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#EverdayArabic September 14th 2023
From "Wishful Thinking" to "Obtaining Goals"
Here’s our passage for today:
مِنْ أَنْوَاعِ الْأَسْبَابِ الْمُخْتَلِفَةِ لِفَشَلِنَا فِي تَحْقِيقِ غاياتِنَا، يَبْرُزُ سَبَبٌ وَاحِدٌ عَنْ بَقِيَّةِ الْأَسْبَابِ الْيَوْمَ: عَدَمُ قُدْرَتِنَا عَلَى التَّمِييزِ بَيْنَ الْأَهْدَافِ وَالتَّفْكِيرِ بِالأَماني
"Among the various reasons for our failure to achieve our goals, one reason stands out today: our inability to distinguish between goals and wishful thinking."
In the Second Chapter of the Qur’ān, Sūrah al-Baqarah, Allāh employees the word “amānī”/أماني:
وَمِنۡهُمۡ أُمِّیُّونَ لَا یَعۡلَمُونَ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ إِلَّاۤ أَمَانِیَّ وَإِنۡ هُمۡ إِلَّا یَظُنُّونَ
“Some of [the People of Previous Scriptures] are illiterate, knowing nothing of the Book except for wishful thinking. They only speculate.” — al-Baqarah v.78
There’s an enormous gap between simply desiring something and actually being sincere and intentional to fulfill that desire, by Allāh’s permission. I discussed this discrepancy in a video. But for our purposes here today, I want us to expand our Arabic vocabulary but leaning two words, though similar in appearance, are quite different in meaning. These are:
Ghāyah (pl. ghayāt) and hadaf (pl. ahdāf): غاية وجمعها غايات وهدف وجمعها أهداف;
Umniyyah (pl. amānī);
Almost always, in the context of the Qur’ān, “wishful thinking” (أماني) is always presented in a negative light, a context in which ignorance, more than anything else, governs the subjects understanding of thing, in this case Revelation itself.
But not all uses of its root (م + ن + ا) need always be negative. In fact, in common speech, one may use the Form V (built on the form of تَفَعَّلَ/tafa’ala) to indicate “one’s desires to do a think” such as,
أَنا أَتَمَنّى أَنَّك وأَحْبابَكَ بِخَيْر
“I hope that you and your loved ones are well.”
To see how hadaf (هدف) is used, see this ḥadīth in Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn.
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