It is often translated as ‘morphology’. The actual meaning of sarf is “the metamorphosing or changing of the ‘asl (base/root word) to many different examples so as to achieve meanings that could not otherwise be achieved” The science of sarf is mostly relegated to verbs and that which derives from them. This change is done to stretch the meaning and to also make pronunciation easy upon the toque. An example of changing the meaning through sarf is manipulating the verb ‘nasara’. From ‘nasara’ we may derive the following: Nasara Nas’sara Naasara tanaasara anassara istansara mansar naasir munasar mansoor . All of these words come from one root verb - nasara. As for making it easy upon the tonque I will provide one example. Let us take the word ‘scale in Arabic. It is called ‘meezaan’. This word comes from the root verb ‘wazana’ which means to weigh. According to a principle of sarf the thing which is used to do this action will sound like ‘mif’aal’. If we were to apply this principle here the item used for the act of weighing would be ‘meewzaan’. Due to the difficulty found in pronouncing that upon the tonque we replace the ‘waw’ with a ‘yaa’ to make it easier. This simplification is broken down into set principles known in sarf. Properly applying principles of sarf can sometimes spell the difference between imaan and kufr. For example Allah said about himself in the Qur’an that he is ‘al-musaawir’-the fashioner. If someone was to pronounce the ‘waw’ with a fathah instead of a kasrah the word would mean ‘al-musaawar’-the fashioned one (the one fashioned by another). Of course the ignorant one making this mistake would be excused but this simply shows you the importance of sarf in the Arabic language.
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