How the horse got his name.

horseal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

The verb خالَ khaala has two different forms that also differ in pattern and meaning.

The first is the verb خال khaala (perfect tense) يَخُولُ yakhoolu (imperfect tense), خَولا khawlan (verbal noun), and it means ‘to do proficiently’ or ‘to perfect’. One may use it in the phrase خَوَّلَهُ اللهُ نِعمةً مِنْ عِنْدِهِ khawwalahu Allaahu ni3matan min 3indihi to mean ‘Allaah [proficiently] bestowed upon him blessings from Himself.’

This meaning also allows us to recognise the importance and status of the maternal uncle and aunt, and indeed our obligations as maternal aunts and uncles, who are called the خَالٌ khaal and the خالَةٌ khaalah because they are supposed to ‘take care proficiently’ of their family. And this may be one reason why the maternal aunt in Islam is afforded the status of the mother when the mother is absent.

Allaah used it in this way in the Qur’an,

وَتَرَكْتُم مَّا خَوَّلْنَاكُمْ وَرَاء ظُهُورِكُمْ

and you have left whatever We bestowed upon you behind you (al-An’aam, verse 94 )

The second form is the verb خالَ khaala (perfect tense) يَخالُ yakhaalu (imperfect tense) and it has two separate meanings. The first means ‘he came to possess much wealth’ including slaves, chattel and servants. The second meaning is ‘he supposed’ and it is one of the sisters of the verb طَنَّ dhanna.

Allaah also used the verb according to this meaning in the Qur’an, (Ta-Ha, verse 66),

فإذا حبالهم وعصيهم يخيل إليه من سحرهم أنها تسعى
And suddenly their ropes and staffs seemed to him from their magic that they were moving [like snakes]

and in Surah Luqman, verse 18,

إن الله لا يحب كل مختال فخور

Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.

Here, the word مًَُخْتال mukhtaal (which is the active participle from the verb اخْتالَ ikhtaala which is extremely closely related to the verb خالَ khaala) has been translated as self-deluded and as such is related to the first meaning of coming into possession of wealth, for too much of a good thing leads one to arrogance and feelings that they are self-sufficient.

Allaah also used a derivative of this word in (al-Nahl, verse 8 )

والخيل والبغال والحمير لتركبوها وزينة ويخلق ما لا تعلمون

And [He created] the horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and [as] adornment.

So what does a horse have to do with any of the meanings conveyed above? The same question was asked to Abu Hatim, one of the classical scholars of Arabic, but he was unable to answer. It was reported that a madman was walking by and heard the question, so he said, “I will tell you! The horse was called a خيل khayl due to the pride and arrogance (اختيال ikhtiyaal - the verbal noun from the verb اختال ikhtaala) it displays when it walks!” Upon which Abu Hatim said, “Note down this wise reply and pass on the knowledge, even if it is on the authority of a madman!”

A search in the dictionary al-Qamus al-Muhit shows that even al-Fayroozabadi wrote that the word خَيْل khayl means pride, arrogance, and vanity, so the madman’s reply could very well be how the horse got his name.

51 Responses to How the horse got his name.

  1. wow. masha’allah … too stunned for words, I am.

    jazakiyallahu khayran

  2. ِAssalamoalaikum Warahmatullah

    Just wanted to commend this blog, and thank the writer sincerely. *Jazakillah khairun*

    I do hope you will continue to write and share your knowledge with us, in shaa Allah.

    Fee amaanillah
    Wassalaam

  3. Beautiful!
    On the same theme of horses, do any of the other words to do with horses like hisan, farasat, furusiyah, rakib etc have any interesting connotations..?

    wa alaykum as-salam warahmatullah

  4. Salaam Dear Sister:

    Fascinating, as usual :) You have a gift for making language studies part of storytelling, which is indeed where language may have gained its breadth and scope :)

    Ya Haqq!

