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Qur’an vs Kitaab

October 29, 2008

Bismillah, walhamdulillah.

The two most common names for the Book of Allah are: Qur’an and Kitaab.

We learn when studying the Qur’an that even the words chosen are a revelation from Allah with divine wisdom. So, in that case, what do these two names mean and what is the difference between them?

The word ‘Qur’an’ is said to be from two roots, one of them qaaf-ra-hamza (who can tell me the other root? post in the comments!), this root qara’a means to recite. So Qur’an would be: the Recital.

On the other hand, the word ‘Kitaab’ is from kaaf-ta-ba which means something that is written.

If we look in the Qur’an, we see that Allah ta’ala uses different words to point to it:

ذَ‌ٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ

That is the book! (2:2)

إِنَّ هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ

Indeed this Qur’an. (27:76)

Why does Allah azza wa jal use ‘thaalika’ for Kitaab and ‘haatha’ for Qur’an?

Thaalika is a word that is used to point to something far. The meaning of kitaab again is something WRITTEN, and the Kitaab’s ultimate written location is Lawh al Mahfoodh (The Preserved Tablet) with Allah ta’ala, so Allah ta’ala uses thaalika to point to it because it is with Him above the seven heavens.

Haatha is used to point to something that is close. The meaning of Qur’an is something that is recited, the recitation is taking place HERE, so Allah ta’ala uses a closer pointing word.

How about this ayah?

وَهَذَا كِتَابٌ

and this is a Book. (6:92) Allah ta’ala uses haatha (the close pointing word) for Kitaab. What’s the connection?

At the time of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, the Qur’an was not written as a book that we have nowadays…but of course Allah azza wa jal KNEW it would be in a book form one day, so He azza wa jal said: this book, pointing to it as if it was close.

But to keep the rank and status of the Qur’an, and to dispel any doubts that it was written by a man, Allah ta’ala says right after:

وَهَذَا كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ

And this is a Book, We have sent it down. (6:92)


3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2008 2:04 pm

    As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa Rahmat Allah Amatullah,

    Is “qaf-ra-hamza” the same as qaaf ra alif with a hamza on top? (I learned “hamza” to be a hamza on the line–i.e. without an alif–so I’m wondering if those are two different roots?)

    [As an aside: My favorite name of the quran is Al-Furqaan :).]

  2. October 31, 2008 2:08 pm

    wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu M!

    Yes that’s the same thing. When looking at roots, they are used interchangeably…not sure why, but yes–qaaf-ra-hamza/alif is the same root. Some books/teachers will say alif and some will say hamza. I think the difference comes with writing/reading them, because the alif with the hamza on top is pronounced while the alif with no hamza is not pronounced. (like: فاحكم vs أنشر)

    SubhanAllah there was a Qur’anic Characteristic that I wanted to post but it just slipped my mind and it’s been bothering me all these days lol, alhamdulillah it’s Furqaan! Jazaki Allahu khayran for reminding me 😀

    That is a favorite name of mine too subhanAllah. InshaAllah I will post it soon.

  3. March 8, 2009 12:45 pm

    Asalamu alaikum sister Amatullah thanks for that wonderful post .Im proud to know that we have a good website like this to lear and teach others may allah reward the admin ameen

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