Dear Brothers and Sisters, in an aim to encourage the learning of the beautiful Arabic Language, this talk was transcribed so that it serves as an encouragement and reminder firstly to myself and then to brothers and sisters.
- If you don't know how to recite the Qur'an - start now. Use your local mosque, Imam, any brother who can help, and ask yourself what arrangements will I make in order to learn how to recite the Book of Allah.
- If you can read the Qur'an - what about understanding it? Try to learn the language. It has always struck me how we are all (including myself) quite happy to migrate (hijrah) from our home towns to go to other cities (in the same country or overseas) in order to study in universities - to study non-Islamic subjects. But what have we done in order to learn the language that Allah chose to reveal the Final Message? To this day I remember how students from overseas struggle and fight to learn English so they can then study engineering, medicine, law etc. ... Have we even started to fight or struggle to learn the Arabic language?
- If you have started studying Arabic and are finding it a daunting task - PERSEVERE! The road is long, but I am sure rewarding in this life and the hereafter, if Allah wills. May this transcribed talk revamp your learning spirit, and urge us to learn the language of the Qur'an.
- Understand what has happened on a deeper historical perspective, how a language for any society is important, it's preservation and heritage. One of the biggest problems we face as Muslims, is ignorance about the true teachings of Islam, especially what Allah was has written in His book. The effects are apparent all over the Muslim world, from open shirk to a total absence of a Muslim personality. I hope this article reminds us that there is a conflict out there between good and evil. Which direction are we going ... If we don't understand the instruction, not being able to understand the book of Allah is exactly what the enemy wants.
Open the ears of your heart and may this read be of benefit, and not a proof against you.
To proceed to the advice of our Shaykh ...
The Ability to Communication: A Blessing from Allah
I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Devil (ash-shaytan), and praise Allah Almighty and send greetings (salam) upon the Messenger Muhammad, upon his wives, his family, his companions and all those whose follow his example until the Day of Judgment. I wish to greet you with the greeting of peace, by saying 'as-salamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu'. Secondly, it is from the sunnah (practices of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) taught to us, when you love a people or a person that you declare your love to them, therefore I state that I love you all for Allah, the Most High. Thirdly I wish to ask Allah Almighty on my behalf and yours to make our words beneficial in our scales on the Day of Judgement (al-yaum al-qiyamah), so that we may benefit and be from the people of the Paradise (al-jannah). O Allah accept our prayer.
It is apparent to all of us that we know that people must communicate with one another in different forms or in different ways. The easiest way that Allah has given mankind to communicate is through the spoken words through the tongue. Allah made (language/the tongue) one of his signs (ayat) to mankind, the spoken word and the differing of tongues (languages). There are other languages and other ways to communicate with one another, for example ... (the Shaykh showed us some movements in sign language that anyone from any culture from any place would understand: Come! Go! Counting, one, two, three) such that without speaking a person would understand what you were meaning even if he has a different language, a different tongue. Yet Allah Almighty deemed that the spoken word is the easiest and most useful. In His creation of mankind He deemed that the voice box, the place where the language comes out, the sound comes out, can produce thousands upon thousands of sounds that no one can count or calculate. No one can know home many different combinations a person can use together in forming words and language (speaking), except Allah, the Most High. Whether the language that is spoken is Arabic or another, it makes no difference as to the type of language. Yet we see that Allah, the Most High, out of all the languages and out of all the ways of communication, chose the Arabic language as the language of the Final Message, as a way of honouring it. When Allah sent the Qur'an in the Arabic language it gave honour to the language by itself, it also gave honour to the Arabic speaking people, but then when Arabic became the language of the Qur'an, Arabic ceased to be the language of the Arabs and began to be the language of the Muslims.
Destructive Forms of Communication
I wish to remind you that the disbelieving people in the West and different places, have taught mankind to also use different 'languages' other than the spoken tongue, and the 'language' that they have preferred now is the 'language' of lust and desire. You will see, that the woman is taught to shed her clothing, and to practice nakedness in varying forms and levels, and it becomes a language that we call 'body-language'. Wealth becomes another language, lusts and the desires of people are focused on by the disbelievers by way of distracting them from the words of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. And these are 'languages,' not just the spoken words, but all of these languages are what your children are living in today, these are the languages that your children are being bombarded with, and raised with on a daily and hourly basis. This then causes some to be neglectful of their Islamic duties, and others to leave Islam. Many of the children are not immunised, have not been given that inoculation, to protect them from these different evil forms of desires and lusts, and the inoculation, and the way to immunise yourself is through the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
The Danger of Neglecting Arabic and the Importance of its Preservation
How will you learn and understand, and derive the meaning of the Qur'an and the Sunnah without the Arabic language? So therefore when we are lacking in understanding the Arabic this causes us to fall into misguidance and to be mislead. Therefore the disbelievers win the battle, it is as if they have a bet with you, a race, they will win by eliminating the true Muslim characteristics in the lineages/generations that you will leave behind. You will not be able to pass on these Muslim manners, have a Muslim lineage, have Muslim grandchildren or great grand children unless you inoculate them with the Arabic language. So therefore how will you protect yourself ? It is to fortify your home with the struggle of learning the Arabic language, in all of its ways and degrees. I do not mean for you to understand that I am telling you to speak Arabic and learn Arabic the way Egyptians speak it, in their dialect, or the way Syrians speak in their dialect, or the way the Kuwaiti speaks in his dialect, or the way the Sudanese speaks in his dialect, but to speak the proper Arabic that is found in the Qur'an. This is a way of using it to understand, so that when you learn, you will have a better relationship with the Qur'an and the Sunnah of Muhammad, peace be upon him.
