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How to Easily Apply Arabic Sun and Moon Letters

Arabic sun and moon letters

There are 28 letters in total in the Arabic alphabet for the Arabic Sun and Moon letters. These letters are divided into two groups exactly. One of them is the sun letters (حروف شمسية) and the other is the moon letters (حروف قمرية).

Before we discuss the Arabic Sun and Moon letters, let’s have a quick revision of the kinds of articles first as it is one of the basic grammatical knowledge of definite and indefinite articles in Arabic and can make the entire topic way easier.

Types of Articles in Arabic

There are two kinds of articles in Arabic. One is called “Nakirah” and the other is “Ma’rifah”. These terms are defined as definite and indefinite articles in English.

The indefinite article “Nakirah”

When the words that are Nakirah are said, it is not known what or who is being mentioned clearly. Let’s talk about the salient features of these articles of Nakirah nouns:

  • Expresses the word in general terms.
  • They end with tanween and they do not have a definite article (ال)
  • If you know English, you can compare; Nakirah in Arabic corresponds to nouns used with “a, an” in English. 

Example: مُدَرِّسٌ = a teacher 

The definite article “Ma’rifah”

  • When uttered, it is clearly known who and what they are talking about.
  • We can say that Ma’rifah is the opposite of Nakirah. 
  • These words are prefixed with a definite article ( ال ). Its English equivalent is an example of nouns used with “the”.

Example: اَلْمُدَرِّسُ = the teacher

The reason why we explained the subject of Nakirah and Ma’rifah is that this is one of the basic grammatical knowledge of definite and indefinite articles in Arabic, and in order for us to better understand where the definite article( ال) comes from when talking about the sun and moon letters Arabic rules.

Arabic Sun Letters

As mentioned before, out of the 28 Arabic Sun and Moon letters, there are 14 Sun ones, there are 14. If these letters come after the definite article (ال), the letter (ا) Alif is read by directly connecting it to the sun letter with Shaddah (reading the consonant letter twice).

Someone might ask: what are the 14 sun letters? And the answer is: they are as follows:

Sun letters in Arabic

Sun letters Arabic examples:

اَلشَّمْسُ ⇨  the sun

اَلرَّجُـلُ   ⇨   the man

اَلزَّهْـرَةُ  ⇨  the flower

اَلطَّـالِبُ ⇨ the student

Tajweed Rule:  “Idgham Shamsi”

If words starting with the sun letter after definite article (ال) are alone (as in the examples above), ل the letter Lam is silent. This rule is valid if the word is positioned alone.

But if another word comes before such a word, then the end of the other word is connected directly to the sun letter. So this time, neither the letter “Alif” nor “Lam” is read.

The Idhgam Shamsi is divided into two groups.

1- Idgham Shamsi with Ghunnah

This type of Idghaam is valid only for the letter Noon (ن). When the letter “Noon” comes after the definite article Lam Al Tarif (ال), Idhgaam Shamsi occurs.

Examples: وَالنُّورُ – وَالنَّاسُ

2- Idgham Shamsi without Ghunnah 

Secondly, if any of the Sun letters other than the letter “nun (ن) ” comes after Lam Al Tarif (ال), which is the definite article, Idghaam Shamsi without Ghunnah occurs.

Examples: وَالزَّيْتُونِ – وَالضُّحى 

Note: In these mentioned rules, the fact that the letters Lam and Alif are not read in pronunciation does not mean that they will not be written! If the word is a word with a definite article, its spelling will definitely remain the same, but the letters will be hidden when read. Reading or not reading the Lam Al Tarif refers to some Tajweed rules that we will explain below.

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Arabic Moon Letters

The other 14 ones out of the 28 Arabic Sun and Moon letters in the Arabic alphabet are called Moon letters (الحروف القمرية). The most important feature of these is that, unlike the sun letters, the letters Alif (ا) and Lam ( ل ) are pronounced clearly.

Moon letters in Arabic

Moon letters Arabic examples:

الكِتاَبُ ⇨ the book

الأبُ   ⇨ the father 

الجَمَلُ  ⇨ the camel

البِنْتُ   ⇨ the daughter, girl

Coding to keep in mind: اَبْغِ حَجَّكَ وَ خَفْ عَقِيمَهُ 

Tajweed Rule : “Idhar Qamari”

If one of the Moon letters comes after Lam, the letter lam is read clearly without combining it to the moon letter. This is called Idhar Qamari. When “al” (ال) is added to the beginning of a noun that starts with lunar letters, the letter “lam” ( ل ) is brought to the Jazm position. So “Lam” is pronounced.

