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Author Topic: Language  (Read 56 times)
Sarah
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« on: April 05, 2024, 07:16:53 am »
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Assalamu alaikum

Obviously, it is a fact that the Almighty Allah produced and created our languages, “Another of His signs is the creation of the heavens and earth, and the diversity of your languages and colours. There truly are signs in this for those who know.” (The Byzantines 30:22). It might slip us by so easily, but language is such a precious gift from Allah, without which we would not have: the documentation and archive of history, laws and statutes which govern countries, treaties and peace-agreements, the scope and breath of literature, novels, songs/music, letters, news, etc. Therefore, I feel it is important to be grateful to Allah for this precious gift of literacy and speech. What distinguishes humans from animals is our ability to reason, but also our knowledge and comprehension of language. I think some disbeliever would probably argue back that “animals have their own language, they communicate just as humans do.” Alright, but the ability to formulate sentences, to write, and to be aware of grammar patterns and sentence structures is impossible for animals to comprehend and this is what I’m drawing attention to. Allah draws attention to this notion in swearing by the pen, “By the pen! By all they write!” (The Pen 68:1). The dissemination of speech through writing is something which Allah has specifically bestowed on mankind, and all the time, the Angels are recording what we say, “All this is written in a Record; this is easy for God.” (The Pilgrimage 22:70)

I keep seeing everywhere on various sites that “men created language” or it was some creation of a group of people, words to this effect. But I refuse to accept such illogical things. There’s an argument from 18th Century philosopher William Paley, it’s called the “Watch Analogy”. Essentially, Paley argues that the complexity and intricateness of the watch must have a creator; likewise, the world itself is both complex and intricate, therefore the creator can only be God (Allah). While I feel Paley’s argument deserves merit, I think language is the higher proof of Allah’s existence, because if you notice within every language, there is unity, cohesion and consistency. Only Allah could create such an intelligent design. My meaning is, even if you can’t speak Korean, French, or Arabic, the sounds of every language is similar, no different than when Allah describes the shapes of fruits and dates, “alike yet different.” (Livestock 6:99) Every language has numbers, dates, colours, shapes, question words, pronouns, nouns, I could go on forever. Fundamentally, I can find a translation for a word from one language into another. It might not be verbatim, but the idea of the word exists, one example would be Chinese idioms. They’re usually four characters, if you translate it word for word, it will be meaningless in English, however, you can extract the idea of what the idiom is expressing and by consequence, it is possible to translate it.

Staying with the topic of the Chinese language, I know a friend who is from China; Chinese is her mother tongue. For those who may be unfamiliar, Chinese is a pictographic language, the Chinese characters themselves have no inherent sound, but are based on the pinyin sound system. She told me that the character for moon is 月(pronounced “yuè”) But this character also means “month”. Months in Chinese are expressed in the following: 1月 (January),2月(February),3月(March)….etc. And in the Qur’an, Allah explains, “It is He who made the sun a shining radiance and the moon a light, determining phases for it so that you might know the number of years and how to calculate time.” (Jonah 10:5)
It is therefore evident from this single Chinese character that Allah is the Creator and Originator of all of our languages. Just for extra knowledge, the character for sun is 日 (pronounced rì) , but it also means “day”, and it is used in Chinese written language to express the date, for example, 2024年4月5日 (5th April 2024). This underscores and reinforces the above quotation from the above Surah.

Even in English, the words “arrogant / arrogance” and “humble / humility”, I feel reflect Allah’s attitude towards people. Compare the coarse and harsh tone including the staccato rhythm of the syllables of the word ‘arrogance’ versus the gentility and pleasing quality of the word ‘humility’. “Remember that He promised, “If you are thankful, I will give you more, but if you are thankless, My punishment is terrible indeed.” (Abraham 14:7) Our words and deeds will naturally reflect which camp we fall in, that is to say, a thankful person is humble, an ungrateful person is arrogant, Allah’s attitude is reflected in the inherent composition of the words themselves. So, it should be noted here that when we beg Allah for something we need, pleading for forgiveness, or to express gratitude in order to demonstrate our humility to Allah, the words we use come from Allah, “Then Adam received some words from his Lord and He accepted his repentance: He is the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful.” (The Cow 2:37) When bowing and prostrating, we of course come to Allah with a sincere heart, but we are using language to express all of our thoughts and feelings, and most importantly, it is our words and deeds which prove our sincerity to Allah.

Finally, The Almighty makes clear that the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic to facilitate the spreading of the Blessed Message of the Qur’an:
“We have never sent a messenger who did not use his own people’s language to make things clear for them.” (Abraham 14:4)
“We have made it easy, in your own language [Prophet], so that you may bring glad news to the righteous and warnings to a stubborn people.” (Mary 19:97)
Why send an Arabic Qur’an? Because it is the language of the people in Saudi Arabia. To all the disbelievers and atheists, if you argue that the Qur’an should be sent in some other language to the Saudi Arabians, just think, does it make sense? Because how would anyone understand the message in such an instance? And this is precisely what The Almighty Allah is emphasising. I don’t quite understand why even some of the Saudi Arabians themselves were sceptical that a messenger should come from amongst their own, why was this such a bone of contention for them, it’s quite confusing to be honest.
In summary, I feel language is something to be grateful for and to thank Allah for. I’m aware there are many people around the world (not just limited to third world countries) who are desperate to learn and speak English, whether it is for job prospects, improving their lives, or moving to a Western country. I wasn’t aware of such ardent desire until I met my Chinese friend, she said that many English speakers take natural fluency for granted. On reflection of reading the Qur’an and learning about my friend’s experience, language (any language) is something to be nurtured and grateful for.

I should say that all citations are from Haleem’s translation.

Inshallah Ramadan is soon coming to an end, I hope it is easy for everyone; may Allah accept our fasting and our prayers. I’m grateful for all of your posts on this site, I’ve learned a lot and would like to contribute something here. That being said, I am myself aware that my speech style might be very awkward and strange, but thank you for taking the time to read this.
Also Inshallah, I hope the people of Gaza will gain justice.
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2024, 09:17:12 am »
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Walaykum As-Salam, peace.   Many thanks for your input and for sharing this interesting subject. Our busy schedule for the final days of the blessed month of Ramadan gives me just enough time for a quick response on a few selected points.


the words we use come from Allah, “Then Adam received some words from his Lord and He accepted his repentance: He is the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful.” (The Cow 2:37)


Verse 2:37 Al Baqrah “Then Adam received some words from his Rabb and He accepted his repentance ..”  does not indicate that the words which Adam spoke came from Allah.  Rather it alludes to the Words of Allah Almighty Himself which He spoke to Adam, accepting his repentance.


I wouldn’t confirm the precise origin of languages as only Allah has the true knowledge and exact information on the evolvement and innovation of various languages.  Needless to say, everything takes its course with the Will of Allah and He is able to bring changes into anything and at any time He wishes.  And since Allah Almighty has bestowed on humans the ability to think, to choose their path of conduct and to act, therefore it might not be altogether incorrect to presume that the language of every community is constructed on the basis of human interactions as a natural consequence, the ability of that natural consequence being ordained by The Almighty.

As confirmed by the Noble Quran, animals certainly do have their own ways of communicating with each other.  In other words, they do have languages of their own, their common parlance being very different from humans of course.  Thus we cannot understand them, but that cannot be construed as different animals not having their own speech and dialect. They do have their own ways of communicating and only Allah Almighty understands their speech. Prophet Suleiman (Solomon) was the only person who was granted this privilege from Allah to understand the languages of birds and ants. 

“And Solomon was David's heir. And he said: O people, we have been taught the language of birds, and have been given (abundance) of all things. This surely is evident favor.”  27:16.  An Naml (The Ants).

“Until, when they reached the Valley of the Ants, an ant exclaimed: O ants! Enter your dwellings lest Solomon and his armies crush you, unperceiving. And (Solomon) smiled, laughing at her speech, and said: My Rabb, enable me to be thankful for Your favor ….”  27:18-19  An Naml (The Ants).


Also, animals worship Allah Almighty alone without disobedience just the way Allah has commanded humans to worship Him only.  But humans can disobey because they have been given the option of choice regarding their behavior.  With the lesser creation, it’s only obedience. 


“The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts (Allah) by His praise, but you do not understand their (way of) exalting.”  17:44 Al Isra (The Night Journey). 

“Have you not seen that unto Allah pays adoration whosoever is in the heavens and whosoever is in the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the hills, and the trees, and the beasts, and many of mankind, while there are many unto whom the doom is justly due."  22:18  Al-Hajj.


Note, the last line of Verse 22:18 refers to the issue of disobedience in following the Command of Allah to worship Him only as a human characteristic, choosing between obedience and disobedience, many humans choose the latter.  But that isn’t the case with other living beings including animals even though they have been given the ability to understand and communicate.



Inshallah Ramadan is soon coming to an end, I hope it is easy for everyone; may Allah accept our fasting and our prayers. I’m grateful for all of your posts on this site, I’ve learned a lot and would like to contribute something here. That being said, I am myself aware that my speech style might be very awkward and strange, but thank you for taking the time to read this.
Also Inshallah, I hope the people of Gaza will gain justice.
 



Insh'Allah, ameen ya Rabb. 
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