Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
The majority of Muslims today know English, but they don’t know Arabic. Arabic is not just a language of the Arabs, it is the universal language of Islam. Yet we don’t feel the need to learn it. The most we know of Arabic is the letters and how to read it. We have a few of the surahs from Juz Amma memorized for reciting in prayers, but we don’t even understand the meanings of those. Let me give you some examples of what I personally found to be compelling reasons for learning Arabic, and why reading translations in English or any other language is not enough.
Without knowing Arabic, we don’t understand what we are saying during prayer.
You can’t really talk to a person just by memorizing some phrases in their language. When we recite surahs and the various duas in salah, and when we make dua to Allah, we are just saying things we memorized. We can’t really talk to Allah until we know the language in which Allah spoke to us. even if we know the translations of what we’re saying, the most we can do is think of the translation while saying the words in Arabic. But that’s definitely not the same as knowing the basics of the language and talking in it. But that is what prayer is supposed to be – a talk with Allah. Allah has said in the Quran,
إِنَّنِي أَنَا اللَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدْنِي وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي
Indeed, I am Allah . There is no deity except Me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance. [20:14]
For any serious student of Islam, Arabic is the key to a huge reservoir of treasures.
Imagine a huge palace with big gates made of bronze. You know that the palace is full of treasures, all waiting for you. But you can’t get inside because the door is locked. There is a huge lock dangling there for which you don’t have the key. That key is Arabic language. Just imagine the vast treasure-house of knowledge that will open up for you if you manage to learn Arabic – 1400 years of research by Islamic scholars, starting from the ahadith of the Prophet (saw), sayings of the companions, books compiled by the famous imams of our history. The famous library of Baghdad, Bayt al Hikmah, which was destroyed by the Mongols contained thousands and thousands of books, all in Arabic. It was destroyed about a 800 years ago, and since then Muslim scholars have continued research. All that will be available to us, we just need the key.
Arabic Quran is the literal uncreated word of Allah.
Allah said in the Quran,
إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an that you might understand. [12:2]
وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَنزَلْنَاهُ حُكْمًا عَرَبِيًّا
And thus We have revealed it as an Arabic legislation… [13:37]
Allah gave us the Arabic Quran so that we might understand. It means that we are supposed to understand the Arabic Quran. The Arabic Quran is the speech of Allah, and if we want to know what Allah is saying to us directly, we have to learn Arabic.
Knowing Arabic makes memorizing the Quran much easier.
When you know the meaning of something, it becomes easier to memorize and recall it. This is because we are using our semantic networks of the brain as well as speech comprehension areas. Imagine you are told to memorize something in English, and memorize the same number of words in a language you don’t know. Which will you find easier and less time consuming? The answer is obvious. Let’s do a simple test. Memorize the following then try to recall from memory:
Ther ati schas ingt hecat.
Then do the same for the following sentence.
The rat is chasing the cat.
Now look at the first sentence – it is the same sentence as the second except for the spaces! What a difference it makes, isn’t it?
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