السلام عليكم ورحمة الله,
We’ve talked about the two of the seven reasons why a noun will be in رفع (raf’). Today we’re going to talk about two more at the same time, because they come together. They are called the مُبْتَدَأ (mubtada’) and the خَبَر (khabar).
When you have a جُمْلة فِعْلِية (a verbal sentence), the sentence will start with a fi’l (verb) and will have a doer (or its substitute) after the verb or inside it. In other words:
Verb (فِعْل) + Doer (فاعِل) + Object (مَفُعُوْل) = Verbal sentence (جُمْلَة فعْلِيَّة)
Now, instead of starting with a verb, if you start with a noun, it’s not a verbal sentence anymore. It’s called a nominal sentence (جُمْلَة اسْمِيَّة) because it starts with a noun. The structure would be:
Beginning (مُبْتَدَأ) + Information (خَبَر) = Nominal sentence (جُمْلَة اسْمِيَّة)
To illustrate further, I’ll give you two sentences with the same information that are built completely differently from each other, both telling us that “Muhammad rejoiced”. One starts with a verb, and the other starts with a noun.
- فَرِحَ مُحَمَّدٌ – Verb followed by its doer. This is the normal way to express it.
- مُحَمَّدٌ فَرِحَ – It gives us the same information, but stresses that it’s Muhammad who rejoiced. We cannot say that ٌمُحَمّد is the doer of فَرِحَ because we have learned that the doer always comes after the verb. Instead we say that مُحَمَّدٌ is the mubtada’ (subject/topic of the sentence), and that فَرِحَ (“he rejoiced”) is the khabar (the information or news about that subject).
Having said that, the definition of the mubtada’ and khabar:
المُبْتَدَأُ: هُوَ الاِسْمُ المَرْفُوْعُ العَارِيْ عَنِ الْعَوَامِلِ اللَفْظِيَّةِ, وَالْخَبَرُ هُوَ الاِسْمُ الْمَرْفُوْعُ الْمُسْنَدُ إِلَيْهِ, نَحْوُ قَوْلِكَ “زَيْدٌ قائِمٌ وَ”الْزَيْدَانِ قَائِمَانِ” وَالزَيْدُوْنَ قَائِمُوْنَ
The mubtada’ is the raf’-ized noun that is bare of any utterable influences, and the khabar is the raf’-ized noun that refers back to it, like your saying زَيْدٌ قائِمٌ (“Zayd is standing”), الْزَيْدَانِ قَائِمَانِ (“The 2 Zayds are both standing”), and الزَيْدُوْنَ قَائِمُوْنَ (“The Zayds are all standing”).
So, three things to remember for a mubtada’:
- It’s a noun (so it can’t be a verb or particle)
- It’s in raf’ (so it can’t be in nasb or jarr)
- Nothing is affecting it, such as:
- a verb before it that would make it the doer, or
- some special verb from the كانَ family before it . In that case, it wouldn’t be a mubtada’ anymore. It would be called the ism of كان instead (there is a whole section on that later)
As for the khabar:
- It’s also a noun,
- also in raf’,
- that refers back to the mubtada’ and is carried by it, so that the sentence is complete
Let’s look a very basic nominal sentence:
(“Muhammad is present”)
If you look at it, مُحَمّدٌ is the mubtada’ (who/what the sentence is about). It has a tanwin on it, so we know it’s a noun, and it has a dhammah on it, so we know it’s in raf’. There is no verb before it or anything that would prevent it from being a mubtada’. This sentence is about someone named Muhammad (“Muhammad…”).
The word حاضِرٌ (“present”) is the khabar. It also has a tanwin (telling us it a noun) and also has dhammah (telling us that it’s in raf’). It goes back to to the mubtada’ (مُحَمّد) and completes the idea (“… present”).
Note: There is no “is” in the word حاضِرٌ, but we put it there to smooth out the translation. It’s literally just “Muhammad present”, but we understand it as “Muhammad [is] present”.
As you’ve seen, both the mubtada’ and the khabar have to be nouns and in raf’. This raf’ can be:
- An explicitly written dhammah, as in اللهُ رَبُّنا (“Allah is our Lord”)
- An implied dhammah. For example, because it’s
- impossible to write a vowel on an ى or ا, as in مُوْسَى مُصْطَفًى مِنَ اللهِ (“Musa is someone selected by Allah”)
- difficult to pronounce the dhammah, as in القَاضِيْ هُوَ الآتِيْ (“The judge is the one coming”)
- Substituted for by a letter that will show raf’. For example: المُجْتَهِدانِ فائِزَانِ (“The two strivers are both winners”). We learned that for dual nouns, ا will be used to show raf’, not a dhammah
Note: The mubtada’ and the khabar must match in number and gender. Consider these examples:
- مُحَمَّدٌ قَائِمٌ (“Muhammad is standing”) – Singular and masculine
- المُحَمَّدَانِ قَائِمانِ (“The two Muhammads are both standing”) – Dual and masculine, using انِ
- المُحَمَّدُوْنَ قَائِمُوْنَ (“The Muhammads are all standing”) – Plural and masculine, using ون
- هِنْدٌ قَائِمَةٌ (“Hind is standing”) – Singular and feminine, using ةٌ
- الهِنْدَانِ قَائِمَتَانِ (“The two Hinds are both standing”) – Dual and feminine, using تانِ
- الهِنْداتُ قَائِماتٌ (“The Hinds are all standing”) – Plural and feminine, using اتٌ
Two kinds of مُبْتَدَأ
وَالمُبْتَدَأُ قِسْمانِ: ظاهِرٌ وَمُضْمَرُ, فَالظاهِرُ ما تَقَدَّمَ ذِكْرُهُ وَالمُضْمَرُ اثْناعَشَرَ, وَهِيَ أَنا وَنَحْنُ , وَأَنْتَ, وَأَنْتِ وَأَنْتُما وَأَنْتُمْ وَأَنْتُنَّ وَهُوَ وَهِيَ وَهُمَا وَهُمْ وَهُنَّ نَحْوُ قَوْلِكَ “أَنا قَائِمٌ” وَ”نَحْنُ قائِمُوْنَ” وَمَا أشْبَهَ ذَلِكَ
The mubtada’ is two kinds: apparent and obscured. The apparent is whatever was mentioned before, and the obscured is 12. They are أنا (“I”), نَحْنُ (“we”), أنْتَ (“you”), أَنْتِ (“you[f.]”), أَنْتُما (“you both”), أنْتُمْ (“you all”), أَنْتُنَّ (“you[.f] all”), هُوَ (“he”), هِيَ (“she”), هُما (“they both”), هُمْ (“they all”) and هُنّّ (“they[f.] all”). Like your saying أنا قائِمٌ (“I am standing”) and نَحْنُ قائِمُوْنَ (“We are standing”) and whatever resembles that.
A mubtada’ can come in one of two forms: (1) apparent and (2) obscured. We mentioned the idea of apparent and obscured before when we looked at the The Doer.
Examples of an apparent mubtada’ are مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُوْلُ اللهِ (“Muhammad صلى اللهُ عَليه وسلّم is the messenger of Allah”) and عَائِشَةُ أُمُّ المُؤْمِنِيْنَ (“Aishah is the mother of the believers”).
Now, just like how the doer of a verb can obscured or hidden, the mubtada’ can also be obscured. An obscured mubtada’ can be one of 12 pronouns. They are called “detached pronouns” because they do not connect to another word. They are below with examples:
|First person||أنا – “I”||أَنا عَبْدُ اللهِ – “I am Abdullah”|
|نَحْنُ – “we”||نَحْنُ قَائِمُوْنَ – “We are standing”|
|2nd person||أَنْتَ – “you”||أَنْتَ فاهِمٌ – “You are one who understands”|
|أَنْتِ -“you” (female)||أنْتِ مُطِيْعَةٌ – “You[f.] are an obedient one”|
|أَنْتُما – “you two” (males or females)||أَنْتُمَا قَائِمانِ – “You two are both standing”|
|أَنْتُمَا قَائِمَتانِ – “You[f.] two are both standing”|
|أَنْتُمْ – “you all”||أَنْتُمْ قَائِمُوْنَ – “You all are standing”|
|أَنْتُنَّ – “you all” (female)||أَنْتُنَّ قَائِمَاتٌ – “You[f.] all are standing”|
|Third person||هُوَ – “he”||هُوَ قَائِمٌ بِوَاجِبِهِ – “He is one who undertakes his duty”|
|هِيَ – “she”||هِيَ مُسَافِرَةٌ – “She is a traveler”|
|هُمَا – “They both” (male or female)||هُمَا قَائِمانِ – “They both are standing”|
|هُمَا قَائِمَتَان – “They[f.] both are standing”|
|هُمْ – “they all”||هُمْ قَائِمُوْنَ – “They all are standing”|
|هُنَّ – “they all” (female)||هُنَّ قَائِماتٌ – “They[f.] all are standing”|
Categories of the خَبَر
وَالْخَبَرُ قِسْمانِ: مُفْرَدٌ وَغَيْرُ مُفْرَدٍ. فَالْمُفْرَدُ نَحْوُ “زَيْدٌ قَائِمٌ” وَغَيْرُ الْمُفْرَدِ أَرْبَعَةُ أَشْيَاء: الجَارُّ وَالْمَجْرُوْرُ وَالظَرْفُ وَالْفِعْلُ مَعَ فَاعِلِهِ وَالْمُبْتَدَأُ مَعَ خَبَرِهِ نَحْوُ قَوْلِكَ “زَيْدٌ فِي الدَّارِ” وَ”زَيْدٌ عِنْدَكَ” وَ”زَيْدٌ قَامَ أَبُوْهُ” وَزَيْدٌ جَارِيَتُهُ ذَاهِبَةٌ
The khabar has two subtypes: a single word and not a single word. The single word is like your saying زَيْدٌ قَائِمٌ (“Zayd is standing”). What’s not a single word is one of four things:
- The جارّ (particle of jarr) and the majrur (noun that’s been put into jarr)
- The ظَرْفْ (tharf) – frame of time and place
- A verb with its فاعِل (doer)
- A mubtada’ with its khabar
Like your saying:
- زَيْدٌ فِي الدَّارِ (“Zayd is in the house”)
- زَيْدٌ عِنْدَكَ (“Zayd is with you”)
- زَيْدٌ قَامَ أَبُوْهُ (“Zayd: his father is standing”)
- زَيْدٌ جَارِيَتُهُ ذَاهِبَةٌ (“Zayd: his servant girl is going”)
From that, we understand that a khabar can be:
- A single word
- Not a single word
A “single word” is something that’s not a sentence or a semi-sentence, like the word قَائِمٌ in زَيْدٌ قَائِمٌ (“Zayd is standing”).
“Not a single word” could mean:
- a sentence, which could be:
- a nominal sentence (a mubtada’ with its khabar), as in مُحَمَّدٌ أبُوْهُ كَرِيْمٌ (“Muhammad: his father is noble“)
- a verbal sentence (verb with its doer or substitute for its doer), as in
- مُحَمَّدٌ سَافَرَ أَبُوْهُ (“Muhammad: his father traveled“) –> a verb and its doer
- مُحَمَّدٌ يُضْرَبُ غُلامُهُ (“Muhammad: his boy-servant was struck“) –> a verb and a substitute for its doer
- If the khabar is a sentence, it has to be tied to the mubtada’ using either:
- a pronoun that goes back to the mubtada’, as you’ve seen with ه [“his”] in these examples
- a pointing pronoun from the هذا family that means “this”, like مُحَمَّدٌ هَذا رَجَلٌ كَرِيْمٌ (“Muhammad: this is a noble man“)
- a semi-sentence (phrase that resembles a sentence), which could be:
- a particle of jarr and a jarr-ized noun immediately after it, as in عَلِيٌّ فِي المِسْجِدِ (“Ali is in the masjid“).
- a phrase that indicates a tharf (frame of time/place), as in الطَائِرُ فَوْقَ الغُصْنِ (“The bird is over the branch“). This is what I meant when I said “not every preposition is a particle of jarr” in The particles of jarr, because sometimes it can expressed using a tharf
So that’s five things you can find coming as a khabar:
- A single word
- A nominal sentence with its own mubtada’ and khabar inside it (cool!)
- A verbal sentence with a verb and a doer
- A particle of jarr and jarr-ized noun
- A tharf of time/place
From the Quran
Below is a page from the Quran (29:53-63) with some highlighted mubtada’s:
- We see some examples of when detached pronouns like هُمْ (“they”) and هُوَ (“he”) can be the mubtada’. If you see one of these, just assume it’s in raf’, even if you don’t see a dhammah on it, because pronouns don’t change their endings, no matter what state they are in
- The highlighted word are all mubtada’s, because they are the subjects/topics of those sentences. You can see the dhammah on them. The rest of each sentence would be the khabar that tells about the mubtada’
- The khabar for each highlighted mubtada’ is below. Also note that:
- Sometimes the mubtada’ can be a question word that asks who/what/etc.
