Cognitive Semantic Study of the Preposition ‘Min’ in the Quran

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Bibliographic Information
Journal Journal of Islamic and Religious Studies
Title Cognitive Semantic Study of the Preposition ‘Min’ in the Quran
Author(s) Khan, Sardaraz, Syed Naeem Badshah, Irfan Ullah
Volume 4
Issue 2
Year 2019
Pages 83-110
DOI 10.36476/JIRS.4:2.12.2019.13
Full Text Crystal Clear mimetype pdf.png
Keywords Conceptual Metaphor, Sensorimotor Neural Structures, Path Schema, Preposition, Quran
Chicago 16th Khan, Sardaraz, Syed Naeem Badshah, Irfan Ullah. "Cognitive Semantic Study of the Preposition ‘Min’ in the Quran." Journal of Islamic and Religious Studies 4, no. 2 (2019).
APA 6th Khan, S., Badshah, S. N., Ullah, I. (2019). Cognitive Semantic Study of the Preposition ‘Min’ in the Quran. Journal of Islamic and Religious Studies, 4(2).
MHRA Khan, Sardaraz, Syed Naeem Badshah, Irfan Ullah. 2019. 'Cognitive Semantic Study of the Preposition ‘Min’ in the Quran', Journal of Islamic and Religious Studies, 4.
MLA Khan, Sardaraz, Syed Naeem Badshah, Irfan Ullah. "Cognitive Semantic Study of the Preposition ‘Min’ in the Quran." Journal of Islamic and Religious Studies 4.2 (2019). Print.
Harvard KHAN, S., BADSHAH, S. N., ULLAH, I. 2019. Cognitive Semantic Study of the Preposition ‘Min’ in the Quran. Journal of Islamic and Religious Studies, 4.
خون حرا م ہے: حلال انڈسٹری کے بنیادی قرآنی معیار کا تحقیقی جائزہ
برصغیر میں اصول تفسیر: ارتقاء، تنوع اور اس کے اسباب
جنین کا عصری اور شرعی تناظر میں تحقیقی جائزہ
اسلامی فوجداریت کا ضابطۂ قرائن
روایاتِ اسباب النزول کے تفسیری ادب پر اثرات کا جائزہ
تاریخ کبیر میں امام بخاری کا رواۃ پر تنقید کے اسلوب کاجائزہ
ماحولیاتی آلودگی اور اس کا سدباب: سیرت نبویﷺکی روشنی میں ایک تحقیقی جائزہ
تاريخية السنة بين المثبتين والنافين
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دعوى رد الإمام مالك خبر الآحاد الصحيح: دراسة تطبيقية
قواعد الترجيح المتعلقة بالنص القرآني: دراسة وصفية تطبيقية
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Exploring the Role of Female Successor “Amrah Bint Abd Al-Raḥmān” in Narration of Prophetic Traditions
An Analytical Study of the Outcomes and Impacts of Religious Education of Pakistan, the Challenges and Opportunities
Education As a Catalyst of Personality Development: A Case Study of ‘Omar Bin Khattāb R. A
Islam and Woman in the Contemporary Arab World: An Interpretation of Rajaa Al-Sanea’s Girls of Riyadh from Islamic Feminist Perspective
Cognitive Semantic Study of the Preposition ‘Min’ in the Quran


The preposition ‘min’ is semantically more complex than what the traditional lexicaAl-syntactic approaches held it to be adverb or adverbial of place and time. This paper attempts to investigate the semantic complexity of the preposition ‘min’ from cognitive linguistic perspective to find out its semantic classification and linguistic symmetric patterns. Data has been taken from the Quran to investigate the claim of conceptual metaphor theory that sensorimotor neural structures generates the preposition ‘min’ on the image schema of source-path-goal. The findings reveal that the source-pathgoal image schema is not only at work in the use of preposition ‘min’ in spatio-geometric sense, but also to map the abstract concepts, emotional states and relationship with supernatural entities in spatial terms in the Quran. However, the data also show idiosyncratic behaviour of preposition, attaining different semantic arguments in different linguistic contexts, which strengthen the argument that language use cannot be abridged to static mapping in the human conceptual system. This paper recommends future research on the same preposition or other prepositions to investigate further the source-path-goal image schema in the Quran and Arabic language.


Preposition, in Arabic grammar, is termed as particle of attraction Ḥarf Jarr (حرف جر), and it causes the following noun or adverb in genitive case[1] (Wright, 2011). A preposition plays a relational function, linking a verb to an indirect objects[2]. There are twenty prepositions in Arabic language, sub-divided syntactically into four groups, and they lie outside the Arabic derivational system[3]. Prepositions are relational in nature, and they carry a vital semantic function in meaning derivation. The semantic function of prepositions led AAl-Sayyuti (1982) to assert that an exegete must have the knowledge of grammar and prepositions in order to avoid mistakes in the interpretation of the Quran[4]. The syntactic and semantic functions of prepositions in Arabic language led many Arab grammarian and linguists[5] and the orientalists[6] to carry out detailed study of Arabic prepositions. The Arabic prepositions have received different syntactic classifications. AAl-Sayyuti[7] reports three types of prepositions, those that requires a word, min, , ilā, ḥattā, rubbā, lām, maʿa, waw, and , those that require a word or a noun, ʿalā, ʿan, kāf, muz and munz and those that require a verb or a noun, hāshā, ʿadā, khalā. Prepositions have also been classified as true preposition, connecting verb with indirect object and prepositional, which are nouns and may work as adverbs or zurūf[8]. Prepositions are also divided as separable prepositions, min, , ilā, ʿalā, ʿan and inseparable prepositions, such as waw, and [9]. All the grammarians agree that the semantic argument of a preposition may vary from place to place[10]. It necessitates functional semantic studies of the Arabic prepositions to find out semantic patterns in the use of different prepositions.

The prepositions min, , ilā and ʿalā are spatial in nature, and they are used as adverbs of place and time[11]. However, they attain different semantic arguments in different contexts. Previous literature[12] has elaborated the polysemous nature of spatial prepositions. AAl-Sayyuti [13], Badawi et al. [14]and Nasser [15]hold that a preposition’s primary meaning may be extended to different sense in different contexts. According to Badawi et al.[16], prepositions may either be used with literal meanings or metaphorical meanings, and the literature reveals the polysemous nature of prepositions. The preposition min is used to show the starting point or the beginning in term of place or time, such as “min aAl-Basrate” (from Basrah)[17]. However, it has also been used in many other senses. Andulusi [18]says that it also been used for clarification and partition, and it is also used as extraneous. Bedawi et al. [19]hold that it may be used in locative (locating space, time or origin of something), partitive, sub-partitive, explanatory senses. The prepositions ‘min’ gets elaborate treatment in works of AAl-Sayyuti. According to AAl-Sayyuti (1985), the preposition min is the strongest among the prepositions, and it gets the meaning of ʿaenda’ [20]. AAl-Sayyuti gives a detailed account of semantic arguments which the preposition ‘min’ may attain in different contexts. He says that ‘min’ is generally used to locate the starting point of place or time or any other phenomenon. But, it is also used in twelve other senses, which are partitive, clarification, justification/explanation, subset with partitive, alternative and demystification. Besides, this preposition is also used with meaning of , ʿalā, ʿan and for emphasis [21]. Thus, the literature reveals that the prepositions are highly polysemous in nature.

