Knowing Arabic Language is an Obligation

It is not possible that a Da’ee becomes Baseer (enlightened, wise) in his Dawah while he is ignorant of the Arabic language. This further stresses the importance of the Duaat’s studying the Arabic language in Islamic organizations, institutes and committees. For, there is no strength for Islam except by the strength of the people of knowledge and the people of Dawah, and there is no strength for the people of knowledge or for the people of Dawah except through their strength in the Arabic language.

If we were to lack in our understandings and derivations or pronunciation and speech of the Arabic language, then we will lack in our understanding of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger.

The following article has been taken from the work of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah), titled “Iqtida’ al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem”, 2/207.

The complete PDF of this article can be downloaded from here: Arabic Language is from the religion.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) said:

قال شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية – رحمه الله:

وأما اعتياد الخطاب بغير اللغة العربية، التي هي شعار الإسلام ولغة القرآن حتى يصير ذلك عادة للمصر وأهله، أو لأهل الدار، للرجل مع صاحبه، أو لأهل السوق، أو للأمراء، أو لأهل الديوان، أو لأهل الفقه، فلا ريب أن هذا مكروه فإنه من التشبه بالأعاجم، وهو مكروه كما تقدم،

As for becoming accustomed to talking to one another in a language other than Arabic, which is the symbol of Islam and the language of the Qur’an, so that this becomes a habit in the land, with one’s family and household members, with one’s friends, in the marketplace, when addressing government representatives or authority figures or when speaking to people of knowledge, undoubtedly this is makrooh (disliked), because it involves being like the non-Arabs, which is makrooh, as stated previously.

ولهذا كان المسلمون المتقدمون لما سكنوا أرض الشام ومصر، وأهلهما رومية، وأرض العراق وخراسان ولغة أهلهما فارسية، وأهل المغرب، ولغة أهلها بربرية – عودوا أهل هذه البلاد العربية، حتى غلبت على أهل هذه الأمصار: مسلمهم وكافرهم، وهكذا كانت خراسان قديماً. ثم إنهم تساهلوا في أمر اللغة، واعتادوا الخطاب بالفارسية، حتى غلبت عليهم، وصارت العربية مهجورة عند كثير منهم، ولا ريب أن هذا مكروه،

Hence when the early Muslims went to live in Syria and Egypt, where the people spoke Byzantine Greek, and in Iraq and Khurasan, where the people spoke Farsi, and the Maghrib (North Africa) where 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 kafir alike, spoke Arabic. Such was also the case in Khurasan in the past, then they became lax with regard to the language and got used to speaking Farsi until it became prevalent and Arabic was forgotten by most of them. Undoubtedly this is makrooh.

إنما الطريق الحسن اعتياد الخطاب بالعربية، حتى يتلقنها الصغار في المكاتب وفي الدور فيظهر شعار الإسلام وأهله، ويكون ذلك أسهل على أهل الإسلام في فقه معاني الكتاب والسنة وكلام السلف، بخلاف من اعتاد لغة ثم أراد أن ينتقل إلى أخرى فإنه يصعب.

The best way is to become accustomed to speaking Arabic so that the young people will learn it in their homes and schools, so that the symbol of Islam and its people will prevail. This will make it easier for the people of Islam to understand the Qur’an and Sunnah, and the words of the Salaf, unlike a person who gets used to speaking one language, then wants to learn another, and finds it difficult.

واعلم أن اعتياد اللغة يؤثر في العقل، والخلق، والدين تأثيراً قوياً بينا، ويؤثر أيضاً في مشابهة صدر هذه الأمة من الصحابة والتابعين، ومشابهتهم تزيد العقل والدين والخلق.

It should be noted that becoming accustomed to the language has a powerful effect on one’s thinking, attitude and religious commitment, and also has the effect of seeking to follow the example of the early generations of this ummah, the Sahaabah and Taabi’een. Seeking to follow their example increases reasoning, religious commitment and good attitude.

وأيضاً – فإن نفس اللغة العربية من الدين، ومعرفتها فرض واجب، فإن فهم الكتاب والسنة فرض، ولا يفهم إلا بفهم اللغة العربية، وما لا يتم الواجب إلا به فهو واجب.

Moreover, the Arabic language is part of this religion, and learning it is obligatory and essential. Understanding the Qur’aan and the Sunnah is an obligation, and they cannot be understood except by understanding the Arabic language.  Whatever it takes to complete an obligation is in itself an obligation.

ثم منها ما هو واجب على الأعيان، ومنها ما هو واجب على الكفاية، وهذا معنى ما رواه  أبو بكر بن أبي شيبة  حدثنا  عيسى بن يونس ، عن  ثور ، عن  عمر بن زيد : كتب عمر إلى أبي موسى رضي الله عنه: (( فتفقهوا في السنة، وتفقهوا في اللغة وأعربوا القرآن، فإنه عربي ))، وفي حديث آخر عن عمر رضي الله عنه أنه قال: (( تعلموا العربية فإنها من دينكم، وتعلموا الفرائض فإنها من دينكم ))

Then from them are things which are obligatory on all individuals (fard ‘ayn), and others which are obligatory on the community or ummah (fard kifayah, i.e., if some people fulfil them the rest are relieved of the obligation).

This is the meaning of the report narrated by Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah who said: ‘Eesa ibn Yoonus told us from Thawr from ‘Umar ibn Yazeed that ‘Umar wrote to Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him) and said:

‘Learn the Sunnah and learn Arabic; learn the Qur’an in Arabic for it is Arabic.’

According to another hadeeth narrated from ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), he said:

‘Learn Arabic for it is part of your religion, and learn how the estate of the deceased should be divided (fara’id) for these are part of your religion.’

وهذا الذي أمر به عمر رضي الله عنه من فقه العربية وفقه الشريعة، يجمع ما يحتاج إليه، لأن الدين فيه أقوال وأعمال، ففقه العربية هو الطريق إلى فقه أقواله، وفقه السنة هو فقه أعماله.

“اقتضاء الصراط المستقيم” (2/207)

This command of ‘Umar, to learn Arabic and Shari’ah, combines the things that are needed, for religion involves understanding words and actions. Understanding Arabic is the way to understand the words of Islam, and understanding the Sunnah is the way to understand the actions of Islam.

Source: Iqtida’ al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem (2/207).

Author: Islamic Treasure

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