Classical Arabic: I spent a hour trying to find the book

< Previous | Next >

Abu Talha

Senior Member
Urdu
Hello,

I see that the Arabs classically had very specific verbs to refer to pass a period of time: for passing some time during the day, passing a period of the night, a month, the summer, the winter, a year, etc.
EDIT: They also had لبث in general.
But with all these verbs, the period of time is expressed as a ظرف زمان (I think). For example:

ظللتُ ساعةً من النهار في السوق
بات ثلاثَ ليال في المدينة

But these verbs are somewhat passive, as in, the subject isn't actively spending time in an activity, rather he is just "remaining" while time elapses. I haven't come across usage where the period of time is taken as a direct object transitively, as for example,
"I spent an hour trying to find the book."
Here, one can think of spending time as one spends money. It is an action upon the object.
or, alternatively:
"It took me an hour to find the book."

How would the Arabs have expressed this meaning?

In MSA, verbs like صَرَفَ , صَرّفَ , أمضى , قضى , استغرق are used but of these استغرق is modern (in this context) I believe, while صرف , صرّف , أمضى are deemed incorrect by محمد العدناني in his معجم الأخطاء الشائعة and he sanctions قضى for this usage. However, I was wondering if قضى was actually used classically or not in this context.

Of course, I'm not questioning whether it is correct in MSA or not, rather, how the Arabs of the past would have expressed this concept, which it seems is not a new concept. In the context of time, I've only found قضى used to conclude an activity as in, e.g., قضى صلاته for "He concluded his prayer."

So my questions are:
a) Is anyone familiar with some classical poetry or narration where قضى is used for spending time in general. That is, would the Arabs have said something like قضيت ساعةً في البحث عن الكتاب ?
b) If not, would they have used ظل , etc. with a واو الحال construction: ظللت ساعة وأنا أبحث عن الكتاب ?
c) What about the sentence, "It took me X units of time to ..."? استغرق is used in MSA, but would the Arabs have avoided this type of construction and expressed it differently?

Moderators: There are 3 questions but they are related and may boil down to one answer. I hope it's OK to have them in one thread. Thanks!
 
Last edited:
  • cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    In the context of time, I've only found قضى used to conclude an activity as in, e.g., قضى صلاته for "He concluded his prayer."
    True. If I remember correctly, the verb قضى means to finish or to accomplish something. (check the Qur'an فإذا قُضِيَت الصلاةُ...)
    So my questions are:
    a) Is anyone familiar with some classical poetry or narration where قضى is used for spending time in general. That is, would the Arabs have said something like قضيت ساعةً في البحث عن الكتاب ?
    I'm not sure about Classical usage, but this sentence sounds correct. Personally, I'd use the verb: قضيت ساعةَ أبحثُ عن الكتاب. And I would also use the verb أمضى instead of قضى.
    b) If not, would they have used ظل , etc. with a واو الحال construction: ظللت ساعة وأنا أبحث عن الكتاب ?
    No, there's no need for it: ظللت ساعةً أبحث عن الكتاب or ظللت أبحث عن الكتاب ساعةً.
    c) What about the sentence, "It took me X units of time to ..."? استغرق is used in MSA, but would the Arabs have avoided this type of construction and expressed it differently?
    Again, not sure about Classical, but the verb istaghraqa would be used with the object, not the subject (and I don't mean the grammatical object):
    استغرقَ البحثُ عن الكتابِ ساعة
    Moderators: There are 3 questions but they are related and may boil down to one answer. I hope it's OK to have them in one thread. Thanks!
    Yes, it's ok. They're all about the same topic. :)
     

    Abu Talha

    Senior Member
    Urdu
    True. If I remember correctly, the verb قضى means to finish or to accomplish something. (check the Qur'an فإذا قُضِيَت الصلاةُ...)

    I'm not sure about Classical usage, but this sentence sounds correct. Personally, I'd use the verb: قضيت ساعةَ أبحثُ عن الكتاب.
    Thanks for the reply, Cherine. I wonder if I may ask you about using قضى here. Does it mean that the hour was completed while searching for the book? That is, is it talking about the instance in time when the hour ended, versus the duration of the hour?
    And I would also use the verb أمضى instead of قضى

    No, there's no need for it: ظللت ساعةً أبحث عن الكتاب or ظللت أبحث عن الكتاب ساعةً.
    Also, I wonder if you could explain what difference in meaning you get using أمضى versus ظل . Is it because, as I mentioned
    ... these verbs (ظل, بات, etc.) are somewhat passive, as in, the subject isn't actively spending time in an activity, rather he is just "remaining" while time elapses.
    ?

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited:

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Thanks for the reply, Cherine.
    You're welcome, Daee.
    I wonder if I may ask you about using قضى here. Does it mean that the hour was completed while searching for the book? That is, is it talking about the instance in time when the hour ended, versus the duration of the hour?
    I never thought about it (because we use this verb commonly) but I think your understand makes sense in the context of the classical meaning of the verb. But if we're talking usage, I think most (maybe all) who use it in similar structures would think (I spent x time doing y thing) rather than (x time was completed doing y thing).
    Also, I wonder if you could explain what difference in meaning you get using أمضى versus ظل . Is it because, as I mentioned ?
    I'm not sure I can do it in a clear way, but here's what I think:
    أمضيت ساعة = I spent an hour
    ظللت ساعة = I remained [doing an action] for an hour.
    I think this doesn't make much sense, sorry :eek:
     

    Abu Talha

    Senior Member
    Urdu
    I'm not sure I can do it in a clear way, but here's what I think:
    أمضيت ساعة = I spent an hour
    ظللت ساعة = I remained [doing an action] for an hour.
    I think this doesn't make much sense, sorry :eek:
    Yes, this makes sense to me. It is what I was trying to convey, but I may not have articulated it very well.

    Which again brings me to the question, whether Arabs of the classical period
    a) used قضى (or some other verb) to convey not just concluding an activity, but also "spending" time, or,
    b) made do with ظل et al.?
    I know you mentioned you're not sure about classical usage, but I'll leave the question in case someone else has some insight.
    Thanks for your very helpful reply.
     

    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Yes, this makes sense to me. It is what I was trying to convey, but I may not have articulated it very well.

    Which again brings me to the question, whether Arabs of the classical period
    a) used قضى (or some other verb) to convey not just concluding an activity, but also "spending" time, or,
    b) made do with ظل et al.?
    I know you mentioned you're not sure about classical usage, but I'll leave the question in case someone else has some insight.
    Thanks for your very helpful reply.
    muHtaramii daee, this is the closest I could find in my quick search to meet your request:


    وأنفق كهولته في تحقيق العلوم والإرشاد وقضى شيخوخته في تصنيف الكتب الجياد وخطب مرات لقاء الديار المصرية فأبى وقنع بمصيره واجتمع له من الكتب

    Vol 2 Page 307 تاريخ أبى الفداء


    Abul Fida أبو الفداء was a geographer and historian of the 11th-12th century who wrote his famous Concise History of Humanity (tarikh-ul-mukhtasar fi akhbar-il-bashar تاريخ المختصر في أخبار البشر) also called History of Abu al-Fida (tarikh abil-fida تاريخ أبى الفداء ). (BTW, the crater ‘Abulfeda’ on the moon is named after him!)

    I'm sure there are other examples from the classical period where
    قضى is similarly used. I shall have a look!
     

    Abu Talha

    Senior Member
    Urdu
    muHtaramii daee, this is the closest I could find in my quick search to meet your request:


    وأنفق كهولته في تحقيق العلوم والإرشاد وقضى شيخوخته في تصنيف الكتب الجياد وخطب مرات لقاء الديار المصرية فأبى وقنع بمصيره واجتمع له من الكتب

    Vol 2 Page 307 تاريخ أبى الفداء


    Abul Fida أبو الفداء was a geographer and historian of the 11th-12th century who wrote his famous Concise History of Humanity (tarikh-ul-mukhtasar fi akhbar-il-bashar تاريخ المختصر في أخبار البشر) also called History of Abu al-Fida (tarikh abil-fida تاريخ أبى الفداء ). (BTW, the crater ‘Abulfeda’ on the moon is named after him!)

    I'm sure there are other examples from the classical period where
    قضى is similarly used. I shall have a look!
    This is very interesting. While probably falling outside the عصر الرواية , it shows that this usage is well established. In fact it shows that أنفق too can be used!
    Thank you Faylasoof Sahib for your valuable research.
     

    Mazhara

    Senior Member
    Urdu, English
    a) used قضى (or some other verb) to convey not just concluding an activity, but also "spending" time, or,
    May be this helps to find both the meanings:


    [28:28]قَالَ ذَلِكَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكَ أَيَّمَا الْأَجَلَيْنِ قَضَيْتُ فَلَا عُدْوَانَ عَلَيَّ
     

    Abu Talha

    Senior Member
    Urdu
    Thank you Iskenderani and Mazhara for your replies.
    قضى طفولته\شبابه\إلخ
    is very common but I think you have a point with قضى الصباح\المساء
    I do suspect the latter is a modern development.
    That is interesting. I'll continue searching for this.
    May be this helps to find both the meanings:


    [28:28]قَالَ ذَلِكَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكَ أَيَّمَا اﻷَجَلَيْنِ قَضَيْتُ فَلاَ عُدْوَانَ عَلَيَّ
    Most translators translate this as "to complete" or "to fulfil". For example,
    Sahih International: [Moses] said, "That is [established] between me and you. Whichever of the two terms I complete - there is no injustice to me, and Allah , over what we say, is Witness."
    Muhsin Khan: He [Musa (Moses)] said: "That (is settled) between me and you whichever of the two terms I fulfill, there will be no injustice to me, and Allah is Surety over what we say."
    I found a report in صحيح مسلم which, while does not tell us whether قضى may be used as such, uses مكث for actively searching for a period of time:
    ثُمَّ دَعَا بِتَمْرَةٍ قَالَ قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ فَمَكَثْنَا سَاعَةً نَلْتَمِسُهَا قَبْلَ أَنْ نَجِدَهَا
    This is even though مكث is usually defined as "to stay, to tarry".
     
    Last edited:

    Mazhara

    Senior Member
    Urdu, English
    Thank you Iskenderani and Mazhara for your replies.

    That is interesting. I'll continue searching for this.

    Most translators translate this as "to complete" or "to fulfil". For example,


    I found a report in صحيح مسلم which, while does not tell us whether قضى may be used as such, uses مكث for actively searching for a period of time:

    This is even though مكث is usually defined as "to stay, to tarry".
    "To complete" was used earlier to which the above quote is the reply.
    فَإِنْ أَتْمَمْتَ عَشْرًا فَمِنْ عِندِكَ
    In the reply the Perfect verb is in Jussive State being verb of condition to the Conditional Noun in the beginning. First term would have completed on expiry of eight years, the continuation of time will bring the completion to the other proposed request of 10 years. I tried like this "Any one of the two periods should I exhaust, thereat there shall be no blame of injustice upon me."
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top