Is Din "Religion" of Iranian or Semitic Root?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by mojobadshah, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. mojobadshah Senior Member

    According to Haug the Arabic Din "religion" was a loan from Avestan Daena "religion" from di- "to see (in the spiritual sense)" and according to the Dabistan Madina means "moon religion" supposedly because the pre-Islamic faith of this land was astral worship. I've also noticed di- has the same significance is Sumerian. Is Haug right?
  2. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Arabic dīn wasn't directly a loan from Avestan; rather, it was likely a loan from Middle Persian, perhaps via Hebrew.
  3. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    In Hebrew Din means law, not religion (and Dayan means judge) so I doubt it came to Arabic through Hebrew.
  4. origumi Senior Member

    What's the argument for assuming that Hebrew din דין is borrowed from Persian? This word is frequent in the Bible, for example in Genesis, probably much earlier than Persian influence on Hebrew.

    This may be a mere coincidence that Arabic din, borrowed from Persian as many scholars say (I believe), has similar sound and meaning to Hebrew din.

    Another word that frequently accompanies din in Hebrew, dat דת, is said to be borrowed from Persian dāta. It means religion in Hebrew and law in Persian, literally given (according to Wiktionary).דת


    Added: din exists also as Akkadian dinu and Aramaic dina, so a Semitic origin is likely.

    On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that under Achaemenid rule, Hebrew din and Persian din merged in a certain way.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
  5. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    In Arabic dīn has two different meanings, continuing two different loanwords.

    First: “judgement”, as in yawnu d-dīn “day of judgement”, is a loanword from Aramaic, and ultimately from Akkadian dīnu “judgement”. The same Akkadian root is continued also in dayyān “judgement”, the verb dāna “to judge”, and similar words in Hebrew and other Semitic languages. dayyān is a loanword, while dāna is an analogical formation.

    Second: dīn “religion” is a loan from Middle Persian dēn, continuing Avestan daēnā-, which originally means “vision”, but which in Avestan and Middle Persain evolves to mean “insight into religious truths”, “religion”, and especially the “true Mazda-worshipping religion”, Zoroastrianism.
  6. Treaty Senior Member

    Also, as far as I remember دَین (dayn) in Arabic means something like "debt". It may be related Hebrew diyn.
  7. origumi Senior Member

    I do not challenge this fact, yet when a word appears in Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew - I wonder what's the way to find it's a loadword vs. native to Proto-Semitic.
  8. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    It is perhaps not very likely that the proto-Semites had law courts and judges. This is why it is better to see these words (like most of the juridical vocabulary in Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic) as loans ultimately from Akkadian rather than as genuinely inherited words.
  9. origumi Senior Member

    But then - every primitive society has certain laws, regulations, si in ius uocat, fas and nefas, etc. These cultural habits have names, which can be utilized in later periods to describe a more sophisticated law system. Why wouldn't this primitive Semitic name be *dyn or *din or *dwn? Maybe a more direct, less circumstantial evidence is needed.

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