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ARABIC


Arabic is a Semitic language spoken in a large area including North Africa, most of the Arabian Peninsula, and other parts of the Middle East. Arabic is the language of the Qur’an(the sacred book of Islam) and the religious language of all Muslims.  Arabic is one of the six official languages used by United Nations, other being English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Arabic. The sound system of Arabic is very different from that of English and the other languages of Europe. The Arabic alphabet is the second most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world after the Latin alphabet.

 

Today there are about 280 million native people who speak Arabic and Another 250 million people speak Arabic as a second language, making it one of the most widely studied languages. It is used in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Palestinian West Bank & Gaza, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Uzbekistan and Yemen etc.

 

Table of Contents

 

History

While the first documented record of written Arabic dates from the early 4th century CE, its use in the early 7th century as the language of the Qur’an led Arabic to become the major world language that it is today. Aside from Arabic, the Semitic language family includes Hebrew, Aramaic, Maltese, Amharic, Tigrinya, Tigre, Gurage, Geez, Syrica, Akkadian, Phonoecian, Punic, Ugaritic, Nabatean, Amorite and Moabite. While a majority of these are now considered "dead" languages, either entirely obsolete or used only in religious practice, Arabic has flourished. The reason for this is inextricably linked with the rise of Islam and, more specifically, Islam’s sacred book, the Qur’an.

 

Qur’an

The Qur'an is sent as guidance to all mankind. The language of Scriptures, as and when they are sent down to different generations and regions, is in the language of the messenger and the people who are immediately around him: "We have not sent any Messenger except with the language of his people so he can make things clear to them. Allah  misguides anyone He wills and guides anyone He wills. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. Qur'an.surah Ibraheem 14:4

 

Allah says: "We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an so you people may understand" Qur'an.Surah Yousuf 12:2

 

Thus, for those people caught in the darkness of disbelief at the prophet's time, it was a great blessing that Allah sent a messenger with a magnificent Scripture in their language, which they could understand.

 

Statistics

  • It’s estimated that up to 7,000 different languages are spoken around the world. 90% of these languages are used by less than 100,000 people. Over a million people converse in 150-200 languages and 46 languages have just a single speaker!
  • Languages are grouped into families that share a common ancestry. For example, English is related to German and Dutch, and they are all part of the Indo-European family of languages. These also include Romance languages, such as French, Spanish and Italian, which come from Latin.
  • 2,200 of the world’s languages can be found in Asia, while Europe has a mere 260.
  • Nearly every language uses a similar grammatical structure, even though they may not be linked in vocabulary or origin. Communities which are usually isolated from each other because of mountainous geography may have developed multiple languages. Papua New Guinea for instance, boasts no less than 832 different languages!
  • The world's most widely spoken languages by number of native speakers and as a second language, according to figures from UNESCO (The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French.
  • Globalization and cultural homogenization mean that many of the world’s languages are in danger of vanishing. UNESCO has identified 2,500 languages which it claims are at risk of extinction.

 

Types of Arabic languages

a.      Spoken

b.      Written

 

Types of spoken Arabic

There are over 30 different varieties of conversational or spoken Arabic which include:

  • Egyptian - spoken by about 50 million people in Egypt and perhaps the most widely understood variety.
  • Algerian - spoken by about 22 million people in Algeria
  • Moroccan/Maghrebi - spoken in Morocco by about 19.5 million people
  • Sudanese - spoken in Sudan by about 19 million people
  • Saidi - spoken by about 19 million people in Egypt
  • North Levantine - spoken in Lebanon and Syria by about 15 million people
  • Mesopotamian - spoken by about 14 million people in Iraq, Iran and Syria
  • Najdi - spoken in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and Syria by about 10 million people

And many more varities

 

Types of written Arabic

There are two main types of written Arabic:

  1. Classical Arabic - the language of the Qur'an and classical literature. It differs from Modern Standard Arabic mainly in style and vocabulary, some of which is archaic.
  2. Modern Standard Arabic (اللغة العربية الفصحى/ al-luġatu l-ʿarabiyyatu l-fuṣḥā) - the universal language of the Arabic-speaking world which is understood by all Arabic speakers. It is the language of the vast majority of written material and of formal TV news, lectures, etc.