If any word is placed before these words, this time the Lam is read unlike we did when there were sun letters. Only the letter Alif is not pronounced. 

Example:  أَلْفَجْرُ – وَأَلْجَنَّة 

The Story behind Their Names

Another piece of information to keep in mind about the rules of sun and moon letters is the reason why these letters are called this way.

The meaning of “Qamar” is “moon”  in Arabic. Well, have you ever thought about why these letters are defined as moon letters? The answer will interest you. Just as the stars are clearly visible when the moon is in the sky, the Moon letters also make the Lam Al Tarif (the definite article) visible and clearly pronounced.

As for the sun letters, sun letters make Lam invisible, just as the stars are invisible when the sun rises, so the letter Lam is not pronounced, and the sun letters are pronounced with Shaddah; the sign that comes above the consonant letter that should be read twice in Arabic.

Having finished the explanation of Arabic sun and moon letters as well as the sun and moon letters examples, check this blog for more information about the rules of Laam Shmasiyya and Qamariyyah in Arabic.

Why to Apply the Arabic Sun and Moon Letters

A question mark engraved on a cubic

The main reason for applying the rules of Arabic Sun and Moon letters, or any other rule, is to ease the way we pronounce letters. Namely, if you have noticed, your tongue coincides with the back of your teeth when making the sound of the letter Lam Al-Tarif. But when you pronounce a Moon letter, the Makhraj (i.e. the position of the tongue) will be quite far from the position of Lam Al-Tarif.

When reading which have definite articles and start with sun letters, Lam Al-Tarif is not pronounced. It is connected with Shaddah. This is because sun letters are very close to Lam Al-Tarif in Makhraj.

How to Remember Sun and Moon Letters

In this regard, we should first point out that these rules are already self-explanatory. When we say the Arabic name of Sun letters الحروف الشمسية, we can get a clue about which rule to apply in pronunciation.

The letter (ش) is made Shaddah by hiding Lam Al-Tarif. In the word الحروف القمرية, the letter (ق) is read without Shaddah, the letter Lam is pronounced clearly. It gives us information about what kind of rule it is.

Sun and Moon letters examples:

In order to keep these letters in mind, different coding has been made. Two of the most common codings are mentioned below.

The first letters of the words in this couplet memorized for Idghaam Shamsi are the sun letters in Arabic.

تُبْ ثُمَّ دَعْ ذَنْبًا رَمَي زِدْ سُمْعَةً شِمْ صَدْرَ ضَيْفٍ طَابَ ظَنَّ لَهُ نِعَمْ

All the letters of the couplet we have written are the letters of Idhar Qamari:    

اَبْغِ حَجَّكَ وَ خَفْ عَقِيمَهُ

Advice on How to Study Arabic Sun and Moon Letters

First, take an Arabic text or a short Surah from the Quran. Underline the rules that we have explained above, name the words that contain Idgham Shamsi and Idhar Qamari, then pronounce these words. If you repeat this work a few times, you will not have any difficulties with the Arabic Sun and Moon letters and their rules.

As we are told in Surah Al-Muzammil: “…and recite the Quran clearly with tartīl (in a distinct and measured tone)”.

So, we should strive to read the Quran in the best way possible. And if this is a beautiful and balanced reading, we should at least know and be able to apply the basic Tajweed rules, such as the Arabic Sun and Moon letters. Indeed, the benefits of learning Tajweed and applying it are numerous!

Conclusion

In this article, we talked about the characteristics of the Arabic Sun and Moon letters and their place in tajweed. Imaam Muhammad Ibn al-Jazari, may Allah have mercy upon him, who is a great scholar in Hadith and the Quran, mentioned in his famous poem about Tajweed, that the application of Tajweed rules is an absolute necessity and that the ones who do not apply these rules will be sinful.

If you want to beautify your reading of the Quran and present your prayers to Allah in the best way you can, do not delay this goal. Perhaps there is some wisdom in the way you are reading this article, and you should finally move on to this field.

If you have any questions about where to start, Riwaq Al Azhar Institute is here to help with stable course schedules for permanent learning. You can be decisive in choosing a male or a female teacher and arranging lesson times. Do not miss the opportunity to participate in our lessons wherever and whenever you want! 

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