Arabic has something called the “calling ya” in it. The closest thing we have in English is the “calling o”–as in “o my teacher” or “Oh God!” (As you can tell from the examples, we don’t use it much anymore these days–though, in Arabic, it’s quite common.)
The rules are quite simple–just like English, it’s “O so-and-so”. So for example, you could say “ya ummiy” (o my mother) or “ya taajiru” (o merchant). And, in fact, if you read the Qur’an at all, you’ll find these everywhere. The most common are:
- Ya ayyuhalldhiyna amanuw, which addresses the believers (Muslims).
- Ya ayyuhan-naas, which addresses humankind.
- Ya bani israeel, which addresses Bani Isareel (the Jews).
Grammatically, what does the calling ya do? The callee (the one who immediately succeeds the ya) takes either a single dumma (if it’s a proper noun) or a single fatha (if it’s the posesser in a possessive-case). (Definite nouns are names.)
So if you wanted to say “Oh Allah”, it would be “ya Allahu” (because it’s a proper noun), not “ya Allahun.” Or, if your friend is Yasin, you would say “ya Yasinu” instead of “ya Yasinun“.
But, what if you wanted to say “O mother of Adam”? It would be “ya umma Adam” (because it’s possessive case). Similarly, if you wanted to say “O Messenger of Allah” (as we see in many ahadith), it’s “ya rasulallah”.
Interested in some applications of the calling ya? Check out the related entries inshallah.
Related Posts: Amplify your Du’a with Tawassul
Note: You can put your mouse over any underlined text to see the Arabic.
Allahu: God (singular, exclusive; THE God)
amanuw: believed (male, plural)
ummiy: my mother