Arabic Quran for non-Arabic Speakers?

Posted: June 24, 2016 by millatibraheem in Arabic, Bid'ah, History, Rebuttals
Tags: , , , , ,

Much discussion has transpired regarding the language of the Quran and the Muslims claim for it to be a universal guide, which leads mankind from the day one is cultured til the day he dies.  Many have professed discontent and are bewildered with the followers of the recital, who advocate the exclusiveness of the Quran being the last testament for humanity.

After all, the Quran is in Arabic, revealed to an Arabic speaker, who ministered to a people in Arabia. These are irrefutable facts which no believer and disbeliever would deny.

إِنّا أَنزَلناهُ قُرآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَعَلَّكُم تَعقِلونَ

Indeed We have sent it down an Arabic Qurʾaan so that you may understand

(Surah Yusuf 12:2)

The polytheists had accused Muhammad Rasulullaah of learning the Quran from a foreign man who was a servant of the Quraish.  The Quran then refutes their claim,

وَلَقَد نَعلَمُ أَنَّهُم يَقولونَ إِنَّما يُعَلِّمُهُ بَشَرٌ ۗ لِسانُ الَّذي يُلحِدونَ إِلَيهِ أَعجَمِيٌّ وَهٰذا لِسانٌ عَرَبِيٌّ مُبينٌ

And We certainly know that they say, ‘It is only a human that teaches him.’ The tongue/language of the one they refer to is foreign/non-Arabic/‘Ajamiyon, while this is a clear Arabic tongue/language.

(Surah an-Nahl 16:103)

The Arabic Quran reinforces itself repeatedly as being clear, detailed, and comprehensive in Arabic,

كِتابٌ فُصِّلَت آياتُهُ قُرآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِقَومٍ يَعلَمونَ

A Book, its verses detailed, an Arabic Qur’aan, for people who know

(Surah Fussilat 41:3)

 In consideration of these verses, and others, questions arise as to how can it be for all of mankind when majority of the world does not know Arabic?

How does a non-Arabic speaker, whose mother tongue is foreign, suppose to comprehend and understand a Book that is not in their language and not revealed to a non-Arab audience?

Even more, the Quranic Arabic is from the seventh century that most present-day Arabs do not even speak.

They say, “why should I be held accountable for what I don’t understand?”

Translations of the Quran do not do justice to the Arabic language and are merely an interpretation, trapped into the translators bias beliefs.

In Muhammad Rasulullaah’s time, there were two major superpowers that battled each other; the Persians and the Romans.  These empires had extensive land conquests and included people from all walks of life under their rule.  It would have been reasonable for the Quran to be revealed in Latin (Roman) or Persian (Farsi) as they were the dominant languages that time and not Arabic.  The Arabs were seen as a worthless minority and their language mostly remaining in Arabia.

So, why was the Quran sent in Arabic?

The question may be answered in the following verse, which was revealed after the polytheists accused the Messenger of fabrication, or making it up himself and not receiving it from Allah,

أَم يَقولونَ افتَراهُ ۚ بَل هُوَ الحَقُّ مِن رَبِّكَ لِتُنذِرَ قَومًا ما أَتاهُم مِن نَذيرٍ مِن قَبلِكَ لَعَلَّهُم يَهتَدونَ

Or they say: ‘He has fabricated it’ Nay, it is the truth from your Lord, so that you may warn a people to whom no warner has come before you, in order that they may be guided

(Surah al-Sajdah 32:3)

The people did not receive a warner before Muhammad Rasulullaah, and it was their time for guidance.  They spoke Arabic and it would be unusual to send them a Messenger, or warner, who spoke a foreign language they did not understand.

وَما أَرسَلنا مِن رَسولٍ إِلّا بِلِسانِ قَومِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُم ۖ فَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَن يَشاءُ وَيَهدي مَن يَشاءُ ۚ وَهُوَ العَزيزُ الحَكيمُ

And We sent not a Messenger except with the language/tongue of his kinsfolk/people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allah misleads whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise

(Surah Ibraaheem 14:4)

Muhammad Rasulullaah was sent to the Arabs speaking Arabic.  The Quran was sent in Arabic as a guidance for those people who understood the language and were able to follow it, since the Messenger they were given was well-known from among them.

End of Part One.

  1. mohammad says:

    Salam, Can’t understand what you are trying to say in this article. What does the Quranic verse mean, (Say: “O mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allah.”) (7:158)

    • Admin says:

      salam, it doesn’t say “mankind” and “all”, NAAS and JAMI’AN are being mistranslated. The ayah in full,

      قُل يا أَيُّهَا النّاسُ إِنّي رَسولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيكُم جَميعًا الَّذي لَهُ مُلكُ السَّماواتِ وَالأَرضِ ۖ لا إِلٰهَ إِلّا هُوَ يُحيي وَيُميتُ ۖ فَآمِنوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسولِهِ النَّبِيِّ الأُمِّيِّ الَّذي يُؤمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَكَلِماتِهِ وَاتَّبِعوهُ لَعَلَّكُم تَهتَدونَ

      “QUL” is in singular masculine, it is telling the Messenger to speak to -“Naas”- the people who had gathered there-“JAMI’AN”-. It would not make sense if he was speaking to mankind, what about those who had passed away before his messengership, those who were in far away lands, and those who came after his death? The Messenger cannot QUL to them since they were not present.

      • mohammad says:

        So are you saying that non-Arabic speakers don’t have to follow Quran?. My feedback: Many of your article are incomplete in thoughts and unclear.

      • Salam, it is up to each individual to come to a conclusive understanding. We’re simply putting up what we’ve derived from the Quran to the public so others can also share their ideas.

        We need to understand things from all angles and not only from what we were raised upon through cultural indoctrination.

        If the Quran is in Arabic, how do non-Arabic speakers follow it? if it’s okay to make dua in non-Arabic, why can’t we pray in the same way since both dua and prayer are intertwined?

        Please do share your thoughts and evidences.

  2. Andalusi says:

    Then Why did Prophet gave letters to Kings of other Nation requesting them to accept Islam ?Is that reason Why the Laws of Islam are not applicable to the entire globe? For eg– The Fast timings in north is too long. In some places sun rarely sets.But Quran doesnt seem to give a clear answer for such details. It just says to fast from Dawn to night., but in northern parts, these commandments looks impractical..A.Ny Reply?

  3. sean says:

    Why would someone who doesnt know Arabic have to follow the Quran? How would he even know what it says? He has to learn Arabic, or he has to blindly follow what people tell him it means?

    Also there are many things in the Quran that we wouldn’t understand even if we knew Arabic because we weren’t present when these things were happening.

  4. mohammad says:

    I asked a question, you did not answer it straight but putting a counter question.

    Is it binding on non-Arabic speakers to follow the Quran? Is it binding for the present day Arabs to follow Quran which was revealed in the classical Arabic of that time as you have mentioned?

    • The Quran is not fully binding upon anyone today since there are verses which were addressing solely the prophet/messenger. The rest which were revealed for the general public are binding upon those who understand the language of the Quran in its original meaning and are aware of the circumstances that they were revealed in. Again, the Arabic and the situations of 7th century Arabia. Translations are not Quran.

      However, regardless of what religion or book a person follows, the basic teachings of all ‘religious scriptures’ are: the belief of a greater intelligence/one god (whatever name one may call it) and living a righteous life (justice, goodness, honesty, charity etc.). That is it and this is the fitrah.

      • mohammad says:

        Why did Prophet and companions invite non-Arabs to Islam if they can’t understand Arabic. I am able to understand the message of the Quran with translations, what is the problem with that. If there are apparent differences in translations, a person can still form the best opinion by referring different translations.

      • We highly doubt that, as the Quran does not order the Messenger to invite non-Arabs. If he did, then they must’ve known Arabic to understand the Quran, otherwise, speaking a foreign language that the invitees cannot understand is quite useless.

        An Arabic Quran cannot be fully understood in another language. The message was in Arabic because it was sent for an Arab people who did not receive a warner beforehand.

      • Andalusi says:

        So what does it mean when Quran says Muhammed is the last prophet…? So God doesnt care about the rest of Humanity?

      • Great question, what do you think? We cannot make absolute conclusions since all of these things are derivative of Quranic verses from Arabic.

        As mentioned in other comments, the general belief in a deity and being a good person is something ingrained for a person who contemplates about nature. One does not need a religious scripture or to follow a religion to believe in a God.

  5. Admin says:

    There are certain concepts in the Qur’an which anyone can easily comprehend no matter which translation they’re reading as some things can only be translated in one way, such as the idea that there exist no deities besides Allah, that Allah has no parents, no consorts, no children.

    The same cannot be said about every ayah in the Qur’an since even knowing the language may not be enough to fully comprehend its true meaning. You had to have been there, living among those people, or at least be familiar with their environment and culture.

  6. mohammad says:

    <> This is true for all books. We may not fully understand as accurate to each words but still we can understand the overall message with good translations just as we are able to understand books written in other languages with good english translations.

    • Are you aware of any translations that existed during the Messengers time? Did the Prophet tell anyone to translate the Quran in different languages? So far we haven’t found any proof for that.

      • mohammad says:

        Quran itself not compiled in one book before Prophet’s death, how could you expect Prophet to command for its translations…

      • Actually, according to the Quran in general, it was already compiled and collected before the prophet’s death. Despite that, it does not matter whether it was collected before or after, the fact that it existed and was being taught to others is an important thing to think about. One does not need a written documentation (even though it was) for it to be translated.

        We need to first erase the things we were taught and re-learn historical accounts on the basis of the Quran and its message, since majority of the so-called “Islamic” history is fabricated and can be disproved.

      • Andalusi says:

        Im a non-arab…Is it ok for me to stop praying and other things in my life..? How should a person inherit his wealth? Whats the proof in Quran that it has been compiled during its time? Is there any prophet after Muhammed to come to other nations ? Are you saying that all the verses which address Mankind have a prefix “Qul” …which means only to the mankind gatherd in arabia? Will Jesus AS return ? Did prophet marry 11 woman?

  7. Ibn Hazm says:

    I am astonished how this blog has changed so much over time. The mention of ahadith almost disappeared. You almost sound like those “Quraniyoon” who reject ahadith altogether. All I see these days in your blog are controversial opinions. It feels like you are trying very hard to create your very own sect filled with new controversial opinions about the revelation. Does Dr. Mohammad Massari or Shaykh Ismaeel etc endorse your beliefs and how you try to interpret the revelation?

    There is not much information available about any of the authors of this blog. We would be interested to know your background and who are your teachers etc. For all I know, the old admins of this blog could be dead and you new folks are paid authors to infiltrate and incite confusion and doubts in the hearts of the believers (new or old).

    • as salaam alaykum, please read our disclaimer at top which was posted several years ago:

      “…We hereby state that we have NO CONNECTIONS with any sects or any organizations foreign or domestic. We are Muslims and call towards Islam without giving preference to any denominations…The blog is used for the purpose of keeping notes and collecting whatever information the author could find on that topic. Everything is based off of what is believed to be authentic sources…”

      • Assalamu Alaikum. What do you hav to say about this verse?

        And if We had made it a 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]?” Say, “It is, for those who believe, a guidance and cure.” And those who do not believe – in their ears is deafness, and it is upon them blindness. Those are being called from a distant place.

      • Alaikumsalam,

        The ayah is in Arabic and was describing a hypothetical situation. Either way the ayah cannot be understood unless one knew the Arabic language.

        Keep in mind English translations, or any other language, are not Qur’aan.

  8. Admin says:

    We haven’t been using much ahadith as of late due to the fact that all ahadith are dhanni. That is to say, apart from what we find in the Qur’an, we do not and cannot know whether all that was attributed to the Prophet is true.

    We have already shown the weaknesses to many ahadith in previous articles. That should already tell you that the way these ahadith have been verified and/or criticized is solely dependent upon human opinions.

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