Some may believe that by acquiring different languages or a certain language it will increase your chances of making more money or getting more wealth, or having more opportunities to make money. This in fact is contrary to what Allah Almighty has dictated to us in the Qur'an, where Allah says:
"I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship me." [Al-Qur'an 51:56]
Allah is the one who provides for you therefore the criteria that you must meet is to be in worship of Allah, the Most High. So learning one language or another should not have the criteria, or base, to have more wealth or more worldly opportunities. For Allah Almighty says:
"And in the heaven is your provision and that which you are promised." [Al-Qur'an 51:22]
Thus, it has already been decided by Allah Almighty, the Most High. It can not be increased by something you do, and it can not be decreased by something you don't do, it has been decided by Allah, yet you live your life according to what Allah Almighty has ordered for you. The Muslim must then know that sustenance (rizq) is from Allah, and that sustenance will not change. But you must know, what is required from you - 'ibadah - worship. This is why you have been created in all of the different shades, examples etc. ... How will you learn how to perform 'ibadah? Obviously it is from the Qur'an and the Sunnah. How will you learn the Qur'an and the Sunnah? It will come through learning the Arabic language, so that you may reach the true meaning of the Qur'an and the true intended meaning of the Sunnah of Muhammad, peace be upon him.
Some of the famous Companions, when they entered Islam, had little or no Arabic language with them. For example, Salman al-Farsi. Salman who was a Persian, not an Arab. Also there was Bilal al-Habashi. Bilal was from Ethiopia, he was not an Arab. The Arabic language when it spread, it spread according to the spread of Islam, whenever a new country became Muslim, new territory was occupied by the Muslims, the people automatically began to learn the Arabic language. This is why we see that al-Imam al-Bukhari, when he wrote as-Sahih, and when he wrote his history, he did not write it in his native first language. He wrote it in the Arabic language.
It is important to note that the Arabic language has not been preserved in its original form by the Arabs, but it has been preserved in dictionaries by non-Arabs. Al-Fayruzabadi was one of the collectors of the Arabic language in a dictionary. He was not an Arab. You will see, when you look into these dictionaries of the scholars of the past they would write at the end or in the introduction saying, "We have collected this dictionary as a way of helping in the preservation of the language of the Qur'an," or, " ... in the preservation of the language of the Sunnah of Muhammad, peace be upon him."
The Condition of Muslims
I know in this (non-Muslim) country and others there are Arabic parents, the father and the mother are Arabs, they speak Arabic, and they were raised in Arabic countries. Now, their children speak little or no Arabic. This is a sad fact that we are all aware of. Why don't we notice that the Imams of the past, the scholars and the people of the past, when they travelled to a country for trade it was not for the wealth, but it was for the spread of the religion. The wealth was a secondary issue, but first it was for the spread of Islam. Now the scales have become twisted and changed, people have forgotten the word of Allah in the Qur'an. Allah is the one who provides all sustenance, and he is the one full of strength, the formidable. It is Allah who provides all, and yet Allah describes to us people in the Qur'an who come only for the wealth, for other than Islamic reasons, Allah describes them in the Qur'an to us: "They eat as if cattle eat, and their final abode shall be the fire." Because they have given up that what is blessed for that which is cheap.
Islamic generations in the past, for many years, were run by rulers who spoke only Arabic. This was the way of persevering the (language) and way of the Islamic Ummah, until the Ottoman Empire (Turkish Empire), where the Caliphate became a person who no longer wished to speak Arabic, but spoke his own language, the Turkish language. This caused dissension and a lack of unity and eroded the strength of the Ummah. Look at present day Turkey, it has come to the point where they have changed their script of language. Many generations used to write the script in Arabic form, their language was written in Arabic. Now it has been changed to Roman script. Leaving off the Arabic lineage, heritage and tradition. As a sign that they have left behind all that it was before. Now we see when we look at Turkey and the Islamic situation of the Muslims there that if a Muslim woman was to partially cover her hair it would be a calamity in the society, something unacceptable. This is the extent of how much of the Islamic attitude has been taken away from these people. The first step was the detraction of the Arabic language.
Let us a look at countries that did not have the Arabic language in the first place. Countries in the which the spoken language was never Arabic, yet the Muslim generations for many years lived in this land, but yet you will find them following only one madhhab (school of thought). They will blindly follow (taqlid) of this one way. They would never accept anything else, even to discuss a single secondary issue, like where to place the hands, and something like this, in salat, it would be a sign of you waging war against them. Why? Because they did not have the Arabic language, therefore could not teach themselves to differentiate between different things, so they became blind to one way. It is as if you have entered a masjid, and you have to physically turn them to show them which way the qiblah is. This is how blinded they have become into following a specific person. Therefore you see they are the hardest of people to change even a secondary issue in their madhhab.
