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Salamun Alaikum (Peace be upon you)




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Copyright © 2009 Joseph A Islam: Article last modified 26th March 2011


English commentators make use of various terms to describe the Arabic term 'Alameen'. Nations, creatures, mankind are all common epithets. This is undoubtedly one of the problems many translators face whilst attempting to capture the various nuances of a term from one language to another in one word.  Some terms also carry slightly different renderings depending on the context they are used in.


The Arabic word 'Alameen' comes from the root word 'Ayn-Lam-Mim' which means to know, be aware, knowledge, science, mark or by means of which something can be known.


'Alameen' carries the significance of the meaning 'world', 'creation' 'mankind' or even the entire Universe. It comes from the word plural of 'Alam' and is used in many verses of the Quran.


1:2, 2:47, 2:122, 2:131, 2:251, 3:33, 3:42, 3:96, 3:97, 3:108, 5:20, 5:28, 5:115, 6:45, 6:71, 6:86, 6:90, 6:162, 7:54, 7:61, 7:67, 7:80, 7:104, 7:121, 7:140, 10:10, 10:37, 12:104, 15:70, 21:71, 21:91, 21:107, 25:1, 26:16, 26:23, 26:47, 26:77, 26:98, 26:109, 26:127, 26:145, 26:164, 26:165, 26:180, 26:192, 27:8, 27:44, 28:30, 29:6, 29:10, 29:15, 29:28, 32:2, 37:79, 37:87, 37:182, 38:87, 39:75, 40:64, 40:65, 40:66, 41:9, 43:46, 44:32, 45:16, 45:36, 56:80, 59:16, 68:52, 69:43, 81:27, 81:29, 83:6







Restricting the word to mean either 'nation',  'mankind', 'creation' or 'Universe' is incorrect as the word may carry any one of these renderings based on context.



Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon  [1]


The fact that the word 'Alameen' is not restricted to just all 'creatures' or 'Universe' can be seen from the way 'Alameen' has been used in different parts of the Quran. If we render the word 'Alameen' as 'creatures' only, then the following verses where the word 'Alameen' has been used would read as follows:



Similarly, rendering 'alameen' as ‘Universe’ would give us equally unusual renderings. A case in point is used as an example:



Therefore depending on context, the proper meaning of the term 'Alameen' is derived. For example, in verse 1:2, where the term 'Rabbi'l-alameen' is used, the most correct rendering would be 'Lord of the Universe' as opposed to 'Lord of mankind / creatures' as the latter rendering is unnecessarily restrictive given the subject 'God'.


On the other hand, the first house of worship acting as a blessing and guidance for all 'alameen' would be better rendered as 'all nations' or 'mankind' as an earth bound house of worship is unlikely to represent a blessing or guidance for the complete Universe.








[1] LANE. E.W, Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 5, Page 2141

Highlights marked in red on the lexicon excerpt are my own insertions. They have no bearing on the original text other than they emphasise relevance to the topic at hand. These are merely illustrations and have solely been utilised for educational and explanatory purposes.




Joseph Islam

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