- As we mentioned, in What is speech?, it’s okay to have a one-word sentence if there’s something else in the conversation that gives the rest of the meaning. The understanding is “Allah [created it]” or “Allah [send it down]”.
- If a mubtada’ is coming after لولا (“if it were not…), you won’t see a khabar for it and you’ll assume it’s the word مَوْجُوْدٌ (“exists”)
|Mubtada’||Khabar||Kind of khabar|
|أَجَلٌ (“a term”)||assumed to be مَوْجُوْدٌ (“exists”)||single word|
|هُمْ (“they”)||لا يَشْعُرُوْنَ (“they do not perceive”)||verbal sentence|
|كُلُّ نَفْسٍ (“every soul”)||ذائقَةُ المَوْتِ (“is a taster of death”)||single word (ذائقَةُ)|
|الذِيْنَ (“those who…”)||لَنُبَوِّئَنَّهُمْ (“we will settle them…”)||verbal sentence|
|اللهُ (“Allah”)||يَرْزُقُها (“… provides them”)||verbal sentence|
|هُوَ (“He”)||السَمِيْعُ (the Hearing) العَلِْيمُ (the Knowing)||two khabars, each of them a single word|
|مَنْ (“Who?”)||خَلَقَ (“created”)||verbal sentence|
|اللهُ (“Allah.”)||implied by the khabar in the question it answers||verbal sentence|
|اللهُ (“Allah”)||يَبْسُطُ (“extends”)||verbal sentence|
|مَنْ (“Who?”)||نَزَّلَ (“sent down”)||verbal sentence|
|اللهُ (“Allah.”)||implied by the khabar in the question it answers||verbal sentence|
|الْحَمْدُ (“The praise”)||لِلّهِ (“to Allah”)||particle of jarr (لِ) and jarr-ized word (اللهِ)|
|أكْثَرُهُمْ (“Most of them”)||لا يَعْقِلُوْنَ (“do not reason”)||verbal sentence|
Try to find the mubtada’ and khabar in each of these sentences. If the khabar is a sentence, see if you can find how it’s tied to the mubtada’ (using either a pronoun or a pointing word).
Note: عِنْدَ is a tharf that means “with”, and فَوْقَ is a tharf that means “above”.
- المُجْتَهِدُ يَفُوْزُ بِغَايَتِهِ (“The striver wins his goal”)
- المُؤِمِناتُ يُسَبِّحْنَ اللهَ (“The believing women glorify Allah”)
- كِتابُكَ نَظِيْفٌ (“Your book is clean”)
- هَذا الْقَلَمُ مِنْ خَشَبٍ (“This pen is of wood”)
- الْأَحْذِيةُ تُصْنَعُ مِنْ الماعِزِ وَغَيْرِهِ (“Shoes are made from the goat and others”)
- الْقِدْرُ عَلى النَارِ (“The pot is on the fire”)
- أبُوْكَ الذِيْ يُنْفِقُ عَلَيْكَ (“Your father is the one who spends on you”)
- أُمُّكَ أَحَقُّ الناسِ بِبِرِّكَ (“Your mother is the most deserving of people of your goodness”)
- العُصْفُوْر يُغَرِّدُ فَوْقَ الشَجَرَةِ (“The sparrow twitters over the tree”)
- صَدِيْقِيْ أبُوْهُ عِنْدَهُ (“My friend: his father is with him”)
- وَالِدِيْ عِنْدَهُ حِصانٌ (“My father: a horse is with him”)
- أخِيْ لَهُ سَيّارَةٌ (“My brother: he has a car”)
- What’s a mubtada’?
- What’s a khabar?
- Give an example of an apparent mubtada’ and an obscured one.
- How many kind of obscured words can come as a mubtada’?
- How many kinds of sentences can a khabar be?
- How many kinds of semi-sentences can a khabar be?
- What can be used to tie the khabar with the mubtada’?
- What do the mubtada’ and the khabar have to agree in?
Until next time, السلام عليكم
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