The Importance of Learning Arabic

Assalamu alaikum. As a teacher of Arabic and Theology I would like to share something – A note about the Quran and the Arabic of the Quran. As Muslims we believe that the Quran is the word of Allah. However this is not a mere blind emotional religious belief.

Every civilization has its language. The summit of the beauty of any language is in its poetry. It is commonly known that if anyone really wishes to gain a deep understanding and appreciation of any language then he must delve into its poetry.

During the time when the Quran was revealed the Arabs had reached the pinnacle of their spoken language and poetry. In fact, in modern times it has been said that nobody has been able to reproduce the poetry of the pre-islamic Arabs. Such was the level and beauty of the poetry.

This period meant that the Arabs were linguistically well equipped to understand that the Quran was not the words of any human being. Their language skills were extremely high…but the Quran came with words and beauty beyond anything they could come up with. That’s how they knew that the Prophet (saws) was not making it up. The reactions of the Pagan Arabs varied due to the amazing nature of the language of the Quran. Some thought it was sorcery. Others thought the Prophet was insane. These were not insults from pagans who simply didn’t believe. They resisted, not out of ignorant hatred, but linguistic acknowledgement that there was something being revealed that was beyond their great linguistic level. However, their pagan beliefs and cultural arrogance caused them to be bereft of divine guidance. Hence they assumed the Quran was the ramblings of a mad man or the work of a magician. Then there were those pagans who fully understood but refused to accept because they were not willing to take on what Islam required of them. Regardless of reasons the fact is they recognised the ‘out of this world’ nature of the words of the Quran.

Of course there were those who accepted the Quran upon hearing it. Those that accepted the Quran did so for similar reasons as the pagans- the language was not of this world. However their recognition was a recognition of the divine. Guidance reached them from recognising the call of their creator…and this is just from the nature of the language. I haven’t even mentioned tafsir or seerah. I stress again that this was purely from the nature of the language. Of course they had the pleasure and privilege of being around the Prophet (saws);  however the Prophet was a physical embodiment and enactment of the powerful words of the Quran. When describing his character Aisha (RA) said “his character was the Quran.”

This message is just to emphasize the importance of learning the Arabic language for any Muslim who is able to do so. It is also to help us recognise that the Quran is divine even in the very language itself. May Allah give us the tawfeeq to recognise, appreciate and love the Quran. May that lead us to a better understanding and ability to live by it. May Allah keep us on that guidance and cause us to return to him on that guidance. Ameen

Assalamu alaikum,

Andrew Ramsey

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