Many Muslims believe that because the Quran is in Arabic, then Arabic must be a holy or superior language. However, the Quran makes it clear that this is not the case.
No distinction between languages
In verse 30:22, we see that God makes no distinction between any language.
|وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالِمِينَ|
|And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge. (30:22)|
Obviously, Arabic is important if you want to study the Quran since it’s in Arabic but that doesn’t mean that Arabic is better than any other language. Similarly, if one wanted to study the Torah or Injil, then other languages such as Hebrew or Latin would be important for understanding those scriptures.
Different messengers, different languages, but same message
The Quran was revealed in Arabic for no reason other than so that the designated primary audience at the time (Arabs) could understand it. The same reason applied to all previous messengers. Previous messengers were Muslim yet they did not speak nor pray in Arabic. They were sent with the language of their people so they could communicate clearly to their people. This is proven in verse 14:4.
|وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا بِلِسَانِ قَوْمِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُمْ ۖ فَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَن يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ|
|And We did not send any messenger except [speaking] in the language of his people to state clearly for them, and Allah sends astray [thereby] whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. (14:4)|
Arabic for an Arabic-speaking community
Even though the Quran is meant for all of mankind, verse 42:7 proves that the Quran was sent down in Arabic so that the prophet could warn his own mother town and the immediate towns around him.
|وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِّتُنذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَتُنذِرَ يَوْمَ الْجَمْعِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ فَرِيقٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَفَرِيقٌ فِي السَّعِيرِ|
|And thus We have revealed to you an Arabic Qur’an that you may warn the Mother of Cities [Makkah] and those around it and warn of the Day of Assembly, about which there is no doubt. A party will be in Paradise and a party in the Blaze. (42:7)|
The term “hawlaha” means “around it” and refers to towns immediately around the mother city. It does not mean all towns all around the world. Thus definition can be verified by seeing other uses of the term “hawlaha” in the Quran. Therefore, if the Quran needed to be explained to someone in China, it would need to be translated into Chinese.
God translated historical stories into Arabic
Note verses 26:162-163 as follows:
|إِنِّي لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ|
|Indeed, I am to you a trustworthy messenger. So fear Allah and obey me. (26:162-163)|
The same Arabic sentence has been used for Prophets Noah (26:106-107), Hud (26:125-126); Saleh (26:143-144); Lut (26:162-163) and Shuaib (pbut) (26:178-179) one after the other. Not one of these messengers ever delivered this sentence in Arabic but rather in their own languages to their own people. Therefore, it is the message which is important, not the language it is delivered in. The Quran itself is a translation from other languages into Arabic.
There are many historical dialogues and stories mentioned in the Quran of Prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus (pbut), different messengers, angels, Iblis (Satan), Pharaoh, and even of an ant (27:18) and a Hoopoe bird (27:22). All this speech has been captured and translated by God Himself for an Arabic audience to grasp the message and its wisdom. If God can translate the speech of others throughout history to make the message clear to an Arab audience, then why can’t non-Arabic speakers focus their endeavors to understand the message in their own languages?
This explanation is proven a few verses later in 26:195-196.
|بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُّبِينٍ وَإِنَّهُ لَفِي زُبُرِ الْأَوَّلِينَ|
|In a clear Arabic language. And indeed, it is [mentioned] in the scriptures of former peoples. (26:162-163)|
Same Message, Different Language
The message that was revealed before the Quran is the same as what was revealed in the Quran. This is proven in verse 41:43.
|مَّا يُقَالُ لَكَ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ قِيلَ لِلرُّسُلِ مِن قَبْلِكَ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَذُو مَغْفِرَةٍ وَذُو عِقَابٍ أَلِيمٍ|
|Nothing is said to you, [O Muhammad], except what was already said to the messengers before you. Indeed, your Lord is a possessor of forgiveness and a possessor of painful penalty. (41:43)|
According to verse 41:44, God chose Arabic for the Quran because no one would have believed Muhammad if the Quran was in a foreign language to the Arabs.
|… وَلَوْ جَعَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا أَعْجَمِيًّا لَّقَالُوا لَوْلَا فُصِّلَتْ آيَاتُهُ ۖ أَأَعْجَمِيٌّ وَعَرَبِيٌّ ۗ قُلْ هُوَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا هُدًى وَشِفَاءٌ|
|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]?” … (41:44)|
Therefore, to conclude, Arabic is not a special and holy language.
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