Ramadan through the eyes of a non-Muslim - Day 14

Ramadan through the eyes of a non-Muslim - Day 14

The importance of Arabic as what I’d describe as a “sacred” language has been highlighted to me this Ramadan by the wide-variety of activities that have taken place to celebrate it.



By Bernd Debusmann Jr./senior Reporter

Published: Thu 2 Jul 2015, 12:07 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:19 PM

Among the many things that’s struck me during my first Ramadan living in the UAE is the enormous importance of the Arabic language. It goes beyond being simply a language and has cultural and religious significance unlike that of any other language spoken anywhere in the world.

As I’ve learned, Muslims believe that Allah orally delivered the contents of the Holy Quran  in Arabic to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) through the angel Gabriel over a period of about 23 years.

This simple fact — which in my experience is little known or improperly understood in the West — has an incredible power to bind people around the globe.

Thousands of miles from the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, where Arabic is the official language, Muslims are hearing the Quran in Arabic, although they might not be able to hold even the simplest conversation in the language.

 There is no exact comparison with other religions. Take Roman Catholicism: The lingua franca of the Holy See is Latin, rather than Aramaic, the now-rare language in which the bulk of the text of the Christian Bible is thought to have been written and which scholars believe was almost certainly the language that Jesus spoke.

In any case, Mass service conducted around the world is overwhelmingly delivered in the local language instead of Latin.

The importance of Arabic as what I’d describe as a “sacred” language has been highlighted to me this Ramadan by the wide-variety of activities that have taken place to celebrate it, of which I admit I was entirely unaware of before coming to the UAE.

There is an entire sub-culture of Quranic calligraphy, including high-tech 3D artwork, as well as memorisation and recitation that is fascinating from the perspective of an outsider. It’s impressive, for example, to see teenagers who’ve managed to flawlessly memorise the Holy Quran in the span of just two years. Aside from the religious devotion, that shows an amazing level of dedication to a task, the kind of work that many people around the world find hard to fathom. -bernd@khaleejtimes.com


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