Ṣūwar min Ḥayat Al Saḥaba – صُوَرٌ مِن حياةِ الصَحابة

The title of this book can be translated to “Manners and/or ways of the Companions of the Prophet” . The word Ṣaḥaba is a noun describing the people who were alive and saw the Prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h).

The first word of the title of this book [Ṣūwar – صُوَرٌ] is one of the one thousand and one words that could be incorrectly interpreted within the Arabic lexicon.

The first letter of the word [Ṣaḍ – ص] is the 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet.  Edward William Lane describes the letter in his Arabic-English Lexicon as a “non-vocal letter, pronounced with the breath only without the voice”.

The word [Ṣūwar – صُوَرٌ] is the plural form of [Ṣūra – صورة] which can mean either: picture; image; illustration; photo OR it can mean: manner; way; form. 

Both meanings are written in the exact same form as shown below.

surah-arabic translation
surah-arabic translation

A simple example of how without a familiar understanding of the context – which requires cultural and linguistic information – a word can be incorrectly deviated from its meaning.

How many times has this happened when translating Arabic classical texts into English I wonder?