Mr. P. Newton with Mr. Rafiqul-Haqq has written an article titled: "Grammatical Errors in the Qur'an". He writes:
Grammar-- A Stage in the Development of a Language
b- Two Distinct Stages in the Development of a Language
c- The Particular Case of Arabic-- Why Was Arabic Grammar Developed?
d- The Primary Sources in the Compilation of Arabic Grammar
e- The Absurdity of Searching Grammatical Errors in the Qur'an
f- The Sayings Ascribed to `Ayesha (RA) and `Uthman (RA)
g- A Final Word
Grammar-- A Stage in the Development of a Language
It is a commonly known and an established fact that compilation of grammar is a stage in the development of a language. This statement needs a little explanation.
Laying down of 'Grammatical Rules' of any language does not and cannot precede speaking and comprehension of that language by its native speakers. For instance, the English language was being spoken for a long time before someone sat down to lay down the rules of the English language. The grammar of a language is created, but not before that language is spoken and understood by the natives.
We can take Greek, as a case in point. Greek, as we know is a very old language. But it was only in the second Century B.C. that Dionysius Thrax, wrote a book of Grammar on the Greek language and that too was limited only to the word morphology. This work, incidentally, was the first systematic grammar of the Western tradition. It was not before the second century A.D. that a study of sentence syntax of the Greek language was conducted by Apollonius Dyscolus. Dionysius Thrax also defined Grammar. His definition is as under:
This process is the usual case in the development of grammar and the dependable sources of deriving its 'rules'. Now, once these concepts are clearly understood, consider the following example:
Suppose that Group X was the accepted and recognized literati of Latin, prior to the compilation of Latin grammar. Later on, some scholars of Latin sat down to compile the Latin grammar. They looked for various sources for their work. They find that the work of X, comprises of Latin literature, recognized and accepted to be correct by the natives of that language. So these scholars, without any reservations accept the works of Group X as one of the sources for their work. Time moved on. After a few hundred years, some other 'scholars' sat to analyze the works of Group X on the basis of the work done by the 'grammarians' (the scholars who compiled the rules of grammar). Now, after "thorough deliberation" if they declare, on the basis of the work of the grammarians, that the writings of Group X contains a number of 'grammatical' errors, these modern "scholars" in their exuberance may even claim (or at least expect) a literary award for their findings, yet even an ordinary person would only laugh at their findings. For he would hopefully have the common sense of asking himself: "How can something be analyzed for errors on the basis of another thing which itself is based on the first thing". This basis for analysis would really be like saying: "the human body (the source) does not correspond to the books written on human physiology (the derived result), and therefore, the human body (the source), when analyzed on the basis of these books has such and such errors". The common man, rather than going into such "sick" logic, would almost certainly take to the point that the books written on human physiology (the derived result) do not adequately describe the human body (the source). Obviously, the same principle would also apply to the appraisal of the writings of Group X on the basis of the work of the grammarians. If the rules laid down by the grammarians do not correspond to the writings of Group X, then the fault lies with the rules of the grammarians and not with the writings of Group X, for appraising the source, on the basis of the results derived from this very source is nothing but absurd.
Two Distinct Stages in the Development of a Language
There is yet another important aspect of history of the development of a language.
If we analyze the development of a language closely, we shall see that in relation to conformity to grammatical rules, the history of a language can normally, be divided into two distinct stages. One is the "Pre-grammar" stage, and the other is the "Post-grammar" stage. Each of these stages has a set of characteristics peculiar to it.
First let us see the Pre-grammar stage. In this stage, a language is in its purest and most natural form. The natives of the language speak their hearts and minds out, and whatever and however they speak and accept and recognize as correct is the standard for correct language. In these times, poets, writers and orators are criticized, not for wrong grammar, as no such thing as compiled grammar has any existence, but for lack of clarity, non-idiomatic use of language, improper use of words and poor style. It is not just improbable, but inconceivable that these writers, poets or orators commit such mistakes as may be termed as "grammatical errors". For whatever they say and however they say it provides the very grounds on which, later on, the grammarians base their "grammatical rules". It is on the very authority of these writers, poets, orators and other established users of a language that "rules" of grammar are laid down. For instance, in later times, a grammarian might say: "XYZ is a rule of language A, as is obvious these statements/verses of D, who was accepted and recognized by the natives of language A, as qualified to be held as an authority on that language", or "XYZ is a rule of language A, because this is how it is spoken by the natives of that language". Another important aspect of this stage is that even such deviations from the common and regular usage as are recognized and accepted by the natives of that language to be correct, cannot be termed incorrect. What the grammarians do is to try and find out the reasons for such deviations and the added meaning a certain deviation provides to the regular and common usage, but even if some grammarians are unable to find out the reasons for these deviations, they still cannot be termed as incorrect.
Now, let us also have a brief look at the Post-grammar stage of a language. In the first stage, it is the poets, writers, orators and users of that language that provide guidelines for the work of the grammarians. In the Post-grammar stage, it is normally, the other way round. In this stage, generally, grammatical rules are held by the writers, poets, orators and other users, as the standard for the correctness of their written or spoken words. In the first stage, grammatical rules are derived from the usage of writers, poets etc., and every grammatical rule along with every deviation from such a rule, which can be substantiated by the usage of such writers and orators is held to be correct. On the other hand, in the second stage it is normally the accepted rules (and the accepted deviations from these rules) that substantiate the correctness of a writer's, poet's, orator's or anyone else's use. Obviously, it can so happen that a writer uses a style which is considered against the general grammatical rules of the language. He is then criticized for this deviation. But sometimes he can provide examples of such deviations from the 'Original' authorities of the language, which had previously been missed by the grammarians of that language. In such an event, the style of the writer is then submitted to be correct. Furthermore, sometimes a writer can become so important as a source of a language that even his deviations are later on considered as correct, and thus grammatical rules are modified. This tendency of accepting new grammatical rules because of new styles introduced by modern writers is far less in peoples who are more conscious and conservative about maintaining the purity of their language, as compared to those who are not.
These are the major changes that take place in the development of a
language before and after the compilation of grammatical rules.
Particular Case of Arabic-- Why Was Arabic Grammar Developed?
Normally, the grammar of a language is developed to teach that language to such peoples as are not native speakers of that language. But in the case of the development of the Arabic grammar there was a difference. One other factor played an important role in the initiation of the compilation of Arabic grammar. This factor was the concern and the consciousness of the Arabs for maintaining the purity of their language.
It is quite clear to all those who are aware of the history and psyche of the Arabs that they were a people who took great pride in the beauty, simplicity, purity and eloquence of their language. This pride was so deep-rooted in their psyche that the word used for non-Arabs in the Arabic language (`ajami) means 'a person who stammers and is not eloquent'.
The conquests of the Arabs and the conversion of a large number of non-Arabs to Islam, during the first century after the Prophet (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) created a need for the compilation of Arabic grammar as a large number of non-Arabs, now developed an inclination of learning the Arabic language to understand the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet. Furthermore, these conquests and the resultant expansion of the Muslim state also opened up the hitherto closed Arabian society. This circumstance, on the one hand, provided an opportunity of rich social, cultural, political and economic exposure to the Arabs and, on the other, threatened the more conscious among them with the adulteration of their language by the social and cultural interaction with other peoples. This feeling provided another very important basis for the yet unknown and unconsidered task of the compilation of Arabic grammar4.
The first person to take up this task was Abu al-Aswad Al-Du'wali
(A.D. 605-688). Some people ascribe the book "Usul al-Nahw al-`Arabi"
to Abu al-Aswad. Later on, a chain of grammarians made their contribution
to the now esteemed task of the compilation and research on Arabic grammar.
The grammarians' job, in the later stages became so esteemed and exalted
that the most outstanding grammarian, along with the best Jurist, was given
a distinctive position in the royal assemblies.
Primary Sources in the Compilation of Arabic Grammar
The Grammarians and other scholars of linguistic fields, in their task of compiling their rules, used all the compiled or scattered Arabic literature that was accepted by the Arabs to be in its unadulterated verbal tradition and representative of the correct usage of their language. The two major, unanimously accepted sources of this literature were the Qur'an and the pre-Islamic and Islamic poetry. There was a difference among the linguists regarding whether or not the words of the Prophet (SWS) and addresses of well known orators as reported in isolated narrations may be used as source material in their work. Those who were in favor of using these narratives believed such material to be dependable and reliable for the derivation of linguistic and grammatical rules and were of the opinion that because of the recognition of the Prophet (SWS), in particular, and the considered orators, in general by the Arabs as authorities in the Arabic language, such material should be held as a source for their work. On the other hand, those who were against using these traditions as source material gave their dissent on the basis that contrary to the Qur'an and the poetic works, it is difficult to rely on these narratives to be verbally accurate and unadulterated. The basis of their argument was that the Qur'an, because of its religious importance and the Arabic poetry, because of the Arab culture were not only accepted authorities in Arabic language, but also transmitted from one generation to the other, in their exact and unaltered verbal form, whereas the narratives of the Prophet (SWS) and the addresses of the well known orators lacked this quality.
`Abd al-Qadir ibn `Omar al-Baghdadi states in his book "Khazanatul-Adab" 5
Thus, all the grammarians and other linguists of the Arabic language,
without exception have accepted the Qur'an as a source of grammar and other
linguistic sciences of the Arabic language. It is because of this reason
that such well known grammarians and linguists as Al-Siibwayh, Al-Dhamakhshari,
Ibn Hisham, Malik, Al-Akhfash, Al-Kasai, Al-Farazdaq,
Al-Farra', Khalil, Al-Farahidi and innumerable others,
while stating a particular grammatical or linguistic rule present wherever
possible, as evidence supporting their claim not only poetical but also
Qur'anic verses. It would be accurate to say that for them -- the fathers
and founders of the compiled Arabic Grammar -- the Qur'an has always been
the most dependable source for their work. All that is required to appreciate
the importance that these people give to the Qur'an is to have a look at
their works. Al-Farahidi writes in the preface of his book, "Kitab
al-Jumal Fi al-Nahw" (Muassasatul-Risalah, Beirut, 1987):
The Absurdity of Searching For Grammatical Errors in the Qur'an
Once this position of the Qur'an, which it holds in the eyes of the most approved native or naturalized authorities of the Arabic language and literature and also in the eyes of the grammarians, lexicologists etc. of the Arabic language is fully understood and appreciated, one can easily see the absurdity of claiming grammatical errors in the Qur'an.
The Qur'an being one of the major source materials of the grammarians' works can obviously not be judged on the basis of the grammarians' work. Trying to do so, would actually be like trying to find faults in the human body on the basis of the material written down by physiologists in their books or like trying to find errors in the Universe on the basis of the books written by astronomers.
Logically, had the position of the "Human Body" or the "Universe" as a source material for the works of physiologists and astronomers respectively, been fully appreciated it would be more appropriate and understandable if someone challenged the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the works of these physiologists and astronomers. By the same token, had the position of the Qur'an as a source material of the compiled Arabic grammar been fully appreciated, it would have been more appropriate and understandable if someone had challenged the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the grammarians' work, rather than challenge the reliability of the Qur'an, when and if an inexplicable deviation was/is found in the Qur'an.
To sum it all up, the process of the development of the Arabic grammar
is such that does not allow the appraisal of the Qur'anic language on the
basis of the rules laid down by the grammarians of the Arabic language.
Appraising or criticizing the Qur'an or any other source material used
by the linguists, grammarians, lexicologists etc. is like refusing to accept
Arabic, even as a language... and this, obviously is absolutely absurd.
Sayings Ascribed to `Ayesha (RA) and `Uthman (RA)
From our above discussion, it should be quite clear that the Qur'an, logically cannot be criticized on the basis of the work of the grammarians and other linguists, because of the fact that the Qur'an was the very basis (or one of the basis) of the works of these linguists and furthermore, it had been recognized and accepted by all the linguistic authorities of the Arabic language to be an epitome of their language. The question then arises, how can we now appraise or critically evaluate the reliability or otherwise of the language of the Qur'an.
