Sketching Islamic Linguistics

Sketching Islamic Linguistics

 

Bismillahirahmaaniraheem

 

Dear reader, please read with your mind alert. If you’re Muslim, please pray to Allah for his help.


What is Islamic linguistics?

When you see “Bismillahirahmaaniraheem” in the front section of a book or on a wedding invitation, its an islamic use of language, so in my opinion its an example of applied Islamic linguistics.

Many people would call it something that Muslims do. Yes, we do. From a regular perspective, its just something that Muslims do. For a student of language usage, its an Islamic linguistic act.

When a believer says “Assalaamu alaykum” its Islamic and at the same time, its a linguistic prescription. Therefore, I believe its an Islamic linguistic prescription.

 

The Limits of the Sketch

The limits of Islamic linguistics are probably beyond what you can imagine. Try to visualise the mountains singing the praises of Allah along with David, and try to imagine the beauty of his voice.

Imagine a bird chatting with Solomon. The limits of the Islamic study of language are known only to the Almighty. He created languages and He knows best about them.

Noble reader, let us praise and thank Allah for blessing us with the stories of these two great men and their miraculous relationships with the natural world. Glory be to Allah, the Exalted, the Holy.

Let us remember that they were grateful to Allah for these favours, not proud. They knew that the relationship to nature is only a way of relating to Allah, and that it is not, in itself, either an original cause or a final result.

Imagine Jesus giving advice to his mother, the noble Mary. The Qur’an is a book of truth, and so with certainty in its truth, we can imagine or visualise the stories in the Qur’an. Let us praise Allah again!

What about the Day of Judgement: nobody will speak except for whom Allah permits. Glory be to Allah, Master of The Day of Judgement.

This gives us another limit. It is a limit of human speech, that we cannot speak except with Allah’s permission.

Within The Limits

If the above are some of the limits of the sketch, then what is within the limits? The centre of the sketch would seem to be our own daily lives and the language that we use in them, because I find that Islam is for the believing human being and Islam is not difficult or occult or highly theoretical; it is quite practical and the user is the believer.

This area of the sketch, the area within the limits, may be divided into further subdivisions. I choose to categorise them as: acquiring language, using language, and I suppose we should recognise losing language, although it seems that its not as interesting as a subject of study, compared to acquisition.

Knowledge of Language

Allah has blessed us with language and the evidence for this is in the Qur’an. The verses of the Qur’an show that we know language from an innate process. The fact that Jesus spoke as a baby also confirms that Allah is the creator of language and that it is innate.

The believer will have a certain amount of natural speech ability, and then he or she must work to improve upon that. Moses is a good example for us. A man of great faith, he called on his Lord for help when he felt insecure about his own linguistic skills (20:25-28).

I see the Qur’an that Allah may improve us through inspiration ot through teaching. Perhaps there are other ways as well. There probably are. Allah knows best. I don’t know much.

I want to make it clear again, that this essay is a short note, not a complete thesis. I think the qur’an has more about language than what I’ve mentioned so please don’t take this work as any kind of compendium.

Uses of Language

I think this area requires research and discussion, so that we can observe and describe our our speech, as believers who are targetting Allah’s pleasure. There are many books already about speaking to win the pleasure of Allah. I don’t know the names of their titles. I recommend the reader to find them and read them, though. I think they usually mention speaking with honesty, sincerity, clarity, beauty, and in a way that benefits people.

Then we have speaking to Allah through prayer, repentance, and seeking refuge. This is clearly different from the speech that we direct at other human beings.

Humility and submission would appear to be at the heart of this kind speech. Again, Allah knows best. I suggest the Qur’an as the reference; I don’t claim full knowledge of the subject.

As for the speech which we direct at other human beings, I’ve found many practical linguistic commands in the Qur’an. The following list is just what I remember at the moment.

I don’t know if a systematic description of all relevant verses, listed with extensive detail of theory and technique would be ideal for perfecting your speech or understanding languages.

That may be too technical. I find that experience is a good teacher, together with a complement of prayer before speaking, some rehearsal, some repentance, and getting feedback from those who hear you speak.

I think that short books are often more useful than long ones, and in this matter, a huge directory may do more harm than good because speech is not an isolated matter – it is always connected to and coloured by the message that is to be communicated, the audience, your natural abilities, the social environment you are in, and so forth.

