitter.com/Tadkik/status/1103683791716040704

Tabī wa ʾabī!
People, especially in the Gulf, say:
"You tabī and I ʾabī."
They mean: "You desire and I desire."

The phrase was originally: "ʾabghī and tabghī."
And this is eloquent [classical in origin].
God said:
"Say: is there other than God whom I should desire as my Lord, while He is the Lord of all things?'" [Q.6:164]

People "swallowed" [that is to say, they dropped it in pronunciation] the "ghayn" with the passage of time.
As such most people continue to say "ʾabghā".
While few have not ceased to say "ʾabghī".
 

A Yemeni friend of mine told me in Yemen they say "ايش تبى" ("ēsh tabā", meaning "what do you want").

Edited by Ibn Al-Ja'abi

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A man traveled in a ship, and a Jewish man went on board with him,

holding a basket of sliced (beef) - so the man stole it, and began eating it, until nothing was left, but bones. Wherefore he wanted to exit, the Jewish man saw the basket empty,

and he asked about that, so they said to him: “This man ate all of it.” the Jewish man said: “Woe to me! You've ate my father!” - so they asked him about that, he said: “My father had his will (bequest) to be buried in Jerusalem, so when he died we chopped him into pieces, so he can be carried easily, and this man ate him!”

Capture.png

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A man was asked about his name, he said: “My name is Bahr.” (sea), they said: “Father of who?” he said: “Abul-Faidh.” (flood), they said: “Son of who?” he said: “Son of Al-Furat” (Euphrates), so the man said to him: “Your friend shouldn't visit you, except with a ship.”

And the like of this, is that a man of our friends in Iraq, was from a family that God bestowed upon them guidance, after they had been from Ahlul-Khilaf, and their names stayed, so a man asked him about his father's name, he said: “Othman.” and his mother, he said: “Aisha.” and his uncle, he said: “Bakr.” so it was said: “And your name?” and another man said: “His name is Shimr!” (jokingly).

Capture.png

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