Arabic Language, the Quran, and Arabic Translation
Reasons to study the Arabic language
The Arabic language is important to Islam because Muhammad spoke Arabic and the Quran was written in the Arabic language. The Quran says, “Surely We have made it an Arabic Quran that you may understand” (Quran 43:3).
Muslims study Arabic to understand the Quran and Sunnah. Study of the Quran and Sunna is important so Muslims have the precise knowledge of these forms of revelation for application in their lives. Other important reasons for learning the Arabic language include:
- The Arabic language is the fifth most spoken language of the world.
- The Arabic language is one of six official languages of the United Nations.
Listen to the Sheikh teach about the Arabic Language and Arabic Translation translated into English
One of the aims of this website is to dialogue between Christians and Muslims about Muhammad, the Quran, the Bible, and Jesus. Good dialogue involves listening – even when you do not agree. Listening is especially important if you do not understand, and every blogger and apologist should learn Proverbs 10:19. In order to avoid logorrhea blogorrhea – excessive blog speech – I have been listening and learning to Sheikh Ali Gomaa teach about the Quran and the Arabic language of the Quran.
The importance of the Arabic language for the Quran and hadiths
“One of the principles that we try to care for is our interest in the Arabic language, because the noble Qur’an descended to us in that language. It is also the language used to write the hadith as well as the language that represents the opposite side of intellect. Whenever the language becomes precise, so does the intellect. This can never happen without the precision of the language hence comes our interest in the Arabic language for the sake of rational thinking. This affects our understanding of Allah’s book Glorified and Exalted be He. It has great influence in admiring the miraculous scientific nature of the noble Qur’an and increases our ability to become submissive while prostrating to Allah Glorified and Exalted Be He. This is needed also when reading that great book and is useful for your daily life as well. Logical straight forward thinking is open minded thinking and creative without restrictions. The more we become established in this kind of thinking the more we become creative rather than deviating and the more our thinking becomes distorted the more we deviate rather than create.
The Arabic language is belief that a language can only be grasped by a Prophet
“Languages have a philosophy especially the Arabic language. The Arabic language entails oddities and wonders that need to be contemplated. We will point some our as examples for what lies behind them but we will not restrict its linguistic philosophy. A language can not be fully grasphed unless by a Prophet like Imam Ash-Shafi’i used to say: “A language can only be grasped by a Prophet.”
“We are talking here only about some points that might explain what lies behind them and how this explains that a language can lead to logical straight thinking, leading to the glorification of the scientific miracles of the Qur’an. This will lead to proper understanding, leading to creativity and at the end to leading a good life in this earth while worshipping Allah and developing this earth while purifying one’s soul. How can this be done? This is why we need to care for this language and linguistic studies of all aspects. We will mention a few examples, but this is not comprehensive, it can’t be. These will not cover the issue, but we can’t do other than that due to the time restriction. Allah only knows the extent of this issue.”
Arabic language of the Quran, Hebrew language of the Torah, Sanskrit of the Vedas
“We would like to discuss together some points, including the linguistic philosophy or the philosophy of the Arabic language. We know that there is a difference between a sacred language and the sanctity of the language. A sacred language is that used to write sacred scripts, which are numbered. The Torah’s original script was written in Hebrew while the bibles [New Testament?] were originally written in the Syriac language which is a dialect of the Aramaic language or Aramaic dialect.”
“The sacred book of the Indians named Vedas was written in Sanskrit, as for the Qur’an it was written in Arabic. Those holy books are sacred for some, which makes its language revered as well. Hence comes the need to examine the characteristics of that language as well as its laws and vocabulary, for the sake of using it in understanding the holy script written in that language.”
Language has no sanctity of its own
“Language is an evolving creature as explained by its scientists. Al-Jaahiz says that each era has its own way of speaking, hence whoever lived in the pre-Islamic era is not like whoever lived during the time of Islam which is different than those who lived 500 years later. Each generation and nation speaks in a different way even if the language is the same. Language has no sanctity of its own.”
“There is a difference between the sacred language, meaning a holy script was written in that language, hence comes the need to study its characteristics and rules in order to reach the true understanding of that script, and between the sanctity of a language. Language has no sanctity, meaning that it evolves and develops the same way as nations and things develop.”
