Importance of Arabic

Understanding the language of the Holy Quran is indispensable

By K M Zubair (Reflections)

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Published: Wed 31 Jul 2013, 8:54 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:15 PM

Ninety per cent of the world’s Muslims do not speak Arabic as their native language. Yet in daily prayers, when reading the Holy Qur’an, or even in simple conversations with each other, Arabic rolls off any Muslim’s tongue readily. It may be broken or heavily accented, but most Muslims make the attempt to speak and understand at least some Arabic. Why is Arabic so important to understanding the faith of Islam?

Regardless of their linguistic, cultural, and racial differences, Muslims form one community of believers. This community is based on their shared faith in One Almighty Allah, and the guidance He has sent down to mankind. His final revelation to mankind, the Holy Qur’an, was sent over 1400 years ago in the Arabic language. Arabic thus serves as a common language among this diverse community of believers.

The original Arabic text of the Holy Qur’an has been preserved from the time of its revelation. Translations have been done into various languages, but they all refer back to the original Arabic. In order to fully understand the magnificent words of their Lord, Muslims make every attempt to understand the rich and poetic classical Arabic language.

Since understanding Arabic is so important, most Muslims try to learn at least the basics. Many pursue further study to understand the full text of the Holy Qur’an in its original.

The importance of the Arabic language for the Muslim all over the world is so obvious that it is hardly necessary to furnish any far-fetched argument to project it. It is the language in which the Holy Quran was revealed. It is the language that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last of the prophets, spoke. It is, therefore, the language in which stands recorded and preserved his sacred traditions. Thus, the two basic sources of Islam, the Holy Quran and the Sunnah, are available in the Arabic language.

Unity, fraternity and fellow feelings so desirable to pervade the entire Muslim world emanate from the common faith, Islam, which all Muslims profess. Close in importance to this common faith in the matter of Muslim brotherhood and cooperation comes the Arabic language.

It is, therefore, the duty of every Muslim to learn the Arabic language so that he may be able to understand the Holy Quran, the Sunnah and other literature on religious topics available in the Arabic language.

Allah has commanded all believers to understand and reflect upon the Holy Quran. How can a man ponder on the Holy Quran unless he understands the meaning of the verses of the Holy Quran, and for this understanding it is indispensable for him to learn the Arabic language.

The Holy Quran is a living miracle of Allah associated with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is unique in the beauty of its diction, expression and eloquence. It has a melody and symphony of its own that moved to tears even the most hardhearted enemies of Islam.

In addition to the many exhortations in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah for the believers to learn and teach the Book of Allah, there is another indication in Allah’s scheme of things that in order to preserve the Divine Book genuinely pure and unaltered till the Day of Judgment, the believers should be provided facility to learn the Arabic language without any let or hindrance. It is another clear miracle that Allah has in His grace protected the language of the Holy Quran from undergoing any drastic changes during the last 14 centuries. This is a period sufficient for a language to fall into disuse and become dead or at least become so drastically changed that it is very difficult to understand it without the guidance of an expert.

The Arabic language has been safe from such changes and will remain so till the Day of Judgment. The entire non-Muslim world is striving hard to estrange the Muslims from their religion and culture and they know that the most effective way to achieve this nefarious objective is to weaken and ultimately sever, the relation of the Muslims from the Arabic language.

The counter effort made in this respect by Muslim countries or Muslim associations in their respective capacities will not be effective.

This important issue must be studied and tackled on the international forum through orgnisations like World Muslim League, the Organisation of Islamic Conference. They should have branches spread throughout the Muslim majority and minority countries to introduce a common syllabus for teaching the Arabic language by trained teachers, and to set up the requisite machinery to supervise, coordinate and promote the teaching programmes.

The responsibility of the Arabic speaking countries for launching and working these programmes is much greater and they should therefore step forward to play their due role in this important field without further loss of time.

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