274 Million Speak Arabic, Why Am I Not One of Them?

by Farida Haji

My daughter was practicing the Arabic alphabet, I sat beside her scrolling through Instagram, and chanced upon a few amazing Arabic calligraphers. I showed her the screen and we continued watching and scrolling through their mesmerizing and artistic reels.

“Mamma, I want to write like this,” she said, “What are they writing?”

“I have no idea; it just looks so beautiful,” I responded.

A blank and confused expression covered her face. “But mamma, you teach me how to write Arabic, we recite and memorize the Quran together, and you don’t understand what they’re writing?” “No,” I replied, bewildered. 

Isn’t it necessary to learn the language of the Quran to be closer to Allah? It boggled my mind for a while, that I am fluent in languages that aren’t the holy ones. Not the chosen language by the Almighty!

I can only read and write Arabic; I understand nothing more than greetings. Over the next few days, I started translating simple sentences in Arabic from Google and tried to make sense of it. But unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough.

Language, Not a Barrier Between Allah and Me

As an Indian Muslim, my cultural background heavily influenced the languages I learned and spoke. Arabic isn’t my mother tongue. My linguistic capabilities include English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, and Urdu. I was taught Arabic; to recite and memorize the Quran, and offer my prayers. However, growing up, I did come across a Lebanese Christian woman, who read her Bible in Arabic. Then it struck me; language is a barrier among humans, but not between Allah and me.

Explaining why I don’t know something to my child is difficult. For her, as a mother, I am supposed to have answers to everything. I told her, “Not all Muslims speak Arabic and not all Arabic-speaking people are Muslims.”  

The realization got me thinking about the general assumption: All Muslims speak and understand Arabic. But the reality is, not all of those 1.8 billion Muslims speak and understand Arabic.

Finding the Origins of Arabic

A few days later, I sat with my daughter and we researched the origins of the language. The numbers were impressive. Arabic is the sixth most spoken language on the planet. Exploring regions on the map, we traced the roots of the language to the Arabian Peninsula, dating back a millennium. The language started spreading towards North Africa, the Middle East, and China as nomadic tribes married other natives and Islamic conquests began around the 7th Century CE. 

The Quran is considered the oldest written text of the Arabic Language. The revelation of the Quran upon the Prophet Mohammed ﷺ spanned over 23 years — another story that was fascinating to share with my offspring — which was later compiled around 8th CE and today the oldest written Quran, the Topikapi manuscript, lies in a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

3 Types of Arabic

Stumbling upon the dialects and discovering the different types of Arabic languages spoken widely gave our interests a new depth. 

  1. Classical Arabic: 

The Language of The Quran.

  1. The MSA (Modern Standard Arabic):

 MSA is a simplified version of Classical Arabic. It is used on news channels, in newspapers, and in general everyday life.

  1. Colloquial Arabic or Ammiyya: 

Ammiyya encompasses the various dialects and sub-groups that have come into existence through numerous cultural influences globally.

2 Major Arabic Dialects

  1. Maghrebi Arabic (Western): 

This is spoken widely in North Africa, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, and Western Sahara.

  1. Mashriqi Arabic (Eastern): 

This is spoken widely throughout the Middle East and a few other regional countries.   

Meanwhile, Ammiyya encompasses smaller sub-dialect groups:

  • Egyptian Arabic 
  • Levantine Arabic
  • Peninsular Gulf Arabic / Khaliji
  • Yemeni Arabic / San’ani or Sana’ 
  • Peninsular Arabic
  • Other varieties of Arabic, spoken in Non-Arab countries 

There was too much information for the little brain to process. “Mamma, you don’t know any Arabic? I don’t know anything, will Allah listen to me?” 

I helped the little one understand that one lifetime will never be enough to learn everything. But we shall try. All we need to do is give a sujood and pray to Allah with a clear heart and the language we know and He will listen.

As the excitement grew, Arabic became our new muse. We downloaded multiple apps to learn about our language and culture. To understand, that language exists to bring us closer to one another and most importantly Allah.

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75 Comments

  1. Lulua Bandookwala

    Informative and interesting!

    Reply
    • MOHD ISKANDAR BIN MOHAMAD YUSOF

      Alhamdulillah..

      Reply
        • Yasmeen

          I want to speak Arabic And write arabic

          Reply
      • Fayaz Sheikh

        Ma sha Allah

        Reply
      • Zul jamal faisal

        Informative post

        Reply
      • Meme

        Aneen????

        Reply
    • Abu

      Alhamdullilah

      Reply
      • Juveria Nida

        Great ????

        Reply
        • Mohammad Ansar Sheik Hassan

          Masha Allah after death angel questions with us in Arabic .So we learn Arabic language is Best ways…

          Reply
      • رئيسة شيخ

        ما شاء الله

        Reply
    • Lisa Azam

      Subhan Allah
      Subhan Allah
      Subhan Allah

      Reply
      • Mohammed kabil Hussain

        Trynna learn Arabic

        Reply
    • Nour from Muslim Pro

      “We’re glad you enjoy it. What other kind of content would you like to see more on our website? Your response is highly appreciated and we hope to create better content for our community” Do share the article with your friends and family.

      Reply
  2. Rashida

    An eye opener. Very well written and informative. Does make one realise the importance of knowing the Arabic language. If we can read the Arabic script, we should be able to understand and speak too.

    Reply
    • Neha

      Such a beautiful article!

      Reply
    • Lisa Azam

      Subhan Allah
      Subhan Allah
      Subhan Allah

      Reply
    • Nour from Muslim Pro

      “We’re glad you enjoy it. What other kind of content would you like to see more on our website? Your response is highly appreciated and we hope to create better content for our community” Do share the article with your friends and family.

      Reply
      • Shifa zafar

        I want to learn arabic to understand Holy Quran.

        Reply
      • Samra

        I want to learn arabic

        Reply
  3. Tulip NB

    That’s an awesome lovely article????????

    Reply
    • Azard Mohammed

      I don’t know how to write, read or speak Arabic but I’ll love to B able to inshallah

      Reply
  4. Zahabia Khorakiwala

    A question that had always plagued me in madrasa was that I can read and write arabic, But why cant i understand it.
    We get so caught up with the necessity to learn the language for trade, we leave behind the necessity to learn a language for the soul

    Reply
    • Zaineb

      I never knew that alottttt of muslims didn’t know how to speak any kind of Arabic at all. Now I feel lucky to know Maghrebi Arabic even though it’s not the Classical Arabic. I really like this article, it makes me feel special in a way some others may also feel. Alhamdulillah I know my true language and what it means. Thank you and I am Zaineb age 14 in high school

      Reply
      • Nour from Muslim Pro

        You are blessed, may Allah grant others the ability to learn and understand Arabic as well.

        Reply
        • Zalina

          I really want yo learn arabic language in writting & speaking

          Reply
        • Faizunmohammad

          Assalamualaikum.i want to learn and speak Arabic.

          Reply
      • Liaqat Shafiq

        May i also b learned

        Reply
    • Nour from Muslim Pro

      Dear Zahabia, the feeling is mutual. “We’re glad you enjoyed the article. Do share the article with your friends and family.

      Reply
  5. Zainab K

    Its summarised very well for any lay man to understand all about the language.

    Reply
    • Atinoaga Khalid Muhammad

      Maa Shaa Allah!! It’s a must read piece. Thanks

      Reply
  6. mustansir jhaveri

    Superb article, it touched my heart and resonated maybe with many people in this category.

    I’m sure modern humanity has faced similar challenges with all cross linguistic migrations which may have impacted culture, education, architecture even folk lores and re-telling of legends when retold without comprehension of the native language of origin.

    Reply
    • Nour from Muslim Pro

      “We’re glad you enjoy it. What other kind of content would you like to see more on our website? Your response is highly appreciated and we hope to create better content for our community” Do share the article with your friends and family.

      Reply
  7. Tasneem S Vajihi

    Loved your post and it is so true. Very well written. Got ne thinking too. I guess Allah understands basically the language of love and reverence.