“The difference between the sanctity of the language and the sacred language was pointed out by thinkers and scientists throughout history. Al-Jaahiz says that if you reside with a people then you need to speak in their language. We find that difference in the language of Imru’ Al-Qais during the pre-Islamic era as he says:
Stop, oh my friends, let us pause to weep over the remembrance of my beloved. Here was her abode on the edge of the sandy desert between Dakhool and Howmal. The traces of her encampment are not wholly obliterated even now. A lot of people will not be able to understand this. The courtyard and enclosures of the old home have become desolate; The dung of the wild deer lies there thick as the seeds of pepper. As I lament thus in the place made desolate, my friends stop their camels; They cry to me “Do not die of grief; bear this sorrow patiently.’
Until the end of that Muallaqa that was amazing and is not repeated humorously by many because they understand nothing of its definitions or structure.
Many a night has let down its curtains around me amid deep grief. It has whelmed me with different sorrows, to try me. So I said to the night, when it stretched its back over me. And followed with its rump, and weighed down heavily with its chest: ‘Oh long night, come clear, With a morning, while morning is no better than you, Attacking, fleeing, approaching, retreating, all in one. Like a huge rock dropped by the flood from above. In another narration from above.
I mean that nobody understands anything from it, but our language is Arabic so we might sense certain rhythms. An oriental once sensed this, as mentioned by Dr. Mahdi Allam. One day a man came to him and said: Recite an Arabic poem to me. He said: “I could not think of anything but: ‘Attacking, fleeing, approaching, retreating, all in one. Like a huge rock dropped by the flood from above.'”
He [the oriental] said: “Is that a horse galloping?” Because he could feel the rhythm of the horse galloping from the way Dr. Mahdy Allam recited that poem.”
The development of language does not affect the sacred language. The Quran contains about 66,000 words.
“I mean that the Arabic language develops, but this development does not affect the sacred language, in which the holy scripts have been written. Hence we come to another conclusion. We know that the noble book contains around sixty six thousand words.”
Examing the root words of the Quran in the Arabic language
1,810 root words in the Quran, 3,600 root words in the sunnah
“These words are derived from no more than 1810 roots. I mean like the word “hit” in Arabic “Darb” is the root, but from that we could extract many words meaning hitting, hitter, bat and so on of the same root.”
“If we examine the roots of the noble Qur’an or the words mentioned in the Qur’an, they will reach 1810 including the proper nouns. Meaning like Ibrahim, Ismail, Idris are also included, because some might not consider nouns, as they are mostly foreign names, hence they will not be conjugated. A foreign noun can not be conjugated. Even if we count those as well and found the root for them, it will not exceed the mentioned number. This is the sacred part of the language, but if we look at the sunnah and we did the same and calculated the roots in the Prophetic sunnah and found them around three thousand six hundred roots. This means it is twice the number of what was mentioned in the Qur’an.”
“The amazing thing is that 1800 is part of 3600. Thus, we could say that 3600 roots are enough for the Qur’an and Sunnah, as what has been stated in the Qur’an is also mentioned in the noble Prophetic Sunnah.”
The number of root words in the Arabic language
“The question here is how many roots are there in the Arabic language? A large book like “Al-Qamoos Al-Moheet” we find around 40000 roots in the Arabic language. 40000 mean that the Qur’an and Sunnah represent no more than 10% of that. Thus, we didn’t even reach 10%. This states that 90% of the language is subject to negligence or change and also it might come in a delayed rank. The part used for the basis of straight thinking is 3600 root.”
The root words in the Arabic language and Quran are ideal for learning the Quran in the Arabic language
“When we look at the new linguistic studies, which explains how one can learn languages like English or other, it states that humans can learn any language as long as they can understand 3000 roots and 900 phrases of that language. What that amount only you can speak English, French, Chinese or Arabic. This is the minimum needed to learn any langauge and master it. Through these linguistic studies we learned how Islam spread and how the Arabic language spread. This was through the Qur’an, which was memorized, recited and explained. It infiltrated the Turks, Urdu and Malay etc. This number of roots made the Arabic language an acceptable language. This is why it was easy for them when they tried to learn it, but if one will not learn the Qur’an or the Sunnah this will create a large barrier in learning the Arabic language. Hence if we study the Qur’an it will help in learning the language and the language helps us in understanding the Qur’an. They represent a closed circle.”
“The sanctity of the language and the sacred language is one of the points in the philosophy of linguistic science. Lets explain the characteristics of this language….”