While preparing for my upcoming seminar on the meaning of ṣalah, I came across something amazing that I wanted to share with everyone. A beautiful function of the Arabic language is Uslūb al-Taghlīb – that is when two different things are mentioned together frequently and associated with one another, one of the two mentioned entities takes on its dual form to represent both entities. One of the words literally takes over the other. A linguistic reason is usually the determining factor in deciding which word will dominate. Some popular examples of this occurrence are:
- قمران – which literally means 2 moons, but is representative of both sun and moon.
- عمران – literally means 2 ‘Umars, but is representative of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (ra)
- حسنان – literally means 2 Hasans, but represents both Hasan and Husain (ra)
Now we come to the 2 instances of this that I want to point out from the Qur’an; والدان and أبوان both of these words mean parents, however they’re different in their origins.
The word والدان comes from the root of ولد ‘to give birth’. So this is actually representative of the mother. The father is called والد figuratively.
أبوان is the dual form of the word أب which means father. So by extension both mother and father are referred to as أبوان
Both of these words have been used in the Qur’an for parents. The real lesson is where and how?
All the ayaat that speak about (أحسان او برّ او دعاء) good treatment, kindness, and making du’a for the parents mention the word والدان to show preference for the mother.
As in the Hadith, a man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and asked, “Who is most deserving of my good companionship?” The Prophet replied, “Your mother.”
The man then asked, “Who is next?” The Prophet replied, “Your mother.”
The man further inquired, “Who is next?” The Prophet once again said, “Your mother.”
The man asked for the fourth time, “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your father.”
So, when mentioning the good treatment of the parents, the Qur’an uses the word for ‘parents’ that is indicative of the mother over the father.
When mentioning the distribution of inheritance, the word أبوان which is indicative of the father is used, due to the father’s share being greater than the mother.
This is a small example of the beauty and precision of the Qur’an. May Allah grant us the ability to study and benefit from the Qur’an. It is also a strong reminder of the rights that our mothers have on us. Our mothers care so much for us, but we tend to forget everything they have and continue to do for us. May Allah bless all mothers and grant us the tawfiq to treat them with the kindness, and respect they deserve.