You might have noticed, that in the Arabic language, the word "left" is metaphorically used for something bad or impure. And the other way around for the word "right".

The word right:

69:19 - 69:21

So as for he who is given his record in his right hand, he will say, "Here, read my record!

Indeed, I was certain that I would be meeting my account."

So he will be in a pleasant life -

And the word left:


But as for he who is given his record in his left hand, he will say, "Oh, I wish I had not been given my record

Now there are plenty of examples in the Quran mentioning this. It's also mentioned in the Hadiths. For instance, there are the hadiths one sleeping on the right side as a good Sunnah, and also eating with the right hand.

Eating with the right hand is more focused on because, the left hand is used for more impure actions, therefore the right hand is more pure to eat with.

If we look at other languages we will also find out that the same concept is used, and it's a rather old concept.

What I wonder is, where the origin of the concept of these words has come from? Somehow the human derived to believe that the right is good and the left is bad, while these are just words we define and understand in our way of life.

The question might be more a question of language and not of religion. But the words are surely used in the Arabic language, thus in the Quran.

It might be that nobody really have a real answer on the question.

Also, it is known that the majority of the people are right handed. This has sometimes been the argument of why "right" is considered to be good. But it's not possible to know if the majority of the people really was right handed BEFORE the concept of that right meant something good. So the argument is not truly valid.

Edit: I noticed votes for closing this question. This question might look like having nothing to do with Islam. But if you take a look at the terms of left and right you will notice that many of the Muslims today include these terms in their theology, without explaining the origin of the terms. This question is an attempt to get an explanation of the origin of the terms that many surely use in Islam.

  • Be aware that this might also be the case in many other languages (at least for "right" in English: "right path" and i know similarities in german language for right->good, left->bad)
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 14:41
  • 1
    Yeah that is true. And as I wrote: "If we look at other languages we will also find out that the same concept is used, and it's a rather old concept."
    – Kilise
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 14:42
  • 2
    Have you considered about asking this on Linguistics SE?
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 14:49
  • I might do it. I do get the feeling that nobody really can answer where this concept have derived from. If I don't get a better answer here in one or two days I'll try to answer it myself as best as possible. Then look for more information at the linguistics, if God wish. Thanks.
    – Kilise
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 14:54

1 Answer 1


As I thought when I asked the question, there is no known reason for how the terms originated. According to a linguist that I asked by mail, these terms originated before our historical records of the different languages took place, meaning there are no explanation available.

What we do know for sure about the words is that the word right is often describing something positive and the word left something negative. This is the case with many languages including the Semetic languages (Arabic is a part of the semetic languages)


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .