The Language Argument


Balancing Arabization SeriesPart I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX

http://www.flickr.com/photos/slimjim/4454193212/in/photostream/

Judging any argument should not be done with preconceived notions or according to cultural influence, rather it should be judged objectively after looking into its intrinsic merit. As Muslims, our criterion of validity for religious matters is that it must be in agreement with both scriptural and rational evidence.

The power of popular culture is a strong reality that has major influence upon any community.  Anytime someone suggests something contrary to the way we were raised, we often take offense, become annoyed, and/or feel threatened. Self-review/accountability are proven tools of success. They are primary means to growth and progress as humans/believers. The assumption that what we do or say is unquestionably right is obviously arrogance which is the primary trait of Satan, our clear enemy.

In the past months I wrote several articles about balancing the Arabization of Islamic expression in the west. Perceptions of these articles varied significantly. Some understood my point and others allowed their cultural upbringing, suspicions and assumptions to mislead them regarding my points. For example at no point was I suggesting the suppression or downplay of learning Arabic to attain a deeper and more precise spiritual insight into our faith nor has any article I have written been some sort of attack on our Arab/immigrant community. So before concluding this series I thought I would clarify my intention, purpose, and objective which some may have completely missed.

First and foremost my intention is to please our Exalted Creator, Master, and Merciful Loving Guide. In Islam we can only please Him in a way that is guided by His revelation.

The following are the verses which guided my ideas:

“We merely sent messengers speaking in the language of their people so that they can properly clarify the religion to them.” (Qur’an 14:3)

“Let there be a community from among you that invites to all good, enjoining virtue and discouraging vice. Those are truly the successful.” (Qur’an 3:104)

“Call to the path of your Lord with wisdom and good preaching…” (Qur’an 16:125)

“[…] Say to the people of the book, We believe in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to you and our God and your God is One in the same […]” (Qur’an 29:46)

“Thus We have revealed to you an Arabic Qur’an so that you may warn the mother of villages (Makkah) and those people surrounding it (i.e. the Arabs).” (Qur’an 42:7)

Also ponder over Qur’an 41:44, 12:2, 3:41 and 43:3.

The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) said, ادعوا الناس ، و بشروا و لا تنفروا ، و يسروا لا تعسروا
“Call the people to Islam. Give glad tidings and don’t alienate people. Facilitate things for people and don’t make things difficult.” (Saheeh al-Jami’ 246)

As stated before there were revelations and/or inspired messages sent to the many Prophets many of whom we were not told about since the Qur’an is focusing on a confirmation of the covenant of Abraham. There is a weak hadith (prophetic narration) which states that there were 124,000 prophets and 315 messengers. The following verses support the idea, but not necessarily the count:

“There were some messengers from before which we have told you about while other messengers we did not tell you about […]” (Qur’an 4:164)

“[…] There was never a nation which was void of a warner.” (Qur’an 35:42)

Obviously these messengers taught a message which is universal that could be expressed quite clearly in any language.

The current culture of Islamic linguistic expression in the West is undoubtedly Arabized. But why? The Prophet ﷺ did not teach that we should Arabize all languages and cultures. Rather he taught us to live Islam and spread its message to those around us. The companions obviously established the Caliphate and naturally as the politically dominant people they incorporated Arabic as a native tongue where it was not previously a spoken language or at least it was not the native tongue. That was positively a good thing they did for those lands. As a result of their efforts, since then, people in Sham, Persia and North Africa were raised with a solid foundation in the language of our scripture. That said, that doesn’t make Arabs more pious or even more knowledgeable than non-Arabs. It simply gives them more potential to have a deeper understanding of the original texts.

The following are the main factors that led to the current linguistic expression of Islam among American Muslims:

The immigrant community who founded the vast majority of mosques, schools, and organizations here is comprised of either Arabs or people from countries where Arabic wasn’t adopted as a native tongue, but Islam is the dominant religion. These countries developed a culture in which most religious jargon is in Arabic, scripture is memorized in Arabic, and prayers are said in Arabic even if someone doesn’t know what any of it means. To be honest, there is very little emphasis on meaning while the Qur’an persistently guides its readers to ponder, think, contemplate and rationalize God, His creation, and most importantly the revelation.

The Arab immigrant community is naturally proud to have a language which is generally Qur’anic Arabic, although in many cases an offshoot of it. Many of them were struggling with learning the native English for secular purposes so they felt that since Islam was revealed in their language then they will attempt to inculcate Arabic words and phrases into their English Islamic expression. Others have passed on this historical pre-Qur’anic Arab bias that Arabic is superior to all languages and therefore true religious expression can only be in Arabic and that to translate it would lose the meaning. When we look into the prominent comprehensive Arabic dictionary “The Tongue of Arabs” by Ibn Manthoor in volume 6 under “عجم”   we see that the word which is used to mean non-Arab by language or ethnicity originally meant—and I am quoting— “الذي لا يفصح ولا يبين كلامه” which means one who is not eloquent and cannot express their speech clearly!

As someone who has been blessed with a certification of mastery of Arabic with a daily intimate relationship to it in my research, sure it is a beautiful language with deep meaning. That being said, as a lesser qualified student of English poetry and oratory eloquence, they were quite arrogant about their love for their language. The truth is that outside of the Qur’an and Sunnah (prophetic tradition) which are pure Holy Scriptures of divine expression, Arabic is a language like any other with its own unique qualities subject to human influence. Linguistic meaning is universal. Sure Arabic often carries a lot of meaning in a small sentence which requires a long translation, but at the same time in many cases you can throw out much of the sentence while translating the meaning from Arabic to English i.e. in the rule of Arabic rhetoric called الإطناب or unnecessarily added words to the sentence for either praise or blame.

Most of the non-Arab immigrant population comes from Muslim majority countries that were ruled by the caliphate, but didn’t adopt Arabic as the native tongue while some adopted the Arabic script for writing.  Obviously there is some regret among these communities that they didn’t adopt the language of the Qur’an so they developed a culture of trying to incorporate as much Arabic as possible. They also formed the perception that the more Arabic words you use the more Islamic you seem. A key point about these countries is that—pre-Islam—they did not have a local theology similar to the Qur’an (i.e. people of the book) so they adopted many of the Arabic words like the word Allah to refer to God and the Arabic/Qur’anic rendering of prophets’ names.

It is also important to note here that in those countries Islam was the dominant respected reality so this practice did not seem arrogant or foreign. It was natural and realistic for the language of the revelation to be prevalent in the theocracy.

So that is how we got to where we are now. So let’s discuss the positive/negative impacts the current system has had on our growth and development as American Muslims.

The only positive effect that comes to mind is in recognizing the value of having a pure divine revelation available to all believers through a living language. Indeed, that is a luxury not afforded our counterparts from the people of the book. This is truly a faith builder within our small minority community. So of course this point can’t be ignored, but is the current method the only way to instill/express this fact in our community?

As previously mentioned, I am content that the immigrant community devised this style with the best of intentions. My contention is as part of the new generation of native Imams who have a better insight into building the future generations is that we should review all cultural norms of those who came from other lands before we pass them on to future generations. Our method is first to make sure they are in line with our scripture and secondly if they are matters of interpretation to decide if they are compatible with the native culture in order to facilitate the most effective representation of our faith. The reason I am writing this series is because of the adverse impacts this aspect of our current culture has on our identity as well as the propagation of our faith. The following are the prevailing negative impacts I have seen through my research on this subject:

The focus is on memorizing Qur’an, remembrances (dhikr) and supplications (du`a’) in Arabic and most American Muslims have no idea what much of it means. This greatly hinders the spiritual depth and knowledge in our community. As a result of this, most Muslims cannot explain their faith to others whether it is to their own children or non-Muslims. Many youth spend hundreds of hours—in many cases by force—memorizing the Qur’an and supplications in Arabic. Many of them forget most of these later in life and the vast majority of them who remembered them as adults have almost no idea what they mean. Similarly many people feel compelled to try and learn some Arabic to solve this dilemma even though circumstances dictate that most likely they will never have the time or ability to learn enough Arabic to give them special insight into the revelation. So they spend hundreds of hours trying to learn Arabic while it is an unrealistic goal. Essentially, they have wasted hundreds of hours building a superficial meaningless attachment to Arabic. Had they spent that time seeking knowledge in English and memorizing Qur’an and supplications by translation then they would have much more spiritual depth and knowledge.  No doubt in English there is a minute fraction of Islamic literature compared to what’s available in Arabic. That being said, how many have completely researched the wealth of information available in English? Most people aren’t aware of the breadth of high quality knowledge available in English especially over the last 10 years. Believe it or not, there is some critical knowledge available in English not available in Arabic.

Disclaimer on this paragraph: It is very valuable to recite/memorize the Qur’an in Arabic, but at the same time it is just as much, if not more important, to study its meaning as it is a book of guidance. I highly encourage those who have the will and opportunity to study Arabic intensively to do as I have and thoroughly study Arabic for an intimate depth into our revelation and its rich scholarly tradition of interpretation and explanation. 

We make points using statistics that Islam is indeed not an Arab religion, but a universal message for all times, peoples and places. In many cases Imams or even laymen talk about Islam with many Arabic words and phrases without clarification, thus not getting across our message to non-Muslims. Many converts and youth leave Friday sermons confused. Pushing Arabic names on converts only adds to this confusion. Islam doesn’t seem natural and familiar to the American faith tradition; rather it seems foreign and strange and we already talked about the meaning of that hadith.

Balance is a key to every aspect of our faith. We should reflect and see if we have taken the path of excess regarding any part of our practice of Islam and adjust accordingly. Our scripture says that this is how we are qualified to bear witness of our faith upon mankind as well as the qualification to have our beloved Prophet’s witness ﷺ.

“Accordingly, We have made you a balanced moderate nation so that you may be witnesses upon mankind and the Prophet ﷺ a witness for you.” (Qur’an 2:143)

The next article—God willing—will be the conclusion of this series in which I will propose a balanced plan of action.

Print Friendly

22 Comments

  1. Yasmin says:

    This post along with this entire series has been very informative and beneficial.

  2. Is'haq says:

    Although at many points you are correct. I feel like you are the opposite extreme to the extreme of Arabzied Islaam you are talking about.

    I am sorry ya sheikh, but reading your articles here has lowered my eman.

    I know this wasnt your intention. But I am just being honest. I am sorry.

    Wassalaam alaykum wa Rahmat Ullah

    • John Ederer says:

      Peace dear brother Ishaq,

      The opposite extreme would be to say that there is no need for the Arabic at all; not in unifying the athan/prayers for Muslims across the globe, not getting the blessings for memorization of the divine word or not for seeking a deep intimate knowledge of the original texts. My point simply is that to express our religion in English among English speakers is quite natural and in no way against Islam. The logic and impact of the way we currently express ourselves is negative in more ways than positive.

      Do not put your faith into the hands of cultural expression. Rather you should put your faith into the the six pillars of faith and living a lifestyle that is in accordance.

      Sadly we have become a nation attached to symbols rather than meaning and practical application.

      God willing, I think my concluding article will help you understand even better.

      Much love for you and appreciation for your comment.

      • Is'haq says:

        I apologize for my previous comment which I made in a rushed way without actually understanding what you are saying. may Allah forgive me.

        cant wait for your last article on this!

        Your dear brother, Is’haq.

  3. Ahmad says:

    May Allah reward you for making this effort and guide us all to the right path with ease.
    The articles are very informative especially with the quotations to support your points.

    Jazakallah kayr

  4. Seth says:

    I sometimes feel I’ve been dealt a bad hand by not being born in an Arab speaking country.
    This series gives comfort. Thanks.

  5. Mustafa says:

    Salaam,

    I came across your very interesting and thought provoking article today and feel privileged to have read all 8 parts at once along with the various comments and inputs from the readers. Congratulations on having the courage to address this rather sensitive issue.

    The fascination with everything Arabic extends beyond language to garments, food, culture etc. I concur with you in drawing a clear line between what has religious significance and what is purely a matter of culture.

    There is nothing Islamic about:
    - Changing an English/Chinese/Bangla etc. name to Arabic: (I wont go in to the Islamic guidance on what is a good name or not).
    - Wearing Arabic garments, accessories or eating Arabic food
    - During a lecture doing the introduction in Arabic or occasionally resorting to Arabic words and expressions for the sake of it
    - Supplicating specifically in the Arabic language
    - and the list can go on.

    When it comes to our prayers, I know many have cited the need for the prayer to be in Arabic, but who will tell me why?!

    The form of the prayer is the prayer itself, not what you read in the prayer. The prayer is valid (in fiqh terms) even if you are unable to read any verses from the Quran(فاقرؤو ما تيسر من القرآن). So the whole discussion about whether you can read in your prayer in Arabic or not is irrelevant.

    For many prayer has become a set of movements and each movement has some words associated with it that one utters in Arabic which they don’t understand. Maybe the next analogy I am going to draw is a bit far fetched but let’s consider the verse about drunkenness, where the All Wise says,
    لا تقربو الصلاة و أنتم سكارى حتى تعلمون ما تقولون

    “And do not near prayer when you are drunk, until you know what you are saying. ”

    Now, how many people these days know when they are saying even when they are sober!!?

    My point is that, we ought to know, be stateful and understand what we are doing standing before His Majesty. If you want to enter His Presence, turn away from everything and turn to Him. If you bow to Him, do it out of humility and respect and if you prostrate to Him, then prostrate out of subservience and submission to His Majesty. None of this requires you to know a single word of Arabic or any language for that matter.

    However, it does NOT logically follow that everything Arabic must be translated in to English. Especially when it comes to conceptual terms. We find the same with Latin terms that continue to remain in the English language e.g. de-facto, statu(s)-quo, e.g. (exempli gratia) and even french words such as bon-appetie and laissez faire etc.

    Keeping conceptual word in their original language is in imperative to the preservation of the concept. Thus words such as Eman, Ihsan, Taqwa, Ummah etc clearly shouldn’t be translated.

    Preservation of texts are always down in their original language. The chaos within Christianity with the 1001 different translations is due to their distancing from the original language of their scriptures.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong in cross-linguistic influences and in fact dominant languages have influenced other languages all the time and usually belong to dominant political/military/economic powers.

    Just as English dominates the world today, and regardless of what linguistic heritage you have, you are coerced to learn English, one day this was the case with Arabic when the Islamic empire(s) were the dominant political/cultural/economic forces.

    See this interesting link of Arabic words in the English language.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Arabic_loanwords_in_English

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Muslim population growth continues at the current rate that, here in Britain we would have a majority Muslim population within 50 years. Whether the dominating language will remain English or change to something else who knows!?

    I am going to say something that you will find very controversial and might even write off as conspiracy, but the attempts of the British and the Americans to kill of classical Arabic (Quranic Arabic) is clearly documented. The British and American cultural attache’s in Egypt funded publishing houses to print colloquial Arabic novels for a long time. The distancing of Muslims from the Arabic language is the de-facto distancing of them from the Qur’an.

    Paul Eidelberg writes “..To facilitate the democratization of Islam, it will be necessary to curtail the influence of Arabic in the Muslim but non-Arab world. Let me explain…”

    Please read this article and you will see what he means.
    http://www.acpr.org.il/ENGLISH-NATIV/06-issue/eidelberg-6.htm

    No intelligent and wise Muslim will agree to the doing away of the Quranic language.

    Maybe it was the foresight of many of our Great Scholars including Imam al-Shafe’i who considered learning Arabic as a collective religious Obligation.

    So let’s not use red herrings such as; people reading and not understanding, whether Adam spoke Arabic, or the language of Paradise is Arabic, or whether Arabic as a language has intrinsic exclusive spiritual qualities over others, or reading in Arabic during prayers or supplicating in Arabic – these are all red herrings. None of them are anything to do with the fact that the Qur’an is in Arabic and it will remain preserved in Arabic. The Arabic language has been frozen in time by the revelation of the Quran like no other human language on earth today.

    Arabic should be learnt by those who seek direct access to the Quran. There is nothing wrong with reading in English or any other language either.

    And Of course we must speak to our audiences in their language so they understand.

    Forgive me for taking so many words to say what I am sure most of you will agree with, naturally.

    Yours brother,
    Mustafa Van Hussain

    • John Ederer says:

      Good points up to the Arabic conspiracy claims. There are millions of people studying pure Quranic Arabic at a scholarly level especially coming from the west. None of what I have said is in any way against that. In fact I am a big proponent of that.

      When I went to Egypt 10 years ago there were only two Arabic for non-Arab centers struggling to get by. Now there are many and the industry is booming. I personally sent a promising young brother 2 years ago.
      It is the responsibility of these native westerners to come back to the west and -up the ante- tenfold on developing a deep intellectual spiritual expression that influences the masses to embrace/respect the beauty of Islam which they will never do if Islam is seen as some foreign invader. On the other hand if it seems natural and native then it is going to be accepted much better.

      I’ve been to England and the Arab pop. is very small so in 50 years maybe they’ll all speak Urdu! LOL

      I definitely don’t agree with your red herring claim. These are all manifestations of the exaggeration of the importance of Arabic giving the idea that it is somehow the language of God or the original language of man and thus superior to others. Those claims are all almost baseless in our scripture, yet the common Muslim was raised like they were pillars of our faith! Thus giving them the idea that Arabic is the language of Islam when in fact Islam was finally revealed in Arabic and as a religion (not scripture) it is completely and comprehensively translatable to any language.

  6. sana says:

    I echo Yasmin’s comments. Really well-thought out and important points I really appreciate learning about through this series!

  7. Hassan says:

    After reading this article, you do make many valid points. However, I’m going to take a good guess here and based on what I’ve been taught over the years is that firstly Arabic is the language of the Quran, and it is in Arabic that the beauty of the Quran is shown the most. Also wether you Arabic is your native language or not , fusha is the language everyone should learn in order to full understand Islam much better. The Arabic spoken by many Arabs doesn’t reflect much about Islam. In fact during many sermons that are spoken in fusha no one really understands them. So it is a duty of many Muslims to go out and learn fusha.

    • John Ederer says:

      Amen brother!

      • Rob says:

        Imam Yahya, is this true? Take an arab kid, born and raised in the US, who speaks Arabic(Amiyya-dialect), how much do they understand the Quran, for example? or hadith? or books of Tafseer? If the answer is little, or not much, then why would the parents be so proud that there kids speak arabic?

        • John Ederer says:

          Indeed it varies between little and getting the general idea, but still not any more than you would get from a good translation.

          The problem is that they are seeing that culture = religion or worse than that promoting their culture is more important than anything. I once spoke to a Hijab donned sister who works as administrator at an Islamic school. I asked her what was the most important thing for her living in America and she said that her kids grow up to be Arabs!

          I think my next series will be Islam and Culture so then we can pick on the Desi crowd some :) Just joking.

  8. Yaqub says:

    As’Salaam’alaikum (peace be upon you) to brother Yahya and everyone.

    Brother Yahya your sentiments conveyed in this article and in the series as a whole are important, valid and particularly applicable to Muslims here in the U.S. (where English is the spoken tongue).

    Too many times words and meanings are lost in translation and knowledge isn’t gained because of it..it is unfortunate because the misunderstanding(s) could be avoided if only the majority language spoken by the people was effectively and efficiently used to convey the knowledge. Once people tune out; they just see lips moving but don’t care to actually hear the message given to them…this needs to change.

    People who go against the accepted “norm” of “how it has always been done” and who go against the grain…will undoubtedly get push back; but if we remind ourselves that we are doing everything for the sake of Allah (The One God); and for his sake alone…beautiful things will emerge insha’Allah (God willing).

  9. Bro K says:

    AA Imam Yahya/John
    Nice & highly relevant series
    What would you suggest for people particularly indigenous American Muslims who have a solid (hi intermediate / lo advanced) literacy in Arabic, in building a deeper connection with Islamic texts? I find many books like the Madinah Series, Al Arabiyya bayna yadayk, al Kitab etc focus a lot modern standard Arabic, but dont provide that bridge.

    I personally like cross referencing texts in Arabic & English; however, I’ve come across a # of Hadith texts such as Riyaad as saliheen by certain publishing companies in which the translations were pretty bad wherein the Arabic words were mistranslated & or omitted.

    • Imam John says:

      WAS Bro K,

      For that level the 3rd book of the Arbiyyah bayna yadayk series is good, but best would be a six month trip to Egypt at a focused center spending 5 hours a day. After that you will be able to derive a deeper relationship with the Quran and other texts.

      We need more people who have reached that level to write original books in English which take from the wealth of knowledge and depth coming from the Arabic source in a much more fluid native style rather than the choppy, strangely worded and often incoherent style of the many non-native works like the Riyad as-Saliheen you mentioned.

      JAK

  10. Mustafa says:

    Let us know throw out the baby with the bath water here!

    Arabic cultural impositions and the infatuation with that amongst certain Muslims doesn’t necessary mean that we have to throw away the Arabic language itself which is the key to understanding the meaning, literary beauty and intricacies of the last revealed text.

    The Arabs themselves are losing the Arabic language and replacing it with their local dialects. Unless there is spoken revival of classical Arabic, it will become an ancient language that only the very few who have studied it for Academic purposes know it.

    The nonsensical practices of ignorant Muslims in venerating the language and everything Arabic, and some knowledgeable Muslim speakers who bolster this by using Arabic expressions unnecessarily whether to demonstrate their knowledge or whatever shouldn’t put us off from learning Arabic.

    The Language Argument surely can not be an argument for dismissal or the Arabic language, rather one reinforcing what Allah has said “We have not sent a messenger except speaking in the language of their people so that they can properly clarify the religion to them.” (Qur’an 14:3)”

    It is only logical to speak to people in the language they understand, and we have seen a massive change in this amongst the subcontinental Muslims over the last decade. Friday sermons are now being delivered in English, Supplications are starting to be made in English and the volume of general publications in the English language and other languages growing.

  11. Bro K says:

    AAWRWB bro Mustafa,
    I think you kind of missed the boat on what Bro Yahya is saying.

  12. Shazeea says:

    Salam Br Yahya.

    I have enjoyed your series very very much. I am
    a non-Arab Muslim that probably grew up with some of the misconceptions that you have touched on before I thought long and hard about them. I still pray in Arabic and use Arabic terms in conversations with people whom I know will understand me but now I also strive to translate and that way to gain a better understanding on what it is I’m saying.

    I actually found that it was really easy to translate all the things one says in salah. So even if we were taught salah in Arabic (and over the years we’ve memorized it so it’s just second nature) we will be able to do real time translations in our head if we put in a little bit of effort.

    I look forward to your plan of action immensely!

  13. ZAI says:

    Imam John/Yahya…

    Have greatly appreciated this series and is both informative and a pleasure to read. I look forward to reading the last entry and hope we all can benefit from your work. I agree w/ most of what you say.

    I must point out that I found some nuance to be missing from the following paragraph:

    “Most of the non-Arab immigrant population comes from Muslim majority countries that were ruled by the caliphate, but didn’t adopt Arabic as the native tongue while some adopted the Arabic script for writing. Obviously there is some regret among these communities that they didn’t adopt the language of the Qur’an so they developed a culture of trying to incorporate as much Arabic as possible. They also formed the perception that the more Arabic words you use the more Islamic you seem. A key point about these countries is that—pre-Islam—they did not have a local theology similar to the Qur’an (i.e. people of the book) so they adopted many of the Arabic words like the word Allah to refer to God and the Arabic/Qur’anic rendering of prophets’ names.”

