Welcome to the second installment in our series of Arabic words showcasing the generosity and compassion of the Arab culture! Last month we highlighted this giving culture through the word ‘sadaqah’ (صدقة). To continue this blog series, today we are highlighting هبة.
Transliterated as ‘hiba’, it means a gift in its simplest translation, but ‘hiba’ means much more than just a gift, or a present. In fact, there is a different Arabic word that is used for the types of gifts we give on Christmas and birthdays: هدية (hadieh). When ‘hiba’ is used it usually means a donation or grant; something more than just a normal gift, a special gift given from the heart. This is the reason why it is such a popular name in Arab culture; the daughter is viewed as a truly special gift, one that is life-changing. The word stems from the verb وهب (wahaba), which means to give or donate, and ‘hiba’ represents the noun form of this verb.
There are numerous words in Arabic that translate to giving, donating, and granting, like منح (manaha), أعطى (a’ataa) and تبرع (tabara’a). ‘Hiba’ provides a deeper meaning than all these words, though, as it is more than just giving and donating; it is the process of enduing, or endowing a special gift that holds a special quality, making it more than just a mere gift.
We hope you enjoyed the second entry in our Arabic word of the month series. We look forward to continuing to highlight the compassion and generosity of the Arab culture through the beauty of the Arabic language.