Part of the beauty of the Qur’an is its simplicity and another part is the applicability. I think that if we take a too librarianistic approach to language, we may end up with a worse result than a diligent student who reads the Qur’an regularly, leads a right life, and acts as he is commanded to act. Allah knows best.

Examples of speech injunctions are: the command to say that which is good (17:53), the command to say what conforms with your behaviour (61:1-2), and many direct commands to speak, which are found throughout the Qur’an and begin with the Arabic word “Qul”.

The example of a good word, found in Surah 14, is a linguistic precept. The example of a good word is that of a good tree: it gives its fruit again and again.

Noble reader, please assist. Allah is the One who rewards. He will know it if your tongue moves to announce a single word with the intention of pleasing Him, or a whole sentence, or more than that or less. Praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Please forgive me if there are any errors. All goodness is from Allah.

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Language Acquisition By Jesus

Peace be with you.

INTRODUCTION

I testify that God is real and is worthy of worship. I testify to the Qur’an as the word of God and Muhammad as one of his messengers.

The miracles of Jesus were carried out according to the Will of God. It is not an obligation on God to repeat them.

God does guarantee, however, that anyone who is genuinely seeking evidence for his existence will be granted clear proofs. That is an aspect of divine justice.

The Qur’an is a ‘Book of Signs’. If you are sincere, it will provide you all the evidence you need in order to know that God is true and Jesus spoke in the cradle.

LANGUAGE ACQUISITION IS IN GOD’S HANDS

God has explained to us his teaching Adam the names of objects. God Almighty is responsible for language acquisition:

002.029 It is He Who hath created for you all things that are on earth; Then He turned to the heaven and made them into seven firmaments; and of all things He hath perfect knowledge.

002.030 Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth.” They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thee?” He said: “I know what ye know not.”

002.031 And He taught Adam the names of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: “Tell me the names of these if ye are right.”

002.032 They said: “Glory to Thee, of knowledge we have none, save what Thou Hast taught us: In truth it is Thou Who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom.”

002.033 He said: “O Adam! Tell them their names.” When he had told them their names, God said: “Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and I know what ye reveal and what ye conceal?”

The above selection from chapter 2 of the Qur’an is evidence that God is the one who gave us recognition of objects.

Boundaries

The revelations of God have come for our benefit. They are the truth and they are a clear explanation.

The Noble Qur’an relates the story of language acquisition of a purified man, Jesus Christ. God taught him to speak from the instant of his birth.

16. Relate in the Book the story of Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.
17. She placed a screen to screen herself from them: then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.
18. She said: “I seek refuge from thee to The Most Gracious: come not near if you do fear God.”
19. He said: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord to announce to thee the gift of a holy son.”
20. She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?”
21. He said: “So! Your Lord says `That is easy for Me: and We wish to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: it is a matter decreed.”
22. So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.
23. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried in her anguish: “Ah! would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!”
24. But a voice cried to her from beneath: “Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee;
25. “And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.
26. “So eat and drink and cool your eye. And if you do see any man say `I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.’ “
27. At length she brought the babe to her people, carrying him. They said: “O Mary! truly an amazing thing you have brought!
28. “O sister of Aaron! Your father was not a man of evil, nor your mother a woman unchaste!”
29. But she pointed to the babe. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?”
30. He said: “I am indeed a servant of God: He has given me revelation and made me a prophet;
31. “And He has made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;
32. “He has made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable;
33. “So Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die and the day that I shall be raised up to life again!”
34. Such was Jesus the son of Mary: it is a statement of truth, about which they dispute.

Let’s celebrate this information. If you don’t believe in the Qur’an, then I ask you to bring forward your evidence to refute it if you can.

We know that language acquisition is organised by the Creator of the Universe. It follows that we must organise our linguistic theories and our language pedagogy in alignment with divine will.

Abdullah Reed

Bogor, Indonesia, 1432 H

Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.
17. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.
18. She said: “I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah.”
19. He said: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.”
20. She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?”
21. He said: “So (it will be): thy Lord saith `That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: it is a matter (so) decreed.”
22. So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.
23. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish): “Ah! would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!”
24. But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-free): “Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee;
25. “And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.
26. “So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man say `I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.’ “
27. At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). they said: “O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!
28. “O sister of Aaron! thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!”
29. But she pointed to the babe. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?”
30. He said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;
31. “And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;
32. “(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable;
33. “So Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”!
34. Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute.