لَبَّيْكَ – What does it mean?

In this blog post we will examine a pretty tricky expression: لَبَّيْكَ

Labbaika” is said during the pilgrimage before the pilgrims enter Mecca: لَبَّيْكَ اللَّهُمَّ لَبَّيْكَ . It means: Here I am! At your service! But what kind of word is that?

 

Let us check it step by step:

1. The root:
It is ل ب – ى . This root is only used as a II-verb and means to follow, to obey (a call, an invitation), to say “labbaika”.

 

2. The مَصْدَر:
The مَصْدَر of لَبَّي – a form-II-verb (فَعَّلَ) – would be تَلْبِية . But we don’t use this word for our expression. Instead, we use لَبٌّ which is the so called اِسْم الْمَصْدَر of the verb لَبَّى.

 

3. Form the dual:
The word لَبٌّ is put into the dual form for the sake of corroboration (emphasis). It has somehow the meaning of: “answer after answer“, “saying after saying“, etc. Check the table below for examples. The dual is لَبَّانِ in مَرْفُوع (nominative) or لَبَّيْنِ in مَجْرُور or مَنْصُوب (genitive, accusative).

 

4. Put the word into in مَنْصُوب:
Why is that? Let us explain this by the Arabic expression سُبْحانَ اللَّهِ (Praise Allah! Or: God be praised!). This expression (similar to “labbaika”) is used as an exclamation of surprise – a special form of the أُسْلُوب التَّعَجُّب . Grammatically speaking, سُبْحانَ is a so called اِسْم مَصْدَر and is used as a مَفْعُول مُطْلَق (which always has to be مَنْصُوب !). Actually there is no other applica­tion – this word is only used as a مَفْعُول مُطْلَق. So we need لَبَّيْنِ for our example.

 

5. Add the personal pronoun:
As we connect the personal pronoun you (you here refers to Allah) and since we use the word as a مَفْعُول مُطْلَق the ن is elided – because it is connected to a personal pronoun.

 

6. Result: Finally, we get: لَبَّيْكَ

There are a bunch of expressions that are constructed in a similar way using a مَفْعُول مُطْلَق (sometimes in connection with the dual form, for example: سَعْدَيْكَ)

 

Here are some common expressions:

meaning

original meaning

expression

Praise God!

أُسَبِّحُ اللَّه تَسْبِيحًا

سُبْحانَ اللَّهِ

God forbid! God save (protect) me (us) from that!

أَعْوُذُ بِاللَّهِ مَعاذًا

مَعاذَ اللَّهِ

Here I am! At your service!

أُلَبِّيكَ تَلْبِية بَعْدَ تَلْبِية أي أُلَبِّيكَ كَثِيرًا

لَبَّيْكَ

And all good is in your hands.

أسْعَدْتُكَ إسعادًا بَعْدَ إسعادٍ

سَعْدَيْكَ

 

1 thought on “لَبَّيْكَ – What does it mean?

  1. Hi There !
    Thank you again for the explanations. I love your blog and find it absolutely necessary.
    I have noticed that the “Books for Arabic Nerds” section is empty, but would really appreciate if you could find some time to recommand some references you deem worth mentioning (aside from yours which I obviously just ordered ! – eager to read it).

    Many thanks

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