No doubt, prepositions are polysemous in nature, but the major contention of the previous literature is that the spatial prepositions have the primary and secondary senses. AAl-Sayyuti[22] explicates it implicitly and Badawi et al. [23]and Nasser[24] state it explicitly. They[25] hold that a spatial preposition may either have literal or metaphorical meaning. However, the view of literal meaning of prepositions cannot be entertained, because prepositions do not have roots which carry basic perceptual concepts[26]. Even the lexical items derived from the same root or near synonyms may have different meanings, which may cause translation and interpretation issues[27]. Hence the semantic classification of prepositions on the basis of lexical syntactical model lacks unanimity among the previous grammarians. Moreover, prepositions are relational in nature, and they derive their meanings from the situational context in which they are used[28]. It further obscures the previous semantic classification of prepositions.

Ryding (2005) adopts lexical syntactic approach to categorize prepositions into true and semi-prepositions, and to sub-divides true prepositions into locative and directions prepositions. The preposition ‘min’ is considered as direction prepositionh spatiotemporal connotation. In other words, it connotes within a context, the starting point in space or time. However, Ryding (2005) also says that the preposition ‘min’ is also used in figurative sense with abstract concepts[29]. Saeed[30], following Pantcheva’s (2011) lexical syntactical model[31], decomposes direction preposition into source relator, route relators and goal relators with reference to a figure on the path. She classifies the preposition ‘min’ as source relator, relating a figure to the starting point of the path. However, the lexical syntactic approach studies preposition from strict spatio-geometric perspective, and this approach cannot explain its full semantic complexity, keeping in view its abundant use with abstract concepts[32].

The lexicaAl-syntactic approaches cannot offer a methodical semantic classification of prepositions on which the Arab grammarian could agree. Moreover, this approach cannot explain the reasons for the use of spatial prepositions for abstract concepts, emotional states and non-spatial concepts[33]. Previous literature discussed the preposition ‘min’ from geometric sense of direction, but its abundant usage in the Quran with non-spatial concepts is still a vast domain to be explored. Cognitive linguistics offers a solution to harness the full semantic complexity of the spatial prepositions. Saeed[34] has studied the proposition in and on both in English and modern standard Arabic, and she holds that the EVENT STRUCTURE METAPHOR [35]generates the use of spatial preposition (in) with non-spatial and emotional states. Sardaraz and Ali [36](2017) has demonstrated with large linguistic data from the Quran that conceptual metaphors have extensively been used in the Quran to generate the use of preposition with abstract concepts and emotional states. The conceptual metaphor approach, they argue, can give a new impetus to the study of Arabic prepositions in the Quran to harness the full semantic complexity of the spatial prepositions.

The metaphoricity of human mind gives metaphoricity to language, action and thought. Experiential concepts structure the abstract concepts systematically in human conceptual system, and these conceptual metaphors generates both language and its comprehension[37]. Human sensorimotor system serves the function of categorization, conception and learning. The neural concepts generated by sensorimotor system can be broadly categorized into spatiaAl-relations concepts, colour concepts and basic level concepts[38]. The spatiaAl-relation concepts have many sub-categories, but the most important are container schema and source-path-goal schema. Human interaction with the physical world and in the physical world makes the use of spatial relations concepts automatic and unconscious. For example, when one sees an object in a room, one conceptualizes the room as a three dimensional container. The container schema generates the spatial prepositions in, on, out, into in our language. The container schema of the physical world is metaphorically used for conceptualizing emotional states through the conceptual metaphor of STATES ARE LOCATIONS [39].

Human bodily functioning generates the most recurring path schema[40]. Path schema may be “computed by neural circuitry of multimodal secondary areas”, which strengthen the assumption that “linguistic structures are the expressions of neural structures” [41]. The source-path-goal schema has a trajectory (an object in motion), a starting point (location), mid points on the path (the route), the position and the direction of the trajectory on the route and the goal or the end point[42]. The source-path-goal schema generates prepositions like from, away, to, towards, along, through, and the spatio-geometric sense of the source-path-goal schema structures the abstract concepts and states. Path schema generates a large number of metaphorical mappings between the spatial source domain and abstract concepts, such as PURPOSES ARE PHYSICAL GOALS. Johnson further says that human physical movements of many kinds and interactions of perceptual nature are structured by Path schema[43]. In other words, the experiential concept of path trajectory is used to conceptualize motion of time, life, emotional states and many other abstract domains[44].

One of the direction prepositions generated by path schema in English language is ‘from’, drawing on the component of Source in Path schema. This preposition is not only used in spatio-geometric sense of direction from the source, but it has also extensively been used in English language to map the abstract domains [45]. In Arabic, the equivalent preposition of ‘from’ is ‘min’. The preposition min has extensively been used in the Quran, and the available literature on prepositions from cognitive linguistic perspective, has not yet analyzed it. The spatial preposition (in), encoding diverse states and abstract concepts, has been given full length treatment by Sardaraz and Ali [46], and it has been compared with English preposition ‘in’ by Aldwayan[47]. Sardaraz and Ali has recommended the investigation of path schema in future research. This paper aims to examine the usage of preposition ‘min’ in strict spatial sense as well as in metaphorical sense within the cognitive semantic framework. This paper may have significant effect on Arabic grammar, and it may strengthen the existing research on spatial prepositions in the Quran in particular, and on conceptual metaphors in general within the cognitive linguistic framework[48]. This paper may prove a step forward in investigation of semantic complexity of Arabic prepositions in the Quran. Moreover, this paper may also add significant contribution to cross-cultural and cross-linguistic cognitive linguistic research on spatial prepositions.

Research Methodology

Though information retrieval systems from Quran have been proposed in the literature [49], this paper used the Quran search Software developed by Zahid Hussain, available at to retrieve all the instances of preposition ‘min’ in the Quran, because of its successful application by Sardaraz and Ali [50]. Five forms of the preposition, مِنْ (min), مِّنْ (min), مِّنْۢ (min), مِنَ (mina), مِّنَ (mina) and مِّنَ (mina) were used for data extraction. This search engine helped in retrieving 1796 verses from the Quran. The verses were carefully read, and deconstruction was carried out to break the data into purposeful lexical units. The lexical units consisted of the preposition and the following nouns and adverbs in genitive forms. This paper excluded pronouns, as the paper focused more on nouns and adverbs. Moreover, keeping in view the large data, the paper focused on specific spatio-geometric sense, abstract path schema sense and time is space sense of the preposition ‘min’ in the data. The next step was to classify the data according to the nouns and adverbs, following the technique of Ryan and Bernard[51]. The nouns or their derivative were labeled with different codes, which helped in extraction of 199 nouns or their different derivatives with 968 instances.

