Classical Arabic - English Dictionary

by Edward William Lane (1801-1876)

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ام اما امت


أَمَا, used to denote an interrogation, is a compound of the interrogative hemzeh and the negative مَا: (M:) it is a mere interrogative [respecting a negative, like أَلَا]; as in the saying, أَمَا تَسْتَحْيِى مِنَ ٱللّٰهِ [Art not thou ashamed for thyself, or of thyself, with respect to God?]. (Lth, T.)

Root: اما - Entry: أَمَا Signification: A2

[IHsh says, after explaining two other usages of أَمَا which we have yet to mention,] El-Málakee adds a third meaning of أَمَا, saying that it is a particle denoting عَرْضٌ [or the asking, or requiring, a thing in a gentle manner], like [أَلَا (q. v.) and] لَوْلَا; and is connected peculiarly with a verb; as in أَمَا تَقُومُ [Wherefore wilt not thou do stand?], and أَمَا تَفْعَلُ [Wherefore wilt not thou do such a thing?]; which may be explained by saying that the hemzeh is used as an interrogative to make one confess, or acknowledge, a thing, as it is in أَلَمْ and أَلَا, and that مَا is a negative. (Mughnee.)

Root: اما - Entry: أَمَا Signification: A3

It is also an inceptive word, used in the manner of أَلَا: (M:) followed by أَلَا, it is syn. with أَلَا: (Ṣ:) [meaning Now: or now surely: or] both of these meaning verily, or truly; i. c. حَقًّا: and for this reason Sb allows one's saying, أَمَا إنَّه مُنْطَلقٌ and أَمَا أَنَّهُ مُنْطَلقٌ [Verily, or truly, he is going away]; with kesr after the manner of أَلَا إِنَّهُ, and with fet-ḥ after the manner of حَقًّا أَنَّهُ: and هَمَا وَٱللّٰهِ لَقَدْ كَانَ كَذَا is mentioned as meaning أَمَا وَٱللّٰهِ [&c., i. e. Verily, or truly, by God, such a thing did indeed happen]; the ه being a substitute for the hemzeh: (M:) so too حَمَى وٱللّٰه [or حَمَا وٱللّٰه]: (Ṣgh and Ḳ in art. حمى:) it denotes the truth of the words which follow it; as when you say, أَمَا إِنَّ زَيْدًا عَاقِلٌ, meaning Truly, or properly speaking, not tropically, Zeyd is intelligent; and أَمَّا و ٱللّٰه قَد ضَرَبَ زَيْدٌ عَمْرًا [Truly,, &c., by God, Zeyd beat, or struck, Amr]: (Ṣ in art. امو:) [in other words,] it corroborates an oath and a sentence; as in أَمَا وَٱللّٰه لَئِنْ سْهَرْتُ لَكَ لَيْلَةً لَأَ دَعَنَّكَ نَادِمًا [Verily, or now surely, by God, if I remain awake for thee a night, then will I indeed leave thee repenting]; and أَمَا لَو عَلِمْتُ مَكَانَكَ لَأَزْعَجْتُكَ مِنْهُ [Verily, or now surely, if I had known thy place of being, then had I unsettled thee, or removed thee, from it]; and أَمَا إِنَّهُ لَرَجُلٌ كَرِيمٌ [Verily, or now surely, he is (emphatically) a generous man]: (T:) or it is an inceptive particle, used in the manner of أَلَا; [meaning now: or now surely:] (Mughnee:) or a particle used to give notice of what is about to be said: only put before a proposition [as in exs. mentioned above]: (TA:) and often occurring before an oath [as in exs. mentioned above]: and sometimes its hemzeh is changed into ه or ع, before the oath; each with the ا remaining; [written هَمَا or عَمَا;] and with the ا elided; [written هَمَ or عَمَ;] or with the ا elided, but without the substitution; [written أَمَ;] and when انَّ occurs after أَمَا, it is with kesr, as it is after أَلَا: and it also means حَقًّا [verily, or truly]: or أَحقًّا [verily? or truly?]: accord. to different opinions: and in this case, انَّ after it is with fet-ḥ, as it is after حَقَّا: accord. to Ibn-Kharoof, this is a particle: but some say that it is a noun in the sense of حَقًّا: and others, that it consists of two words, namely, the interrogative hemzeh and مَا as a noun in the sense of شَىْءٌ; i. e. أَذالِكَ الشَّىْءُ حَقٌّ [is that thing ture?]; so that the meaning is أَحَقًّا: [if so, أَمَا أَنَّه مُنْطَلقٌ means Verily, or truly, is he going away?] and this, which is what Sb says, is the correct opinion: مَا is virtually in the accus. case, as an adverbial noun, like as حَقًّا is literally: and أَنَّ with its complement is an inchoative, of which the adverbial noun is the enunciative: but Mbr says that حَقًّا is the inf. n. of يَحِقُّ, which is suppressed, and that أنَّ with its complement is an agent. (Mughnee.)


أَمَّا is a conditional and partitive and corroborative particle; and is sometimes written أَيْمَا, by the change of the first م into ى. (Mughnee, Ḳ.)

Root: اما - Entry: أَمَّا Signification: A2

It is used as a conditional particle in the words of the Ḳur [ii.24], فأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ مَا ذَا أَرَادَ ٱللّٰهُ بِهذَا مَثَلاً [For as for those who have believed, they know that it is the truth from their Lord; but as for those who have disbelieved, they say, What is it that God meaneth by this as a parable?]. (Mughnee,* Ḳ,* TA.) That it denotes a condition is shown by the necessary occurrence of ف after it; for if this ف were a conjunction, it would not be prefixed to the enunciative; and if it were redundant, it might be dispensed with; but it may not be dispensed with except in a case of necessity in poetry or in a case of an ellipsis.

Root: اما - Entry: أَمَّا Signification: A3

In most cases, (Mughnee, Ḳ,) it is used as a partitive, (Ṣ, Mughnee, Ḳ,) implying the meaning of a condition; (Ṣ; [in which it is mentioned with أَمَا;]) and thus it is used in the passage of the Ḳur cited above; (Mughnee;) and in the following exs. [in the Ḳur xviii. 78 and 79 and 81], أَمَّا السَّفِينَةُ فَكَانَتْ لِمَسَاكِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ فِى البَحْرِ and وَأَمَا الْغُلَامُ فَكَانَ أَبَوَاهُ مُؤْمِنِينَ and وأَمَّا الْجِدَارُ فَكَانَ لِغلَامَينِ يَتَيمَيْنِ [As for the ship, it belonged to poor men who worked on the sea … and as for the boy, his two parents were believers … and as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys]. (Mughnee,* Ḳ,* TA.) [It is a partitive also in the phrase أَمَّا بَعْدُ, which see in art. بعد.]

Root: اما - Entry: أَمَّا Signification: A4

Few have mentioned its use as a corroborative: (Mughnee:) it is thus used in the phrase أَمَّا زَيْدٌ فَذَاهِبٌ [Whatever be the case, or happen what will or what may, or at all events, Zeyd is going away], when you mean that Zeyd is inevitably going away, and determined, or decided, upon doing so: (Z cited in the Mughnee, and Ḳ:) therefore Sb explains it as meaning, in this case, مَهْمَا يَكُنْ مِنْ شَىْءٍ [whatever be the case,, &c., as above, or, in some instances, happen what would or what might]; thereby showing it to be a corroborative, and to have a conditional meaning: (Z cited in the Mughnee: [and the same explanation of it is given, with a similar ex., in the Ṣ, in art. امو:]) the فَ, in this case, is transferred from its proper place before the inchoative, and put before the enunciative. (I'AK p. 306.) Ks says that أَمَّا is used in commanding and forbidding and announcing: you say, أَمَّا ٱللّٰهَ فَاعْبُدْ [Whatever be the case, or happen what will,, &c., God worship thou]: and أَمَّا الخَمْرَ فَلَا تَشْرَبْهَا [i. e. أَمَّا الخَمْرَ فَلَا تَشْرَبْهَا (as is shown in the case of a similar ex. in the Mughnee, though you may say أَمَّا الخَمْرُ فَلَا تَشْرَبْهَا, without an ellipsis, like as you say أمَّا ثَمُودُ فَهَدَيْنَاهُمْ as well as أَمَّا ثَمُودَ, in the Ḳur xli. 16, accord. to different readers,) Whatever be the case,, &c., wine (drink not), drink not thou it]: and أَمَّا زَيْدٌ فَخَرَجَ [Whatever be the case,, &c., with respect to other things, Zeyd has gone forth; or whatever be the case with respect to others, as for Zeyd, he has gone forth]: whereas إِمَّا [which see in the next paragraph] is used in expressing a condition and in expressing doubt and in giving option and in taking option. (T.)

Root: اما - Entry: أَمَّا Signification: A5

[IHsh says that in his opinion,] in the phrase أَمَّا العَبِيدَ فَذُو عَبِيدٍ, thus heard, with العبيد in the accus. case, the meaning is, مَهَما ذَكَرْتَ [&c., i. e. Whenever thou mentionest the slaves, he is a possessor of slaves: but I would rather say that the meaning is, أَمَّا ذِكْرُكَ العَبِيدَ, &c., i. e. as for thy mentioning the slaves,, &c.]: and so in similar phrases which have been heard. (Mughnee.)

Root: اما - Entry: أَمَّا Dissociation: B

Distinct from the foregoing is أَمَّا in the saying in the Ḳur [xxvii. 86], أَمَّا ذاكُنْتُمْ تَعمَلُونَ [Or rather, what is it that ye were doing?]: for here it is a compound of the unconnected أَمْ and the interrogative مَا (Mughnee.)

Root: اما - Entry: أَمَّا Dissociation: C

So too in the saying of the poet,

* أَبَا خُرَاشَةَ أَمَّا أَنْتَ ذَا نَسفَرٍ *
* فَإنَّ قُوْمِىَ لَمْ تَأكُلْهُمُ الضَّبُعُ *

[O Aboo-Khurásheh, because thou wast possessor of a number of men dost thou boast? Verily, my people, the year of dearth, or of sterility, hath not consumed them]: for here it is a compound of the أَنْ termed مَصُدَرِيَّة [which combines with a verb following it to form an equivalent to an inf. n.] and the redundant مَا: أَمَّا أَنْتَ is for لِأَنْ كُنْتَ; the preposition and the verb are suppressed for the sake of abridgment, so that the pronoun [تَ in كُنْتَ] becomes separate; and مَا is substituted for the verb [thus deprived of its affixed pronoun], and the ن [of ان] is incorporated into the م [of ما]. (Mughnee.) [See another reading of this verse voce إِمَّا; and there also, immediately after, another ex. (accord. to the Mughnee) of أَمَّا used in the manner explained above. See also أَنْ as a conditional particle, like إِنْ.]

Root: اما - Entry: أَمَّا Dissociation: D

Also i. q. إِمَّا, q. v. (Mughnee, Ḳ.)