    Reply
    • mohammedgous Bagban

      Masha Allah, very well said and inspiring too.

      Will try to learn the language In Shaa Allah.

      Reply
  8. Sakina Husain

    I love how you wrote that part on no language barriers. He listens despite all.
    And about the types of Arabi too. That’s so insightful!
    Such a nice read.

    Reply
  9. Insiya Murtaza Topiwala TOPIWALA

    Informative and thought-provoking. Well- written and organised. Love how your daughter ensued the quest for Arabic language.

    Reply
  10. Tasneem Zaveri

    V informativ and use ful thought.

    Reply
  11. Ali

    This is very true. Never thought about it before. Eye opener.

    Reply
    • Abdulkmalik P E Nkabu

      I am excited. Can’t believe I’m getting closer to learning Arabic. In fact, I have already given up hope of learning Arabic. I remember when I performed the Holy pilgrimage, I regretted not speaking Arabic language.

      Reply
  12. Tasneem

    Very interesting

    Reply
  13. Fatema Z

    Great content????Love your writing style

    Reply
  14. Abizer

    Great Writing!! Looking forward to more!! How do I subscribe to the Newsletter?!!

    Reply
  15. Abdul'Azeem

    May Allaah reward you abundantly for this beautiful write up. BarakaAllaahu fiiha!

    Reply
  16. Mohammad Mansoor

    Please help me to learn Emarati Arabic, I really want to learn Arabic language- it’s my dream

    Thanks

    Reply
  17. Mohammad Mansoor

    Please help me to learn Emarati Arabic, I really want to learn Arabic language- it’s my dream

    Thanks

    Cx

    Reply
  18. Gulnaz mughal

    Very interesting article. I was in Makkah waiting to do salah. I was reading the Quran. When I finished, the lady next to me started talking to me in Arabic. I said to her that I didn’t speak Arabic, so I don’t understand her. She we pointed at the Quran and said I was reading that. So why I didn’t understand. I didn’t know how to explain to her. Got me thinking

    Reply
  19. Aminah

    Great one may Allah make it easy can anyone please help with an app or group which teaches Arabic

    Reply
    • Imtiaz

      Salaams try Islam.ca they offer Arabic language courses. They teach the Marina books which is the easiest books to get started at a very reasonable fee.

      Reply
  20. Aliya Kamal

    How can I learn Arabic language easily ?are there any good apps fir Arabic learning

    Reply
  21. Reem

    Can you tell us which apps you used to learn the language. It will be helpful for us to learn too .

    Reply
  22. John G

    Ahumduillah. Perfectly articulated! Loved reading y’all’s journey!

    Reply
  23. Lisa Azam

    Subhan Allah
    Subhan Allah
    Subhan Allah

    Reply
  24. Zubedakhatun

    I want to learn Arabic.

    Reply
    • Md Rustam Ali.

      I want to learn Arabic.

      Reply
  25. Md rustam ali

    Mujhe bhi, Arabic sikhna h.

    Reply
  26. Alisha parvez

    i don’t understand Arabic ☹️ i want to learn Arabic

    Reply
  27. Syed

    I want to learn Arabic

    Reply
    • Binte nayeem

      Mujhe arabic sikhna hai

      Reply
  28. Ali Haider

    Mujhe bhi sikhna hai arabic

    Reply
  29. Binte nayeem

    I want to learn Arabic

    Reply
  30. Binte nayeem

    Mujhe arabic language nahi aati isliye my bhi sikhna cahati hon arabic language

    Reply
    • Sanover

      I want to speak Arabic language

      Reply
    • Bilal chauhan

      Mujhe arabic language nahi aati isliye my bhi sikhna cahata hon arabic language

      Reply
  31. Naynika Mateen

    Thanks

    Reply
  32. Asiya rashid

    Good

    Reply
  33. Asiya

    Good

    Reply
  34. Shaik Javeed

    Assalamualaikum warehmatullah

    Reply
  35. Mohammed aaqib

    I want to speak Arabia

    Reply

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