Ibn Faris on the Arabic Language

 Ibn Faris on Arabic


One of the greatest lexicographers of the 10th century known for ordering the Arabic dictionaries as we generally have them today, Abu’l-Husayn Ahmad Ibn Faris (d.395/1004)[1] said regarding the Arabic language:

“When Allah – May His praises be Exalted – differentiated the Arabic language with clarity and purity (al-bayan), it became known that all other languages fall short of it…”[2]

فلما خَصَّ – جل ثناؤه – اللسانَ العربيَّ بالبيانِ، عُلِمَ أن سائر اللغات قاصرةٌ عنه، وواقعة دونه


  • The quality of bayan (clarity or purity in speech) was – and continues to hold – importance for what differentiates Arabic from other languages.
  • It is not Arabic per se, but the quality of bayan which inheres in the languages in a unique and unparalleled way.
  • The Arabic language is the means by which Islamic ideas and solutions can be reconnected with and revived.


[1] For biographical information, see Ibn Khallikan’s Wafayat al-A`yan, 1:100-102.

[2] Ibn al-Faris, al-Sahibi fi Fiqh al-Lugha, 1:4.


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