Lesson 3- The Root S-L-M

                                                      جذور  كلمةالسلام

Nabil Boutros
Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris

Welcome to the roots of the Arabic word Islām

Salām, سَلاَم, is a Proto-Semitic term, used in the ancient Middle East meaning ‘peace’, before the coming of the Prophet Muhammad. This word has become one of 99 names of the Prophet, peace upon him, as-Salām. Solomon, Süleyma, Absalom, Selim, Salma, are given names whose roots come from an ancient era.

Sīn, lām, and mīm are the letters for the concept of peace, or something strictly related to this term.

Islām, a religion of peace. But as learnt in the first lesson about greetings, this root is also the same for the  word  ma3a salāma, literally with peace

For some Muslims Islām reflects the concept of “voluntary submission to God”. Indeed, the verbal noun of the 4th Form of the root means “submission to God” or surrender. Therefore Muslim means submitter to God or one who surrenders.

Used as the most common word to greet in the Arabic world, we find the root s-l-m in al-Qurā’n al-karīm.

The triliteral root system, characterizing the Arabic words, is common to all the other Semitic languages, coming from the same origin.

Let’s see some of the derived terms:

sālama – to keep, make peace سَالَمَ

ʾaslam, safer  أَسْلَم

                     sallama – to wish peace upon to somebody   سَلَّمَ

                      silmiyy, peaceful سِلْمِيّ  

peace   Salāma سَلَامَة 

peace –  salām سَلَام 

muslim مُسْلِم‎

قوات  حفظ السلا م Peacekeeping( lit. forces of maintenance of peace)

اتفاق السلام Peace Agreement

Exercise 1.

Try to pronounce the following sentences containing the root s-l-m.

هل أنت مسلمة ؟

Hal anti Muslima? – are you muslim?

مع السلامة

Lit. (go) with peace! – Bye!

Exercise 2.

Fill the sentences with the correct word

Muslim, Salīm, as-salāmu, Salma, as-salām, muslim, aslamtu (I became muslim)

– …… 3alay-kum, yā …… wa …

  • Wa 3alay-ka ..-…… yā …
  • Hal anta ……?
  • Na3am, āna …… mundhu 3āmīn (two years ago)
  • (إنا أسلمت منذ عامين)
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