Question # 400: Something brought to my attn that I m contemplating-if Islam is only in its true form and best form in Arabic- and this language may not be accessible to all populations and areas then how can it be sustained and available to all who seek it? is there not a cultural/ racial bias to non-Arabs and the less fortunate who may not have the means to learn? yes our best example SAW was illiterate and not from wealth and privilege but it was directly brought to him

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was sent among the Arabs, who were distinguished by their great eloquence and beautiful style in speech, so Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) made the sign of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) of the same nature of that by which his people were distinguished, so that the miracle would be more effective; just as the sign of Moosa (عليه السلام) was his staff or stick, with which he overcame the deceit of the sorcerers, and the sign of ‘Isa (عليه السلام) was the healing of blinds and lepers, because knowledge of medicine was widespread at his time. Furthermore, just from the linguistic point of view, it is the Sunnah or the Way of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to always reveal His Guidance in the native language of His appointed Prophet and the people or nation to whom he is initially sent to warn, such was the case of His Previous Scriptures (Torah, Injeel).

It is worth pondering that those who possess a pure heart and are true seekers of Guidance, they recognize and accept the message of Islam, without any barriers (like race, language, etc.) as we see many reverts all over the world today. And for those whose hearts are hard and perverted and who assume themselves to be self-sufficient, are inherently averse to the Guidance from their Lord, such is the case of many Arabic-speaking Christians/non-Muslims in countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, and Egypt, who have access to the Arabic language but have not received the guidance.

No doubt, the Qur’an is a guidance for all mankind, hence, it is incumbent upon us to learn the Arabic language; nevertheless, the translation of the Qur’an in other languages are available to facilitate its meaning for non-Arabic speakers. Last but not the least, we should not forget that a Muslim who reads the Qur’an with difficulty is rewarded twice.

Long Answer: The Qur’an was revealed to an Arab Prophet who lived in the Arabic peninsula. Neither him nor his people spoke any other language than Arabic, neither Aramaic nor any other language. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And We did not send any messenger except [speaking] in the language of his people to state clearly for them.” (Soorah Ibrahim, 14:4)

It is for this reason that when the liars claimed that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) learnt the Qur’an from some People of the Book, like from the monk Baheera and others, the Qur’an refuted their false claim clarifying that those people are non-Arabs and that the Qur’an is in clear Arabic. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And We certainly know that they say, “It is only a human being who teaches him [i.e. the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم)].” The tongue of the one they refer to is foreign, and this [i.e. Qur’an] is [in] a clear Arabic language.” (Soorah An-Nahl, 16:103)

On the other hand, if the Qur’an had been revealed in a language other than Arabic, the polytheists from Makkah would [have taken] …the initiative to deny it as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And if We had made it a foreign [i.e. non-Arabic] Qur’an, they would have said, ‘Why are its verses not explained in detail [in our language]? Is it a foreign [recitation] and an Arab [messenger]?” (Soorah Fussilat, 41:44) Ibn Kathir said: “It means: How would a non-Arabic book be sent to Arabic – speaking people who do not understand it?”

[Further, if we ponder] …the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was sent among the Arabs, who were distinguished by their great eloquence and beautiful style in speech, so Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) made the miracle or sign of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) of the same nature of that by which his people were distinguished, so that the miracle and challenge would be more effective, just as the sign of Moosa (عليه السلام) was his staff or stick, with which he overcame the deceit of the sorcerers, and the sign of ‘Isa (عليه السلام) was the healing of those who had been born blind and of the lepers, because knowledge of medicine was widespread at his time.

[Furthermore, from the linguistic point of view,] Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) Revealed His Previous Scriptures unto His appointed Prophets in the language spoken by them and the people they were sent to. The Torah was revealed to Prophet Musa (عليه السلام) in the language spoken and understood by him and his people (i.e., Hebrew); the Injeel (Gospel) was revealed to Prophet Isa ibn Maryam (عليه السلام) in the language spoken and understood by him and his people (i.e., Aramaic); and the Glorious Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Mohamed (صلى الله عليه و سلم) in the Arabic language spoken and understood by him and the people he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) first addressed, i.e., the Arabs. [In summary,] it is the Sunnah or the Way of the Lord Most Wise to always reveal His Guidance in the native language of His appointed Prophet and the people or nation to whom he is initially sent to warn.

Also, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an:

  • “Haa Meem. By this lucid (clear or open) Book (The Al-Qur’an). We have made it an Arabic Qur’an, so that you may understand it.” (Soorah Az-Zukhruf, 42:1-3)
  • “This (Al-Qur’an) is a Revelation from the All-Compassionate, the Most-Merciful, Allah. A Book whose verses are well-expounded, an Arabic Qur’an for the people who want to understand, and a giver of good news and a warner.” (Soorah As-Sajdah, 42:2-4)
  • “O Muhammad, We have made this Qur’an easy, and sent it down in your tongue so that you should give good news to the pious and warn the stubborn people.” (Soorah Maryam, 19:97)
  • “Now that a clear proof, a Guidance and Blessing, has come to you from your Lord, who can be more unjust than the one who treats Our Revelations as false and turns away from them? We will inflict the severest torment on those who turn away from Our Revelations because of their aversion. Do the people now await that the Angels should come down before them? Or that your Lord (Most Exalted) may Himself come down? Or that the manifest Signs of your Lord should appear?” (Soorah Anaam, 6:157-158)Such is the overwhelming Truth presented by the appointed Prophets and the Divine Books of the Lord that those who possess a sound or pure heart and are desperate to seek Guidance from their Lord, they would recognize and accept the Prophet and the Guidance as the Truth from their Lord, without inventing or seeking any barriers (like race, or language, etc.) and those whose hearts are hard and perverted, who assume themselves to be self-sufficient, and are inherently averse to the Guidance from their Lord Creator; such evildoers will challenge, deny, and reject the Truth from their Lord even if The Lord had sent His Book written on paper and they touched it with their own hands. [Such is the case of Arabic-speaking Christians in countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, and Egypt, who have access to the Arabic language but have not received the guidance.]

The Holy Qur’an is a guidance for all mankind; whether we believe it or not, this fact cannot be changed. [Consequently,] the most important factor which would help [us] to understand it is to learn Arabic… On one hand, when one gets to know its styles, he would be able to understand the exact meaning of the verse; On the other hand, he would be able to read the books of Tafseer [and the ahadith of Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم)]. So, if one is able to learn the Arabic language, then this is better, otherwise the Muslims translated the Qur’an to other languages [should, for the time being,] facilitate its meaning for non-Arabic speakers.

Last but not the least, we should not forget that a Muslim who reads the Qur’an with difficulty is rewarded, not sinful. It was narrated on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah (رضي الله عنها) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The one who recites the Qur’an while he is proficient in its recitation will be with the honorable and obedient scribes (angels), and the one who recites the Qur’an while it is difficult for him to recite will have a double reward.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi)

(Most part of the above reply is based on the following resources:

  • Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar
  • Islamhelpline.net
  • Answer provided by Islamqa.info on similar topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam