Why there are so many foreign words in the Arabic of Quran?
Submitted by on Sat, 18/07/2009 - 15:55
Dear Brother / Sister,
‘We know indeed that they say "It is a man that teaches him." The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic pure and clear.’ (an-Nahl 103)
As it is known, the Quran is the name of words that indicate the meaning sent down to Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) through Jibril (Gabriel) by God Almighty. It was revealed to the heart of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) not only as meaning but also as words. As a matter of fact, from the verses that express that the Quran is in Arabic in ten different places in the Quran,
“Verily this is a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds: With it came down the Spirit of Faith and Truth― To thy heart and mind, that thou mayest admonish, In the perspicuous Arabic tongue.” (ash-Shuara 26/192-195)
“Thus have we sent this down― Arabic Qur'an.” (Ta-Ha 20/113)
“(It is) a Qur'an in Arabic, without any crookedness (therein): in order that they may guard against Evil.” (Zumar, 39/28)
“A Book, whereof the verses are explained in detail― a Qur'an in Arabic, for people who understand.” (Fussilat, 41/3) (Yusuf, 12/2; Ra’d, 13/37; an-Nahl, 16/103; ash-Shura, 42/7; az-Zukhruf, 43/3; al-Ahqaf, 46/12) it is understood clearly and definitely that not only the meaning but also the words are included in the content of the concept ‘the Quran’.
The Quran is in Arabic. Some people may claim that there are some Persian, Turkish, Hindi and Abyssinian words in it and give some examples saying that there are foreign words in the Quran but it is not a valid claim. Every living nation borrows words from other languages and adapts them.
The Quran is a clear Arabic book. That is, anyone who knows Arabic can understand the Quran. There may be some words in the Quran that were borrowed from other languages beforehand but they are already Arabic words. They are words used in Arabic. Here, there is an accusation just for the sake of claiming without considering linguistics. It is something that is observed in every language not only in Arabic. Every language borrows words from other languages and uses them. The same thing is valid for Turkish. The fact that some words come from other languages does not mean that a sentence is not Turkish. On the contrary, even if almost all of the words in a sentence are borrowed words from other languages, it is a clear sentence that everybody can understand. The Quran was written in understandable Arabic like that. In the verses above, that aspect of the Quran is emphasized.
The Quran was sent down in the language of Arabic. In many verses, the Quran is described as being in Arabic.
The Messenger of Allah read the Quran to his tribe in a clear language, Arabic, that is, in the language of Quraish, which was spoken in Hejaz and Makkah fifteen centuries ago. There is no doubt about it. However, it should be known that Arabic was a language in that period, a language with different dialects. The Quran was sent down in the dialect of Quraish because Makkah was a cultural center; the most beautiful Arabic was spoken there.
Makkah was both the cultural center of Arabs and a trade center, with the season of pilgrimage, the Kaaba, fairs of Ukaz, Dhul-Majaz and Majannah, which were also literary societies. Arab tribes and trade caravans went to the north and south and contacted other nations. Those who went to the north contacted the Christians that were subject to the Byzantines and those who went to the northeast contacted Iranian fire worshippers. During those contacts, they acquired information about culture, civilization, literature, etc. The transfer of civilization and culture from one nation to the other takes place through contacts. Neighboring nations learn from each other. During those contacts and commercial relations, Persian and Greek words entered Arabic. The greatest culture is language. The first thing that is influenced as a result of the contacts of nations with one another is the language. Through the same process, words from Syriac, Hebrew and even Turkish entered Arabic. The people of Makkah and Hejaz had contacts with the Jews too. The Jews were located on the trade way. The trade caravans that went to the south had similar contacts too. There were even some Iranians, Greeks, Egyptians and Abyssinians although very few that lived in Makkah, which was a trade center. Doubtlessly, they learned Arabic. It is natural that many words entered Arabic through them.
So, words from other languages entered Arabic. Is there a language in the world that did not borrow any words from other languages? Do common words not exist in the languages that are regarded as distant to each other? There are so many words in the languages that belong to the same group. There are many common words in French, English, German and Persian. Those languages have words borrowed from Arabic too. There are many Persian words in Turkish, and many Turkish words in Persian. Similarly, there are words from other languages in Arabic. The scholars of Islam determined those words.
Questions on Islam
- Why is the language of the Quran Arabic? How can we answer those who regard this as nationalism? Is it not better if we read the translation of the Quran?
- How did Zayd bin Thabit learn foreign languages? What methods did the Prophet (pbuh) teach him about learning a language?
- Why was the Quran sent in Arabic?
- Will the language of Paradise be Arabic? Will Arabic be spoken in the hereafter? If so, is there a verse or hadith indicating this?
- What are the wisdoms of reading the Qur´an in Arabic?
- What language did Hz Adam and Hz Eve speak? What language will be spoken in Paradise?
- Is it necessary to read the Quran and say tasbihat in prayer in Arabic? Is it not permissible in English or any other language?
- Is it better to read the Quran in Arabic or in its translation in one’s own language?
- What is the benefit of listening to the recitation of the Holy Qur'an even though one cannot understand its context and meaning?
- Can worshipping be performed in English?