The Quranic Word Series: Maa’

Did you know you rely on maa’ every single day?

Maa’ is one of the greatest blessings we have been given that we often take for granted. It is one of the most vital creations of Allah and has been in existence before the creation of heaven, earth, and human beings. 

Maa’ is essential for many processes and functions of the body; it aids digestion, breathing, and bodily functions. And it isn’t just crucial to the direct survival of human beings. It is essential for the planet’s environment and ecosystem too.

What is maa’?

Maa’ is water in Arabic. The word maa’ occurs in the Quran 63 times.

What does Allah SWT teach us about water in the Quran? And what lessons can we derive from it? Let’s explore the verses where the word maa’ has been revealed.

Allah’s Throne

Had Been Upon Water

Allah says:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ وَكَانَ عَرْشُهُ عَلَى الْمَاءِ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ۗ وَلَئِن قُلْتَ إِنَّكُم مَّبْعُوثُونَ مِن بَعْدِ الْمَوْتِ لَيَقُولَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ هَٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ

[Quran 11:7]

And it is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days – and His Throne had been upon water – that He might test you as to which of you is best in deed. But if you say, “Indeed, you are resurrected after death,” those who disbelieve will surely say, “This is not but obvious magic.”

From verse 7 of Surah Hud in the Quran, we can see the supremacy of Allah. This verse states that Allah’s throne is built upon water, letting us know that Allah is in control over all life forms that have been sourced from water.

Reflecting upon this can remind us that Allah has control over everything in the universe, even over the very thing most basic to existence.

Life is created from water

Without water, there is no life.

This fact is reflected in many verses of the Quran.

Creation of All Living Things

Allah told us in the Quran that He has created all living things from water, regardless of its size, shape, colour, or density. He says:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا ۖ وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ ۖ أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

[Quran 21:30]

Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and We separated them and made from water every living ? Then will they not believe.

Creation of Human Beings

While science first discovered sperm in 1677, it took about another 200 years or so before scientists agreed on how humans are actually formed from sperm. Allah had already revealed in the Quran that human beings have been created from water (semen) which is the foundation of our creation.

وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ مِنَ الْمَاءِ بَشَرًا فَجَعَلَهُ نَسَبًا وَصِهْرًا ۗ وَكَانَ رَبُّكَ قَدِيرًا

[Quran 25:54]

And it is He who has created from water a human being and made him [a relative by] lineage and marriage. And ever is your Lord competent [concerning creation].

Creation of Plants

Plantlife is diverse. The many different colours, textures, and habitats are amazing. 

There are approximately 300 million species of plants on Earth, which accounts for over 80% of the world’s living biomass. The world’s largest biomass is in the ocean. These plants are the primary source of oxygen in the air we breathe and are an important cog in the planet’s ecosystem.

But even plants could not exist without water.

وَتَرَى الْأَرْضَ هَامِدَةً فَإِذَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْهَا الْمَاءَ اهْتَزَّتْ وَرَبَتْ وَأَنبَتَتْ مِن كُلِّ زَوْجٍ بَهِيجٍ

[Quran 22:5]

And you see the earth barren, but when We send down upon it rain, it quivers and swells and grows [something] of every beautiful kind.

Where does water come from?

Do you know where the water you drink comes from?

Consider this: 71% of Earth is covered by water, but only about 2.5% of that is fresh drinking water available for human use.

The oceans hold about 96.5 % of all Earth’s water, which is undrinkable saltwater. 

Water also exists as water vapour in the atmosphere, water in the liquid form of rivers and lakes, water in the solid form of icecaps and glaciers, water in the ground as soil moisture and in aquifers, and even water inside humans and animals.

But where does all this water actually come from? Allah reveals the sources in the Quran.

Rain as the source of water

Allah has stated in the Quran that He sends water down to earth through the rain from the sky.

وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ الرِّيَاحَ بُشْرًا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ رَحْمَتِهِ ۚ وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً طَهُورًا

[Quran 11:7]

And it is He who sends the winds as good tidings before His mercy, and We send down from the sky pure water.

Water from secondary sources

These are the secondary sources of water derived from the water sent down from the heavens by Allah. These secondary sources can come in the form of groundwater, springs, wells, lakes and others. Allah has stated that these come from rain:

وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً بِقَدَرٍ فَأَسْكَنَّاهُ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ وَإِنَّا عَلَىٰ ذَهَابٍ بِهِ لَقَادِرُونَ

[Quran 25:48]

And We have sent down rain from the sky in a measured amount and settled it in the earth. And indeed, We are able to take it away.

We can also observe water that runs or flows on the surface of the earth. We see these as rivers, streams, lakes, springs, oceans, and others. Allah again affirms that they originate from water sent down from the heavens. Allah says:

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَسَلَكَهُ يَنَابِيعَ فِي الْأَرْضِ

[Quran 39:2]

Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky and makes it flow as springs [and rivers] in the earth;

Why did Allah send down all this water?

From the water Allah has sent down to us, some are clean and some are unclean, depending on what they have come in contact with after they came down. The Prophet ﷺ said:

عَنْ أَبِي أُمَامَةَ الْبَاهِلِيِّ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ >الْمَاءَ لاَ يُنَجِّسُهُ شَىْءٌ إِلاَّ مَا غَلَبَ عَلَى رِيحِهِ وَطَعْمِهِ وَلَوْنِهِ ‏”‏

[Sunan Ibn Majah 521]

It was narrated that Abu Umamah Al-Bahili said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Water is not made impure by anything except that which changes its smell, taste and color”.

What is this water for? Allah tells us in the Quran that water has a multipurpose role in our lives.

Water for Purification

Water has been made for us as a means of purification as it is the only clean liquid that is pure and can purify. Allah ordered us to use it for ghusl (Islamic bath) and wudu (ablution). He says;

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ ۚ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا ۚ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًاَ

[Quran 5:6]

O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth.

Water for Drinking

Drinking water is essential for human beings and animals. The human body is made up of 60-70% water. Every part of the body needs water to function. It acts as a lubricant for joints, regulates body temperature, and flushes out waste. 

Science has shown that humans can survive without food for three weeks, but without water, we’d last only three to seven days. Allah says;

وَأَرْسَلْنَا الرِّيَاحَ لَوَاقِحَ فَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَسْقَيْنَاكُمُوهُ وَمَا أَنتُمْ لَهُ بِخَازِنِينَ

[Quran 15:22]

And We have sent the fertilising winds and sent down water from the sky and given you drink from it. And you are not its retainers.

Water for Washing

We have many detergents and cleansers on the market today with their various claims to cleanliness. Often, what we are actually paying for is for things to smell good or lather up well. Water washes and purifies everything, even if it doesn’t have the smell of perfume.

The Prophet ﷺ reported that a woman came for advice about her monthly cycle and purifying her clothing during this time. He told her that it was sufficient that she wash her garments with water.

عَنْ أَسْمَاءَ، قَالَتْ جَاءَتِ امْرَأَةٌ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَتْ إِحْدَانَا يُصِيبُ ثَوْبَهَا مِنْ دَمِ الْحَيْضَةِ كَيْفَ تَصْنَعُ بِهِ قَالَ ‏ “‏ تَحُتُّهُ ثُمَّ تَقْرُصُهُ بِالْمَاءِ ثُمَّ تَنْضَحُهُ ثُمَّ تُصَلِّي فِيهِ ‏”‏ ‏.

[Quran 15:22]

Asma (daughter of Abu Bakr) reported: A woman came to the Apostle of Allah ﷺ and said: What should one do if the blood of menses smears the garment of one amongst us? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: She should scrape it, then rub it with water, then pour water over it and then offer prayer in it.

Water to Grow Food

There are some parts of the world that an inadequate source of water to maintain life. Examples of this would be your desert regions. (Sahara Desert, Mojave, Arabian, Kalahari, etc) In order to maintain life, water must be irrigated from its original source to the place where it needs to be used, like gardens to grow food. The importance of water can not be emphasised enough.

عَنْ سَالِمٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ فِيمَا سَقَتِ السَّمَاءُ وَالأَنْهَارُ وَالْعُيُونُ أَوْ كَانَ بَعْلاً الْعُشْرُ وَفِيمَا سُقِيَ بِالسَّوَانِي نِصْفُ الْعُشْرِ ‏”‏ ‏.

Salim narrated that: that his Father said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah say: ‘For whatever is irrigated by the sky, rivers and springs, or draws up water from deep roots, one-tenth. For whatever is irrigated by animals (i.e. by artificial means) one half of one-tenth.’ ”

Cherish the Blessing of Water

According to a 2019 report from World Health Organization (WHO), one in three people globally does not have access to safe, drinking water. This accounts for about 2.2 billion people in the world. Without access to safe drinking water and sanitation, waterborne related diseases cause death every 10 seconds. 

Those of us who have been blessed with clean water should be grateful and ensure we don’t waste it. The Prophet ﷺ forbade us from wasting water, even from a river. 

So don’t take water for granted and let’s try our best to help those who are less fortunate than us to have access to safe, drinking water and sanitation. We should also aspire to preserve the source of water as a form of gratitude to Allah for this gift that is vital to our existence and sustenance.

The next time you read or hear the word maa’ in the Quran, remember the huge blessing that Allah has gifted us with water. 

Remember the message Allah tells us about maa’ in the Quran: how His throne had been upon maa’, how we were created from maa’, how maa’ pours down from the heavens for us, how maa’ purifies, cleans, and nourishes us.

With this remembrance, the next time we taste even a small drop of water or feel water upon our skin, our chest can expand with overflowing love and gratitude for Allah SWT.

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  1. Muhamad Azhar bin Ibrahim bin Yatim

    Saya kurang pandai berbahasa inggeris . boleh lah faham berdikit -dikit . insyaAllah .

