3 December 2016

Arabic Particles: Learn Arabic Preposition عَلَىٰ ala

Learn Arabic Preposition عَلَىٰ ala meaning shades and usage.
Learn Arabic Preposition ala
See Arabic Particles Meanings series to learn Arabic particles and related words meanings.
Also see Arabic Particles Quick Study Tool.

Last edited on : 3 December 2016

1 (w,h)(n) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is used
i. In its original local sense to indicate higher elevation or superiority of position :
a. On top of , above or over its genitive (most common) .
b. On an elevation above its genitive.
ii. To indicate outer elevation over its genitive. This elevation can be over any of the sides also, not only the top. A paint on the wall is not literally on the top of the wall but on the side face of the wall. A guard on the door is not literally sitting on top of the door but over / upon /on / at its front or entrance i.e. at an elevation not with reference to the top of the door but an elevation with reference to the front or entrance of the door. The clothes on you are not literally on top of your head, but on you with respect to being on or over your body covering over the body from. Side elevation is used in English also, e.g. in architect drawings, the views from the front and sides are called elevations. This outer elevation is indicated in books like (h,l) differently as a case of superiority of position over something near the genitive.
iii. Another related meaning is in front of which is mentioned in some books as under. This is a case of elevation from the front of its genitive.

The usage of عَلَىٰ ala can either be: 
real / proper / physical / perceptible by sense (e.g. physically on the table)
tropical / ideal / conceptual / perceptible by intellect (e.g. debt due upon someone , ruler over masses)

Genitive of عَلَىٰ ala is the word governed by it in the genitive case. 

[ on , upon , over , at , in front of ]

هُوَ عَلَى ٱلسَّطْحِ he is on / upon the flat roof.
جَلَسَ عَلَى ٱلْمَاۤءِدَةِ he sat at the table. (This can be because a person sitting at a table rises above the level of it. Also this can be because of sitting over any of its sides at an elevation with reference to its side and not with reference to its top)
عَلَيْكَ ثِيَابَ قُطُنٍ on / upon / over you are clothes of cotton. (Again this is not literally on top like cotton clothes are not above your head literally but on or upon or over your body)
قَعَدَ عَلَىٰ بَابِ دَارِهِ he sat at the door of his house.
اَلْقَرْيَةُ عَلَى ٱثْنَىْ عَشَرَ مِيلًا مِنَ ٱلْفُسْطَاطِ The town is at 12 miles from al-Fustaat. (i.e. at a side elevation or distance of 12 miles from one of its sides)
قَرَأَ عَلَىٰۤ أَبِيهِ he recited it in front of his father. 
عَلَيْهِ دَيْنٌ upon / on him is a dept.
سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ peace/safety on / upon you (all).
جَعَلَهُ أَمِيرًا عَلَى ٱلْعِرَاقِ he made him ruler over Iraq.

2 (w,n) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also used to indicate
duty / responsibility / obligation / doable / dept / loan which is
due / deliverable / incumbent 
on / upon someone i.e. on the genitive of عَلَىٰ ala
Hence it is used after verbs signifying to prescribe, to decree, to make incumbent or unavoidable etc. 

[ on , upon ] ( due upon , incumbent upon )

عَلَيْهِ دَيْنٌ on / upon him is a dept OR (due) upon / on him is a dept OR (translating non-literally) he owes a dept.
عَلَيْكَ أَنْ تَفْعَلَ هَٰذَا on / upon you is that you do this OR (incumbent) on / upon you is that you do this.
(Note: In English also on is used in a similar sense, e.g., this is on you means this is your responsibility)

3 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also used to indicate
the advantage, superiority, or distinction, which one person or thing has over another

[ over , above ]

اِخْتَارَهُ عَلَىٰ ذَٰلِكَ he preferred it over that.

4 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also sometimes used
in a hostile sense, in case of which it is usually translated as upon or against

[ upon , against , up against , on , at ]

خَرَجَ عَلَيْهِ he went out upon / against him.
عَتَبَ عَلَيهِ he was angry on / upon / at him.
أَغْرَى ٱلْكَلْبَ عَلَيْهِ he incited the dog upon / against / at him.

5 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also used to indicate
the ground or basis in terms of condition/state on which a person stands with respect to religion, trade, profession, health, fortune, mental/bodily gifts etc.

[ upon , on , based upon , (standing) upon / on ]

لَيْسَ عَلَى ٱلشَّيْءِ he is not upon / on / based upon anything. He is not (standing) upon anything i.e. he has nothing to stand on.

6 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also used to indicate
the ground or basis in the sense of terms / condition on which something is done.

[ on , on condition ]

عَلَىٰ هَٰذَا ٱلْشَّرْطِ on this condition.
ذَٰلِكَ عَلَىٰ أَن يَّفْعَلَ that is on condition that he does 

7 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also used to indicate
the ground or basis in terms of the cause / reason on which one does a thing.

[ on , on account of ]

لَاۤ أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا I do not ask you on / on account of it a fee...  ( Translation attempt for selected words from The Qur'an 6:90 ) 

8 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also used to indicate
the ground or basis in terms of the means via which something is done.

[ by means of , via ]

وَعَدَكَ عَلَيْهِ he promised you by means of him. 

9 (w,n,l) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also used to indicate
the rule or standard upon or based on or according to which something is done. It indicates
conformity, accordance, adaptation or agreement.

[ on , upon , based on ] ( according to )

عَلَىٰ هَٰذِهِ ٱلطَّرِيقَةِ on / upon this manner of conduct
عَلَىٰ مَا رَأَيْتُ فِى ٱلْكُتُبِ based on what I have seen in the books.

10 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also used to indicate
the subject on / of / concerning which we speak as if our conversation was based on it. 

[ on , of , concerning ]

قَالَ عَلَىٰ ذَٰلِكَ he spoke on that.

11 (n) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also used to indicate
the being on / of / concerning whom we speak as if our conversation was based on him or our conversation was based on something under his authority or something coming from him.

[ on , of , concerning ,  concerning that which is under the authority of , concerning that which proceeds from ]

أَمْ تَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللّٰهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ ...or do you say concerning / concerning that which is under the authority of ALLAH what you don't know. ( Translation attempt for selected words from The Qur'an 2:80 ) 

12 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also used to indicate
something happening in spite of / despite / notwithstanding another thing that might have prevented it.

[ in spite of , despite , notwithstanding ]

قَتَلَ أَسَدًا عَلَىٰ صِغَرِ سِنِّهِ he killed a lion notwithstanding / in spite of / despite smallness of its age. 

13 (f) . The Arabic preposition عَلَىٰ ala is also used to indicate
onto

[ onto ]

سَقَطَ عَلَى ٱلْأَرْضِ he fell onto the ground. 

14 (l) . The original letters in عَلَىٰ are ع ل و .

15 . To study this particle further in many other books read the pages for this particle in
Arabic Particles Tool . Also to see other posts in Arabic Particles Meanings series.

References: When multiple references mentioned for a point, it means material selected from all quoted references more from some and less from others and all quoted references do not necessarily agree on everything. Material is not exactly copied but based on the reference quoted and I have made additions, editions & changes where required :
w = Wright Arabic Grammar English
h = Howell Arabic Grammar English
l = Lane's Lexicon
n = New indication by me
a = Arabic Almanac books
p = Arabic Particles Tool books
m = Sharh of Miatu Amil .
f =  Fischer Arabic Grammar (this link is not a separate post on it , but its PDF can be downloaded from the page).

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