Thursday, 3 September 2015

Arabic passive verbs

بِسمِ اللهِ الرَّحمانِ الرَّحِيم

الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على نبينا محمد وآله وصحبه

الدرس الحادي و العشرون

السلام عليكم ورَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ وبَركاتُه ,    One of the main pillars of Islam is Fasting.  And fasting is compulsory for us to become righteous.   As Allah (swt) says in Quran

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ     [2:183]
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous

The verb used in above ayah is كَتَب = he wrote / he prescribed in above context.  But it’s in passive form كُتِبَ = it was written or it’s was prescribed.  The passive form is very important and interesting.  In passive constructions, the object of the active sentence becomes a grammatical subject, e.g. ‘my friend wrote the book’ is an active sentence that begins with the subject. Its passive counterpart ‘the book was written by my friend’ brings the object to the position of the subject and presents the real subject in the end of the sentence in a prepositional phrase. In Arabic, passive works in the same way.

The boy wrote the letter.
كَتَبَ الولد الخطاب
The letter was written
كُتِبَ الخطاب

I hope you have not forgotten the tables we studied in various chapters.  Example do you remember the past tense conjugation table ? can you try for kataba ?

Kataba …. katabaa ….. kataboo ….    .. ?  ?   ..  ..  ?  ..    katabtu .. katabna

Now for each word there should be its corresponding passive form. right !!  So we have another table to learn.   But it’s very easy if you remember the above table. if not then please go back and memorize it as conjugation tables are integral part of learning arabic.  

If we take the standard verb فعل (he did) the the format for passive would be this.

fuila , fuilaa , fuiloo …….  fuilat , fuilata , fuilna ……   fuiltu, fuiltuma, fuiltum ….. fuilti, fuiltuma, fuiltunna … fuiltu, fuilna

But the meaning of this passive (he was done) would not make any sense. or does it ?

Lets take the verb نَصَرَ, (he helped) for the passive conjugation.
Please memorize the below table


نُصِرُوْا (they were helped)
نُصِرَا (they were helped)
نُصِرَ (he was helped)
3rd person masc.
نُصِرْنَ (they were helped)
نُصِرَتَا (they were helped)
نُصِرَتْ (she was helped)
3rd person fem.
نُصِرْتُمْ (you were helped)
نُصِرْتُمَا (you were helped)
نُصِرْتَ (you were helped)
2nd person masc.
نُصِرْتُنَّ (you were helped)
نُصِرْتُمَا (you were helped)
نُصِرْتِ (you were helped)
2nd person fem.

نُصِرْنَا (we were helped)
نُصِرْتُ (I was helped)
1st person
This is very important table.  Keep reading it again and again.  Please try to write it once without seeing.

Some examples:

I studied the book
دَرَسْتُ الكتابَ
The book was studied.
دُرِسَ الكتابُ
The student (f) studied this book.
دَرَسَت الطالبةُ هذا الكتاب
This book was studied
دُرِسَ هذا الكتابُ.

Exercise :
 Tell the conjugation table for these verbs. I hope you remember these verbs meaning when we studied during present tense.



Do you listen to surah Al-ghashiya often during Juma’a ?   It has plenty of examples for passive verbs.

Identify the passive verbs and its meaning from any translation for Surah Al-ghashiya.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
أَفَلَا يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ
وَإِلَى السَّمَاءِ كَيْفَ رُفِعَتْ
وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ
وَإِلَى الْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ

We know that to negate the past tense we add ( ما ).  i.e

ما نَصَرَ (he did not help)
ما نَصَرْتَ (you did not help)
ما نَصَرْتُ (I did not help)

Similarly we can negated the passive form too with (ما ).

ما نُصِرَ (he was not helped)
ما نُصِرْتَ (you were not helped)
ما نُصِرْتُ (I was not helped)
ما نُصِرْنَا (we were not helped)

The imperfect verb.

The active verb is rendered passive by applying the following algorithm.
·         The prefix of the imperfect verb will be given a ضمة
·         the very last letter will be left as is
·         all the letters in between that have vowels will have their vowels changed to a فتحة
So يَسْمَعُ, (he hears) for example, will become يُسْمَعُ.   (he is heard).
So now we have another table to learn for imperative.  Please memorise this too.


يُسْمَعُوْنَ (they are heard)
يُسْمَعَانِ (they are heard)
يُسْمَعُ (he is heard)
3rd person masc.
يُسْمَعْنَ (they are heard)
تُسْمَعَانِ (they are heard)
تُسْمَعُ (she is heard)
3rd person fem.
تُسْمَعُوْنَ (you are heard)
تُسْمَعَانِ (you are heard)
تُسْمَعُ (you are heard)
2nd person masc.
تُسْمَعْنَ (you are heard)
تُسْمَعَانِ (you are heard)
تُسْمَعِيْنَ (you are heard)
2nd person fem.

نُسْمَعُ (we are heard)
أُسْمَعُ (I am heard)
1st person
This is very important table.  Keep reading it again and again.  Please try to write it once without seeing.

Both the active and passive tables are negated by simply adding the particle لا to the beginning of each verb. This results in an additional 2 tables for a total of 4.
Imperfect Active
Imperfect Passive
Imperfect Active Negative
Imperfect Passive Negative
(he hears)
(he is heard)
لا يَسْمَعُ
(he does not hear)
لا يُسْمَعُ
(he is not heard)
Examples from quran

and they will not be helped 41:16
وَهُمْ لَا يُنصَرُونَ
[thus] you do no wrong, nor are you wronged 2:279
لَا تَظْلِمُونَ وَلَا تُظْلَمُونَ

Future Tense
The imperfect verb’s meaning can be limited to the future tense. Adding the prefix سـ (which is a particle that joins onto the verb) will limit the meaning to the near future, giving the meaning “I will soon hear”, and adding the particle سَوْفَ before the verb limits it to the distant future, giving the meaning “I will hear”. These particles are prefixed to both the active and passive verb, but they are not negated. This results in an additional 4 tables.
Near Future Active
Near Future Passive
Future Active
Future Passive
(he will soon hear)
(he will soon be heard)
سَوْفَ يَسْمَعُ
(he will hear)
سَوْفَ يُسْمَعُ
(he will be heard)

Learn this beautiful hadith which has example of passive verb.

من لا يَرحم لا يُرحم

Similar hadith:
لَا يَرْحَمُ اللَّهُ مَنْ لَا يَرْحَمُ النَّاسَ
Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to the people.

Finally want to end this chapter with beautiful dua read by our prophet (pbuh) when he used to leave from his house. Please memorize and read it while leaving house everyday

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أعوذُ بِكَ أنْ أَضِلَّ أو أُضَلَّ ، أَوْ أَزِلَّ أوْ أُزلَّ ، أوْ أظلِمَ أوْ أُظلَم ، أوْ أَجْهَلَ أو يُجهَلَ عَلَيَّ. (ابو داود 5094)
O Allah, I seek refuge in you from going astray, or from being misguided, from slipping or from being caused to slip, from doing injustice or from injustice being done upon me, from wronging or from being wronged.

1) Can you notice the passive verbs above ?
2)  Can you remember the Ayah that prescribes fasting during month of Ramadhan ?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much Abdullah! It is very helpful! But I still have a problem with the hollow and defective verbs ... Maybe you can help me out with a table for those verbs too ....
    Ramadan Karim!