    • Arabic Unlocked

      Alhamdulillah. Terima kasih kerana membaca. Semoga Allah menambah ilmu kita.


        Alhamdulillah syukur kepada Allah kerana menemukan saya kepada website ini. Semoga ilmu yang dikongsi membawa kebaikan untuk semua. InsyaAllah.

        • Name *saidah baragona

          Alhamdulillah jazakallahulkhair.
          extra knowledge, want cup learn.

          • Kehinde Olatoke

            Assalam alaekum warahamatullahi wabarakatuhu. Thank you very much for this lesson. I really appreciate you. Jazakumllai khaera kathira.

    • Fatima Diallo

      Alhamdulilay thank you

    • Abdirahman

      Thanks for sharing such wonderful knowledge about water

  2. Norseha bt Mohd Yusof

    Thank you so much for adding my knowledge on ‘water’ as revealed in the alquran. Alhamdulillah. May you be blessed.

    • Arabic Unlocked

      You’re welcome. Ameen.

    • Haris Sabah

      Thank you for adding me n helping me in increasing my knowledge of qurran .jazak Allaho kaharain

  3. Natrah Binti Omar

    Alhamdulillah. Thank you for sharing the knowledge and please give me more.

  4. sonya evans

    السلام عايكم ! Shukran for the maa knowledge ! Inshallah! i would like to join very much, but i don’t have webcam just a mobile phone …THE QADR OF ALLAH (SWT) !

    • Arabic Unlocked

      Alhamdulillah, we are glad to hear you found this lesson beneficial.
      You can still join the courses without a webcam, inshaAllah. The video lessons are self-paced and can be watched on any mobile device, inshaAllah.

      • Suhayb

        Salamu calaykum brother i have cathed some words like ina = indeed and thuma= Then etc but when i am Reading the quran i Can only understand fra words like the one i has learned but i cant understand a whole surah or a whole ayah any help or advices how to improve on more quranic words to understand whole ayah or whole surah whole juz etc jazakallahu khey Wa salamu calaykum

        • Arabic Unlocked

          Waaalaikumussalam. Alhamdulillah for the effort you’ve put in and the progress you’ve made. I suggest checking out our Quranic Arabic Unlocked program. The program is designed to help you learn Arabic to understand most of the words and ayah in the Quran, InshaAllah. Check out the program here:

    • Qurattulain

      Way of explaination is speechless. Very helpful in boosting knowledge.

  5. Fauziah

    Asslamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu
    I enjoyed this lesson; it was easy to understand and it was very beneficial. Can I share this story to anyone in any other form?
    I am keen to learn but I worry I may not be able to keep up. In the past I had signed up for programs but after paying, I was unable to keep up with the pace. It made me feel very guilty too.

    • Arabic Unlocked


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  6. Fauziah

    I’ve looked at the two types of courses. What is the main difference between the two- Quranic Arabic and Language Mastery? Is there any criteria for who can take which course?

    • Arabic Unlocked

      Assalamualaikum, thank you for reaching out with your question.

      The Quranic Arabic course teaches you the vocabulary and grammar needed to understand the Quran in Arabic. Language Mastery is about mastering learning habits and mindsets that make it faster for you to learn a language (and hence, faster for you to make progress with Quranic Arabic course) inshaAllah.

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      We hope this helps to clairify.

  7. Mahmooda Wahab


    As Salaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatull Allaahi Wa Barakatuhu,

    Al Hamdu Lillaah

    Allaah All-Mighty’s Final Messenger, our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)!

    May Allaah All-Mighty be pleased with the respected Family, respected Companions of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and the righteous ones, Allaahumma Aameen!

    Jazak Allaahu Khayran

    • Arabic Unlocked

      Waalaikumussalam warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

  8. nayeema hai

    I thought we will learn Arabic language to understand quran and communicating as well

    • Arabic Unlocked


      Our Quranic Arabic course will teach you to understand over 70% of the Quran directly in Arabic, InshaAllah.

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  9. C A Bah

    Thanks for the enlightenment and encouragement.
    May Allah the Almighty reward you.

    Jazak’Allah Khayran.

    • Arabic Unlocked

      Wa iyyakum. We’re glad you find it helpful. Alhamdulillah

  10. Dyghalimah

    Syukur alhamdulillah kerna perkongsian matlumat. Semoga mendapat ganjaran drp Allah SWT aamiin.

  11. Anna

    So jinn and the angels are made from water?

  12. Anna

    How are the angels that are made of light, made of water, and how is the jinn, made of fire, made from water?

    • Arabic Unlocked

      In reference to the Quran verse Chapter 21 verse 30, where Allah says, “And We created from water every living thing”, it refers to every living thing on earth (after the separation of heaven and earth.)

      Angels are made of light “noor” [Sahih Muslim] and jinn are made of smokeless fire [Quran 55:15].

      Wallahu A’lam

  13. Kayvon

    Did you count the Aleph Lam Meem?
    The word Meem in arabic is derived from “water” which back then, a glyph of some water represented the M sound.


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