 

Forming of Arabic words

An Arabic word is composed of two parts: (1) the root, which generally consists of three consonants and provides the basic lexical meaning of the word, 90% of its roots contain three letters only. These ‘triliterals’ are economical, and easy to hear, remember, and pronounce and(2) the pattern, which consists of vowels and gives grammatical meaning to the word. Thus, the root /k-t-b/ combined with the pattern /-i-ā-/ gives kitāb ‘book,’ whereas the same root combined with the pattern /-ā-i-/ gives kātib ‘one who writes’ or ‘clerk.’ The language also makes use of prefixes and suffixes, which act as subject markers, pronouns, prepositions, and the definite article.

 

Languages written with the Arabic script

Arabic, Aynu, Azeri, Baluchi, Beja, Bosnian, Brahui, Crimean,Tatar, Dari, Gilaki, Hausa, Kabyle,Karakalpak, Konkani, Kashmiri, Kazakh, Kurdish, Kyrgyz, Malay, Marwari, Mandekan, Mazandarani ,Morisco, Pashto, Persian/Farsi, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Salar, Saraiki, Shabaki,Sindhi, Somali, Tatar, Tausūg, Turkish, Urdu, Uyghurand Uzbek

 

Major languages of the world based on number of speakers

 

S.No.

languages

Speakers (in Millions)

1.     

Mandarin Chinese

935

2.     

Spanish

387

3.     

English

365

4.     

Hindi

333

5.     

Arabic

280

6.     

Portuguese

204

7.     

Bengali

202

8.     

Russian

170

9.     

Japanese

127

10. 

German

98

 

Malay

77

 

Misconception

Why was the Qur’an revealed only in the Arabic language?

 

The following reasons have been given in the Qur’an for its revelation in Arabic language:

 

1. Arabic was the language of the people where it was revealed

"And thus We have revealed to you an Arabic Qur'an that you may warn the Mother of Cities [Makkah] and those around it..." Qur'an.surah Shura 42:7

 

2. To explain it without any want of clarity

"We have made the Qur'an easy in your language so that they may take heed it."  (Qur'an 44:58)

"If We had made it a foreign Quran, they would have said, ‘If only its ayaah were clear! What? Foreign speech to an Arab?’ Say, ‘It is guidance and healing for those who have faith, but the ears of the disbelievers are heavy, they are blind to it, it is as if they are being called from a distant place.’ Qur'an.Surah Fusilath 41:44

 

3. To make it easy to understand

So when Allah says: "We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an so you people may understand" Qur'an.Surah Yousuf 12:2

We can clearly see it is in reference to the above ayaah - to the blessing that Allah revealed clear wisdom and guidance in a language they can understand and be able to reason over (Arabic). 

Arabic was the most advanced and comprehensive language at the time when Qur’an was being revealed and it still is the most comprehensive. The terms, concepts and themes would be best clarified and explained in Arabic language and last but not the least, it was the language of the people where it was revealed.

 

Few details of Arabic learning

Free Arabic reading and writing course tutorials based on one of the most popular courses being used today - the Madinah Book Series which are used by Madinah University to teach English speaking students the Arabic language. The course tutorials are being compiled by Shaykh Sulayman Gani and checked by Dr V Abdur Rahim (the author of the Madinah Book Course). Contact - http://abdurrahman.org/arabic/

 

References

http://www.infoplease.com/

http://www.arabic-language.org/arabic/history.asp

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/arabic.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/guide/languages.shtml

http://www.islamawareness.net/Quran/language_of_quran.html

http://www.islamhouse.com/396925/en/en/books/Quran_The_Linguistic_Miracle

http://www.madinaharabic.com/Arabic_Reading_Course/Lessons/L000_001.html

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