The importance and virtues of studying the Arabic language

Question

Kindly provide a few narrations regarding virtues and specialties of the Arabic language along with the importance of its study.

 

Answer

The Arabic language was of such great importance that the Muhaddithun dedicated certain sections in their kutub (books) to its discussion.

(Refer: Al-Jami’ Li Akhlaqir Rawi, vol. 2 pgs. 9-20, and Mahajjatal Qurab ila Mahabbatil Arab, pgs. 433-444)

 

Shaykh, Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya Al-Kandehlawi (rahimahullah) has authored an entire booklet (originally in Urdu but also translated into English) exclusively highlighting the virtues of the Arabic language. Many other books have been written on this topic as well.

 

Perhaps the greatest virtue of the Arabic language is that Allah Ta’ala revealed the Quran in Arabic. Allah Ta’ala has mentioned:

إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

“Verily We have revealed it [i.e. the Quran] as an Arabic Quran so that you may understand.”

(Surah Yusuf, Verse: 2; Also see: Surah Taha, Verse: 113, Surah Zumar, Verse: 28, Surah Fussilat, Verse: 3, Surah Shura, Verse: 7, Surah Zukhruf, Verse: 3, and Surah Ahqaf, Verse: 12)

 

Hafiz Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) has mentioned that the Arabic language is the most eloquent of languages. It is the most comprehensive of languages through which a person can express himself and convey his thoughts in the clearest, most complete and eloquent of manners.

The most revered of divinely revealed scriptures was revealed to the most estimable of messengers, via the most venerable of angels, during the noblest of all months, [therefore, it is quite obvious that it would have also been revealed] in the noblest of all languages.

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Surah Yusuf, Verse: 2)

 

Arabic is the language of Islam, and it is only through Arabic that a person can access the true meaning of the Quran, Hadith, and various other branches of knowledge that stem from the two. The greater a person’s grasp of this language, the more he can potentially access and understand Islam. It is for this reason that the ‘Ulama gave due importance and even endured much hardship in mastering the language of Arabic before engaging in the various sciences of the Quran and Hadith.

Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah) mentioned: “My father left me thirty-thousand dirhams of which I spent fifteen-thousand on [the acquisition of] Arabic grammar and Poetry [first], and the remaining fifteen-thousand on Hadith and Fiqh.”

(Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 2 pg. 562; Also see Safahat Min Sabril ‘Ulama, pg. 309)

 

‘Allamah Khalaf ibn Hisham (rahimahullah) has mentioned: “I was [once] experiencing some difficulty in understanding a certain chapter of Arabic grammar so I spent eighty-thousand dirhams [in pursuit of understanding it] until I understood it.

(Ma’rifatul Qurra Al-Kibar, vol. 1 pg. 421; Also see Safahat Min Sabril ‘Ulama, pg. 311-312)

 

Hereunder are a few quotations highlighting the importance of learning Arabic:

1. Imam Asma’I (rahimahullah) has said: “Verily the thing I fear most for the student of ‘ilm (knowledge) when he doesn’t know Arabic grammar (properly), is that he be included overall in the statement of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam): ‘Whoever falsely attributes a Hadith to me should prepare his abode in Jahannam’.

This is because Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) did not speak ungrammatical Arabic (i.e. he didn’t make grammatical errors). Therefore, whenever you happen to report a narration from him and you make a grammatical error, then you have lied against him/falsely attributed a Hadith to him.”

(Refer: Tadribur Rawi, vol. 4 pgs. 458-461 along with the footnotes of Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah; Also see: Ma’alim Irshadiyyah, pgs. 322-332)

 

2. Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhu) has mentioned: “Learn Arabic (thoroughly and properly) for indeed it [refines and] increases a person in chivalry/graciousness.”

(Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 1555 & Al-Jami’ Li Akhlaqir Rawi, vol. 2 pg. 10. Also see here)

 

3. Imam Waki’ (rahimahullah) has said: I went to A’amash [with the intention] to listen to some of his Hadiths. [Imam A’amash – rahimahullah – at times also made Imam Waki’ read]. I made grammatical mistakes from time to time, he then [eventually] said to me: “O Abu Sufyan! [referring to Waki’], you left out what is more worthy for you [to learn] than Hadith.

I [i.e. Imam Waki’] replied: “O Abu Muhammad [referring to Imam A’amash], what can be more worthy for me [to learn] than Hadith?

He [i.e. Imam A’amash] replied: Arabic grammar!

He [i.e. Imam A’amash] then began teaching me Arabic grammar. Thereafter, he taught me Hadith.

(Al-Jami’ Li Akhlaqir Rawi, vol. 2 pg. 12)

 

And Allah Ta’ala knows best.

 

Answered by: Moulana Farhan Shariff

 

Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar,