by N AL JALLAD · 2008 · Cited by 110 — The word Halal, as used by Arabs and Muslims, refers to anything that is considered permissible and lawful under religion while Haram is what is forbidden and
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Language Design 10 (2008: 77-86) The concepts of al-halal and al-haram in the Arab-Muslim culture: a translational and lexicographical study NADER AL JALLAD University of Jordan 1. Introduction This paper1 aims at providing sufficient definitions of the concepts of al-Halal and al-Haram in the Arab-Muslim culture, illustrating how they are treated in some bilingual Arabic-English dictionaries since they often tend to be provided with inaccurate, lacking and some times simply incorrect definitions. Moreover, the paper investigates how these concepts are linguistically reflected through proverbs, collocations , frequent expressions, and connota- tions. These concepts are deeply rooted in the Arab-Muslim tradition and history, affecting the Arabs™ way of thinking and acting. Therefore, accurate definitions of these concepts may help understand the Arab-Muslim identity that is vaguely or poorly understood by non-speakers of Arabic. Furthermore, to non-speakers of Arabic, these notions are often misunderstood, inade- quately explained, and inaccurately translated into other languages. 2. Background and Methodology The present paper is in line with the theoretical framework, emphasizing the complex relationship between language and culture, illustrating the importance of investigating linguistic data to understand the Arab-Muslim vision of the world. Linguists like Boas, Sapir and Whorf have extensively studied the multifaceted relationship between language and culture. Other examples are Hoosain (1991), Lucy (1992), Gumperz y Levinson (1996), 1 This article is part of the linguistic-cultura l research done by the research group HUM-422 of the Junta de Andalucía and the Research Group of Experimental and Typological Linguistics (HUM0422) of the Junta de Andalucía and the Project of Quality Research of the Junta de Andalucia P06-HUM-02199
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78 Nader al Jallad Luque Durán (2007, 2006a, 2006b), Pamies (2007, 2008) and Luque Nadal (2007, 2008). They all emphasize the inseparability of language and culture, and how language offers a reflection, a manifestation, and an embodiment of culture. Furthermore, Wierzbicka (1992, 1996, 1997) maintains that each culture has key concepts that are essential in understanding it (e.g. amae in Japanese). Similarly, Al-Jallad (2007) studies the concepts of al-jihad, al- Hijab, and al-shahid in the Arab-Muslim culture, showing how vital they are in understanding that particular culture. Al Jallad also illustrates how these are concepts are richly reflected in the Arabic language, emphasizing their importance (see also Al Jallad ). Along the same lines, Alijo Jiménez and Al Jallad argue that the social and cultural role of Arab women can be studied via language. They investigate some women-related concepts, analyzing how they represent directly and indirectly what it means to be a woman in the Arab-Muslim culture. Since language is an indispensable tool in investigating the specific world vision of a community, via analyzing linguistic data (e.g., collocations, proverbs, semantics associations), one can understand the world vision of different people of various cultures and languages. The words under investigation are al-Halal and al-Haram . To propose sufficient and accurate definitions, a) the words were checked in a number of monolingual and bilingual Arabic-English dictionaries (see references), b) they were checked in Islamic encyclopedias, in particular Brill Encyclopedia of Islam (2003), and c) one hundred informants (native speakers of Arabic) were asked to give their definitions of these concepts. They were all fourth- year students at the University of Jordan, and their definitions were studied to see how Arabs feel about these words. Moreover, the treatment of these concepts in Arabic-English dictionaries was critically evaluated, considering accuracy, comprehensi- veness, and clarity. Then, the various linguistic forms, representing these words were listed, stressing their interaction and correlation with meaning. The linguistic expressions were gathered through asking native speakers, consulting dictionaries and references on Arabic proverbs and collocations.
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The concepts of al-halal and al-haram in the Arab-Muslim culture 79 3. al-Halal and al-Haram 3.1. Definition The word Halal , as used by Arabs and Muslims, refers to anything that is considered permissible and lawful under religion while Haram is what is forbidden and punishable according to Islamic law. The word Halal is derived from the verb Halla ﬁto be or become lawful, legal, licit, legitimate, permissible, permitted, allo wable, allowed, admissible, un-prohibited, un- forbidden.ﬂ It may also mean ﬁto untie, unfasten, unbind, undo, unravel, loosen, unloose, unfix, unwind, unscrew, untangle, disentangle, disengage, free.ﬂ In addition, the verb Halla may be used to mean ﬁsolveﬂ or ﬁresolveﬂ (e.g., Halla the problem or the riddle). In chemistry, it means ﬁto dissolve, melt, liquefy, break down.ﬂ (Baalbaki, 1993: 484). According to Al-Karmi (1991), some interesting related expressions to the word Halal are Hallat al-mara li al-rajul ﬁthe woman become lawful to marryﬂ (she can be married after three months of her husband™s death or of divorce) (520), aHalla min al-yamin ﬁbecame free of a commitment to do something that he or she swore to do,ﬂ (521). Additionally, the word Halil refers to one™s husband and wife (522). For a non-speaker of Arabic, the word Halal usually refers to food that is permissible according to Islam. Howeve r, in Arabic, it refers to permissible behavior, speech, dress, conduct, manner and dietary. In western countries, the term is usually used in the context of just Muslim food laws, especially where meat and poultry are concerned. In a Muslim™s life, every aspect of life is regulated by Islamic law; therefore, the Halal -Haram dichotomy almost always applies to everything, and Muslims make sure they understand what is what since saying or doing al-Halal will lead to Paradise and al-Haram to ﬁHell.ﬂ The following are some Halal categories: milk (from cows, sheep, camels, and goats), honey , fish, plants which are not intoxicant, fresh or naturally frozen vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, legumes and nuts like peanuts, cashew nuts, hazel nuts, walnuts, etc., and grains such as wheat, rice, rye, barley, oat, etc. Moreover, anima ls such as cows, sheep, goats, deer, moose, chickens, ducks, game birds, etc., are Halal , but they must be dabiHah (slaughtered according to Islamic Rites) in order to be suitable for
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80 Nader al Jallad consumption. The procedure is as follows: the animal must be slaughtered by a Muslim, and it should be put down on the ground (or held it if it is small) and its throat should be slit with a very sharp knife to make sure that the three main blood vessels are cut. While cutting the throat of the animal, the person must pronounce the name of God or recite a blessing which contains the name of God, such as ” bismillah, allah-u-akbar” . The word Haram is the opposite of Halal . According to Baalbaki (1993), the word Haram means ﬁtaboo, inviolable, sacred, holy, ill-gotten, sin, wrongdoing, offense.ﬂ (460). It is derived from the verb Harrama ﬁto forbid, prohibit, interdict, proscribe, ban, bar, outlaw, declare unlawful, to taboo, make illegal.ﬂ It also means ﬁto declare sacred, holy, and inviolable.ﬂ Some related forms are the word Haram ﬁsanctuary, sacred place, wife, spouse,ﬂ Haram al-jami?ah ﬁuniversity campus,ﬂ al-Haram al-aqsa ﬁJerusalem,ﬂ al-Haraman ﬁMecca and Medina.ﬂ In addition, the noun Hirman is frequently used, meaning ﬁdeprivation, privation, stripping, refusal, debarment, preclusion, exclusion, shutting out, keeping out, barringﬂ or ﬁlack, want, need, deprivation, poverty, indigence, penury, beggary, misery, distress, sufferingﬂ (465). We also have al-balad al-Haram ﬁMecca,ﬂ al-beyt al- Haram ﬁthe Kaaba.ﬂ (460). Al-Masri (1997) lists further derivations and expressions related to the word Haram . For example, common expressions are maHaram al-leil ﬁsins of the nightﬂ (66), Huramu al-rajul is ﬁwhat a man protects: family, kids and wivesﬂ (67), and istaHramat al-shah ﬁsaid of animals when ready to mateﬂ (68). Moreover, the word Harim ﬁapartments for womenﬂ is also morphologically and semantically related to Haram like all of the examples above. In contrast to Halal , Haram refers to any forbidden pattern of behavior, speech, dress, conduct, and manner under Islamic law. Of course, it also includes what is unlawful to consume of food or beverage. Some examples of Haram are meat from pork (ham, gammon, bacon), pork-based products and by-products (sausages), animals improperly slaughtered, or already dead before slaughtering, animals killed in the name of anyone other than Allah, and intoxicants. To sum up, al-Halal and al-Haram represent the Islamic laws that govern every aspect of a person™s life (s peech, behavior, dress, dietary, etc.), rendering it as either lawful and permissible or taboo and forbidden, and
