One of the confusing topics of Quranic Arabic is Plural. Today I aim to clear this confusion once and for all. I grew up speaking the Malay language, which is my mother tongue. Malay is probably the most just language in the world.
Why do I say that, because the Malay language also does not discriminate between gender or numbers. The concept of feminine and masculine is alien to the Malay language. Not just that Malay also does not have a plural. So if I can understand Arabic plural there is no reason why you can do the same. Alright let’s start
Plural in Arabic
Just as a reminder, plural in Quran Arabic means something that is more than two, it should not be confused with dual which is neither singular nor plural.
The topic of Plural in Quran Arabic covers at least 4 categories :
1. Masculine Plural
2. Feminine Plural
3. Plural By Meaning
Certain words you just know that there is more than one involved. Words such as Qaum, or Bani. You just know that the word is plural because they mean plural things or people. A similar concept in English is ‘collective noun’.These words are plural simply they mean that.
All these 3 categories are straight forward, there is not much to learn about them once you know how to identify them either by ending sounds or meaning that’s it. You good to go
This leaves with one more category to cover which is broken plural, If you understand broken plural then you mastered the concept of plural in the Quran.
4. Broken Plural
Some words when you change it from singular to plural the spelling and sounds does not change much. In English, you add an ‘s’ at the end of a word to show that it is plural. Yet they are singular words that you have to change the spelling and the sound to make it plural.
An example in English would be ‘child’ when it becomes plural you can’t simply add an ‘s’ to it (childs). A child would become children and a goose become geese, here is another example, man becomes men instead of mans.
Broken Plural Has Its Own Identity
You can think of broken plural as rebels that insist on its own identity, kind like Ertugrul the catalyst to the Utmaniah empire. They are called broken plural because you have to break its original sounds to make it plural. In Arabic normal plural can either be masculine or feminine. And you can identify them with ending sounds with the addition of oona & eena for masculine and aatun aatin if it is feminine. Broken plural are plural words that could not be detected by simply looking at the ending sounds.
Human Broken Plural
You can only tell a broken plural by knowing the vocabulary. This is one of the few instances where vocabulary takes priority when learn Quranic grammar. An example of broken plural is the word nabi or prophet. But when it becomes plural it becomes anbiya.or prophets in English. Another example is aalim or scholars when it plural or scholars it becomes ulamaa. There is not much issue other than Human broken plural insist on its own identity.
Non-Human Broken Plural
In the Quran, every word which is a noun is either feminine or masculine. When there is a non-living thing and it’s plural (Non-human broken plural), things becomes interesting. When there is non-human broken plural it shall be treated as singular feminine even if the object is plural in number. And it will be treated as feminine even if the noun is masculine. This gender-bender situation only happens when it comes to nonhuman broken plural.
Shahfizal Musa is the Founder and Managing Editor of Halalop. He graduated with a Law degree from Thames Valley University London. He is an award-winning journalist covering topics such as human trafficking, Muslim research discoveries, and exceptional Muslims.