The verb أصبح (to become) relates to صباح (the morning). Here’s how!
It’s not easy to see how the word أصبح relates to the morning, because there’s no verb that corresponds to it in English, and also because its general usage as “to become” is so common and widespread that nowadays it seems to have even superseded the more literal word for “to become” in Standard Arabic, which is صار.
I think the best way to explain this is by way of a few examples:
.أصبح الولد مريضًا
The common understanding of this sentence is, “The boy became sick.” However, more literally, it means that he became sick in the morning, that he woke up in the morning and found himself sick.
Imagine that you were on an overnight train to London. You went to sleep and woke up in the
morning and found yourself in London. You can say,
.أصبحنا في لندن
In a general sense, this can simply mean that you had arrived in London. But more specifically and literally, it means that you entered the morning in London.
I find it fascinating how this word developed its more general meaning of becoming, but it makes sense. أصبح can often be replaced with صار and function the same way, although without the connotation of the time of day. So it seems to have lost its subtlety in much of its usage. However, this isn’t always the case. In some cases, أصبح has to be understood literally for it to make sense. One example I can think of is this prayer, which is recited in the morning:
.أصْبَحْنَا وَأصْبَحَ الـمُلْكُ للـهِ
(In case it needs to be said: This is a linguistic discussion, not a religious one.)
If you understand the word أصبح as simply relating to becoming, this prayer wouldn’t make sense: “We and all of creation became for God.” It would imply that at some point, creation did not belong to God. However, if you understand أصبح as denoting entering upon the morning, it makes sense: “We and all of creation entered the morning for God,” i.e. we have entered the morning and all of creation continues to belong to God. The implication here is continuation rather than becoming.
There’s a nighttime equivalent to this prayer:
.أمْسَيْنَا وأمْسَى الـمُلْكُ لِلَّـهِ
The verb أمسى is similar to أصبح but relates to مساء, i.e. nighttime.
In my opinion, this demonstrates one of the beautiful subtleties of Arabic that is often lost, even on native speakers. As I’ve mentioned, the word أصبح has a general meaning of becoming that seems to have taken over.
As a side note, and since I’m learning Spanish, there’s a verb in Spanish that has a meaning similar to أصبح, which is “amanecer”. See definition #3 here: http://www.spanishcentral.com/translate/amanecer (I’d be interested to hear from a Spanish speaker about this.)