this is about this text in quran 5:6 :

ighsiloo wujoohakum waaydiyakum ila almarafiqi waimsahoo biruoosikum waarjulakum ila alkaAAbayni

it can be translated 2 ways:

simple translation of it is as in the "Word for Word" translation:

wash your faces and your hands till the elbows and wipe your heads and your feet till the ankles

other translation is as in this "Umm Muhammad (Sahih International)" translation:

wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles

see also question 16264.

in https://islamqa.info/en/answers/69761/is-it-obligatory-to-wash-the-feet-or-wipe-them-during-wudoo they say:

there are two readings of this verse.

1 – Wa arjulakum (and your feet), with a fathah on the laam. In this case the word “feet” is mentioned in conjunction with the word wajh (face), and the face is to be washed, so the feet are to be washed too. So it is as if the verse is basically saying: “Wash your faces, your arms up to the elbows and your feet up to the ankles, and wipe your heads,” but mention of washing the feet is put after mention of wiping the head so as to indicate that this is the order in which the parts of the body are washed in wudoo’: washing the face, then the arms, then wiping the head, then washing the feet.


2 – Wa arjulikum, with a kasrah on the laam. In this case it is mentioned in conjunction with the word ra’s (head), and the head is to be wiped, so the feet are to be wiped too.

But the Sunnah shows that one may wipe over the feet only when wearing leather slippers or socks, subject to the conditions that are well known in the Sunnah.

so, they say, in case of 1st reading, that sophisticated grammar of connecting the word "waarjulakum" to other words over other branch of sentence should be used.

logic of this is not explained there. i understand its logic this way:

since it is "wujoohakum waaydiyakum", (not "wujoohikum waaydiyikum" and not "wujoohukum waaydiyukum"), "waarjulakum" is together with them because it also has "a" in that place (ie it is not "waarjulikum" or "waarjulukum").

if it is "waarjulikum" it is together with "biruoosikum" because they both have "i" in that position.

do i understand its logic correctly? if so, are there other cases of similar technique in quran, where use of "i" or "a" may connect a word to its "friends" over other branch of sentence? or, at least, cases where both of "i" and "a" could be used, but they are selected to be similar (like in agreement) in "friends" (verbs in coordination). or, if not in quran, are there examples in other old texts? i would like to see that examples as proofs.


1 Answer 1


This is a part of Arabic grammar. In Arabic, nouns are divided into three cases: raf' (nominative), nasb (accusative), and jarr (genetive).

Each noun has different forms based on its case. The word أرجل (feet) has three forms: N:أرجلُ, A:أرجلَ, and G:أرجلِ. (And their tanween equivalents are the same case as each of them.) Also note that the different cases aren't always just due to the last harakah though in many cases they are.

Those are the word أرجل in its 3 cases.

In Arabic, the doers, objects, and such details of the sentence are not known solely by the order of words, but by their cases.

In English if you said "Adam helped Bilal" switching the order of Adam and Bilal would change the meaning of the sentence. In the equivalent Arabic sentence, switching the order wouldn't change the meaning because Adam and Bilal both would have cases, and their case tells us who is the doer and who is the recepient.

In the sentence of Arjul, we are trying to figure out which verb applies to it. The two verb in the sentence are: ighsiloo (wash) and imsihoo (wipe).

The verb imsihoo is used alongside a preposition "bi" and it caused the verb's recipient to become the genetic case ("ruoosi"). Now, we expect that the next recipient of the verb (if there is any) should also be in the genitive case.

The verb ighsiloo isn't used alongside any preposition and each of its two recipients before are in the accusative case (wujooha and waaydiya).

That is why when أرجلَ comes in its accusative case, we consider it to be related to the verb ighsiloo (wash) rather than imsihoo bi (wipe).

For another example of how the case of the verb is more important than order, see this sentence:

آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ رَبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ (2:285)

A simple (and incorrect) "Word for Word" translation by a person who doesn't know basic Arabic grammar would be:

The Prophet believed in what was sent to him from his Lord and the believers.

This translator without knowing basic Arabic makes the sentence seem like revelation was given by Allah and the believers together!

But, a normal translator would know that مُؤْمِنُونَ has three cases: N:مُؤْمِنُونَ, A:مُؤْمِنِينَ, and G:مُؤْمِنِينَ. You may notice that the last two cases look the same. It's not relevant but interesting.

We know that the word in this sentence is in the nominative case, and that mainly translates into it being a "doer" of the sentence. Meaning, that noun would be the actor of the sentence's verb.

So, a normal translation is:

The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers.

The believers are doing the believing like the Messenger, they are not the ones to whom revelation is being attributed. If it were in the genitive case like the word رَبِّ (Lord) is, they would be attributed the revelation.

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