حول مفهوم الزمن في القرآن الكريم وفي العهد القديم: مدخل لغوي / The Concept of Time in the Quran and the Old estament : A Linguistic Approach


Mahmoud A. Azab



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عزب, محمود عبد السلام; Azab, Mahmoud A.

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Research Article

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Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[The Arabic term zaman has two senses: time and tense. The article addresses itself to both meanings. The Quran uses a number of terms to refer to time, principally ḥīn and dahr, but does not mention zaman. The article analyzes the uses of such terms by examining their frequency in the sacred text, their contextual significance and their grammatical specificity. The triliteral root z-m-n indicating time is cognate among the Semitic languages. The Quran does not use this root to express time, the Old Testament uses it very rarely (twice in the Book of Esther, once in the Book of Ecclesiastes and once in the Book of Nehemiah). The Old Testament favored other terms for indicating time, specifically ʿet which occurs repetitively in the Book of Ecclesiastes. However, the term zaman is more common in the Talmud, Ḥadīth (Prophetic sayings) and in the work of Arab lexicographers, showing that it is of a later diffusion. The term zaman came to be used by most Arab grammarians to define the verb. However, recent linguistic studies, confronted with the nature of the verb in the Uto-Aztecan languages, have questioned the validity of categorizing verbs in terms of tense and have come to see the verb as a predicative function, varying according to aspect. Such disassociation of verb and time has raised questions as to how time is indicated in the Semitic languages: in the independent grammatical form or in the contextual order; in morphology or in syntax? A close reading of Ibn Fāris, the Arab grammarian, shows that he was aware that the time of the event may not correspond to morphological form of the verb, thus a verb in the past tense may indicate present or future. He demonstrated his view by examples from the Quran. Driver has shown similar tendencies in the Hebraic verb by using examples from the book of Genesis. Other Semitic languages exhibit the same tendency. The article concludes that the Semitic verb points to aspect while tenses are defined by the context.]

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