إِمَّا is sometimes written أَمَّا, and sometimes its first م is changed into ى, [forming أَيْمَا or إِيْمَا or both, as will be shown below,] (Mughnee, [in my copy of which it is written أَيْمَا, and so in some copies of the Ḳ,] and Ḳ, [in some copies of which it is written إيمَا,]) and it is held by Sb to be a compound of إِنْ and مَا, (Mughnee,) or as denoting the complement of a condition it is a compound of إِنْ and مَا. (M, Ḳ.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: A2

It denotes doubt; (Ks, T, Mughnee, Ḳ;) as in مَا أَدْرِى مَنْ قَامَ إِمَّا زَيْدٌ وَإِمَّا عَمْرٌو [I know not who stood: either Zeyd or ʼAmr]: (Ks, T:) and جَآءَنِى إِمَّا زَيْدٌ وَإِمَّا عَمْرٌو [There came to me either Zeyd or ʼAmr], said when one knows not which of them came. (Mughnee, Ḳ.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: A3

It also denotes vagueness of meaning; as in [the Ḳur ix. 107,] إِمَّا يُعَذِّبُهُم وأمَّا يَتُوبُ عَلَيْهِمْ [Either He will punish them or He will turn unto them with forgiveness]. (Mughnee, Ḳ.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: A4

It also denotes giving option; as in [the Ḳur xviii. 85,] إِمَّا أَن تُعَذِّبَ وإِمَّا أَنْ تَتَّخِذَ فِيِهِمْ حُسْناً [Either do thou punish, or do thou what is good to them]. (Mughnee, Ḳ.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: A5

It also denotes the making a thing allowable; as in تَعَلَّمْ إِمَّا فِقْهًا وإِمَّا نَحْوًا [Learn thou either low or syntax; (an ex. given in the T, on the authority of Ks, as an instance of the usage of إِمَّا to denote giving option;)] but its use with this intent is disputed by some, (Mughnee, Ḳ,) while they assert it of أَوْ. (Mughnee.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: A6

It is also used as a partitive; as in [the Ḳur lxxvi. 3,] إمَّا شَاكِراً و إمَّا كَفُورًا [Either, or whether, being thankful or being unthankful]; (Mughnee, Ḳ;) the two epithets being here in the accus. case as denotatives of state: or, accord. to the Koofees, إمَّا may be here [a compound of] the conditional إِنْ and the redundant مَا; كَانَ, accord. to Ibn-EshShejeree, being understood after it: (Mughnee:) and Fr says that the meaning is, إِنْ شَكَرَ وَإِنْ كَفَرَ [if he be thankful and if he be unthankful]. (T.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: A7

It also denotes taking option; as in the saying, لِى دَارٌ بِالكُوفَةِ فَأنَا خَارِجٌ إلَيْهَا فَإمَّا أَنْ أَسْكُنَهَا وإِمَّا أَنْ أَبِيعَهَا [I have a house in El-Koofeh, and I am going forth to it, and either I will inhabit it or I will sell it: but this is similar to the usage first mentioned above]. (Ks, T.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: A8

It is a conjunction, (Ṣ in art. امو, and Mughnee,) accord. to most authorities, i. e., the second إِمَّا in the like of the saying, جَاءَنِى إمَّا زَيْدٌ وإِمَّا عَمْرٌو [mentioned above]; (Mughnee;) used in the manner of أَوْ in all its cases except this one, that in the use of او you begin with assurance, and then doubt comes upon you; whereas you begin with إِمَّا in doubt, and must repeat it; as in the saying last mentioned: (Ṣ: [and the like is said in the Mughnee, after the explanations of the meanings:]) but some assert that it is like the first إِمَّا, not a conjunction; because it is generally preceded by the conjunction و: and some assert that إِمَّا conjoins the noun with the noun, and the و conjoins إِمَّا with إِمَّا; but the conjoining of a particle with a particle is strange. (Mughnee.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: A9

Sometimes the و is suppressed; as in the following verse, (Mughnee,) of El-Ahwas; (Ṣ;)

* يَا لَيْتَمَا أُمُّنِا شَالَتْ نَعَامَتُهَا *
* أَيْمَا إِلَى جَنَّةٍ أَيْمَا إِلَى نَارِ *

