Alhamdu Lillah Was Salaatu Was Salaam ‘Ala Rasulillah Wa Ba’d.
All of us know by now the importance of learning the Arabic language in order to understand the relgion. Shaikh Ul Islam Ibn Taymeeyah said:
“The Arabic language itself is part of Islâm, and knowing Arabic is an obligatory duty. If it is a duty to understand the Qur‘ân and Sunnah, and they cannot be understood without knowing Arabic, then the means that is needed to fulfill the duty is also obligatory.”
However, there are a few points to be made:
One can understand the religion in English. However, this would be limited. Meaning that the person who does not know Arabic Language can learn the basics of Islam like Tawheed, prayer, fasting etc and in some cases may even know it better than some Arabs themselves. But, if one wants to go further than that limit Arabic must be studied.
The language of the ‘Ulama is Arabic therefore in order to learn under them and understand what they say one must learn it.
It is the language of the majority of the books of knowledge. Therefore one must learn it in order to access it.
In other words Arabic one of the keys to learning Islam however we must be careful of the following pitfalls:
Going too deep in the Arabic language. Because a person is an excpert in Arabic language it does not mean that he is an expert in Islam. And one does not have to be an expert in Arabic to have expertise in Islam. However, one learns Arabic in order that he speaks and reads properly. As some of the Salaf have said: “The first part of Arabic language is work and the last of it is transgression.” And once Imam Malik was in a sitting and a man wearing silk came to him and said: “You made a mistake in so and so.” Then Imam Malik :rahim: said: “For you to know what is Halaal and Haraam for you is better than you knowing I made a mistake in grammar.” And also Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab and Shaikh Muqbil Ibn Haadi was asked if being a grammarian is compulsory to give Da’wah and they both said no. Therefore, one should not be disparaged because they may make some mistakes in it.
Being arrogant after learning it. We find many brothers, may Allah guide them, after learning some of the Arabic language feel that they are Shaikh Ul Islam and can speak about any issue however they wish to speak about it. You find them making serious errors in their speech as relates to belief, methodology etc. and when corrected they display their ignorance. And this is from the deception of the Shaitaan. We must realize that knowledge is a long road and that quoting the Fatwa of an Alim is not sufficient. Rather knowledge is understanding what is within the book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger :saw: and the principles which the Ulama have devised from both. Therefore, if one is reading books and listening to tapes it requires verification in order to get a proper understanding along with consulting the Ulama or students of knowledge.
And one must know that not everying will go back to the meaning of words and the grammar. Each science has a different language. The science of Hadeeth has a different language, Usuul Ul Fiqh has a different language, Fiqh has its language, Hadeeth has its language, Tawheed has its language etc. Therefore one has to learn the terminologies of Ulama in order to understand Islam and he cannot rely upon dictionaries alone.
In concluding I advise my brothers and sisters to put Arabic in its proper place. Do not say that I don’t have to learn Arabic because I can pray, fast etc. No, this is not correct. Learning Arabic is essential to understanding the religion since the Qur’an and the Sunnah is in Arabic.
And do not make Arabic language the whole religion where one would say that it is impossible to understand the religion unless you reach the level of a gramarian. Rather we use the study of Arabic so that we would be able to read, write and speak in the language. However, in order to understand the sciences of the religion one must take from its experts.
By Musa Millington