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ما كانوا يعملون

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by HomeroHose, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. HomeroHose New Member

    here the word kanu means: they used to, according to word for word translation:

    ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ ۚ وَلَوْ أَشْرَكُوا لَحَبِطَ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

    But here the word kanu means: are ,according to word to word translation :

    إِنَّ الْمُبَذِّرِينَ كَانُوا إِخْوَانَ الشَّيَاطِينِ ۖ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِرَبِّهِ كَفُورًا

    how Is this possible and can: are ,mean: they used to ,and vice versa , if not please state why
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
  2. barkoosh Senior Member

    كان has different uses. Go to this page, and with CTRL+F, find the word "Brill" (without the quotes). Below the word, you'll find a detailed explanation of كان. What you're asking is related to number 3 (in bold).

    Also note number 5.

    PS: this meaning of كان is not used in MSA.
  3. drew.k New Member

    English, العربية
    Qur'anic Arabic is a whole new ballgame. MuHyiddeen Darweesh writes that كان conveys 5 possible meanings in the Qur'an. (إعراب القرآن وبيانه)

    One of them is exhibited here:
    مَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
    ...what they used to do

    As-SyooTy says in "همع الهوامع":
    This meaning is highlighted in ayahs like "وكان الله سميعا بصيرا". More contemporary scholars (ibn ''Uthaymeen comes to mind) add that in ayahs like "وكان الله سميعا بصيرا", the word كان is a verb stripped of its tense.

    That said, in the second ayah you posted, neither case of كان conveys a meaning confined to the past. Think of كان in these two cases as an adhesive that binds the descriptor to that which is being described, reinforcing the tie between the two - an emphasis of sorts:

    المبذرون -- إخوان الشياطين
    الشيطان -- كفور (لربه)ه

    And Allah knows best.

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