We believe that once it is known that the Qur'an was generally accepted by the Classical, pre-Islamic Arabs, to be a piece of unparalleled literature in its purity, fluency and eloquence, then it has to be accepted as such by the later people as well. As far as the primary evidence, in this regards is concerned, it is overwhelmingly in favor of the general acceptance of the Qur'an. It was obviously, primarily on the basis of this Qur'an that the Arabs, eloquent and proud of their language as they were, started converting to Islam. The Prophet during the first thirteen years of his prophet hood had just the Qur'an to present to the people. Surprisingly, no one objected to the language or style of the Qur'an. Rather, even the Arabs that refused to accept Islam had nothing to say regarding the language and style of the Qur'an. They could obviously see that it was becoming effective and winning the hearts of more and more people. They knew that it was not human literature... but they were just not willing to accept it to be Divine. Thus, all that they could come up with was that it was 'Magic' and 'Sorcery'.
Obviously, if the Qur'an -- that itself claimed to be in "Arabiyin Mobin" (clearest and purest Arabic dialect) -- had any so called grammatical or other linguistic errors, it would have been impossible for the Prophet to win even a single Arab soul. But we know that during the first thirteen years, it was only the character of the Prophet and the Qur'an itself, that had actually won the hearts and minds of the God fearing Arabs, through whom, later on an Islamic State was setup in Medinah, and then in the whole of Arabia.
This is an established historical fact.
Now, with this in mind, let us examine another aspect of the arguments presented by the author of the referred article. He writes:
"Qaaluuu inna haazaani la-saahiraani ..."
And in 5:69
"Innal-laziina 'aamanuu wal-laziina haaduu was-Saabi'uuna wan-Nasaaraa man 'aamana bilaahi wal-Yawmil-'Aakhiri wa 'amila saali-hanfalaa khaw-fun 'alay-him wa laa hum yah-zanuun."
And in 4:162
"Laakinir-Raasi-khuuna fil-'ilmi minhum wal-Mu'-minuuna yu'-minuuna bi-maaa 'unzila 'ilayka wa maaa 'unzila min-qablika wal-muqiimiin as-Salaata wal mu'-tuunaz-Zakaata wal-Mu'-mi-nuuna billaahi wal-Yawmil-'Aakhir: 'ulaaa 'ika sanu'-tii-him 'ajran 'aziimaa."'
The Tradition Ascribed to `Uthman
The first among these traditions is ascribed to `Uthman (RA). According to this tradition, `Uthman is reported to have said that he could see (a few/many?) mistakes in the official standardized copy of the Qur'an, but was of the opinion that because the Arabs shall have no difficulty in finding these errors, and appreciating them to be "errors" and shall be in a position to correct them, themselves he therefore, did not give such "errors" importance enough to get them corrected.
Now, the first thing about this tradition is that even if we submit that the later generations were not aware of these errors (because of any reason), still it relates to a matter that concerns not a few but all the Muslims that were present during `Uthman's (RA) time. It thus relates to a matter that, if had really happened should have been reported, not by one, two or a few people, but by hundreds and thousands. It should have become as well known a fact as, for instance the existence of a person called `Uthman is, but as we see, it did not. According to one of the principles of some of the Jurists, especially Abu Hanifah, if one, two, three or a few people are reporting an incident that should logically be reported by hundreds or thousands of people, such traditions shall not be accepted. To understand this concept, let us consider an example of our everyday life. If someone declares that an earthquake in a neighboring country has killed thousands of people and that "someone" is the only person giving such a news, none of the news papers or any other of the well known communication media is giving such a news, every reasonable person shall reject such a news on the same principle. Obviously, something as big, as significant and as well known cannot be accepted on the basis of a report of one, two or just a few people.
