Monday, September 15, 2008

The Importance of the Arabic Language in Islam

Sheikh ul-Islâm ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullaah
Iqtidaa‘us-Siraatil-Mustaqeem (2/207)

 Arabic is the symbol of Islâm and the language of the Qur‘ân.

When the early Muslims went to live in Syria and Egypt, where the people spoke Byzantine Greek, and in ’Iraq and Khurasaan, where the people spoke Persian, and North Africa (al-Maghrib) were the people spoke Berber, they taught the people of those countries to speak Arabic, so that Arabic became the prevalent language in those lands, and all the people, Muslim and non alike, spoke Arabic.

Know that being used to using a language has a clear and strong effect on one’s thinking, behaviour and religious commitment. It also has an effect on making one resemble the early generations of this Ummah, the Companions and the Taabi’een. Being like them improves one’s thinking, religious commitment and behaviour.

Moreover, the Arabic language itself is part of Islâm, and knowing Arabic is an obligatory duty. 

If it is a duty to understand the Qur‘ân and Sunnah, and they cannot be understood without knowing Arabic, then the means that is needed to fulfill the duty is also obligatory.

There are things which are obligatory on all individuals (fard ’ayn), and others which are obligatory on the community or Ummah (fard kifaayah, i.e., if some people fulfill them the rest are relieved of the obligation.)

This is the meaning of the report narrated by Abu Bakr Ibn Abee Shaybah who said: Isa Ibn Yonus told us from Thawr from ’Umar Ibn Yazeed that ’Umar wrote to Abu Moosa al-Ash’aree radiallaahu ’anhu and said: {{Learn the Sunnah and learn Arabic; learn the Qur‘ân in Arabic for it is Arabic.}}

According to another hadith narrated from ’Umar radiyallaahu ’anhu, he said: {{Learn Arabic for it is part of your Religion, and learn how the estate of the deceased should be divided (faraa‘id) for these are part of your Religion.}}

This command of ’Umar, to learn Arabic and the Sharee’ah combines the things that are needed, for Religion involves understanding words and actions. 

Understanding Arabic is the way to understand the words of Islâm, and understanding the Sunnah is the way to understand the actions of Islâm…”

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