The next step was to study the extracted nouns in their immediate linguistic contexts in order to determine their meanings with the help of Ibn Fâris[52] and Lane[53] . Metaphor identification procedure (MIT)[54] was followed to determine the meaning of the lexical unit, whether it is literal or metaphorical in nature. For example, in the clause وَاْتُوا الْبُيُوْتَ مِنْ اَبْوَابِهَا ‘watū Al-buyūta min abwābihā’ ‘And enter houses from their doors[55], the preposition is used in strict spatial geometric sense of ‘from the doors’, following the source-path-goal schema. Following this method, the nouns, used with spatial geometric sense were categorized under a single category, while the nouns with metaphorical meanings were categorized on basis of their source or target domains, as suggested by Kövecses[56]. This method helped in categorization of nouns with the prepositions into three major categories, Spatial geometric sense, Path Schema metaphors and TIME IS SPACE METAPHOR. Conceptual metaphor theory was used to further categorize data into specific conceptual metaphor themes, such as abstract concepts are sources on the path schema, supernatural entities are sources on the path schema, event structure metaphor and time is bounded space metaphor.

This paper further followed Tyler and Evans[57] (2003) and Evans[58] to investigate the myriad semantic arguments which the preposition ‘min’ may attain in different situational contexts. This may contribute to further insights on the polysemous nature of spatial prepositions, novel use of spatial prepositions and the role of linguistic knowledge in meaning construction. This paper will take four instances from each category or conceptual metaphor theme as sample size for analysis. The translation and transliteration of the verses have been taken from the Noble Quran website The analysis is carried out in the next section.


Language itself provides evidence for the claim of Lakoff & Johnson[59] and Dodge & Lakoff[60] that spatial prepositions are generated by sensorimotor neural structures in the brain. The two major image schemas which generate language are container schema and source-path-goal schema. Both these schemas have been discussed at length in the literature with particular emphasis on English language. This needs to be examined in different languages, and this paper will investigate the role of these neural structures in Arabic language of the Quran.

Strict Spatial sense

Human beings always see objects in motion from some landmark in space towards something else. The perception of moment of objects in space along a path and the perception of path make an image in human conceptual system, which is welAl-structured[61]. The structure of the recurrent path schema reflects the structure of the brain[62]. The spatial sense of path schema is elaborately reflected in language, and this paper found 338 instances of 95 nouns, where the preposition ‘min’ has been used strict geometric sense of source-path-goal schema. These instances are given below.

Table 1. Nouns Denoting Geometrical Path

== S. No. == == Nouns == == Translation == == Frequency ==
# مِنْ تَحْتِ Underneath which 42
# مِنَ الْحِجَارَةِ From the stones 01
# مِنْ مَّقَامِ From the standing place 01
# مِنَ السَّمَاءِ From the heaven / sky 49
# مِنْ اَبْوَابِهَا From doors 01
# مِنْ دِيَارِ From homes 12
# مِنْ بَيْتِ From home 02
# مِنَ الْبَيْتِ Of the house 01
# مِنْ بُيُوْتِ From/of homes 03
# مِنْ شَجَرَةٍ From a tree 01
# مِّنَ الْجَنَّةِ From/in paradise 02
# مِنْ سُهُوْلِهَا From its plains 01
# مِنْ حُلِيِّهِمْ From their ornaments 01
# مِنْ مِّصْرَ From Egypt 01
# مِنْ دُبُرٍ From back 03
# مِنْ قُبُلٍ from the front 01
# مِنْ رَّاْسِه From his head 01
# مِنْ مَّحِيْصٍ Any place of escape 01
# مِن شَٰطِئِ ٱلْوَادِ From the side of 01
# مِّنْ حَمَاٍ مَّسْنُوْنٍ From black mud altered 03
# يَخْرُجُ مِنْ خِلٰلِه From their midst 02
# مِّنْ بَيْنِ From before/ between/ amongst 10
# مِنْ صَيَاصِيْهِمْ From their strongholds 01
# مِنْ وَّرَاءِ From behind 02
# مِنْ جَلَابِيْبِهِنَّ From their outward garments 01
# مِنْ وَّرَاءِ From behind 02
# مِنْ اَقْـطَارِ The regions of 01
# مِنَ الْبَيْتِ Of the House 01
# مِنَ الظُّلُمٰتِ From darkness 06
# مِنَ الْمِحْرَابِ From prayer chamber 01
# مِنَ الْحَمِيْمِ from scalding water 01
# مِّنَ الْغَاىِٕطِ From the toilet 01
# مِنَ الْاَرْضِ From/of the earth 13
# مِنْ تُرَابٍ from dust 06
# مِنْ وَّرَاىِٕ From behind 03
# مِنْ فَوْقِ From above 13
# مِّنْ حَمِيْمٍ From scalding water 02
# مِنَ النَّخْلِ And from the date-palm 01
# مِنْ طَلْعِهَا From its spathes 01
# مِنْ اَرْضِ From land 07
# مِنْ طُوْرِ from Mount Sinai 01
# مِّنْ قَرْيَتِ From city 03
# مِّنْ قَرْيَةٍ Of any city 05
# مِنْ كُلِّ مَكَانٍ From every place 03
# مِنْ عِبَادِكَ From Your slaves 01
# مِنْ اَهلِكَ From your husband 01
# مِنْ بَابٍ From door 01
# مِّنْ كُلِّ بَابٍ From every door 01
# مِنْ اَطْرَافِهَا From its borders 02
# مِنْ وِّعَاءِ From the bag 01
# مِنَ السِّجْنِ From /of prison 01
# مِنْ خَلْفِ From behind 07
# مِنْ بُطُوْنِ From bellies 02
# مِنْ اَفْوَاهِهِمْ From their mouths 01
# مِنْ جَانِبِ الطُّوْرِ From side of Mount 02
مِنْ مَّكَانٍ From a place 04
# مِنْ اَقْصَا الْمَدِيْنَةِ from the farthest part of the City 01
# مِنْ مَّرْقَدِنَا From our sleeping places 01
# مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ From the east 01
# مِنَ الْمَغْرِبِ From the west 01
# مِنَ الْاَجْدَاثِ From the graves 03
# مِنَ الْمُعْــصِرٰتِ From the clouds 01
# مِّنْ دَارِ From homes 01
# مِّنْ عَرَفٰتٍ From Arafat 01
# وَمِنْ حَيْثُ From wherever 14
# مِنْ ظُهُوْرِھا From their backs 01
# مِنْ حَوْلِ From around 03
# مِنْ عِنْدِكَ From you 04
# مِنْ ذَهَبٍ Of gold 05
# مِّنْ سُنْدُسٍ Of silk 01
# مِنْ تُرَابٍ From dust 06
# مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ From a clinging substance 02
# مِنْ مُّضْغَةٍ From an embryonic lump 01
# مِنْ حَدِيْدٍ From / of iron 01
# مِنْ سُلٰلَةٍ From an extract 01
# مِّنْ مَّاءٍ of water 01
# مِنْ عَيْنٍ From a spring 01
# مِنْ عَلَقٍ From a clinging substance 01
# مِنَ الطِّيْنِ From the clay 02
# مِنْ طِيْنٍ From clay 08
# مِنَ الْجِبَالِ From mountains 03
# مِنْ نَّار From fire 03
# مِّنَ النَّارِ From fire 06
# مِّنْ نَّارٍ From fire 03
# مِنْ نُّطْفَةٍ From a semen drop 06
# مِنْ صَلْصَالٍ Out of/from sounding clay 03
# مِنْ طَرْفٍ With a glance 01
# مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيْدِ From jugular vein 01
# مِنْ كَاْسٍ From a cup 01
# مِّنَ النُّوْرِ From light 01
# مِّنْ جَنّٰتٍ From gardens 01
# مِّنَ الْقُرٰى Of towns 01
# مِّنَ الْقَرْيَـتَيْنِ From the two towns 01
# مِنَ الْمَاءِ From/of water 03
# مِّنْ خِلَافٍ On opposite sides 03
# Instances 338

