Welcome to the next iteration in our Arabic word of the month series! In keeping with our tradition of bringing you words from the Arabic language that celebrate and honor the beauty of the culture. Last month, we highlighted the word for compassion, حنان (‘hanan’), which is also a popular female name. This month we are taking a look at the word for ‘selflessness’. The phrase نكران الذات is transliterated as ‘nukran ath-that’ and literally translates to self-denial; ‘nukran’ (نكران) means denial, while ‘ath-that’ (الذات) is one way of saying ‘self’; the other way to say ‘self’ is ‘an-nafs’ (النفس).
The reason for this phrase being translated as ‘selflessness’ is that in Arab culture, the idea of being selfless means to put others’ needs before one’s own; denying yourself these needs until the needs of others are addressed first. This isn’t as extreme as it sounds; such ideas are closely related to Arab ideals about family, with the parents (especially the mother) expected to put the needs of the children before their own.
The idea of putting others first before one’s self demonstrates the generosity and caring nature of the Arab culture. In Arab culture, being selfless is much more than merely helping others, it is putting their needs before your own and addressing it the best way you possibly can; denying one’s self satisfaction until satisfying others.
We hope you enjoyed this month’s Arabic word! We look forward to continuing to celebrate and honor the beauty of the Arabic language and Arab culture through these words.