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The concepts of al-halal and al-haram in the Arab-Muslim culture 81 everything Halal is rewarded by God while the Haram is punishable. Put simply, it is the Islamic dichotomy of rights and wrongs and dos and don™ts, forming the regulating collective consciousness of the Islamic community. 3.2. Dictionaries Dictionaries, in particular English monolingual ones, highlight the dietary- based meaning of Halal and Haram, narrowing the context of the words; thus undermining their comprehensiveness and vital regulating role that touches every aspect of a Muslim™s life. For example, The American Heritage Dictionary (1997) lists the first sense of the word Halal as ﬁmeat that has been slaughtered in the manner prescribed by the Shari™aﬂ (612). Similarly, the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (http://www.m-w.com/) provides two senses for the word Halal ﬁ sanctioned by Islamic law especially ritually fit for use ( halal food)ﬂ and ﬁselling or serving food ritually fit according to Islamic law.ﬂ Obviously, the two senses emphasize ﬁfood.ﬂ The bilingual dictionaries checked in this study provide a long list of equivalents for the words Halal and Haram. However, the definitions do not capture the powerful regulating dimension of these words and how influential they are in the Arab-Muslim culture. For example, although a dictionary of Islamic terms, Al-Maliki and Ibrahim (1997) do not provide more than the following equivalents for Halal ﬁlawful; legal, legitimate, permissibleﬂ and Haram ﬁ forbidden; prohibited, unlawful; illegal; illicit; taboo,ﬂ which can be said to be accurate at one level, but it is not sufficient. 3.3. Linguistic Representation Not surprisingly, the collocations and linguistic expressions related to Halal and Haram are varied and colorful, reflecting how important these concepts are in everyday life and for everyday Muslims. Some frequent collocations are 1) ibin al-Halal ﬁlegitimate son, respectable, decent manﬂ This may mean literally a legitimate son; however, it is often used to praise someone who is well mannered and decent, embodying the positive feelings
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82 Nader al Jallad associated with the word Halal . This expression is also used when some people are talking about a person, and all of a sudden, he shows up, so they tell him ﬁwe were just talking about you ibin Halal.ﬂ 2) ibin al-Haram ﬁbastard; indecent manﬂ Similar to ibin al-Halal , the meaning can be literal, yet the frequent use is to mean ﬁindecentﬂ or ﬁill-mannered.ﬂ This expression stands for a tough insult, dramatizing the negative feelings associated with al-Haram . 3) al-mal al-Haram or al-mal al-Halal ﬁlawful money/gain or ill-gotten oneﬂ The word al-mal ﬁmoneyﬂ almost always collocates with Halal and Haram since one aspect of life where the Halal and Haram are so vital is how people earn their livings. Any money that is ill-gotten is shunned. Muslims are willing to live poor but never use illegal money. It is believed that unlawful money will bring its owner nothing but disaster. Moreover, there are many proverbs about Halal and Haram , echoing again how Muslims feel about these concepts. The following are taken from Abu Hamda (1984): 4) ibin al-Halal biftaH il-baab The lawful son opens the door (8). This proverb shows that people who are doing al-Halal will have more and better opportunities in life. 5) mal al-Haram buqa? fi mawazin iblis Unlawful money is of Satan (39). The strong association between ill-gotten money and evil is dramatized here through the involvement of Satan, the symbol of all evil. 6) maal al-Haram ma bigel Bad money does not grow (39).
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84 Nader al Jallad 12) illi fuloosa Haraam bi?raf baba al-maHkama The one whose money is ill-gotten knows the court so well (479). (One who deals with unlawful money knows the consequences) 13) la biHalil wala biHaram He does not distinguish between lawful and unlawful (479) This is said in describing a person who is lost and confused, and he or she cannot tell good from evil. 4. Conclusion The concepts discussed here are essential in understanding the Arab and Islamic way of thinking and acting, as well as their identity. The job of the translator as well as the lexicographer is quite challenging, attempting to provide definitions or equivalents to such concepts since they are semantically and culturally complex. Ignoring the importance of understanding these concepts would lead to further misunderstandings and stereotypical misconceptions about Arabs and Muslims. This paper is yet another attempt to define some of these concepts that will help better understand the Arab- Islamic culture. References AARAF , S. AND R. AATALLAH , 1996, al-mathal al-sha?abi biyn al-mitHafieh walistimrarieh ﬁ Popular Proverbsﬂ Damascus, Syria: Al-Muxwil Press. AL-JALLAD , N., 2001, ﬁSHAME in English, Arabic, and Javanese.ﬂ Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Delaware, Delaware, USA. AL JALLAD , N., 2007. ﬁThe concepts of al-jihad, al-Hijab, and al-shahid in the Arab-Muslim culture and language: A lexicological and lexicographical studyﬂ in J. D. Luque Durán and A. Pamies Bertrán, ed., 2007, Interculturalidad y Lenguaje I. pp. 109-119. AL-FIROZ -ABADI , M., 1998, al-qamoos al-muHit . Beirut, Lebanon: Al- Resalah Publishers.
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