  5. As-salaamu’alaykum wa Rahmatu Llahi wa Barakatuhu my dearest sister,

    Masha’Allah..what a wonderful blog..and post! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Wa’alaykum as-salaam
    Love Farhana

  6. as-salâmu ‘alaykum

    Bâraka-Llâhu fîki

  7. What about Hisaan? How did that come around?

  8. Yes, what about hisân ? :)

  9. You’ve impressed me ! You’ve earned a difficult to earn spot on my blogroll!

  10. That was very interesting, jazakillah kheyr.

    Related to this, the hadith from sahih Bukhari:
    ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏عبد الله بن يوسف ‏ ‏أخبرنا ‏ ‏مالك ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏أبي الزناد ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏الأعرج ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏أبي هريرة ‏ ‏رضي الله عنه ‏
    ‏أن رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏قال ‏ ‏رأس الكفر نحو المشرق والفخر والخيلاء في أهل الخيل والإبل ‏ ‏والفدادين ‏ ‏أهل الوبر والسكينة في أهل الغنم ‏

  11. JazakAllahu Khayrun.

  12. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmat Allaahi wa barakaatuhu,

    Maverick, wa iyyaakum khayr al-jazaa’.

    Shaheda, Wa iyyaaki. I hope so too. When my net situation becomes more stable, I hope to be able to update more as well bi idhn Allaah.

    AbuIsmaeel, the beauty of studying etymology is that there are very few words indeed that do NOT have interesting connotations, whether related to horses or not!

    Irving, thank you for your generous comment. May Allaah put barakah in this project. Ameen.

    Farhana, you are welcome.

    al-Kanz, wa iyyaakum.

    al-Kanz and a, the root Haa’ Saad Noon, from which the word Hisaan comes, has connotations of preserving, sheltering and protecting something, thus the word also HiSn, which refers to a fort or citadel. So a horse was apparently given the name HiSaan because he stores water and energy. Wallaahu a3lam.

    ExEx Blogger, I’m sure that’s an honour. Thank you.

    ———, Wa iyyaakum. That was a beautiful hadith, thank you for sharing it.

    qisas.com, wa iyyaakum.

  13. Salam
    Are the words aql and aqd semantically related ?I think both means ‘to hold’ on to something

  14. And you say you liked me little poem. Ha! This site [and therefore the writer] is fabulous. High praise for Jawaahirul ‘Arabiyah.

    Salaams – “M”

  15. Ramadan Mubarak to you and your family :)

    Ya Haqq!

  16. jazakallahu khairan kathira ya akhi..
    akhuka fillah min maliziya..

    Mayb Allah Bless You.
    Visit my blog at http://www.penghunisahara.blogspot.com (but it is in Malay Language. :)

  17. mashallah, beautiful post

  18. Mash’Allah amazing site ob… had no idea you had done this… subhan’Allah, am so impressed.

    Missing you, keep in touch when you can xxx

  19. Nice web site… ma-sha-Allah tabaraka-Allah!!

  20. Wa ‘alaykum al-salaam wa rahmat Allah wa barakaatuhu,

    Marc, thank you. The poems on your site really are nice though.

    Irving, thank you :) and a belated ramadan mubarak to you and yours as well.

    sahrawi, wa iyyakum. My salams to the mountains of Gombak if you ever go past there…

    Muhammad and livinghalal, jazakum Allahu khayran.

    Nooji! Shukran laki habibti :) please feel free to help me out in my time of no net and write some posts to put on the site! Hope I can see you soon inshallah, try plan a trip to Qatar sometime. We can walk along the corniche and pretend its Alex not Doha :) .

  21. as-salâmu ‘alaykum

    Bâraka-Llâhu fîk for your anwser, but I don’t understand this part : HiSaan because he stores water and energy. ”

    “HiSaan stores water and energy” means that the horseman can “economize” water and energy during a travel ?

    ramadhan mubarak

  22. Eid Mubarak, dear Brother, to you and your family :) May the day be filled with love and joy!

    Ya Haqq!

