I was reading Surah Nahl 14 juz and then in 16:66 it said:

وَاِنَّ لَـكُمۡ فِىۡ الۡاَنۡعَامِ لَعِبۡرَةً​  ؕ نُّسۡقِيۡكُمۡ مِّمَّا فِىۡ بُطُوۡنِهٖ مِنۡۢ بَيۡنِ فَرۡثٍ وَّدَمٍ لَّبَنًا خَالِصًا سَآئِغًا لِّلشّٰرِبِيۡنَ‏

And indeed, for you in grazing livestock is a lesson. We give you drink from what is in their bellies - between excretion and blood - pure milk, palatable to drinkers.

Well the word used for "bellies" is بُطُوۡنِهٖ and not بُطُوْنِهَا. The former is in masculine form and the latter is in feminine form and the Quran uses the former. But masculine cattles don't produce milk! Why does the Quran use the former then?

1 Answer 1


You shouldn't confuse grammatical masculine and feminine with actual male and female. For example, the sun is feminine in Arabic but it obviously isn't female.

In this verse, the هٖ (meaning "his" in a literal sense) in بُطُوۡنِهٖ ("his bellies" in a literal sense) refers to the word "الۡاَنۡعَامِ" (meaning "cattle").

The word الۡاَنۡعَامِ does not specify the gender of the animals. It simply means cattle in general. However, in grammatical terms, it is masculine (even though the word incorporates male and female cattle) and singular (even though it is plural in meaning). That is why the masculine singular pronoun is used to refer to it.

The word اَنۡعَامِ being masculine and singular neither means only one animal is being referred to nor does it mean it refers to male animals.

So, in English بُطُوۡنِهٖ is correctly translated to "their bellies" where "their" refers to cattle.

To repeat, be careful of applying grammatical gender to actual gender and also be careful of applying grammatical number to actual number.

To be clear, it is possible they apply, but not in every case.

  • 3
    Jazakallah bro...you clear my doubt..i pray to ALLAH(SWT) to increase your knowledge..
    – Sabrin
    Sep 6, 2020 at 5:48

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