Table 1 illustrates that the preposition ‘min’ has extensively been used with spatial geometric sense of source-path-goal schema. The abundant use of the preposition with geometric sense of source-path-goal schema give sufficient weight to the claim of the received view of prepositions that they are adverbs or adverbials of place or time in Arabic grammar and language. However, it also supports the claim of cognitive theorists that human perceptual experiences in the physical world, full of paths with objects in motion from some landmark in space (source) to (direction) another landmark on a path (goal), generates the path schema in our brain which is reflected in our language and thoughts[63]. Thus, both the cognitive theorists and the traditional Arab grammarians agree on the spatial nature of preposition in strict spatio-geometric sense. However, they deviate on the basis of its usage in language. The traditional grammarians focus more on the syntactical functions of prepositions, causing the nouns in genitive forms and defining the spatial function of prepositions. The cognitive theorists claim that human brain is structured, and the neural structures in the brain generate the spatial prepositions in language. The following examples will illustrate the cognitive linguistic view of prepositions.

  1. وَمِمَّآ اَخْرَجْنَا لَكُمْ مِّنَ الْاَرْضِ (Surah Al-Baqarah, 267)

“And whatever We brought forth for you from the earth”

  1. اَوْ يُنْفَوْا مِنَ الْاَرْضِ (Surah Al-Māidah, 33.)

“or they be exiled from the land”

  1. فَاَرَادَ اَنْ يَّسْتَفِزَّهُمْ مِّنَ الْاَرْضِ (Surah Al-Isrā, 103)

“So he intended to drive them out from the land”

  1. اَرُوْنِيْ مَاذَا خَلَقُوْا مِنَ الْاَرْضِ (Surah Fāṭir, 40)

“Show Me what they have created from the earth”

  1. وَمَآ اَنْزَلَ اللّٰهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ (Surah Al-Baqarah, 164)

“and what Allah has sent down from the sky”

  1. رِجْزًا مِّنَ السَّمَاۗءِ (Surah Al-Aʿrāf, 162.)

“torment from the sky”

  1. وَلَوْ فَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ بَابًا مِّنَ السَّمَاۗءِ (Surah Al-Ḥaj'r, 14)

“And (even) if We opened to them a gate from the heaven”

In the above examples, two nouns ‘Al-arḍi’ and ‘Al-samāi’ have been analyzed to know the semantic argument of the preposition ‘min’. The example at (1) shows path schema with vertical direction up from the source earth, at (2) and (3), it shows a bounded space with boundaries with horizontal path schema, at (4), the noun ‘Al-arḍi’(earth) is shown as container for things. Similarly, path schema with vertical direction down from the source up is reflected in examples (5) and (6), as water and torment comes from up downward on earth. But, the example at (7) shows upward vertical path schema from the earth to the sky. Thus, the source-path-goal schema is at work in all the examples, which substantiates the neural basis of the preposition ‘min’.

However, the examples also show the polysemous nature of the preposition ‘min’, which is defined by the immediate linguistic context. The preposition ‘min’ at (1) conveys a definite different sense of vertical direction from the source inside the earth, at (2) and (3), it shows horizontal path schema from the land as the bounded space with any direction from the source, and at (4), it shows the whole earth as the container source for selecting any object which is created by anyone except Allah. Similarly, the path schema in vertical downward direction is different in (5) and (6), as in (5), it is a contingent matter water, which comes from above, while in (6), it is abstract concept of torment, which is sent from above. The preposition at (7) conveys opposite direction of upward movement towards the sky. This illustrates that prepositions are polyesmous in nature, and its definite sense is dictated by the situational context, in which it is used. The following examples will throw more light on the nature of polysemy of prepositions.

Similarly, the lexical units مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ ‘mina Al-mashriqi’ ‘from the East’ and مِنَ الْمَغْرِبِ ‘mina Al-maghribi’ (Surah Al-Baqarah, 258), مِّنْ عَرَفٰتٍ ‘min ʿarafātin’ ‘from Arafat’ (Surah Al-Baqarah, 198), مِنْ جَانِبِ الطُّوْر ‘min jānibi Al-ṭūri’ ‘from the side of the Mount’ (Surah Maryam, 52), مِّنَ الْغَاىِٕطِ ‘mina Al-ghāiṭi’ ‘from the toilet’ (Surah Al-Nisāa, 43), reflect the spatial geometric path schema from the source to the goal on horizontal path. The vertical movement on path schema from the source down to the target up is reflected in lexical units مِنْ مَّرْقَدِنَا ‘min marqadinā’ ‘from our sleeping places?’(Surah Yā sīn, 52) and مِنَ الْاَجْدَاثِ ‘mina Al-ajdāthi’ (Surah Yā sīn, 51). Movement from container as a source schema is reflected in lexical items مِنْ بُطُوْنِ ‘min buṭūni’ ‘from bellies’ (Surah Al-Naḥl, 69, 78) and مِنْ وِّعَاءِ ‘min wiʿāi’ ‘from the bag’(Surah Yūsuf, 76). These examples show that though the spatial prepositions may be generated by the sensorimotor neural structures, the preposition ‘min’ shows its polysemous nature. Furthermore, the lexical unit مِنْ بَيْنِ ‘min bayni’ means ‘from among them’(Surah Maryam, 37), ‘before them’ (Surah Yā sīn, 9) and ‘from between’ (Surah Al-Ṭāriq, 7), each conveying a distinct sense of spatial relation. The preposition ‘min’ is also used in idiosyncratic manner. The preposition ‘min’ in the lexical units مِنْ ذَهَبٍ ‘min dhahabin’ in verses (Surah Al-Kahf, 31, Surah Al-Ḥaj, 23, Surah Fāṭir, 33) means ‘of gold’, مِنْ اَقْـطَارِ ‘min aqṭāri’ means ‘of regions’(Surah Al-Raḥmān, 33), مِنَ الْبَيْتِ ‘min Al-bayti’ means ‘of House’(Surah Al-Baqarah, 127) and مِنْ طَرْفٍ ‘min ṭarfin’ means ‘with glance’(Surah Al-Shūrā, 45). In all these lexical units, one can see the idiosyncratic use of the preposition ‘min’. Thus, the semantic argument of a preposition is also dependent upon its situational context.

Time is Space

The Arab grammarians has not offered any solid argument for the use of preposition ‘min’ with abstract concept of time, though they regard it as adverb or adverbials of time because of its enormous use with concept of time. However, there is close experiential correlation between space and time[64], and the traditional Arab grammarians could not realize it. Time is bounded space and time is objection in motion in space are two major conceptual metaphors which define the use of spatial prepositions in description of time in language. The source-path-goal schema has also been used in description of time or its passage. This paper found 338 instances of the preposition ‘min’ with 12 nouns reflecting time is space metaphor, as given in Table 2.

Table 2. Nouns denoting Time as space

== S. No. == == Nouns == == Translation == == Frequency ==
# مِنْ قَبْلِ From before 128
# مِنْ قَبْلُ From before 68
# مِنْ بَعْدِ From after 128
# مِنْ بَعْدُ From after 06
# مِنْ قَرِيْبٍ From soon after 01
# مِنْ اَوَّلِ يَوْمٍ From the first day 01
# مِّنَ الَّيْلِ Of the night 03
# مِّنْ خَلْفِ From behind 02
# مِنْ يَّوْمِ From/on the day 02
# مِنْ اَجْلِ ذٰلِكَ From time that 01
# مِنْ دُوْنِه Other than it 01
# مِّنَ السَّاعَةِ Of the time 01
Instances 338

The above examples reflect time or an act, event or generation at some specific time as landmarks on space in a path. The enormous use of prepositions ‘min’ in terms of space with time reflects that time and space is conceptually correlated in human conceptual system. The traditional Arab grammarians did not give a plausible answer for the use of spatial preposition with abstract concept of time. However, cognitive theorists regard such uses of preposition as the consequence of space and time correlation in human conceptual system. The source-path-goal schema is at work in all the above examples, locating time as landmark in the space adjacent to another landmark in the space. Analysis of the following examples will illustrate the use of path schema in use of preposition ‘min’.

  1. لَا يَسْتَوِيْ مِنْكُمْ مَّنْ اَنْفَقَ مِنْ قَبْلِ الْفَتْحِ (Surah Al-Ḥadīd, 10)

“Not equal among you are those who spent before the conquest”

  1. وَاِنْ طَلَّقْتُمُوْھنَّ مِنْ قَبْلِ اَنْ تَمَسُّوْھنَّ (Surah Al-Baqarah, 237)

“And if you divorce them from (that) you (have) touched them”

  1. مِنْ قَبْلِ اَنْ تُنَزَّلَ التَّوْرٰىةُ (Surah āl ʿIm'rān, 93)

“from before that the Torah was revealed”

  1. فَنَتَّبِعَ اٰيٰتِكَ مِنْ قَبْلِ اَنْ نَّذِلَّ وَنَخْزٰى (Surah Ṭā hā, 134)

“so we could have followed Your signs before that we were humiliated and disgraced.”

  1. مِنْ قَبْلِ صَلٰوةِ الْفَجْرِ (Surah Al-Nūr, 58)

“from before the prayer of the dawn”

  1. فَقَدْ خَانُوا اللّٰهَ مِنْ قَبْلُ (Surah Al-Anfāl, 71)

“certainly they have betrayed Allah from before”

  1. سَمِعْنَا كِتٰبًا اُنْزِلَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مُوْسٰى (Surah Al-Aḥqāf, 30)

“we have heard a book revealed after Musa”

  1. ثُمَّ اَنْزَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِّنْ بَعْدِ الْغَمِّ اَمَنَةً (Surah (āl ʿIm'rān, 154)

“then He sent down upon you from after the distress security”

  1. وَالَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوْا مِنْ بَعْدُ (Surah Al-Anfāl, 75)

“And those who believed from afterwards”

  1. ثُمَّ يَتُوْبُوْنَ مِنْ قَرِيْبٍ (Surah Al-Nisāa, 17)

“then they repent soon after”

  1. اِذَا نُوْدِيَ لِلصَّلٰوةِ مِنْ يَّوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ (Surah Al-Jumuʿah, 9)

“when the call is made for the prayer on the day of prayer”

In the examples from (8) to (13), the lexical items ‘qabli’ and ‘qablu’ are derived from Arabic root ‘qāf bā lām’, which means ‘two objects facing each other[65]. Thus, the basic perception of the lexical items is location of two items on path schema with face to face. The acts in time series in all these examples are mapped as landmarks on a path coming before some other events or acts in time series. So the path schema is used in all these instances which show the conceptual correlation between space and time in use of spatial preposition ‘min’. For example, the example at (9) shows the act of obedience is shown as a landmark on path face to face with coming event of humiliation. The preposition ‘min’ acts as a link between two events facing each other as objects on a path, the past event having its face to the future or current event.

In (14), (15) and (16), the lexical items ‘baʿdi’ and ‘baʿdu’ are derived from root ‘bā ʿayn dāl’. The root ‘bā ʿayn dāl’ means ‘back’ or ‘location that is behind[66]. The spatial preposition ‘min’ links some event or act relating to the past as an object with its back to something in the present or in the then present. The past event or act is mapped as an object on path schema with its back to some other event or act that follows it in time series. In other words, the two events or acts in time series are mapped as objects or landmarks on a path schema with back of one to the front of another. The examples show that the spatial preposition ‘min’ shows the path schema, which has been used in all these three examples. For example, in (14), Musa comes first as a landmark on path with its back to the revelation of the book. It means that past events are conceptualized as objects away on the path from the following event. In other words, past is conceptualized as in the back away from the onlooker on the path schema.

In (17), the lexical item ‘qarībin’ is derived from the root ‘qāf rā bā’, which means ‘the opposite of remote[67]. The lexical item ‘qarībin’ reflects spatial relation between two objects. The example shows that time relationship between two events or acts as contiguous to each other. The spatial term of nearness is used to map the closeness of two events or acts. The preposition ‘min’ is used to locate the act of repentance from the source of act of committing the sin. The length of time is mapped through the length of distance.

Example at (18) reflects the novel use of the preposition ‘min’. The preposition is not used in terms of source, but it has been used with the meaning of ‘on’. This reflects that the source-path-goal schema has not been used, but the day has been mapped as space on which some activity is carried out. Hence, the preposition ‘min’ attains the semantic argument of bounded space. Similarly, the clause بِقِطْعٍ مِّنَ الَّيْلِ ‘biqiṭ'ʿin mina aAl-layli’ ‘in a part of the night’ in verses (Surah Hūd, 81, Surah Al-Ḥij'r, 65), the night (time) is mapped as bounded space, serving as source for the part, which has been severed from it. These examples show the novel use of preposition ‘min’.

Path Cchema for Abstract Concepts Emotional States and Supernatural Entities

Source-path-goal schema is embodied in human conceptual system, and it provides a rich source domain for many everyday metaphors in language. “This schema has all the qualifications a schema should have to serve as the source domain of a metaphor”[68]. This paper found that spatial preposition ‘min’ has been used enormously to map the abstract concepts and supernatural entities in spatial terms, following the source-path-goal schema. The metaphorical distance has been conceptualized in spatial terms. The preposition ‘min’ has been used in 325 instances with 83 nouns in metaphorical sense, as is given in Table 3.