  23. We’ve been visiting and benefiting from this site for a long time, but this is the first time we’re writing in.
    Just wantedto say a heartfelt jazaakillaahu khayran, maa shaa Allaah you must be an excellent teacher, …may Allaah put immense barakah in your time and efforts and enable you to continue sharing your knowledge with others.

  24. Thanks for sharing, interesting post !

  25. Can you please give us another post? Your site is amazing masha’Allah.

    JazakAllahu khair.

    Asalaamu alaikum

  26. Salaam alaikum. Jazak Allah for for doing this.
    I have been looking for something like this for a long time. Not every one has the time or the resources to go into such depth, so it becomes almost encumbent on those who have this blessing to share with as many people as possible.
    Jazak Allah.

  27. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu,

    I apologise to everyone for the delayed responses.

    Al-Kanz, in shaa’ Allaah yes.

    Irving, belated Eid Mubarak to you too brother. Jazakum Allaahu khayran.

    muslim-sisters, barakallaahu feekunna for your message and du’aa, ameen, wa iyyaakunna.

    Horseriding, you’re welcome.

    Faiez, I will try to keep them up in shaa’ Allaah.

    Samina, wa iyyaaki. Jazakum Allaahu khayran for the reminder. While time is also pressed for me these days, I will try to share more often in shaa’ Allaah. I also hope that my aim in posting will become realised by some of the readers – that they begin to learn Arabic for themselves so they can access such knowledge for themselves – as I feel that has a greater incumbency, and it is something every Muslim at the very least owes to their own soul.

  28. thanks for telling me these. it is really so complex.

  29. as-salâmu ‘alaykum,

    Dear Sister,

    Bâraka-Llâhu fîki for your answer

  30. door hinges, you’re welcome.

    Al-Kanz, wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam. Wa iyyaakum.

  31. ma sha Allah

  32. very beautiful! Mashallah.

    I love your website, I love Arabic but rarely do I find such informative and entertaining websites!

    Thanks a lot.

  33. Alhamdulillah… I have the new sister with this site. Your blog is very nice. Thanks for all your informations. I invite you to visit my blog, please

    Assalamu’alaykum

  34. To
    Brother/Sister in Islam!
    Aslam-o-Alaikum!
    Praise and Glory be to Allah Almighty, the Lord of the Worlds, the Sustainer of the whole universe.
    Hope you fine in peaceful moments of life. We have launched a project of Online Quran Teaching for the Muslim Families living all over the world particularly in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, European and Asian countries, like France and Germany, Italy, S. Africa, Netherland, New Zealand, etc.
    It happens often that people specially children of our families have not learnt recitation of Holy Quran with Tajweed (proper way of recitation) or even simple reading, sometimes they do not have time to go somewhere or cannot find a Quran Tutor in their locality. But with the new technology and advancements solutions have been made for this. Now sitting in your room, office or your children at home or any place in the world can read learn to read the Quran.
    We request you to pray and wish us for the success of this sacred task and to join us and start reading the Quran. May Allah help us all in performing our duties and give sense of due responsibility!
    So please send us your contact number and e-mail address, so that we contact you and inform you about our schedule in detail. Or you e-mail us at Family.Quran.Online@gmail.com, and add us in your Skype ID as “FamilyQuranOnline”. And visit our website “www.FamilyQuranOnline.com”
    We appreciate your acceptance.
    Kindly let me know if you have any queries, I will be glad to respond.
    Kind Regards,
    Director Academy
    Anwer Ali Khan Lodhi
    [Note:- Respected Brother/Sister! Forward this mail to your beloved kith and kin who want to learn the Quran, this is Sadqa-e-Jariya.]

  35. As-salaamu Alaykum;

    Masha’Allah..what a greatblog and post! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Wa’alaykum as-salaam

  36. Assalamou 3laykum!
    Great blog masha’Allah!

    Another point of view.
    See through the attributs of Allah.