    There are many assumptions in this paragraph which are untrue or atleast untrue for many Muslim groups brother.

    You say for instance that there is some regret amongst some non-Arab Muslims for not adopting Arabic as a mother tongue. I gaurantee you that this is demonstrably false in countries such as Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the Central Asian Turkic republics. We have no regret whatsoever for having maintained our Iranian or Turkic languages and are outright proud of this fact.

    We love our Rumi, our Sa’adi, our Rudaki, our Ha’afiz, our Rahman Baba, our Khushal Khan Khattal, Our Ferdowsi etc., etc. We have pride in our languages, our history and our culture and there is totally negligible desire for Arabization or regret over not having Arabic as a mother tongue. For the overwhelming majority in these countries there is no inferiority complex vis a vis Arabs or Arabic. We have been Muslims for almost as long as the Arabs and there has never been a conflict between our cultural/linguistic identities and Islam. The two things have not been mutually exclusive for us.

    As for a local theology, again untrue. Many of these countries were Zoroastrian and we were perfectly aware of the concept of a singular all powerful God and we still use the word we’ve always used to describe him today “Khoda”. The word for messenger in Farsi is likewise “Paighambar”. There are many such examples.

    The preponderance of Arabic loan words has more to do with Arabic being the universal scholarly language of the era, as well as the natural flow of vocabulary across languages. Similar to how English is influencing the language of most of the world today, especially in areas of science and technology. Has nothing to do with the concept of these things being completely absent from the local culture.

    Sure there are some specifically Islamic expressions which are specific to Islam and introduced through the medium of Arabic. Such a thing exists in any proselytizing religion which considers itself universal. It hardly indicates a lack of higher common concepts within the local culture or any kind or regret for not adopting a language though. I think that theory is a bridge to far.

    My personal observation has been that more recent converts tend to delve into the things you described. As far as immigrant Muslims, I will admit there is a very high incidence for Arabophilia within the SOUTH ASIAN( Indo-Pak-Bangladeshi) communities. The reasons for that are beyond the scope of pure observation and therefore not appropriate for me to attempt to answer…but that’s what I’ve observed.

    It doesn’t ring true for every non-Arab community though. You’d be preaching to the choir if you said these things to a Persian, Turk, Afghan, Central Asian, Indonesian, Malay, Chechen, Bosnian or a Black African in Africa. It simply doesn’t ring true for most peoples in these ethnic groups.

    Anyways…I’ve enjoyed the series overall and thank you for taking the time to address this issue. Jazak Allah Khair and thanks again for giving me the time/opportunity to just throw my two cents in.

  14. Hafsa Garcia says:

    Salaam Imam John, do you (or does anyone else?) know of any resources for children (story books etc) that use translations instead of transliterations? I would like to teach my son to feel comfortable with saying ‘God willing’ as well as ‘inshaAllah’ for example. When I was a child I grew up with many non-muslim friends and hence usually avoided saying any islamic phrases as I only knew them in Arabic and didn’t really understand what they meant. So I would avoid saying them altogether it was just easier. Looking back it would have been a dawah to say them in English! But it’s difficult to become used to saying them in English when no one else does and you’d probably get some weird looks for doing so!

  15. C says:

    As salamu alaykum

    very good read and i think now i understood you correct, there is no point in which i can disagree with you. In germany i am facing the same isues as you guys in US. Also sometimes i am a bit jealous about you guys, you have some realy good scholars over there in my oppinion and you are realy ahead of germany if it goes to litterature about islam, keep up the good work and may Allah bless your effort and reward you all for the incredible work.

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

More in Community, Dawah (Outreach), Seeking Knowledge (152 of 352 articles)