Famous Arabic Quotes

The passages that resonate most with us are often those we highlight in books or pause to reflect on when heard aloud. These memorable quotes carry profound meanings we’ve perhaps sought for a long time or convey ideas and emotions that can shift our worldview. If you’re drawn to the Arabic language and seeking words that mirror your thoughts, you can find a collection of Arabic quotes here, complete with English translations to bridge understanding.

Arabic quotes with English translation

Deep powerful Arabic quotes about disappointment

Many famous Arabic quotes come from the works of important poets, scholars, and religious leaders from history. Though mostly in Classical Arabic or Modern Standard Arabic, they’re commonly heard in everyday life. Here are some of the most famous Arabic quotes with English translations:

تَجْري الرّيَاحٌ بمَا لَا يَشْتَهي السَّفِنُ”

“The winds blow in ways the shipmaster does not desire” (Life doesn’t always go as planned)

Abu al-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi

 The full line is:

“مَا كُلُّ مَا يَتَمَنَّى الْمَرْءُ يُدْركُهُ      تَجْري الرّيَاحٌ بمَا لَا يَشْتَهي السَّفِنُ”

“Not everything a person desires does he attain; the winds blow contrary to what the shipmaster desires”

Abu al-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi
Arabic quotes with English translation

“لا حياة لِمَن تُنادي”

“There is no life for those you call upon” (Falling on deaf ears)

Amr ibn Ma’adi Yakrib al-Zubaidi

Derived from a poem by Amr ibn Ma’adi Yakrib al-Zubaidi, this quote articulates the frustration of speaking to those who do not listen. Al-Zubaidi wrote this in despair after his tribe ignored his warnings against inter-tribal conflicts and bloodshed. The quote is from the lines:

لَقَدْ أَسْمَعْتَ لَوْ نَادَيْتَ حَيًّا”

وَلَكِن لا حَيَاةَ لِمَنْ تُنَادِي

وَلَو نَارٌ نَفَخْتَ بِهَا أَضَاءَتْ

وَلَكِنْ أَنْتَ تَنْفُخُ فِيْ رَمَادِ

“You would have been heard if you had called to the living,

But it would have landed on deaf ears,

And a fire would have lit if you blew upon it,

But you are blowing into ashes”

Amr ibn Ma’adi Yakrib al-Zubaidi

This quote is widely shared among people in Arab countries in situations where governments fail to address the needs of the citizens and overlook the numerous challenges and hardships that the population faces. It gains prominence in times of despair and when there is a sense of lost hope, reflecting widespread feelings of frustration and abandonment.

Deep meaningful Arabic quotes about love

Love holds a significant place in Arabic literature, as many poems, novels, and books discuss this theme. There are numerous profound Arabic meaningful quotes about love. Here are some of them:

“ما الحُبُّ إلّا للحَبِيْبِ الأَوَّلِ”

“Love is only for the first beloved”

Abu Tammam al-Ta’i

This phrase is common in Arab countries, where love holds a significant place in Arabic poetry and songs. The matter is certainly not without its exaggerations, as in this line of poetry by the Abbasid poet Abu Tammam al-Ta’i, which asserts that no love can match the first love in our lives or hold the same place in our hearts.

The full verse reads

نَقِّلْ فُؤَادَكَ حَيْثُ شِئْتَ مِنَ الهَوَى         مَا الحُبُّ إِلَّا لِلْحَبِيْبِ الأَوَّلِ

كَمْ مَنْزِلٍ فِيْ الأَرْضِ يَأْلَفُهُ الفَتَى           وَحَنِيْـنُهُ أُبَداً لِأَوَّلِ مَنْزِلِ

“Move your heart wherever you wish in your desire; love is only for the first beloved. How many a home on Earth does a youth become accustomed to, yet his longing is forever for the first home”

Abu Tammam al-Ta’i

“الأُذنُ تَعشَقُ قَبلَ العَينِ أَحيانا”

“Sometimes the ear falls in love before the eye”

Bashar bin Burd

A popular quote from a poem by the blind poet Bashar bin Burd, who fell in love upon hearing a girl sing. This line has become well-known across the Arab world, suggesting that love can begin with sounds before sight. The verse is:

“يا قَومُ أُذني لِبعَضِ الحَيِّ عاشِقَةٌ       وَالأُذنُ تَعشَقُ قَبلَ العَينِ أَحيانا”

“O people, my ear has fallen in love with someone from the neighborhood, and sometimes the ear falls in love before the eye”

Bashar bin Burd

“لَا يَكْفِي أَنْ تُحِبَّ ، بَلْ عَلَيْكَ أَنْ تَعْرِفَ كَيْفَ تُحِبُّ. لَيْسَ كُلُّ عَكْسٍ لِمَا هُوَ خَطَأ، صَوَابًا دَائِمًا”

“It is not enough to love; you must know how to love. Not every opposite of what is wrong is always right!”

Mahmoud Darwish

This quote itself may not be widely recognized across all Arab countries, but Mahmoud Darwish certainly is.

Mahmoud Darwish was a celebrated Palestinian poet renowned for his literary achievements and numerous international honors, including the 2001 American State Award for Literature.

The quote comes from his poetry book “فِي حَضْرَةِ الغِيَابِ” (In the Presence of Absence) one of Darwish’s most significant works, which has been translated into many world languages. ‘In the Presence of Absence’ is an artistic expression of human experiences and emotions within a complex reality. It remains one of the most important poetic works in contemporary Arabic literature, captivating readers with its profound insights and emotive power.

Inspirational quotes in the Arabic language

“رَحِمَ اللهُ امرأ عَرَفَ قَدْرَ نَفْسِهِ فَوَقَفَ عِنْدَه”

May God have mercy on a person who knows his own worth and acts accordingly” (God bless the person who knows their limits and respects them)

Umar Ibn Abd al-Aziz

Umar Ibn Abd al-Aziz was the eighth caliph of the Umayyad dynasty, and the thirteenth caliph in the order of succession after the Prophet Muhammad. It is said that when Umar Ibn Abd al-Aziz learned that his son had bought a ring for a thousand dirhams, he wrote to him: It has reached me that you bought a ring for a thousand dirhams, so sell it and feed a thousand hungry people, and buy a ring made of iron for one dirham, and inscribe on it “رَحِمَ اللهُ امرأ عَرَفَ قَدْرَ نَفْسِهِ”.

This translates to (May God have mercy on a man who knows his own worth). It emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and humility. The saying encourages individuals to understand their capabilities and limitations, recognizing where they stand without overestimating or underestimating themselves. This self-awareness is viewed as a virtue, worthy of divine mercy and respect.

“مَنْ طَلَبَ العُلا سَهِرَ اللِّيالي”

“He who seeks greatness must endure sleepless nights”

Imam Al-Shafi’i

This emphasizes the idea that significant achievements require great effort and often sacrificing comfort, such as adequate sleep, to attain high goals.

This is an Arabic quote attributed to Imam Al-Shafi’i, one of the prominent scholars and jurists in Islam. He was also a poet, and this quote is excerpted from these verses:

بِـقَـدْرِ الْـكَـدِّ تُـكْـتَسَبُ الْمَعَالِي وَمَـنْ طَـلَـبَ الْعُلَا سَهِرَ اللَّيَالِي

وَمَـنْ رَامَ الْـعُـلَا مِـنْ غَـيْـرِ كَـدٍّ أَضَـاعَ الْعُمْرَ فِي طَلَبِ الْمُحَالِ

تَــرُومُ الْــعِــزَّ ثُــمَّ تَــنَـامُ لَـيْـلًا يَغُوصُ الْبَحْرَ مَنْ طَلَبَ اللَّآلِي

Imam Al-Shafi’i

The meaning of these verses is that if you wish to succeed and achieve accomplishments, you must work diligently and persevere, rather than wasting your time resting and sleeping. Achieving success without effort is impossible.