Table 3. Nouns denoting Path Schema for Abstract Concepts and Supernatural Entities

== S. No. == == Nouns == == Translation == == Frequency ==
# مِنْ رَّب From the Lord 66
# مِنَ اللّٰهِ From Allah 87
# مِّنْ حَكِيْمٍ From the AlAl-Wise 01
# مِنْ فَضْلِه From His bounty 25
# مِنْ رَّحْمَةِ اللّٰهِ Of mercy of Allah 01
# مِّنْ غَفُوْرٍ From the Oft-Forgiving 01
# مِنَ الرَّحْمٰنِ From the most Gracious 05
# مِّنْ عِنْدِ رَبِّنَا From our Lord 01
# مِنْ عِنْدِ اللّٰهِ From Allah 16
# مِنْ عِنْدِ غَيْرِ اللّٰهِ From [any] other than Allah 01
# مِنْ رُّوْحِنَا Through Our angel 01
# مِنْ رُّوْحِيْ From My Spirit 02
# مِنْ رَّوْحِ اللّٰهِ Of the Mercy of Allah 02
# مِّنْ رَّحْمَتِ Of mercy 02
# مِنْ نِّسَا From their wives 01
# مِنْ فِرْعَوْنَ From/of Firaun 03
# مِّنْ اٰلِ فِرْعَوْنَ From the people of Firaun 02
# مِنَ الْقَوْمِ From the people 06
# مِّنْ كُلِّ شَيْطٰنٍ Against every devil 01
# وَّنَجَّيْنٰهُ مِنَ الْقَرْيَةِ We saved him from the city 01
# مِنَ الشَّيْطٰنِ From the shaitaan 03
# وَاِذْ اَخَذْنَا مِنَ النَّـبِيّٖنَ And when We took from the Prophets 01
# مِّنْ كُلِّ مُتَكَبِّرٍ From Every Arrogant One 01
# مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ From Among the Jinn 01
# مِّنْ ذُرِّيَّةِ From the Descendants 01
# مِنْ اَزْوَاجِنَا From our Spouses 01
# مِنْ عِنْدِنَا From Us 07
# مِنْ لَّدُنْ From Near 12
# مِنْ عِنْدِكَ From Near You 03
# مِّنْ عِنْدِه From Him 03
# مِنْ عِنْدِ اَنْفُسِ From Near One Own Self 02
# مِنْ اَخِيْهِ From his brother 02
# مِنْ بَعْلِ From husband 01
# مِنْ اَحَدِ From one 02
# مِنَ الْاٰخَرِ From the other 01
# مِّنْ عَدُوِّكُمْ From your enemy 01
# قَرِيْبٌ مِّنَ الْمُحْسِنِيْنَ Near for the good doers 01
# مِنَ الظّٰلِمِيْنَ بِبَعِيْدٍ From the wrong-doers far 01
# مِنْ اَصْحٰبِ الْقُبُوْر From/of the inhabitants of the grave 01
# فِيْ مِرْيَةٍ مِّنْ لِّــقَاىِٕه In doubt about/ from His meeting 01
# مِنْ بَاْسِ اللّٰهِ From the punishment of Allah 01
# مِنْ عَطَا رَبِّكَ From the gift of your Lord 01
# مِّنْ خَشْيَةِ اللّٰهِ From the fear of Allah 02
# مِّنْ خَشْيَتِه From the fear 02
# مِنْ سِحْرِ By magic 01
# مِنْ شَرِّ From the evil 02
# مِنْ جُوْعٍ from hunger 02
# مِّنْ خَوْفٍ from fear 01
# مِّنَ الصَّوَاعِقِ from the thunderclaps 01
# مِّنْ اَثَرِ السُّجُوْدِ from the trace of prostration 01
# مِنْ هَمَزٰتِ الشَّيٰطِيْنِ From the suggestions of the evil ones 01
# مِنَ الْغَمِّ From the distress 02
# مِنَ الْكَرْبِ الْعَظِيْمِ From the distress, the great 02
# مِنْ مَّشْهَدِ From the witnessing 01
# مِنْ سُوْءِ الْعَذَابِ From the evil of the punishment 01
# مِنَ الْعَذَابِ From the punishment 03
# مِنْ عَذَابِ Of/from punishment 10
# مِنَ الدُّنْيَا From/of the world 01
# مِنَ الْاُوْلٰى Than the first (life) 01
# خَيْرٌ مِّنَ اللَّهْوِ better than diversion 01
# وَمِنَ التِّجَارَةِ and than a transaction 01
# خَيْرٌ مِّنْ مُّشْرِكَةٍ better than a polytheist 01
# مِّنْ مُّشْرِكٍ than a polytheist 01
# مِنْ خَلْقِ النَّاسِ than the creation of mankind 01
# مِنَ الطَّيِّبِ from the good 02
# مِّنْ خَلْقٍ about a creation 01
# مِنْ شَهَادَتِ Than the testimony 01
# مِنْ اَوْسَطِ Of average 01
# حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ of a mustard seed 02
# مِنْ دِيْنِ Of your religion 02
# مِنْ سَبِيْلٍ Any way 05
# Instances 325

Table 3 reflects that the source-path-goal schema has been used for metaphorical representation of Supernatural Entities and abstract concepts. The supernatural Entities and abstract concepts are mapped as physical objects or entities, and the spatial preposition ‘min’ is used to map relationship between abstract concepts and Supernatural Entities in spatial terms, following the path schema. Supernatural Entities as source on path schema is instantiated in the following examples.

  1. اَنْ يُّنَزَّلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِّنْ خَيْرٍ مِّنْ رَّبِّكُمْ (Surah Al-Baqarah, 105)

“that there should be any good sent down from your Lord”

  1. فَرِيْضَةً مِّنَ اللّٰهِ (Surah Al-Nisāa, 11)

“an obligation from Allah”

  1. تَنْزِيْلٌ مِّنَ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ (Surah Fuṣṣilat, 2)

“A revelation from the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”

  1. تَنْزِيْلٌ مِّنْ حَكِيْمٍ حَمِيْدٍ (Surah Fuṣṣilat, 42)

“A revelation from the AlAl-Wise, the Praiseworthy”

  1. نُزُلًا مِّنْ غَفُوْرٍ رَّحِيْمٍ (Surah Fuṣṣilat, 32)

“A hospitable gift from (the) Oft-Forgiving, (the) Most Merciful”

  1. كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِنْدِ رَبِّنَا (Surah āl ʿIm'rān, 7)

“All is from our Lord”

  1. كِتٰبٌ مِّنْ عِنْدِ اللّٰهِ (Surah Al-Baqarah, 89)

“a Book from Allah”

  1. فَنَفَخْنَا فِيْهَا مِنْ رُّوْحِنَا (Surah Al-Anbiyāa, 91)

“so We breathed into her through Our angel”

  1. فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللّٰهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطٰنِ الرَّجِيْمِ (Surah Al-Naḥl, 98)

“seek refuge in Allah from the Shaitaan, the accused”

