• AbdulHayy Salloo

Why was the Quran revealed in Arabic?

There are many reasons for the Quran being revealed in Arabic. One of which is that the Quran was sent to the Arabs, (which by no means does it mean Arabs are superior) what we do say rather, is that Allah chose a people and a language who appreciated the sensitivity of the finest nuances, the subtleties and sensitivity of meaning in the language which was very high.

When the Qur’an was revealed, these people didn’t have big civilisations or infrastructures, what they did have that they took pride in was their language. This is important because the Quran is revealed in very very precise Arabic.

Now because this is going to be the very last revelation, the language in which it is sent has to have precision. The way to keep precision is to keep precise language. That’s one reason.

Another reason is that the Arabic language is very rich. More than any other language in history. It has very systematic rules of Grammar and word formations. Having said that, a single statement can have many many messages embedded in it. Its richness, sensitivity, accuracy and precision is one of the obvious reasons.

Majority of the Muslims are non-Arab. Our Islamic history also tells us that Arabic grammar, and the greatest works of literary and grammatical analysis of Arabic was done by non-Arabs. So it’s not about Arabs being superior, no, it’s more about the supremacy of the Arabic Language.

Why study Arabic if there are so many translations available?

Simple answer, you have to take into consideration what’s lost in translation.

1. Content is lost. (Arabic language has a lot of words for the same thing. E.g. ‘Anger’ has over ten words for it. So too does ‘Human being’ etc. Each one of these words in Arabic have a different connotation/meaning. Just the letter و ‘waaw’ has over twenty different meanings/usages.) So the translation loses out a lot of content in this sense.

2. Style of the Quran. The way Allah articulates his message in an incredibly profound fashion. When human beings translate it, maybe they can get some of the content but the creativity, the uniqueness of the words are entirely lost.

Like when you try to translate Poetry or song from one language to another. Maybe you could translate the words, but certainly not the style, the creativity, the beauty and emotion in it. This is definitely more so for the Quran.

Am I a lesser Muslim/sinful if I don’t know the Arabic language?

The fact that you’re not an Arab, or don’t know Arabic is not a sin. Vast majority of the Muslims in this Ummah are Non-Arab. Not understanding Arabic is not the problem. The Problem however, is when one does not feel the desire to learn the language in which God chose to communicate with you.

So the most appropriate question in this place should be, Am I a lesser Muslim if have no desire to learn this language. Even when Allah has said he has made it easy. “Wa laqad Yassarnal Qur’aana lidh-dhikri . . .” So if Allah has promised saying it is easy, automatically this should make us want to learn it InshaAllah

The Quran calls itself clear and self-explanatory, so why do I have to learn this complicated language to be able to understand it?

Now, the answer to this is very simple. It’s a confusion between two different words. The Quran calls itself clear and clarifying “مُبِيْن”. But that does not mean it’s simple.

Think of a very difficult algebra equation, it’s very complicated for the general people, but a mathematician can write a very clear solution for it. It does not mean the answer to the question was simple, but it is a guarantee that it is clear, and the answer is in fact correct.

The Quran deals with very complex and intricate issues, its guidance and response to the issues are very clear, but it does not necessarily mean it is self-explanatory or simple.

So the two shouldn’t be confused with each other.