Look at those who have deviated in their beliefs, and you will notice, for example the first hadith narrated by al-Imam Muslim, in as-Sahih, the hadith narrated from Yahya ibn Ya'mar:
" ... the first man who discussed qadr (Divine Decree) in Basrah was Ma'bad al-Juhani. Humayd ibn 'Abdur-Rahman al-Himyari and I set out for Pilgrimage or for 'Umrah and said: Should it so happen that we come into contact with one of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, we shall ask him about what is talked about taqdir (Divine Decree). By chance we came across 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, while he was entering the mosque. My companion and I surrounded him. One of us (stood) on his right and the other stood on his left. I expected that my companion would authorise me to speak. I therefore said: Abu 'Abdur-Rahman! There have appeared some people in our land who recite the Holy Qur'an and pursue knowledge. And then after talking about their affairs, added: They (such people) claim that there is no such thing as Divine Decree and events are not predestined. He ('Abdullah ibn 'Umar) said: 'When you happen to meet such people tell them that I have nothing to do with them and they have nothing to do with me. And verily they are in no way responsible for my belief.' 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar swore by Him (the Lord) (and said): 'If any one of them (who does not believe in the Divine Decree) had with him gold equal to the bulk of (the mountain) 'Uhud and then, spent it (in the way of Allah), Allah would not accept it unless he affirmed his faith in Divine Decree ... ' "
We can see that they understood it necessary to return to Makkah and ask one of the Companions who may be living there what he thinks of this issue of people denying there is no qadr (divine decree/predestination), saying that there is no qadr. So he says, I looked for one of the Companions and he found 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar and he asked him the question, about such and such and what do you say about the person who denies qadr. I am narrating this to you is so that you know that the place that this tabi'i went to seek the truth was back to the land of the Qur'an. The bid'ah (innovation) began in a land outside the land of the Arabs, outside the land of the people who spoke the language.
You will find bid'ah associated in the following three ways: because of a lack of the Arabic language, a lack or a long time distance from the Prophet's time, and third it is found far away from the land of the Muslims. This is where you will see the bid'ah beginning and the innovation spreading from there. Look at the Shi'a. Where did it begin and where is it living today (i.e. predominant)? In the land of the Persians, not in the land of the people who speak, and can read and understand Arabic in its original form. Look at the Qadianis, and the Bahais, although they are not believers, this deviance began in a land outside the land of the people who spoke the language of the Qur'an, the Arabic Language. The people who did not learn the Arabic Language were the most susceptible to being influenced by bid'ah, deviance and innovation. (The Shaykh here is not precluding the fact that much deviation and disobedience began and exists in the lands of native Arabic speakers - and Allah knows best - Editor) So what is the solution?
Observations and Hopes
First I wish to share with you, what my own eyes have seen as I have travelled throughout this country of yours. In every city and every place, you will always notice and be able to distinguish the Jewish children from other children, just by looking at them, without speaking to them, without hearing them, just by seeing them. One asks himself why? To him comes back only one reason. It is because behind this child is a mother, who is driven by a father to raise this child, to live a Jewish life in clothing, appearance, mannerisms, attitude, food, everything, to raise the child in a Jewish way, in the life that they have adopted. All of this effort, and they are in misguidance. Yet we who have the guidance, the Qur'an and the Sunnah, have many of the children and the lineages lost in the streets, have forgotten tawhid!
Do not think that it is something unattainable, that your children cannot be raised and have an identity of their own, and be raised upon the values and the systems of Islam. For if these people in disbelief accomplish it, what about the Muslims who have the Guidance of Allah and the Sunnah of his Messenger, peace be upon him? Two things must come together as a solution for our children and our lineage (future generations): al-'usra wal-masjid - the family - home life and the masjid - the life in the masjid. These two things must come and unify in raising the child. Let our tongues in these two places be the tongue of the Qur'an, even if it is in a limited fashion. Let us spend from our wealth and our efforts in our ability to learn that which we do not know, to have taught to us that which we do not know, so that our children and us, can begin to converse and understand and develop some Arabic characteristics in our language and in our abilities. Do not say to your child, or think to yourself, "He doesn't know it now but I will teach him later" for this is something that will not happen. The time to ask is now, and therefore the place of learning must be in the home, with the mother, with the father, and in the masjid. This is something you must struggle and strive for.
Let the father spend as much of his time in the house, with his children, with his wife as possible. Let the mother facilitate this by also spending much time in the home. Do you know that al-Imam ash-Shafi'i's, may Allah be pleased with him, father passed away and orphaned him while he was a young child? When he reached the age of ten years old, having known no father, his mother pushed him and told him go and learn and seek knowledge. At the young tender age of ten years old. What did he go and learn? He went to learn the Arabic language, the Qur'an, and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace. Do this and it will become apparent to you, that this is the solution for what we are facing today and what will be facing in the future.
(s) Based on a talk given by the Shaykh