Asas al-Balagha

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Asas al-Balagha
Author Al-Zamakhshari
Original title أساس البلاغة
Language Arabic
Genre Dictionary
Publication date
12th century

Asas al-Balaghah ("The Foundation of Eloquence")[1] is a thesaurus and dictionary of figurative speech by Al-Zamakhshari.[2][3] Zamakhshari authored the work, in part, to reconcile what he viewed as the miraculous nature of the Qur'an with his theological views.[4]

It was the earliest Arabic lexicography to be organized in a completely alphabetical form,[5] and was noteworthy for its attention to metaphorical meanings.[6] Words therein are listed in order from the first of their three component letters to the last, excluding complicated forms derived from roots as well as rare roots such quadrilaterals and quintilaterals.[7] Zamakhshari's goal was to catalog both the literal and figurative meanings of Arabic words, and he used examples from the Qur'an and hadith for both.[7] He viewed words almost as living organisms that were given life by the way they were used in rhetoric.[8]


  1. ^ Wen-chin Ouyang, Literary Criticism in Medieval Arabic-Islamic Culture: The Making of a Tradition, pg. 202. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997. ISBN 9780748608973
  2. ^ John Esposito, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, pg. 346. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 9780195125597
  3. ^ Avigail S. Noy, Don't Be Absurd: The Term Muhal in Sibawayh's Kitab. Taken from The Foundations of Arabic Linguistics: Sībawayhi and Early Arabic Grammatical Theory, pg. 34. Ed. Amal Elesha Marogy. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2012. ISBN 9789004229655
  4. ^ Kenneth Setton, Norman P. Zacour and Harry W. Hazard. A History of the Crusades, pg. 32. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985. ISBN 9780299091446
  5. ^ Muhammad Zubair Siddiqi, Khuda Bakhsh Lectures, Indian and Islamic. Patna: Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library, 1993.
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, vol. 2, L-Z, pg. 468. Eds. Paul Starkey and Julie Scott Meisami. London: Routledge, 1998. ISBN 9780415068086
  7. ^ a b John A. Haywood, Arabic Lexicography: Its History, and Its Place in the General History of Lexicography, pg. 106. 2nd ed. Leiden: Brill Archive, 1960. OCLC 5693192
  8. ^ Haywood, Arabic Lexicography, pg. 107.