My question is regarding 22:40 of the Quran. I see many translations speaking about churches, monasteries and synagogues, but how do any of these words translate as such:

  • sawame'
  • bya'on
  • salawaaton
  • masajido

As my understanding, church is kanisa in Arabic, while salawat is the plural of salat and bya' may refer to the processing of selling stuff.

How did these translators come to the conclusion that any of these words refer to churches and monasteries?

  • Please consider using a known transliteration of Arabic and adding the English synoyms.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 20:22

1 Answer 1


The translators probably took the prominent views from Tafsir, for example see Ibn Kathir.

For linguistic derivation, there are some pointers in the Arabic-English Lexicon by Edward William Lane (http://www.tyndalearchive.com/tabs/lane/)


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source: http://www.studyquran.org/LaneLexicon/Volume4/00000445.pdf

Hebrew wording referred here might be related to Tselah (Tsaud Lamed He) cognate to Arabic Salah


enter image description here

source: http://www.studyquran.org/LaneLexicon/Volume4/00000474.pdf

Here are some Hadith which use the word.


Regarding the arabic بيعٌ, The lexicon doesn't provide any details:

enter image description here

source: http://www.studyquran.org/LaneLexicon/Volume1/00000322.pdf

But it is possibly linked to the Hebrew Bea.

enter image description here

This, this, and this hadith use Baye in the sense of a place of worship.

  • I get the part that Ibn Kathir explains it as buildings, but the explanation from William lane isn't clear. How is sawame' a (صوامع) plural of sawm (صوم), when it ends with an ayn (ع) and sawm (صوم) already has its own plural namely syaam (صیام)? Is that explained anywhere? Also can you give more clear references like chapter numbers etc.?
    – user21470
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 20:47
  • The site I used doesn't have direct links, I assumed that you knew enough arabic to navigate to the proper pages. Anyways I'll momentarily link to the whole pages from a different site in pdf format.
    – UmH
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 20:55
  • Sorry, my mistake. I didn't notice it was an alphabetically sorted lexicon. Anyway, any explanation about sawame'?
    – user21470
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 21:15
  • I have trouble accepting the part regarding Lane, because on one hand you bring up hadith where singular form of sawame' is used, e.g. sawma'atyn (صومعة) and on the other hand the singular form word sawm (صوم) is used by Lane. I don't understand how this two fit together, however I am going to accept your answer and if you can give a better explanation for that part, then God willing, I will vote up your answer.
    – user21470
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 23:22

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