Change in Languages
“Classical Arabic, being the language of the Qur’an, has not changed at all in fourteen centuries, making the writings of the early Islamic scholars as accessible today as they were then.”
Most languages change over the period of a few centuries. Reading the English used today, a century ago and at the time of Shakespeare would make it absolutely clear the changing nature of the languages. Arabic has over the period of time and space, has left us with many different dialects that are spoken in different parts of the world, but the written language is very much the same as it was when the Quran was revealed!
Multiple meanings of the same word!
In the previous blog post, we pointed out that it is not really possible to fully comprehend the Quran without a proper understanding of the Arabic language. We will take the example of a word that comes very frequently in the Quran – The Word “نعبد ” (NAbdu). The word is translated into English as “We Worship”. It comes in various forms in the Quran – “Aabudu” translated as “I worship”, “Ibadah” translated as worship. So most people who are not aware the linguistic distinction err in believing that the word ibadah refers to the acts of worship namely the salah, saum, haj and zakah!
Worship & Slave
The word Ibadah is in fact derived from the Arabic word “عبد” meaning the slave! So when the word ibadah does not only mean worship, it also means that the person in the act of worship sees himself as the slave to the master who has created him. The word “Abdu” does not only mean “I worship”, but it refers to the master slave relationship between the creator and the creation! In many societies the translation of Ibadah as Worship has made people believe that religion refers to only the acts of worship, when instead it refers to every act a person does to fulfil his/her duty towards Allah, the master and the creator of the universe.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said “لا يؤمن أحدكم حتى يكون هواه تبعاً لما جئت به” “None of you [truly] believes until his desires are subservient to that which I have brought”
Arabic & Quran
Arabic is a versatile language and the same words can have a number of different meanings, and the problem with translations is that no word in any other language can encompass the entire range of meanings made possible in Arabic. It is always recommended to learn the Arabic language for anyone who desires to understand the Quran!
إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
Allah says in the Quran “We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran, in order that ye may learn wisdom” (Surah Yusuf, 12:2). Learning Quranic Arabic has huge benefits and learning some of the most commonly used words in the Quran will definitely help us in improving our attention in our prayers and will help us lead a pious and happy life!