What is the authenticity of this narration?
1. Ibn Abi Shaybah narrated that ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said: “No man learns Farsi (Persian) but he becomes evil, and no man becomes evil but his chivalry is compromised.”
2. It was also narrated that Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas (radiyallahu ‘anhu) heard some people speaking Farsi. He said: “What is this Magianism (Zoroastrianism) after Hanifiyyah (pure monotheism)?”
1. The chain for this is sound (hasan), as stated by My Honourable Teacher; Al-‘Allamatul Muhaddith, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah (hafizahullah).
(Footnotes on Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, Hadith: 26805)
The second narration is actually from the son of Sayyiduna Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas (radiyallahu’anhu); Muhammad ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas (rahimahullah), and not Sayyiduna Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas himself, as in your question.
Arabic is the language of the Quran, Hadith and considered the language of Islam.
Undoubtedly, language does affect culture, and is clearly visible till this day. For these reasons, there are books written on the ‘virtues of Arabic’.
Therefore Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radiyallahu’anhu) was very particular and strict on mastering the Arabic language.
(Refer: Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 1555-1557)
The narrations in question are -obviously- addressing Arabs/Arab-speaking Muslims, that were becoming influenced with the customs and ways of the Persians, who at that time were polytheists. This was not to illustrate any wrong in the language itself. To understand this fully, the following details are important:
In the era of Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radiyallahu’anhu), Islam spread far and wide.
As a result of this:
a) Many non Arabs accepted Islam.
b) The Arab Muslims visited, travelled or even relocated to these lands.
This resulted in a fear of the Muslims being influenced by the ways of those non Arabs who remained non Muslim. In fact, those among the non Arabs who accepted Islam, needed to learn the ways and practices of Islam too. Therefore there is a host of narrations from Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radiyallahu’anhu) wherein he cautioned against such influences. He laid down several rules to ensure that this does not happen.
In some reports, Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radiyallahu’anhu) even prohibited the non Muslim locals of these areas from learning/speaking Arabic. Here again, the reason was to maintain complete distinction between the Muslims and others.
(Iqtidaus Siratil Mustaqim, pg.110. Also see pg.143-145)
The foresight of Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radiyallahu’anhu) was indeed unique. At that time specifically, these measures were definitely needed for the Muslims to have and to maintain their identity.
To this day, books are being written on the effects of language on culture.
Lastly, there are several proofs for the permissibility of learning Persian and other languages. Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) has labelled a chapter in his Sahih: ‘Chapter on those who spoke in Persian and other non Arabic languages.’ In fact, Imam Ibn Abi Shaybah (rahimahullah) himself, after citing the narrations in question cites an entire chapter on ‘Those who allowed [speaking] Persian.’
Therefore the statements in question should be understood to be specific, and not general.
Also refer: ‘Umdatul Qari, before Hadith: 3072
Kindly refer to a mufti for a specific fatwa (juristic ruling) in this regard.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar