Sifaat – Characteristics of the Arabic letters

Sifaat is the special characteristics that are inherent in each of the Arabic letters; the Sifaat enable the differentiation between letters that comes from the same Makhraj, as already shown in the previous posting that some of the Makharaj have more than one letter originating from them. It is the Sifaat that allows us to differentiate between these letters. Knowing the Sifaat ensures that they are present when articulating the letters leading to the correct pronunciation of each letter.

There are 18 Sifaat for the Arabic letters, 10 with opposites and 8 without opposites. The 10 with opposites are 5 in pairs. Each of the Arabic letters has at least 5 Sifaat with some having additional sifah. Sifaat is the plural in Arabic while Sifah is singular.




1 الشّدّة
The Strength (As-Shiddah)
The Weakness (Ar-Rikhaawah)
2 الهمس
The Whispers (Al-Hams)
The Audible (Al-Jahr)
3 الإستعلاء
The Elevation (Al-Istia’la)
The Lowering (Al-Istifaal)
4 الإطباق
The Closing (Al-Itibaaq)
The Opening (Al-Infitaah)
5 الإذلاق
The Fluency (Al-Idhlaaq)
The Restraint (Al- Ismaat)

Sifaat with no opposite

1 الصّفير
The Whistling (As-Safeer)
2 القلقلة
The Vibration (Al-Qalqalah)
3 اللِّين
The Ease (Al- Leen)
4 الإنحراف
The Drifting (Al-Inhiraaf)
5 التّكرير
The Repetition (At-Takreer)
6 التّفشِّي
The Diffusion (At-Tafashshii)
7 الإستطالة
The Elongation (Al- Istitaalah)
8 الغنّة
The Nasalisation(Al-Ghunnah)

The above shows the Sifaat with their opposites and those without opposites. There is an in-between Sifah for the strength and weak Sifaat. The next post will explain each of the characteristics and which letter has them.

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