Question: Assalamu ‘alaykum. Why is the word Jahannam (جهنم) always written without the al (ال) in the holy Quran, although it is not indefinite?
Wa ‘alaykum assaalm wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.
I pray you are well.
The word Jahannam is a proper noun. It does not need an ‘al’ to make it definite, similar to the word Makka. It is definite.
There is a difference over its etymological root. Some said it is an Arabised Persian word. Others said it is an Arabic word on the pattern فعنل. This is the stronger position, and, according to it, the word is derived from the word which means to frown or a word which describes a deep well. The nuances of anger and depth can be inferred from its contextual Qur’anic meanings.
In any case, we ask Allah to keep us as far away from it as possible. Amin. (Raghib al-Asfahani, Mufradat al-Qur’an, Mustafawi, al-Tahqiq).
May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with many erudite scholars. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Quranic recital and he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Quranic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.