All Prophets sent by Allaah were sent with the language of their people.
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ رَسُولٍ إِلا بِلِسَانِ قَوْمِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُمْ فَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
“And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allâh misleads whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.’ [Ibrahim: 42]
So Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu alahyi wa sallam) was sent with the Arabic Language, therefore the Sharee’ah sent with him is with this language. In fact the whole of Qur’aan and Sunnah were revealed with it. Thus the Arabic language has become a language a Muslim cannot shun, that is he wants to worship his Lord as proper.
إِنَّا أَنزلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
“Verily, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'ân in order that you may understand.” [Yoosuf: 2]
كِتَابٌ فُصِّلَتْ آيَاتُهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ
“A Book whereof the Verses are explained In detail; a Qur'ân In Arabic for people who know.” [Fussilat: 3]
نزلَ بِهِ الرُّوحُ الأمِينُ* عَلَى قَلْبِكَ لِتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُنْذِرِينَ* بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُبِينٍ
“[Qur’aan] which the trustworthy Rûh [Angel Jibreel)] has brought down. Upon your heart (O Muhammad) that you may be (one) of the warners. In the plain Arabic language.” [Shuaraa 193-5]
So, if the Final Explanation from the Creator to mankind is via the Arabic Language therefore all existing languages today is inferior to Arabic language. This is purely a religious position. If we are talking nationalism or loyalty to one’s country then one can go ethnocentric, in fact, if you like your tribe so dearly, you can say your dialect is better than Arabic, no qualms. Thus there is no place for the warped ideas of the sociologists here. The issue is, we are talking about the language the Creator used to communicate His Message to His creation. When it was Aramaic, that was superior. When it was a Babylonian language, that was superior. When it was Talmudic, that was superior. [Interestingly, Allaah has never communicated in Latin or English even though they all came from Him]; He knows best]. Now it is Arabic, not English, French or Turkish. You may not like the Arabs; in fact liking the Arabs has never been part of the Muslim Creed. You may not like the Arab Cities (beside Makkah and Madeenah, which a Muslim must also love). But you have to start liking the Arabic Language, as a Muslim, because your religion demands that.
Ibn Faaris said: ‘So when Allaah – the Mighty and Most Sublime – limited the explanation to Clear Arabic, that indicates all other languages are inferior’ [As-Saahibee: p.40]
A Muslim must pray practically at least five times a day; the language to use is Arabic. He will need to go over the Qur’aan, yet it is Arabic. A Muslim, of course, knows that there is no Islam without the Qur’aan. Let him also know that there is no Qur’aan without the Arabic Language.
Az-Zamzamee said in his popular poetry on Sciences of the Qur’aan:
‘It [Qur'aan] is forbidden in other than Arabic Language/Recitation or that it should be interpreted.’
Al-Imaam Ash-Shaafi'ee said: ‘Every Muslim MUST learn from the Arabic Language according to his capacity to facilitate his saying ‘ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illa Llaah wa anna Muhammadan rasoolullaah’, and to be able to recite the Book of Allaah, say the words of remembrance obligatory upon him such as ‘Allaahu Akbar’ and other commandments with respect to Tasbeeh, Tashahhud and others…’ [Ar-Risaalah: 48]
Therefore the learner of the Sharee’ah should know that he can never understand the Book of Allaah, know its goals, know the juristic statements, manners of deriving rulings of the Sharee’ah, and terminologies of the jurists unless he is vast in Arabic language and its sciences. The more he is vast in Arabic Language, the more he comprehends all those. We need not state that, he will need to have more teachers. You can’t just pick a book on Arabic Language and start learning; someone has to put you through. The best of students have the best of teachers. Only Allaah grants success.
Al-Imaam Ash-Shaatibee said: ‘The Sharee’ah is Arabic; if it is so, none can understand the Sharee’ah except when he understands the Arabic language as expected…thus a new learner of Arabic is a new learner in Sharee’ah…when he reaches the highest point in Arabic he will reach the highest point in Sharee’ah…whoever has not attained perfection in Arabic is lag.’ [Al-Muwaafaqaat vol.5 p.53].
The Salaf did counsel the Khalaf (people of the latter generations) about the Arabic Language.
Said Ameerul-Mu’mineen, Umar bn Al-Khattaab, may Allaah be pleased with him: ‘Learn the Deen, learn Arabic, and be good in your vocal presentation.’ [Fadaail-Qur’aan p.350].
He also commanded that none should teach the Qur’aan except someone who has knowledge of Arabic Language.
The Salaf would also seek forgiveness from Allaah when they made grammatical blunders. Hammaad bn Zayd said: We were with Ayyoob (as-Sakhtiyaanee) when he narrated a report and made a grammatical blunder. Al-Khaleel bn Ahmad was there that day, the latter looked at the former in the face then Ayyoob said: 'I seek pardon from Allaah'.’ [Al-Muhaddith Al-Faasil: p.525]
Al-As’maee even said: ‘What I fear most for a learner is that if he does not know Nahw [Arabic Grammar] that he should fall into what the Prophet (Sallallaahu alahyi wa sallam) warned about that ‘Whoever knowledge lies against me should get his place in Hell’ because the Prophet would not make grammatical blunders; so whatever is narrated from him while the narrator is making grammatical blunders, such has lied against him.’ [Mu’jam Al-Udabaa Vol.1 p.54]
Muhammad bn Al-Hasan Az-Zubaydee said: ‘The scholars among the Companions and those who came after them never ceased from counseling the people on learning the Arabic Language, memorizing (its principles) and having concern for its meanings. This is because the knowledge of the Arabic is from Deen in all ramifications.’ [Tabaqaatun-Nahwiyeen Wa Al-Lughawiyeen p.12]
Al-Mur’tadhaa Az-Zabeedee said: ‘Whoever hates the Arabic Language will eventually hate the Qur’aan and Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah. That is kufr, no doubt; and an eternal doom. We ask Allaah for mercy.’ [Al-Mafsal: p.3]
Al-Qannaujee said: ‘The knowledge of Arabic is prerequisite to knowledge of the Sharee’ah because the basis of the rulings of the Sharee’ah is from the Book and Sunnah which are in Arabic Language, those who transmitted the knowledge of the Sharee’ah among the Companions and the Taabioon were Arabs…there is no way from acquiring knowledge about matters that have to do with this language for whoever wants to learn the Sharee’ah.’ [Abjadul-Uloom vol.1 p.232].
Therefore it is knowledge of the Arabic Language, among other language, that must take the much of the time of a Muslim who wants to learn the Deen. While he may learn English, French, Russian, German, etc, for mundane reasons, and sometimes for Da'wah purpose (like the one we are doing here), he must learn with immediate effect the language of the Qur'aan and Sunnah provided if he wants to really attain the sweetness all of Islam is contained.
If there is any language Muslims must organize seminars, workshops, and tutorials for, then it is Arabic. Brandishing and cherishing other languages especially English language which has captured most of the minds today is a misplacement of priority.
Nobody has said learning Boko is haram but the troublemakers and criminals along the border of Lake Chad. But we are saying for A Muslim to learn Arabic is more important then for him to learn other languages. If he knows other languages after Arabic then good. He can make do with the former without the latter but not the latter without the former. With Arabic Language, he can become whatever he wants to become in life, and most especially his Deen will be greatly favoured.
But will anybody understand?
We ask Allaah for well-being.
Partly adapted from An-Nubdhah Al-Mufeedah Fee Idaahis-Silah bayna al-Arabiyyah wa al-Aqeedah of Duktoor Yoosuf bn Khalaf Al-Eesawee.
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