The following are selected translated Arabic proverbs, shared over a period of time on Toronto Dawah’s WhatsApp Group. They were extracted and shared seeing as they contain much wisdom.

⚫ الوقت مُعلم من لا مُعلم له

“Time is the teacher of those who have no teacher.”

Note: Certain individuals only learn over time via life experiences.

⚫ الكلاب تنبح و القافلة تسير

“The dogs bark but the caravan keeps moving.”

⚫ يوم عسل و يوم بصل

“A day of honey and a day of onions.”

Note: Life consists of days of happiness and days of sadness.

⚫ التكرار يعلم الحمار

“Repetition will teach (even) a donkey.”

Note: The arabs usually use the example of a cow or a donkey for a person lacking intelligence.

⚫ الجاهل عدو نفسه

“An ignorant man is his own enemy.”

Note: Perhaps the first person he ends up harming himself.

May Allaah make things easy.

⚫ إن المعاذير يشوبها الكذب

“Excuses are riddled with lies.”

Note: Most of the time people are trialed with lying when making excuses for themselves.

⚫ من سدد ديونه نامت عيونه

“He who pays his debts, rests his eyes.”

Note: Debts would make a person lose sleep just thinking about them.

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْمَأْثَمِ وَالْمَغْرَمِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَتْ فَقَالَ لَهُ قَائِلٌ مَا أَكْثَرَ مَا تَسْتَعِيذُ مِنَ الْمَغْرَمِ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ إِذَا غَرِمَ حَدَّثَ فَكَذَبَ وَوَعَدَ فَأَخْلَفَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

O Allah! I seek refuge with Thee from sin and debt.” She (‘A’isha) reported: Someone said to him – (the Holy Prophet): Messenger of Allah! why is it that you so often seek refuge from debt? He said: When a (person) incurs debt, (he is obliged) to tell lies and break promise.

Reported by Bukhaari and Muslim

⚫ سِلاح اللئام قُبحُ الكلام

” Bad language is the weapon of the lowly ones”

Note: Or as some would say “any fool could call names”.

⚫ لِكُل عالِم هفوة و لِكُل جواد كبوة و لِكُل صارِم نبوة

“For every intellectual a lapse, for every horse a stumble, and for every sword (bearer) a disaster.”

Note: And similarly pertaining to worldly affairs nothing goes up except it has to come down.

It was narrated that Anas bin Malik said:

“The Messenger of Allah raced with a Bedouin and (the latter) won. It was as if the Companions of the Messenger of Allah were upset by this, so he said: ‘It is a right upon Allah that there is nothing that raises itself in this world except that He lowers it.'”

Reported by al-Bukhaari.

⚫ من وعدك بكل شيء لم يعِدك بشيء

“Whoever promises you everything, promises you nothing.”

⚫ قول الحق لم يدع لي صديقاً

“Telling the truth has left me no friends.”

⚫ البخيل يتعشى مرتين

“The stingy one has supper twice ”

Note: A stingy person eats more food than he needs because of his disdain for sharing. Due to him withholding so much from spending, he ends up buying a poor meal due to it being cheaper and after he finishes eating, he realizes that the meal wasn’t enough for him. So he ends up buying another meal. Therefore, he ends up spending twice the amount when he could of just paid a little more at first and bought a good meal and it would have been sufficient for him. This is applied to a lot of things, not only food.

⚫ الفرص تمُر مَر السحاب

“Opportunities pass by like clouds.”

⚫ الذي لا يتعب لا يرتاح

“He who never tires, never rests.”

Note: This could someway be equivalent to the English saying “no pain, no gain”.

⚫ إن الكذوب قد يصدق

“(Even) A liar could tell the truth.”

Note: The fact a liar tells the truth once or twice doesn’t remove him from the realm of being a liar and this is evident from the following hadeeth:

‏ “‏ صَدَقَكَ وَهْوَ كَذُوبٌ، ذَاكَ شَيْطَانٌ ‏”‏‏

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He told you the truth, though he is a liar”

Reported by al-Bukhaari

⚫ يد واحدة لا تصفق

“One hand does not clap.”

Note: This was initially used for the cooperation of the two spouses in order for their marriage to last and it is generally used for indicating that certain things in life require another hand (i.e help from others).

⚫ المرء بِآدابه لا بثيابه

“A man is known by his manners, not his clothes.”

Note: There is an English saying “better good manners than good looks”.

⚫ تأتي الرياح بما لا تشتهي السفن

“Winds blow counter to what ships desire.”

Note: This proverb was used by Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen and others clarifying not everything goes as planned.

⚫ مصائب قوم عند قوم فوائد

“One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”

⚫ على قدر فراشك مد رجليك

“Stretch your legs according to the size of your mattress”

Note: Which means live within your means and don’t exceed your limits.

⚫ فم يُسبح، و يد تذبح

“A mouth that prays, and a hand that slays.”

And some of the Shuyookh would say:

يد تسبح، و يد تذبح

“A hand doing tasbeeh and a hand striking”

Note: This proverb is usually used for the khawaarij who display love for tasbeeh and dhikr while they are the same individuals who strike the necks of the innocent.

And it could be generally used for those who show two opposite sides of themselves.

⚫ الأعور في وسط العميان ملك

“Among the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

Note: This is quite sad especially where we reside that a person who knows so little is regarded as knowing so much.

⚫ ﺩﻭﺍﻡ ﺍﻟﺤﺎﻝ ﻣﻦ المحال

“Continuing the same state is impossible.”

Note: The days are cycles of life which contain ups and downs which all people are rotated in.

⚫ أسمع جعجعة ولا أرى طحنا

” I hear (a lot of) cracking, but I don’t see any grinding”

Note: Ash-Shaykh Albany rahimahullah would often use this proverb. It is used against a person who speaks a lot but has no actions to support his statements.

⚫ هل يستقيم الظل و العود أعوج

“Can the shadow ever be straight while the branch is crooked”

Note: Here is another proverb that Shaykh Albany rahimahullah would use to show that if the foundations of something is incorrect then likewise what was built upon it will be incorrect.

⚫ الجار قبل الدار

“Choose your neighbor before you choose your house”

Note: A good neighbour is from one of the elements of happiness in life as comes in a narration.

⚫ الحسود لا يسود

“Victory does not come by way of jealousy”

Note: Usually they give the parable of jealousy and envy to a fire that eventually devours itself.

⚫ في العجلة الندامة و في التأني السلامة

“In haste there is regret and in patience and self-control there is safety”

Note: The Turkish say “the devil takes a hand in what is done in haste” which coincides to a narration which some of the scholars authenticate.

⚫ تغدى تمدى .. تعشى تمشى

“After dinner (i.e. lunch) sit a while; after supper walk a mile”

Note: For that reason the arabs would have small qayloohahs after having lunch in the day.

⚫ أَنْفِقْ مَا فِي الْجَيْبِ يَأْتِكَ مَا فِي الْغَيْبِ

Its english equivalent is: “Give and spend, and Allah will send”

Note: Some have incorrectly ascribed it as being a hadith. However, it is still a good saying to share since it coincides with the following hadeeth:

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ:

” قَالَ اللَّهُ: أَنْفِقْ يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ، أُنْفِقْ عَلَيْكَ “.

On the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (ﷺ), said: Allah (The Almighty and The Sublime) said: Spend (in charity), O son of Adam, and I shall spend on you.

Al-Bukhari & Muslim.

⚫ النُّصحُ أغلى ما يُباعُ ويُوهَـبُ

“Good advices go beyond all prices”

Note: Some have ascribed it to Ali bin Abi Talib (may Allaah be pleased with him).

And in other words the arabs would say: لا تقدر بالأثمان – “a good advice is priceless” meaning it is so precious that its value cannot be determined.

⚫ من لم يأخذ قسطه من اللعب في الصغر أخذ قسطه من اللعب في الكبر

“He who doesn’t take his share of entertainment when he is young, will take his share of entertainment when he is old”

Note: It is suggested for the parents to allow their children to have their share of play when they are young or else they may end up making up for it when they are old.

⚫ لا خَيْلَ عِندَكَ تُهْديهَا وَلا مالُ, فَليُسْعِدِ النُّطْقُ إنْ لم تُسعِدِ الحالُ

“You have no horse to gift nor is there any wealth, so let your tongue be somewhat pleasing if your condition isn’t so satisfying”

Note: This statement is supported by the hadeeth of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم when he said:

فَمَنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ فَبِكَلِمَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ ‏

“He who cannot afford (giving charity), then (let him do so) by (saying) a good, pleasant word.”

Al-Bukhaari and Muslim


⚫ الإفراط في التواضع يجلب المذلة

“Too much humility brings humiliation.”

Note: Humility could be praiseworthy at times and blameworthy at other times. When humility occurs as a result of ضعضعة (i.e bringing disgrace and humiliation to oneself), then this form of humility is blameworthy while when humility is based upon تواضع (i.e. humbleness in its rightful place), then it is praiseworthy. Allah knows best.

“On the authority of Hudayfah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, said:

مَا يَنْبَغِي لِلْمُؤْمِنِ أَنْ يُذِلَّ نَفْسَه

‘It is not befitting for the believer to humiliate himself.’

He was asked, ‘How does one humiliate himself, O Messenger of Allah?’

So he replied,

يَتَحَمَّلُ مِنَ الْبَلَاءِ مَا لَا يُطِيق

He takes on tests that he cannot bear'”

Reported by At-Tirmidhi and others. Graded saheeh by Albany رحمه الله]

⚫ العقل السليم في الجسم السليم

“A healthy mind in a healthy body”

Note: This saying has been criticized by some of the scholars for its vagueness as we know from the description of the hypocrites in the Quran is that they were described with having healthy and amazing bodies yet Allah informed that they are void of a correct mind state. However, what is mainly intended from this saying is to emphasize that physical exercise is an important factor to attain a good state of mental health.

⚫ مودة الصديق تظهر وقت الضيق

“The true side of friendship becomes apparent at the time of hardship”

Ash-Shaykh Muhammad Amaan al-Jaami rahimahullah would say in some of his tapes the following arabic lines:

جزى الله الشدائد كل خير عرفت بها عدوي من صديقي

“May Allaah reward times of hardship with all good! It made me see my enemy from my friend” End translation.

Portions of the above text were obtained from supplementary translations.

Compiled by

AbdulFattah Bin Uthmaan
Abu Fajr