If you are still looking for an Arabic quote that inspires you, here are Arabic quotes with English translations that may not be common in everyday life in Arab countries, but they come from figures who have had a significant impact on Arab culture.

“لَا تَخَفْ….الخَوْفُ لَا يَمْنَعُ مِنَ المَوْتِ وَلَكِنَّهُ يَمْنَعُ مِنَ الحَيَاةِ”

“Do not fear… Fear does not prevent death, but it prevents life”

Naguib Mahfouz

This quote is from the novel “أَوْلَاد حَارِتْنَا” (Children of Our Alley) by the author Naguib Mahfouz, an Egyptian novelist and Nobel Prize laureate, who is renowned for his pivotal works in modern Arabic literature.

This novel is one of Naguib Mahfouz’s most important works, and yet also his most controversial.

In the narrative, he discusses how the alley’s residents interact with the events that unfold within it. The novel introduces main characters such as Gabal (representing absolute authority), Arfa (knowledge and science), and Sheikh Said (spirituality). Due to its bold approach to sensitive issues such as religion and politics, the novel sparked widespread controversy and was banned in many Arab countries. It was not published in Egypt until the end of 2006, after Naguib Mahfouz received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Specifically, in 1994 – a day after the anniversary of the award – he was attacked and stabbed in the neck by two extremists outside his home in Cairo. He survived the attack but suffered from its consequences until he died in 2006. Due to this novel, Naguib Mahfouz was accused of apostasy and atheism by some of the most prominent sheikhs and scholars of Al-Azhar.

Despite it being more common to write novels in Modern Standard Arabic, Naguib Mahfouz did not exclusively use it for this novel; instead, he employed a blend of Modern Standard Arabic and Egyptian colloquial. Mahfouz utilized colloquial Arabic to render the dialogues between characters more realistic and to more accurately express the local culture, while Standard Arabic was used in the narrative sections of the novel. This approach enhances the depiction of the Egyptian environment and distinguishes Mahfouz’s style in portraying various social strata.

If you want to know more about Egyptian Arabic, visit our page about the Egyptian dialect.

“يَقُوْلُ أَحَدَهُمْ أَنَّ شُعْلَتَكَ عَلَى وَشَكِ الاِنْطِفَاء، لَكِنَّكَ لَسْتَ دُخَانًا أَوْ نارًا. أَنْتَ بِلَا شَكٍّ أَكْثَر حَيَاة”

“Someone says your flame is about to extinguish, but you are not smoke or fire. You are undoubtedly more alive”

Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Originally written in Persian, this is a very popular quote by Jalal ad-Din Rumi from غِرْبَالُ الرُّوْحِ؛ مُخْتَارَاتٍ مِن غَزَلِيَّاتِهِ وَرُبَاعِيَّاتِهِ (The Soul’s Sieve; Selections from His Ghazals and Quatrains). His poetry and Sufi writings, most of which were written in Persian and some in Arabic and Turkish, have had a profound impact on the Islamic world, especially influencing Persian, Arabic, Urdu, Bengali, and Turkish cultures.

In modern times, some of his works have been translated into many world languages and have received widespread acclaim. In 2007, the BBC described him as the most popular poet in the United States.

If you’re interested, have a look at the crossover between Arabic and Persian here!

Most popular quotes in the Arab World, which have left a significant impact on the culture of Arab societies across all countries, date back hundreds of years and are still present in people’s minds today.

They serve as a bridge between the past and the present, proving to us that the essence of human experience is the same, regardless of time, place, or even language. With the spread of translations, we have seen that many ideas expressed in languages other than our own can accurately reflect our own feelings and touch our inner selves. If you find these Arabic quotes inspiring, feel free to share this blog post on social media.

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Arabic quotes with English translation
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Famous Arabic Quotes

The passages that resonate most with us are often those we highlight in books or pause to reflect on when heard aloud. These memorable quotes

Read More »
Arabic quotes with English translation
Arab culture and history

Famous Arabic Quotes

The passages that resonate most with us are often those we highlight in books or pause to reflect on when heard aloud. These memorable quotes

Read More »