Furthermore, looking at this tradition closely, we are faced with another very serious question. If `Uthman (RA) had really known that there were mistakes in the text of the Qur'an, why did he not correct them immediately. If `Uthman (RA) could give an order to burn all the copies of the Qur'an except for the official copy once (as the whole tradition of `Uthman's compilation of the Qur'an holds), in the vast Muslim territory, then why could he not stop such (grave) mistakes from being disseminated, and that too at the very start of such a dissemination? Obviously, no answer has yet been given to this question. This simple, unanswered question leaves the tradition inconsistent with common sense. According to another one of the principles laid down by the Muhaddithin (the scholars of the Prophet's traditions), if a tradition is inconsistent with common sense, it shall not be accepted.
Moreover, this tradition ascribed to `Uthman very seriously questions the correctness of the verbal tradition of the Qur'an. It, therefore can be termed as a tradition against the Qur'an. Thus, according to yet another one of the principles laid down by the Muhaddithin any tradition against the Qur'an or the established unanimously held beliefs or unanimously followed actions of the Muslims shall not be acceptable.
The above mentioned principles of the Muhaddithin have been combined
in a single statement, in one of the most well known and accepted books
on the principles of the Muhaddithin relating to the acceptance
of the traditions of the Prophet. Khatib Baghdadi in his book "Kitab
ul-Kifayah fi `ilm al-riwayah" writes7:
Unless satisfactory answers are not provided for these questions, this
tradition cannot be taken as truly coming from `Uthman (RA) and thus cannot
be accepted as reliable. Moreover, the general acceptance of the vast Arab
population of the Qur'an as an infallible piece of Arabic literature makes
the acceptability of such traditions highly questionable. If such was really
the opinion of `Uthman, as is quoted in this tradition, the Qur'an would
obviously not have received such tremendous acceptance from, at least the
Arabs. To the contrary, we see that it was none other than the Arabs themselves
who not only accepted the Qur'an to be infallible in language, literary
style, grammar etc., but were also the primary source of propagation of
this book in the whole world.
The Tradition Ascribed to `Ayesha (RA)
Now let us turn towards the tradition ascribed to `Ayesha (RA). Acceptance of this tradition again hangs on the answers of the above three questions: (1) Why were these errors not seen and reported by a large number of Classical Arabs, rather than just a handful of them? It is even more surprising that even after these errors were pointed out by two of the most well known personalities of Islamic history, the common Arabs remained oblivious of them. If such traditions had any truth in them, they would have gained the status of generally accepted public traditions, that may or may not have been reported in the books of the Prophet's traditions, but would most certainly have become well known through simple public transmission. (2) Why did `Ayesha (RA) not take any step to correct these errors. It must be kept in mind that `Ayesha (RA) is the very person who is said to have made a public appearance in a political matter after `Uthman's murder. Why did she not plan any move to correct the errors that she knew were only a result of scribal and human mistakes. Why did she let these mistakes become so sacrosanct that none could ever retrieve the correct words, in future? (3) This tradition is against the more reliable source of the Qur'an. Thus, according to the principles laid down by the Muhaddithin it cannot be accepted.
Besides the above three reservations, there are a few others directed towards this tradition.
1- This tradition is reported by Abu Muawiyah Mohammad ibn Khazim al-Tamimi al-Dharir al-Kufi to Ibn Hamid or Ibn Humaid. According to Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal, his father Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: Abu Muawiyah's narrations besides those coming through al-A`mash are not reliable8. Likewise, Abu Dawood states: I asked Ahmad ibn Hanbal: what do you think about the traditions of Hisham ibn `Urwah (another narrator in this tradition) that are reported by Abu Muawiyah? He replied: These traditions include such traditions that are not reliable. According to Ibn Kharrash, traditions reported by Abu Muawiyah are dependable if they come through Al-A`mash9.
2- The first verse stated in this tradition (20: 63) has been transliterated by the author of the article thus:
The word saahiraan was declined incorrectly because the word inna in the beginning of the nominal sentence causes a form of declension called "nasb" to the nominative and the "yeh" is the "sign of nasb".
