Like a crumbled mountain.

al-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

Many languages of the world contain words that reflect certain concepts that are hard to capture by a single word in any other language. One example is the word ‘ilunga‘ in the Tshiluba language, which means ‘a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.’ Such words in a language can help us to understand the ideology and culture of its people, and offer insight into their principles and values.

There are many such words in Arabic, especially when it comes to religiously-orientated terms related to subtle inner emotions. One such example is the word khushoo’ خشوع. It is normally translated in English Islamic literature as ‘submission’ or ‘humlity’, while the English meaning of ‘submission’, for example, is closer to the Arabic istislaam استسلام. The true meaning of khushoo’ is closer to “a state of total humility to the extent of becoming motionless, silent, fearful and subservient. For the Muslim, it carries the sentiments of emotional appreciation of the greatness of Allah, mixed with love, submission and fear.” [*] Taaj al-’Aroos speaks about the word khaashi’ (the active participle) as referring to a herb that has dried up and fallen on the ground; or a wall that has cracked, and so falls then becomes even with the ground.

Deep knowledge of the precise meanings and connotations of such words is vital to the life of the Muslim. For example, Allaah describes the true believers in the beginning of Surah al-Mu’minoon, one characteristic of whom is,

الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ

translated as, “Those who offer their prayers with all solemnity and full submissiveness.”

But for the Muslim to take this as their aim in their prayer would be falling behind the mark, because they would not taste the full meaning of how they should be during salaah.

Yet Allaah even gives hints in the Qur’an as to how this should be, by using the same word He used to describe the believers in their prayer, to describe the state of how a mountain would be had it borne the weight of the Qur’an,

لَوْ أَنزَلْنَا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَى جَبَلٍ لَّرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعاً مُّتَصَدِّعاً مِّنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ وَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

Had We sent down this Quran on a mountain, you would surely have seen it humbling itself and rending asunder by the fear of Allah. Such are the parables which We put forward to mankind that they may reflect. (al-Hashr, 21)

Such is the wonder of Allah’s parables, that even though the words used in their translation do not reflect the full depth of meaning of the original word, yet the parable itself connotes the deeper meaning…that the example of the successful believer, when he stands before Allaah in his prayer, is like that of a crumbled mountain.

[*] Taken from Contemplation: An Islamic Pyschospiritual study by Dr. Malik Badri

16 Responses to Like a crumbled mountain.

  1. Yaser Al-Hotaki

    Beautiful Definition.

  2. Salamu’alaikum wa rahmatallah.

    Jazakamullahu khairan

    ma’assalam

  3. I was reading yesterday about the difference between the words khawf and khashyah: khashyah is the fear that is felt because of the greatness of the thing that is feared, while khawf is the fear that is felt because of the weakness of the one who is afraid. So the exmaple given was that a 3 year old boy is scared of a 6 year old boy, despite the fact that the 6 year old boy is not something to be scared about, but because he is small, he is scared of him. So to have khashyah of Allah azza wa jall, is greater than just khawf (which is more general), because to have that, you must have an understanding and knowledge of His greateness and power, and that is why He says, azza wa jall, إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاء . (This was in explanation of the saying of imam Ahmad rahimahullah that أصل العلم خشية الله )

    Also, last week I went to talk by some reverts, and one brother was saying that while in his heart he was happy with Islam (after living in Fez for a year), for some time he couldn’t convince his mind that it was the right thing and one of the major points that led him to accept Islam was the Arabic language (he was studying arabic), he was amazed that by simply looking into a dictionary you could see the way a whole nation thought (he used the eg. of the word khalafa). And when he read the Qur’an, he realised that is absolutely infallible and Allah azza wa jall could’ve only chosen this language to give His message.

  4. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmat Allaah,

    Wa iyyaakum.

    ——, Jazaakum Allaahu khayran for that. There is also an article by Ibn al-Qayyim that has been translated, and deals with the different levels of fear in Arabic. For those who are interested, it can be read here: http://www.sunnahonline.com/ilm/purification/0076.htm.


    It is true that knowledge of Arabic can make significant differences in the levels of a person’s certainty of the truth of Islam and eemaan, for it is the lens by which we can see the present-day miracle of the Qur’an. Without learning or trying to learn Arabic, it is like we are suggesting to Allaah that even though He has blessed us with this miracle that we handle hands on [when we pray for eg] in our every day lives, we are so self-sufficient that we do not need to see the miracle and we would rather not go to the effort of opening our eyes. Wa al-’iyaadhu billaah.

  5. Salamu’alaikum wa rahmatallah.

    Akhi al-kareem, do we have permission to reproduce your blog posts elsewhere, online?

    jazakamullahu khairan,
    wassalam

  6. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmat Allaah,

    You may by all means, but I will borrow this from islam-qa.com:

    Permission is granted to all to take material from this site, subject to the following two conditions:

    (1) Material used must be attributed to http://arabicgems.wordpress.com

    (2) Material must be reproduced faithfully and without alteration or omission.

    Wa iyyaakum khayr al-jazaa’.

  7. asslamu alikum,

    I simply love this blog SubhanAllah…may Allah reward you (who ever you are how many you are!) ameen.

  8. Asalaam alaikum,
    Maybe it would be a good idea to suggest books and/or courses that one can do for self-study. They can be added to the links section.
    wasalaam,
    Arshad

  9. Assalaamu Alaikum,

    “yet the parable itself connotes the deeper meaning…that the example of the successful believer, when he stands before Allaah in his prayer, is like that of a crumbled mountain.”

    Beautiful, sub7aanallaah. Jazaakumullaahu khairan, and we ask Allaah ta’aalaa to make us among al-khaashi’een. Ameen.

    Wassalaamu Alaikum

  10. wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    Wa iyyaakum.

  11. As Salaam Alaykum,

    Very beneficial Blog… keep up the good work! and more importatntly with Ikhlaas.

  12. May Allah give barakah in this…

  13. Wa ‘alaym al-Salaam,

    Jazakum Allaahu khayran, and Ameen to the du’a.

  14. alamu’alaikum wa rahmatallah

    very nice blog…

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