[O, would that our mother took her departure, either to Paradise or Hell-fire!]; (Ṣ,* Mughnee, Ḳ;) cited by Ks, with ايما for إِمَّا: (T:) and sometimes it is with kesr [i. e. إِيمَا]: (Ṣ:) IB says that it is correctly إِمَّا, with kesr; asserting the original to be إِمَّا, with kesr, only. (TA.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: A10

And sometimes the former مَا is dispensed with; as in the following verse, (Mughnee,) which shows also that مَا is sometimes suppressed;

* سَقَتْهُ ارَّوَاعِدُ مِنْ صَيِّفٍ *
* وَإِنْ مِنْ خَرِيفٍ فَلَنْ يَعْدَمَا *

[The thundering clouds of summer-rain watered him, or of autumn-rain; so he will not want sufficient drink]: i. e. إِمَّا مِنْ صَيِّفٍ وَإِمَّا مِنْ خَرِيفٍ. (Mughnee, Ḳ.) Mbr and Aṣ say that إِنْ is here conditional, and that the ف is its complement: but this assertion is of no weight; for the object is the description of a mountain-goat as having sufficient drink in every case: AO says that إِنْ in this verse is redundant. (Mughnee.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: A11

Sometimes, also, one does not require to mention the second إِمَّا, by mentioning what supplies its place; as in the saying, إِمَّا أَنْ تَتَكَلَّمَ بِخَيْرٍ وَإِلَّا فاسْكُتْ [Either do thou speak what is good or else be silent]. (Mughnee.) [See art. الا, near its end.]

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Dissociation: B

Distinct from the foregoing is إِمَّا in the saying in the Ḳur [xix. 26], فَإِمَّأِتَريِنَّ مِنَ الْبَشَرِ أَحَدًاِ [And if thou see, of mankind, any one]: for this is [a compound of] the conditional إِن and the redundant مَا. (Ṣ* in art. امو, and Mughnee.) [In like manner,] you say, in expressing a condition, إِمَّا تَشْتِمَنَّ زْيدًا فَإِنَّهُ يَحْلُمُ عَنْكَ [If thou revile Zeyd, he will treat thee with forbearance]. (Ks, T.) And إِمَّا تَأْتِنِى أُكْرِمْكَ [If thou come to me, I will treat thee with honour]. (Ṣ.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: B2

In the following saying, إِمَّا أَنْتَ مُنْطَلِقًا انْطَلَقْتُ [If thou be going away, I go away], the مَا is not that which restrains the particle to which it is subjoined from governing, but is a substitute for a verb; (Ḳ and TA in art. مَا;) as though the speaker said, إِذَا صِرْتَ مُنْطَلِقًا [or rather إِنْ صِرْتَ]. (TA in that art.) And hence the saying of the poet, [of which a reading different from that here following has been given voce أَمَّا,]

* أَبَا خُرَاشَةَ إِمَّا أَنْتَ ذَا نَسفَرٍ *
* فَإنَّ قَوْمِىَ لَمْ تَإْكُلْهُمُ الضَّبُغُ *

[O Aboo-Khurásheh, if thou be possessor of a number of men, verily, my people, the year of dearth, or of sterility, hath not consumed them]; as though he said, إِنْ كُنْتُ ذَا نَفَرٍ. (TA in that art.) [But IHsh states the case differently; saying,] An instance of أَمَّا أَنْتَ مُنطَلِقًا انْطَلَقْتُ not used to restrain from governing, but as a substitute for a verb, occurs in the saying, أَمَّا أَنْتَ مُنطَلِقًا اِنْطَلَقْتُ [Because thou wast going away, I went away]; originally, اِنْطَلَقْتُ لِأَنْ كُنْتَ مُنطَلِقاً: [for an explanation of which, see what is said of أَمَّا أَنْتَ in a reading of the verse commencing with أَبَا خُرَاشَة voce أَمَّا:] but accord. to El-Fárisee and IJ, the government belongs to مَا; not to كَانَ [or كُنْتَ]. (Mughnee in art. مَا.)

Root: اما - Entry: إِمَّا Signification: B3

So too in the saying, اِفْعَلْ هذَا إِمَّالَا, meaning إِنْ كُنْتَ لَاتَفْعَلُ غَيْرَهُ [i. e. Do thou this if thou wilt not do another thing; or do thou this at least]; (Mughnee and Ḳ, each in art. مَا;) indicating a person's refusal to do [fully] that which he is ordered to do: (TA in that art.:) or إِمَّالَا فَافْعَلْ كَذَا, meaning if thou wilt not do that, then do thou this; the three particles [إِنْ and مَا and لَا] being made as one word: so says Lth: (T:) [J says,] إِمَّالَا فَافْعَلْ كَذَا is pronounced with imáleh, [i. e. “immá-lè,”] and is originally إِن لَا with مَا as a connective; and the meaning is, if that thing will not be, then do thou thus: (Ṣ in art. لَا:) [but] AḤát [disallows this pronunciation, and] says, sometimes the vulgar, in the place of اِفْعَلْ ذٰلِكَ إِمَّالَا, say, اِفْعَلْ ذٰلِكَ بَارِى [Do thou that at least]; but this is Persian, and is rejected as wrong: and they say also, أُمَّالَىْ, with damm to the ا [and with imáleh in the case of the final vowel, and thus it is vulgarly pronounced in the present day]; but this too is wrong; for it is correctly إِمَّالَا, [with kesr, and] not pronounced with imáleh, for particles [in general] are not thus pronounced: (T:) and the vulgar also convert the hemzeh into ه with damm [saying هُمَّالَىْ]. (TA in art. مَا.) [Fei says,] لَا is a substitute for the verb in the saying, إِمَّالَا فَافْعَلْ هٰذَا, the meaning being If thou do not that, then [at least] do thou this: the origin thereof is this; that certain things are incumbent on a man to do, and he is required to do them, but refuses; and then one is content with his doing some, or a part, of them, and says to him thus: i. e., if thou wilt not do all, then do thou this: then the verb is suppressed, on account of the frequency of the usage of the phrase, and مَا is added to give force to the meaning: and some say that it is for this reason that لَا is here pronounced with imáleh; because it serves for the verb; like as بَلَى is, and the vocative يَا: but it is said that it is correctly pronounced without imáleh; because particles [in general] are not pronounced therewith; as Az says. (Mṣb in art. لَا.) [El-Ḥareeree says that] إِمَّالَا is properly [a compound of] three particles, which are إِنْ and مَا and لَا, made as one word, and the ا at the end thereof is like the ا of حُبَارَى [in which it is written ى, agreeably with rule]; wherefore it is pronounced with imáleh, like as is the ا of this latter word. (Durrat el-Ghowwáṣ, in De Sacy's Anthol. Gr. Ar. p. 57 of the Arabic text.) In the Lubáb it is said that لَا is used as a negative of the future, as in لا تَفْعَلْ; and the verb [in إِمَّالَا] is suppressed; so it [لا] serves as a substitute in the saying, اِفْعَلْ هٰذَا إِمَّالَا; therefore they pronounce its ا with imáleh: and IAth says that the Arabs sometimes pronounced لَا with a slight imáleh; and the vulgar make the imáleh thereof full, so that its ا becomes ى; but this is wrong. (TA.) You say also, خُذْ هٰذَا إِمَّالَا, meaning Take thou this if thou take not that. (T.) It is related that the Prophet saw a runaway camel, and said, “To whom belongeth this camel?” when, lo, some young men of the Ansár said, “We have drawn water upon him during twenty years, and yet he has in him fat; so we desired to slaughter him; but he escaped from us.” He said, “Will ye sell him?” They answered, “No: but he is thine.” And he said, إِمَّالَا فأَحْسِنُوا إِلَيْهِ حَتَّى يأْتِيَهُ أَجَلُهُ, meaning If ye will not sell him, act well to him until his term of life come to him. (T.)

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