Thus, the tradition quoted by the author does not even state the verse in its correct form. Now, how can such a tradition be accepted to be correctly ascribed to `Ayesha?
3- The second error, mentioned in `Ayesha's (RA) tradition, lies in 5: 69. The verse reads thus:
In two other verses, the same word, in exactly the same grammatical setting was declined correctly.
2:62 "Innal-laziina 'aamanuu wal-laziina haaduu wan-Nasaaraa was-Saabi'iina ..."
22:17 "Innal-laziina 'aamanuu wal-laziina haaduu was-Saabi'iina wan-Nasaaraa ..."
You notice that the word was written Saabi'uuna in 5:69 and was written Saabi'iina in 2:62 and 22:17. In the last two verses the word was declined correctly because the word inna in the beginning of the sentence causes a form of declension called "nasb" (as in cases of accusative or subjunctive) and the "yeh" is the "sign of nasb". But the word Saabi'uuna in 5:69 was given the 'uu, waw which is the sign of "raf'a" (as in cases of nominative or indicative). This then is an obvious grammatical error.
The most well known and acknowledged Grammarians of the Arabic language were also faced with the same situation. But they dealt with it differently and thus, drew a different conclusion. After looking at the Qur'an, they felt that there could be no doubting the fact that the author of the Qur'an was fully aware of the general rules of the language (and most certainly that of the declension of nouns after "inna"). Then they were also faced with the verse 5: 69. Now, rather than finding the easier way out by calling the deviation from the general rule an "Error", the Grammarians, on the presumption that a "person" as knowledgeable as the author of the Qur'an, could not commit such a trivial mistake in a book as important and as significant as the Qur'an, started looking for such deviations in other sources of the Arabic literature and grammar.... and found them. They collected all such deviations and tried to analyze them. They drew their conclusions and were thus now in a position to safely say that such deviations in the Qur'an were not "errors". No doubt, these were deviations from the normal usage, but such deviation could not be called "errors".
Thus, al-Dhmakhsharii in his commentary on the Qur'an, under the referred verse has alluded to a verse of one of the pre-Islamic poets. The alluded verse reads as follows:
the part "anna wa antum" of this verse, as per the argument presented by the author of the article, should have read "anna wa iyya kum", but we can see that there is a deviation here from the generally followed rule. This is adequate evidence that such deviations cannot be termed as "Grammatical Errors". As far as the meaning added by such a deviation is concerned, it is not a point of "Grammar" or "Grammatical Errors" and therefore, we leave it out of the folds of our discussion here.
The argument above, substantiates the fact that such deviations were and are known to be existent in the works of, at least the poets of the pre-Islamic era, and therefore cannot and could not have been termed as errors by anyone well versed with the language and its literature. It is thus difficult to accept that `Ayesha (RA) could have missed the existence of such deviations in the Arabic literature. Furthermore, even if someone as knowledgeable of Arabic literature as `Ayesha, could have missed such deviations, it is unlikely that even all the Arabs who heard `Ayesha's (RA) words could be so ignorant of their language that they did not correct her.
4- The third error, mentioned in `Ayesha's (RA) tradition, lies in 4: 162. The verse reads thus:
Under these circumstances, it seems quite obvious that ascribing the mentioned tradition to `Ayesha (RA) which refers to the verse under consideration, is once again highly questionable.
With the above reservations, it seems quite obvious that on the basis
of a tradition narrated by a few people, which themselves do not stand
upto the test of acceptability, the infallibility of the Qur'an which has
always been and still is accepted by the vast Arab population to be an
epitome of the purest, the most fluent and the most eloquent Arabic language
cannot be challenged.
A Final Word
To summarise the details given above, the language and the style of the Qur'an, because of the general acceptance it has received from the classical, as well as the modern, Arabs is above all kinds of linguistic criticism. Any one who is seriously interested in challenging this position of the Qur'an can do so, only by proving:
References & Notes
1- Encyclopedia Britannica, Linguistics,
Greek and Roman antiquity
2- This, incidentally is also what the author of the referred article stated, in reply to the question: "What were the sources which were relied upon for the purpose of the development of Arabic Grammar?" His answer was: "So the source of the Arabic grammar is the Arabic language itself."
3- Encyclopedia Britannica, Linguistics, The role of analogy
4- For details, see "Grammar", Ibn Khuldoon's "Muqaddamah".
5- For details, see "Khazanatul-Adab" (Arabic), Abd al-Qadir Ibn `Omar al-Baghdadi, Volume I, Dar Sadir, Beirut, (First Edition) Pgs. 3 - 5.
6- For details, see "A Grammar of the Classical Arabic Language", Howell, Mortimer Sloper, Allahabad, 1883, pages xxxiv, xxxv - xxxvi (Preface).
7- Page 432
8- "Tahzib ul-Tahzib" (Arabic), Ibn Hajar, Dar Ihya al-Islami, First Edition, 1326 Hijrah, Volume 9, page 138, 139
9- "Meezan ul ai`tidal", Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Uthman al-Zahbi, Al-Maktabatul-Athriyyah, Sheikhupura, Pakistan, Volume 4, Page 575.
Translation of the Statement From Khazanatul-Adab
Undalasi in his explanatory notes on his colleague, Ibn Jabir, says: "There are six sciences related with language: Linguistics, Morphology, Syntax, Rhetoric, Connotation and the science related to the figures of speech. In the first three, a citable authority can only be the Classical Arab speech. While in the later three, as they are a matter related to the common sense and reason, even the post-classical people may be cited. This is the reason why in these fields citations have also been made from post-classical poets like Buhtari, Abu-Tamam, Abu-Tayyeb etc.
My point of view is that a citable authority in linguistic sciences is of two kinds: one is poetry and the other anything besides poetry. As far as the first category is concerned, Scholars have divided the Arab poets in four categories: (1) "Al-Sho`ara al-Jahiliyyah, or the Classical, pre-Islamic poets... (2) "Al-Mukhadhramun" or the poets who witnessed the pre-Islamic as well as the Islamic era... (3) "Al-Mutaqaddimun" or the poets of the early Islamic era... and (4) "Al-Muwalladun" those after the early Islamic era till the poets of our day.
Citations from the first two groups are unanimously accepted to be authoritative by all the linguists... As far as the third group is concerned, [although there exists some difference] but it is [normally held to be] correct to accept their references to be authoritative... While from the fourth group, citations from only those who are held to be reliable among them are accepted as authoritative, this opinion is also held by Zamukhshari...
The non-poetic sources include either the
Blessed Book of our Lord, the purest, the most fluent and the most eloquent
piece of Arabic literature, citations therefrom are accepted to be authoritative,
whether they are from its continual [most well known] tradition or from
its irregular [not so well known] traditions, as has been declared by Ibn
Janni in the beginning of his book "Al-Mohtasib". Besides [the Qur'an]
such [non-poetical] sources include [speech] references from the first
three categories of Arabs, as we have mentioned in the categorization of
poets, above. As far as citations from the Hadith (narrative traditions)
of the prophet are concerned, Ibn Malik accepts them as authoritative...
while, Ibn Dhai` and Abu Hayyan refuse to do so. Their refusal is based
on two reasons: (1) these traditions are not verbal narrations of the speech
of the prophet, rather only their content has been narrated [in the words
of the narrators]. And (2) the great grammarians of Basra and Kufa do not
hold them as citable authorities [in the derivation of Grammatical rules].
Translation of Al-Farahidi's Statement
"We have placed all the discussions in their respective chapters providing support for each argument from the Qur'an and Arabic poetry".
Translation of Khatib Baghdadi's Statement
No such tradition narrated by a few people shall be accepted/acceptable, as is against common sense, or against an established ruling of the Qur'an or against a known Sunnah of the Prophet or against any thing as accepted and followed by the Muslims as the Sunnah, or against logic.
Articles by M. Rafiqul-Haqq and P. Newton
Answering Islam Home Page