The nouns with spatial preposition مِّنْ رَّبِّكُمْ ‘min rabbikum’ ‘from your Lord’ in (19), مِّنَ اللّٰهِ ‘mina Al-lahi’ ‘from Allah’ in (20), مِّنَ الرَّحْمٰنِ ‘mina Al-raḥmāni’, ‘from the Most Gracious’ in (21), مِّنْ حَكِيْمٍ ‘min ḥakīmin’ ‘from the AlAl-Wise’ in (22) and مِّنْ غَفُوْرٍ ‘min ghafūrin’ ‘from (the) Oft-Forgiving’ reflects Allah having spatial location above wherefrom ‘some good’, in (19), ‘an obligation’ in (20), ‘a revelation’ in (21) and (22) and ‘a hospitable gift’ in (23) comes down to people as some tangible objects. Source-path-goal schema is used in all these examples to map the abstract concepts as physical objects coming down on vertical path from the Supernatural Entity having physical location. In (24) and (25), the physical location is more explicitly stated through ‘ʿindi’, the adverb of location. However, one can only perceive the physical location of Allah with the help of his own perceptual experiences of the world. Therefore, the examples are clearly metaphorical, where Allah has been conceptualized as in some physical location. In (26), the supernatural entity is an angel, which breathes into Maryum, following the horizontal path schema contrary to the preceding examples. In (27), the supernatural entity is the Devil, which is conceptualized as a devilish and awful being, from refuge is only possible with the help of Allah. The Shaitaan is marked as after human beings on path schema, from whom refuge can be obtained by soliciting help of Allah.

The personal attributes and possession of Allah are conceptualized as sources from which something can be given, bestowed upon or sent down on human beings. Mercy and Bounty of Allah are conceptualized as physical sources from which mercy and bounty can be given or sent down to human beings as physical objects. Vertical and horizontal path schemas have been used in these linguistic expressions through the spatial preposition ‘min’, as below.

  1. اَنْ يُّنَزِّلَ اللّٰهُ مِنْ فَضْلِه (Surah Al-Baqarah, 90)

“that sends down Allah of His Grace”

  1. وَسْـــَٔـلُوا اللّٰهَ مِنْ فَضْلِه (Surah Al-Nisāa, 32)

“And ask Allah of His bounty”

  1. وَيَكْتُمُوْنَ مَا اٰتٰىھمُ اللّٰهُ مِنْ فَضْلِه (Surah Al-Nisāa, 37)

“and hide what (has) given them Allah of His Bounty”

  1. وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُمْ مِّنْ رَّحْمَتِنَا (Surah Maryam, 50)

“And We gave them of Our mercy”

  1. لَا تَقْنَطُوْا مِنْ رَّحْمَةِ اللّٰهِ (Surah Al-Zumar, 53)

“do not despair of the Mercy of Allah”

The possessive nouns فَضْلِه ‘faḍlihi’ ‘His Bounty’ in (28), (29) and (30), and رَّحْمَتِنَا ‘raḥmatinā’ ‘Our mercy’ in (31) are mapped as physical sources out of which something can be sent or given by the Lord and can be asked for from the Lord. These abstract concepts of ‘Bounty’ and ‘Mercy’ are mapped as container sources from which something can be sent or given. In (32), the abstract concept of ‘Mercy’ is mapped as some physical object which is about to come, though it is yet unseen. All the instances reveal that source-path-goal schema is at work in these everyday metaphors.

Besides the supernatural entities, the spatial preposition ‘min’ follows the source-path-goal schema in its usage with human beings, as in the following linguistic expressions.

  1. وَنَجِّــنِيْ مِنْ فِرْعَوْنَ (Surah Al-Taḥrīm, 11)

“and save me from Firaun”

  1. نَجَوْتَ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظّٰلِمِيْنَ (Surah Al-Qaṣaṣ, 25)

“you have escaped from the people, the wrongdoers”

  1. كَمَآ اَنْشَاَكُمْ مِّنْ ذُرِّيَّةِ قَوْمٍ اٰخَرِيْنَ (Surah Al-An'ām, 133)

“as He raised you from the descendants of another people”

  1. رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ اَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيّٰتِنَا قُرَّةَ اَعْيُنٍ (Surah Al-Furqān, 74)

"Our Lord! Grant to us from our spouses and our offspring comfort to our eyes”

In (33) and (34), escape from Firaun and the people, the wrongdoers is mentioned as if both the Firaun and the wrongdoers are in a bounded space on a path following the wife of Firaun and Musa respectively. The linguistic expressions are metaphorical because the lexical items ‘najjinī’ and ‘najawta’, derived from the root ‘nūn jīm wāw’, expresses the shelter from the barbarity of Firaun or his people[69]. In (35), the lexical item ‘dhurriyyati’ is conceptualized as source from which successors are raised following the vertical path schema. In (36), the spouses and children are conceptualized as sources of comfort for the parents, and comfort is mapped as physical object. Thus, all the linguistic expressions follow the source-path-goal schema.

Source-path-goal schema has also been used to show the causal relationship in spatial terms through the use of spatial preposition ‘min’, as below.

  1. خَاشِعًا مُّتَصَدِّعًا مِّنْ خَشْيَةِ اللّٰهِ (Surah Al-Ḥashr, 21)

“Humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah”

  1. وَهُمْ مِّنْ خَشْيَتِه مُشْفِقُوْنَ (Surah Al-Anbiyāa, 28)

“And they from fear of Him, stand in awe”

  1. سِيْمَاهُمْ فِيْ وُجُوْهِهِمْ مِّنْ اَثَرِ السُّجُوْدِ (Surah Al-Fatḥ, 29)

“Their mark is on their faces from the trace of their prostration”

The lexical item ‘khashyati’ in (37) and (38) is derived from the root ‘khā shīn yā’, and it means the emotions of fear[70]. EMOTIONS ARE FORCES metaphor is instantiated in these linguistic metaphoric expressions. The emotion of fear is the source which causes physiological and psychological change in the physical objects and human beings. In (37), the mountain is conceptualized as a human being, that would have humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah, while in (38), human being is caused to stand in awe because of fear Allah. In (39), the causal relationship is different. Prostration causes physical change in the forehead and faces of the believers. In these examples, causes are mapped as forces which bring physiological and emotional changes.

The spatial preposition ‘min’ is also used with abstract concepts, conceptualizing them either as personified awful beings or sources of physical objects, as in the verses below.

  1. الَّذِيْٓ اَطْعَمَهُمْ مِّنْ جُوْعٍ (Surah Quraysh, 4)

“Who has fed them, [saving them] from hunger”

  1. وَّاٰمَنَهُمْ مِّنْ خَوْفٍ (Surah Quraysh, 4)

“and made them safe, [saving them] from fear”

  1. وَنَجَّيْنٰهُ وَاَهْلَه مِنَ الْكَرْبِ الْعَظِيْمِ (Surah Al-Ṣāfāt, 76)

“And We saved him and his family from the distress, the great”

  1. مِنْ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ (Surah Al-Falaq, 2)

“From the evil of that which He created”

  1. نُذِقْهُ مِنْ عَذَابِ السَّعِيْرِ (Surah Saba, 12)

“We will make him taste him of the punishment, of the blaze”

  1. وَنَمُدُّ لَه مِنَ الْعَذَابِ مَدًّا (Surah Maryam, 79)

“and We will extend for him from the punishment extensively”

The lexical items ‘jūʿin’ ‘hunger’, ‘khawfin’ ‘fear’ and ‘karbi’ ‘distress’ in (40), (41) and (42) are mapped as personified beings on the path from which one can be saved. The concept ‘sharri’ ‘evil’ in (43) is also mapped as awful physical act from which refuge is solicited. ‘ʿadhābi’ ‘punishment’ in (44) is mapped as food out of which something can be given to someone, while ‘Al-ʿadhābi’ ‘the punishment’ is mapped as source of a physical object, having quantity, which can be increased. Thus, the source-path-goal schema is used in all these everyday linguistic metaphors.