    الخالق The Creator
    Who is more injust than the one who is puting himself in the place of The Creator?
    Kh+A+L+Q
    It seems that khal could be near the meaning of the attribut of Allah Ta3la.
    In studying each letters (hypothesis) I find that Kh+A+L+Q means:
    Kh = Creator
    A = The First
    L = Provide / from=>for
    Q = (universal) intelligence

    Now there is a clear distinction to make with الفَنيّ .
    My comment try to show that through the time and its various cultures, the meaning can be mix, losing the roots, mixing two distinct attitudes:
    “the pride sufficient of الفَنيّ” and “the usurper showing an appareance of Creator الخالق”.

    Allah is the All-Savant

  37. Masha’Allah..what a wonderful blog..and post! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  38. To
    Brother/Sister in Islam!
    Aslam-o-Alaikum!
    Praise and Glory be to Allah Almighty, the Lord of the Worlds, the Sustainer of the whole universe.
    Hope you fine in peaceful moments of life. We have launched a project of Online Quran Teaching for the Muslim Families living all over the world particularly in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, European and Asian countries, like France and Germany, Italy, S. Africa, Netherland, New Zealand, etc.
    It happens often that people specially children of our families have not learnt recitation of Holy Quran with Tajweed (proper way of recitation) or even simple reading, sometimes they do not have time to go somewhere or cannot find a Quran Tutor in their locality. But with the new technology and advancements solutions have been made for this. Now sitting in your room, office or your children at home or any place in the world can read learn to read the Quran.
    We request you to pray and wish us for the success of this sacred task and to join us and start reading the Quran. May Allah help us all in performing our duties and give sense of due responsibility!
    So please send us your contact number and e-mail address, so that we contact you and inform you about our schedule in detail. Or you e-mail us at register@iqscholars.com, and add us in your Skype ID as “iQScholars”. And visit our website “www.iqscholars.com”
    We appreciate your acceptance.
    Kindly let me know if you have any queries, I will be glad to respond.
    Kind Regards,
    Institute of Quran Scholars
    [Note:- Respected Brother/Sister! Forward this mail to your beloved kith and kin who want to learn the Quran, this is Sadqa-e-Jariya.]

  39. Content from this post of yours was used here:

    http://ghurabah.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/a-horse-of-red-rubies/

    Very nice blog. Insh’Allah you will return to it at a later date.

  40. wow…thanks! thats awesome

  41. Thanks for another fantastic post. Where else could anyone get that type of information in such a perfect way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such info.

  42. Masha Allah ,
    can you comment on the Ne’mat and Naeem in Quran e kareem , their difference in meanings?
    and Ammatunn meaning , Aunt on father’s side and Khaalatunn, an aunt on mother’s side
    what are their husbands called ?
    Ma’s Saalaam
    Saadullah

  43. Saadullah Husami

    Salaams
    Regarding your blog of july2007
    As i have understood up till today , and musta’mal in our house hold too .
    1.Ammun is paternal Uncle and the wife of Ammun is Zaujatul Amm
    Ammatunn is paternal aunt and the husband of ammatunn is Zaujul amma
    2.Khaalunn خَالٌ is maternal uncle and his wife is called zaujatul Khaal
    Khaalatunn خالَةٌ is maternal Aunt and and her husband is called Zauj ul Khaala.
    likewise Jaddun min abb or Jaddatun min abb , wa jaddun or jaddatun min umm .
    please ponder and explain whether i am right .
    We are Arabs but live in India since 400 years ,and are almost localised , with most of us, the younger lot , not even knowing arabic language properly .
    Ma’s Salaam
    Saadullah

  44. bestelkado-gadgethouse-1

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  45. Masha’Allah..what a wonderful blog..and post! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  46. Assalamou 3laykum!
    Great blog masha’Allah!

  47. كل عام وانتم بالف خير

  48. Pingback: How the horse got his name. (via Arabic Gems ~ جواهر العربية) | quran reciter blog

  49. Pingback: How the horse got his name. | ServisTech

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