The particle used to make an exception is إِلَّا. The noun which follows إِلَّا is usually in the accusative case – الْمَنْصُوب.
لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ
There is no god except God (37:35)
There are two parts in a sentence where the particle of exception إِلَّا is used:
- Excepted – الْمُسْتَثْنَى
- Generality – الْمُسْتَثْنَى مِنْهُ
In the above example:
- إِلَهَ – is the generality – الْمُسْتَثْنَى مِنْهُ
- إِلَّا – is the particle of exception – عَرف الاِسْتِثْنَاء
- اللَّهُ – is the excepted – الْمُسْتَثْنَى
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There are two types of exception in arabic – الْمُسْتَثْنَى
- المُسْتَثْنَى المُنْقَطَع: the excepted is not from the species/group of the generality.
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ
And We said to the angels, “Bow down to Adam.” They bowed down, except for Satan. (2:34)
The excepted إِبْلِيسَ does not belong to the group of angels referred to by the verb فَسَجَدُوا. The excepted is always in the accusative case in المُسْتَثْنَى المُنْقَطَع. 2. المُسْتَثْنَى المُتَّصِلُ: the excepted belongs to the same species/ group of the generality.
فَشَرِبُوا مِنْهُ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِنْهُمْ
But they drank from it, except for a few of them (2:249)
The rules which decide the harakah on the excepted in المُسْتَثْنَى المُتَّصِلُ are:
- If the generality and إِلَّا are preceded by a sound statement, which is not interrogative or negative, the excepted will be in the accusative case.
كُلُّ شَيْءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلَّا وَجْهَهُ
All things perish, except His presence (28:88)
2. If particles of interrogation or negation precede إِلَّا in an exceptional sentence, then the excepted can bear fatha or the e’rab of the generality.
وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ
Muhammad is no more than a messenger. (3:144)
3. When generality is not evident in a verb, and a particle of interrogation or negation precedes the statement, the excepted will bear the harakah according to its case (nominative, accusative, or genitive).
مَا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ
None knows them except a few. (18:22)
Examples of the exception in arabic used in the Holy Quran
لَا يَخْرُجُ إِلَّا نَكِدًا
it produces nothing but hardship and misery. (7:58)
إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌ لِلْعَالَمِينَ
It is only a reminder for all humankind. (12:104)
وَقَالُوا لَنْ تَمَسَّنَا النَّارُ إِلَّا أَيَّامًا مَعْدُودَةً
And they say, “The Fire will not touch us except for several days.” (2:80)
وَمِنْهُمْ أُمِّيُّونَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا أَمَانِيَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ
And among them are uneducated who know the Scripture only through hearsay, and they only speculate. (2:78)
You have now completed this Arabic lesson. The next one will be insha’Allah about the absolute negation in Arabic.
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[…] You have now completed this Arabic lesson. The next one will be insha’Allah about the exception – الاسْتِثْنَاءُ. […]