The spatial preposition ‘min’ has also been used to define the comparative degree between two abstract concepts or qualities as if they were objects, placed side by side, following the conceptual metaphor of attributes are possessions. In verse (Surah Al-Baqarah, 221), the linguistic expressions ‘khayrun min mush'rikatin’ ‘better than a polytheistic woman’ and ‘khayrun min mush'rikin’ ‘better than a polytheistic man’, the spatial preposition ‘min’ maps the comparison between two individuals in terms of the qualities of objects. Similar is the case with the metonymic expression ‘mina Al-ṭayibi’ ‘from the good’ (Surah Al-Anfāl, 37) and ‘min shahādatihimā’ ‘from the testimony of other two’(Surah Al-Māidah, 107), where the good and bad people in the former and testimonies of the two sides in the later are mapped as if they are placed side by side on the path schema. In such cases, the preposition ‘min’ gets the semantic arguments of ‘than’, which reflects the polysemous nature of the spatial prepositions. Importance is size metaphor is instantiated in linguistic expression ‘akbaru min khalqi Al-nāsi’ ‘greater than the creation of mankind’(Surah Ghāfir, 57), and the preposition ‘min’ also the semantic argument of ‘than’ in this metaphoric expression.


The analysis reveals that the preposition ‘min’ is extensively used in spatio-geometric sense in the Quran. The extensive use of ‘min’ in spatio-geometric sense following the source-path-goal schema supports the received view of spatial preposition in Arabic grammar that they are adverbs of place and time. The Arab grammarians and the orientalists held that the preposition ‘min’ is used in spatial sense, defining the source of path[71]. The enormous use of the preposition ‘min’ in spatial sense also supports the findings of Saeed[72] and Sardaraz and Ali[73] spatial prepositions in Arabic grammar from cognitive linguistic perspective. This paper also supports the claim of cognitive linguistic theorists[74] that sensorimotor neural structures are involved in processing spatial prepositions in language.

This paper also supports the earlier findings on the polysemous nature of spatial prepositions. Earlier findings in traditional grammar, following the syntactic model[75] argue for the polysemous nature of spatial prepositions. Similarly, in cognitive grammar, the polysemous nature of prepositions is substantiated in earlier studies[76]. This paper contributes to the existing literature by analyzing the preposition ‘min’. The paper reveals that though the preposition ‘min’ follows the source-path-goal schema, the immediate linguistic context defines its semantic argument as is the case with its adoption of vertical schema, either upward or downward, or horizontal on path directly from the source or from the bounded space. Moreover, the preposition ‘min’ is also used in novel manner with different semantic arguments in different places ‘min Al-bayti’ ‘of House’(Surah Al-Baqarah, 127), ‘min ṭarfin’ ‘with glance’(Surah Al-Shūrā, 45), and ‘akbaru min khalqi Al-nāsi’ ‘greater than the creation of mankind’(Surah Ghāfir, 57). Thus, this paper supports the claim that the imagination of man overrides the specific symmetric patterns in language[77].

This paper deviates from the findings of received model of spatial preposition, and it substantiates that besides the strict spatio-geometric sense, the preposition ‘min’ has extensively been used with abstract concepts, Supernatural Entities and emotional states. It substantiates the view that human beings use the perceptual experiences of the path schema in the physical world to map the abstract concepts as sources or physical objects, relationship among or between abstract concepts, distance from the supernatural entities, relationship with supernatural entities and emotional and psychological states. The use of preposition ‘min’ with abstract concepts, Supernatural entities and emotional states cannot be logically interpreted in the received view of spatial prepositions. This paper has illustrated with enormous data that the preposition ‘min’ has extensively been used with non-spatial concepts, and thus, this paper supports the previous findings on preposition [78]in the Quran and in, on and at in English language[79]. This paper might prove instrumental in rebirth of interest in Arabic prepositions in the Quran as well as in the Arabic language. Moreover, this paper augments the cross-linguistic and cross cultural research on prepositions from cognitive linguistic perspective.

This paper does not claim that it has analyzed all the manifestions of preposition ‘min’ in the Quran. Future research might focus on other aspects of the same prepositions, as there is a large number of nouns which needs to be investigated. This paper recommends further studies to focus on part-whole relationship, group as container and type is container for its members. The group is container for its members metaphor is evident in many nouns, such as ‘innahu min ʿibādinā Al-mu'minīna’ ‘Indeed he was of Our slaves believing’(Surah Al-Ṣāfāt, 111, 122, 132), ‘mina Al-khāsirīna’ ‘from/among losers’(Surah āl ʿIm'rān, 85, Surah Al-Māidah, 5, Surah Al-Māidah, 30) and ‘mina Al-mush'rikīna’ ‘from/of polytheists’(Surah Al-Baqarah, 135, Surah āl ʿIm'rān, 95, Surah Al-Anʿām, 14). Group as a source or container has been used in the Quran for more than 400 times, and the investigation of the use of spatial preposition ‘min’ in such instances would further throw light on it from cognitive semantic perspective. The linguistic analysis showed a large number of such sub-conceptual categories, but due to space and limitation of the article, it did not encompass these instances. Moreover, this paper mainly focused on preposition ‘min’, the source of source-path-goal schema, and future research may focus on prepositions like ilā, ʿalā, ʿan and ḥattā to unveil the full functional semantic complexity of the source-path-goal schema in the Quran or Arabic language.


  • This paper illustrates the role of sensorimotor neural structures in language generation. The analysis reveals a lot of linguistic evidence that image schema in human conceptual system is behind the use of spatial prepositions. The source-path-goal schema not only defines the use of preposition ‘min’ in spatial and geometric sense, but also in non-spatial sense with abstract concepts, emotional and psychological states and non-spatial relationship with supernatural entities.
  • Thus, the cognitive linguistic view of preposition extends the lexicaAl-syntactic view of spatial prepositions, and this view gives symmetrical semantic classification of the prepositions which is lacking in the received model of preposition.
  • However, this paper also shows that language cannot be strictly narrowed down to static symmetric patterns, but linguistic context override these static symmetric patterns to give novel meanings even to the prepositions. In other words, though conceptual image schema might be at work in language, language use overrides the specific symmetric patterns.
  • As this paper analyzed an iota of data on preposition ‘min’, following the source-path-goal schema, it would be more appropriate if further studies are carried on the same preposition or other prepositions to discover the full semantic complexity of the source-path-goal schema in the Quran or Arabic language.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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