The Particle of ila’/إلى (Reflecting on the Qur’an Series)

After embarking upon the study of the Arabic language, you will soon discover how fascinating and complex the language is, where one word can have numerous meanings. The knowledge and understanding of the language is of great importance, especially when studying the Qur’an.  

One example of this is the particle ila (إلى) which is a governing agent known as a preposition. Ila’ is normally translated as ‘to’ however this particle can have various connotations, the most common (to) being reference to a terminal destination.  

In the verse regarding ablution in the Holy Qur’an, Allah commands the believers: “…wash your faces and your hands up to (and including) the elbows…” [Surah al-Ma’idah 5:6].  

فَاغۡسِلُوۡا وُجُوۡهَكُمۡ وَاَيۡدِيَكُمۡ اِلَى الۡمَرَافِقِ 

This is an example of the usage of ilawhere that which is after ila is actually included in the ruling of that which is before it, providing that both are of the same genus or category. Hence why during ablution we include the elbows when washing our forearms as they are considered from the same category. 

There is another usage of ila where that which is after ila is not included in the ruling of that which is before it if they are not of the same genus or category. An example of this is one of the verses in the Qur’an regarding fasting where Allah says, “…Then observe the fast until the night sets in…” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:187].  

ثُمَّ اَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ اِلَى الَّيۡلِ 

Here, the usage of ila is different from that of the previous verse as ‘the night’ is not of the same category as that of ‘the fast’. Hence why we fast up to the night and not including the night. 

This is just a drop in the ocean of how much knowledge and research there is within this vast subject and signifies the importance of studying the Arabic language if you wish to access the traditional sciences. 

Tahir Hussain (Year 5 & Arabic Accelerated Tutor)


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