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Arabic is the official language of 23 countries, spoken by 420 million

By Dr Sumama Faisal

God Almighty preferred Arabic language over all languages of the world to reveal His last Book, The Qur’an, in this language. After the ‘Kalima’, the most important pillar of Islam is Namaz, offering which in any other language except Arabic is not permissible. For full and comprehensive understanding of the Shari’at, knowledge of Arabic  is essential and this language is the real source and fountain-head of Islamic education and teachings because right from exegesis (tafseer) and the Qur’anic sciences to Hadees, fiqh or jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence - all Islamic sciences were written in Arabic. Complete knowledge and understanding of Shari’at and its implied meanings is not possible without a profound knowledge of this language.

In addition to its religious importance, this language has always been the language of knowledge, erudition, literature, historiography, science, medicine and art of living. Experts of this language not only deeply studied the scientific and intellectual legacy of previous nations and civilizations, but also preserved them by rendering them into Arabic and nurtured and enriched them further and proved the creative characteristics of Arabic language.

This language produced unique personalities who demonstrated the depth of their erudition and art which has no parallel in history. It is because of their scientific services and contributions that architects of western civilisation built the structure and superstructure of their civilization.

Arabic is the oldest surviving language of the world which has till date preserved its original shape and characteristics. Other old languages of the world have either declined or have metamorphosed to the extent that they have lost their original attributes. Arabic has retained its pristine character because the divine revelation, The Qur’an, defined its highest form and because God has taken upon Himself the responsibility of preserving the Qur’an (15:9).

Historians believe that as compared to other Semitic languages, Arabic is nearest to the original characteristics of these languages, though Aramaic is considered much older than Arabic language but it is almost extinct today.

When preaching and propagation of Islam started and its influence began to spread on the word map, wherever Arabs set their foot, Arabic left its deep imprint in all these areas and their languages. Consequently, Turkish, Persian, Urdu, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Kurdish, Malay, and Albanese languages in particular were influenced by Arabic language. In addition to these languages, African languages like Swahili and European languages like Spanish, Portuguese and Maltese were influenced to a considerable extent by Arabic language. According to UNESCO, Arabic today is the official language of 23 countries and the mother tongue of about 420 million people.  (Translated from Urdu by MG staff)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2014 on page no. 2

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