Language – a sign of Allah, but no Muslim linguists

 

 

الرحمن علم القرآن خلق الإنسان علمه البيان الشمس والقمر بحسبان

The Most Merciful! He taught the Qurān. He created man. He taught him speech. The sun and moon follow fixed courses…. [ar-Raḥmān: 1-5]

 

ومن آياته خلق السماوات والأرض واختلاف ألسنتكم وألوانكم إن في ذلك لآيات للعالمين

And amongst His signs are the creation of the heavens and the earth and the differences of your languages and colours. Indeed there are signs in that for those who know. [ar-Rūm: 22]

 

 

I had previously written about Muslims who are also intellectuals, but have difficulty fusing the two concepts into a single identity of Muslim intellectual. That does not make them bad Muslims. A Muslim engineer for example may be a Palestine activist or involved in great works of charity. Rare however is the Muslim engineer/ chemist/ mathematician, who before venturing into “classical” fields of good deeds, manages to see the Hand of the Creator in his own field. How delightful it would be to meet a “secular” Muslim academic, who going through decades of study and libraries of information, actually manages, even if it be just once in his lifetime, to see the Hand of the Creator in his field and falls into prostration, consumed with recognition of the Most Glorious.      

 

Language – a sign of Allah

 

The above verses make it abundantly clear that language is a sign of Allāh. Just to clarify to those who read their own thoughts into the Qurān, the concept of language is Allāh’s sign, not specifically Arabic. If Allāh wills, I might write on the beauty of Arabic vs other languages at a later stage, but here, in terms of pointing to the magnificence of the Creator, the mere existence of English, German, Mandarin, Pashto etc are all equally signs of the Creator, alongside Arabic.

 

There are two levels to this sign. Firstly, ar-Raḥmān points to the divine origin of the concept of speech. The atheist-evolutionists are at pains to explain the origin of language. Yet all their theorising and speculation cannot reach resolution.

 

How did this supposed descendant of the ape arrive at the concept of speech? What was the need? Does not every other creature survive well enough without complex grammatically systemised language? Cockroaches seem to thrive well enough without studying Shakespeare. Once they decided to speak, how did these “apelings” collectively use the same word for the same object? How did even 10 apes decide to call a stone by the same name? When did “stone” become insufficient and when was limestone, granite and rubies invented? How did the apes vocalise concepts they could not see like love? How did they conceive of shades of meaning and differ between love, fondness, inclination, liking and affection?

 

As long as they deny the Most Merciful teaching man speech, they will never find the answer. Similarly, every time a Muslim speaks, reads or writes, he should understand that he is participating in one of Allāh’s signs.

 

Certain individuals may have written about signs of Allāh in other fields such as astronomy and biology, but as far as I know, no in-depth exposition on language as proof of the Creator exists from a Muslim perspective. It may be a legacy of the colonialists’ brain washing us with nationalism, but it seems that there can be Muslims in love with Urdu, Persian and Turkish, but no professional Muslim linguist who finds his Creator in language in general.

 

PIE Project

The second level of this sign is the differing of tongues. Yet studies on reversing the process and discovering the original word for something, ultimately brings my thought to a single man uttering the original word. Is it not possible that a professional Muslim linguist can ultimately prove the existence of the first created man and thus his Creator?

 

The Proto-Indo-European language project aims to reconstruct a single language supposed to have been spoken from Europe to India thousands of years ago. Its origins lie in a British Raj judge noticing the amazing similarities between Sanskrit and Latin. Even if we look at their descendants there are still similarities, e.g. compare ignite to the Hindu fire-god, agni.

 

Professional linguists may blast me as merely clutching at unrelated coincidences, yet it seems that according to what I have noticed, even Arabic may be joined up to the P.I.E languages, either phonetically or conceptually. For example, The German Rhine River and Italian Renos River descend from the same PIE word meaning river. Is it just coincidence that Arabic, mainly based on three letter derivatives uses the similar sounding and same letters for nahr? The Romans claimed to descend from Aeneas whom they called Pius Aeneas. Just like the Arabic word used for pious, ṣāliḥ, pius actually means to do the right or appropriate thing at the right time, not necessarily someone who engages in constant prayer. Here the words may not have any similarity in sound, but the originating concept is the same in two cultures geographically and mentally distant.

 

I am not a specialist in the field and will be the first to admit that greater evidence is needed. Indeed, my conjecture may be utterly baseless, but my question stands…. Where is the Muslim linguist who can prove or disprove me, and more importantly, see the Hand of his Creator in language as indicated in the Qurān?

 

 

 

 

سليمان الكندي

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4 responses

  1. Assalamu alaykum, interesting post, thanks.

    I’m not really sure I see any potential in linguistics for actual proof of anything, since much of the field concerning language history is theoretical and very uncertain.

    I am curious as to why you propose including Arabic in the PIE proto-language. I mean, evidence or lack thereof aside, it doesn’t seem to have any effect on a thesis that God or original man can be proven through language history. Also, it would probably necessitate somehow bringing the entire Afro-Asiatic proto-language into PIE, which is untenable IMO.

    Just a couple of random thoughts; I am no linguist but am interested in the subject of language history specifically.

    Jazakum Allahu khayra
    Imran Ahmed

    1. wa alaykum salaam

      The PIE project is euro centric. Why should ancient Semitic languages be excluded? Semitic languages are greatly structured and have ancient pedigree. Before examining Afro Asian languages surely Semitic languages have a greater chance of linking up with PIE to prove a even more ancient pre PIE language. Of course the converse may be proved since Im only theorising, but has the currently defined limits of PIE been proven without doubt that nothing else can link up? If two cousins are linked it means there is a common grandfather?

  2. Assalaamu Alaikum,

    Why is it assumed that I, as a scientist, should see the hand of Allah in science. My imaan might have been based on my love of the Quraan and not on my science. I am a muslim first and a scientist second. I do not need to be searching for Allah in science, since I already have recognition of Him. The muslim linguist then already knows that language is a sign of Allah and does not need to be trying to find His hand in it. For him no proof is required.

    1. wa alaykum salaam

      Dear Brother
      Allah says, “Indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternating of night and day there are signs for people of intelligence…”
      Furthermore his Rasul sallallahu alayhi wa sallam commanded us to ponder over the creation to gain some understanding of the majesty of Allah. The early Muslims applied this. The writings of Ibn Jawzi might also benefit you, how he would gain recognition of Allah in mundane daily acts let alone the deeper knowledge of science you have been blessed with.
      You seem confused between gaining faith for the first time and further recognising the majesty of Allah. The Sahaabah were Muslims when they practised on the above verse and Hadith. May Allah grant you too the deeper insight and broadness of outlook they possessed.
      With respect, may I suggest that your implication that your faith is perfected and does not need these further guidelines of the Quraan, Hadith and example of the pious needs reexamining.
      was salaam

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