Answered by: Maulana Yusuf Zaman
Why was the Qur’an revealed in Arabic?
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
The first and the perhaps most obvious reason is already referred to in the Qur’an, namely that because the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) who was to announce this message was an Arab, it is only natural that the message be announced in his language:
وَلَوۡ جَعَلۡنَـٰهُ قُرۡءَانًا أَعۡجَمِيًّ۬ا لَّقَالُواْ لَوۡلَا فُصِّلَتۡ ءَايَـٰتُهُ ۥۤۖ ءَا۠عۡجَمِىٌّ۬ وَعَرَبِىٌّ۬ۗ قُلۡ هُوَ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ هُدً۬ى وَشِفَآءٌ۬ۖ وَٱلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ فِىٓ ءَاذَانِهِمۡ وَقۡرٌ۬ وَهُوَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ عَمًىۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ يُنَادَوۡنَ مِن مَّكَانِۭ بَعِيدٍ۬
And if We had sent this as a Qur’an in a foreign language (other than Arabic), they would have said: “Why are not its Verses explained in detail (in our language)? What! (A Book) not in Arabic and (the Messenger) an Arab?” Say: “It is for those who believe, a guide and a healing. And as for those who disbelieve, there is heaviness (deafness) in their ears, and it (the Qur’an) is blindness for them. They are those who are called from a place far away (so they neither listen nor understand). [41:44]
Another important reason concerns the audience, which was to receive the message. The message had to be in a language understood by the audience to whom it was first addressed, i.e. the inhabitants of Makkah and the surrounding areas:
وَكَذَٲلِكَ أَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَيۡكَ قُرۡءَانًا عَرَبِيًّ۬ا لِّتُنذِرَ أُمَّ ٱلۡقُرَىٰ وَمَنۡ حَوۡلَهَا وَتُنذِرَ يَوۡمَ ٱلۡجَمۡعِ لَا رَيۡبَ فِيهِۚ فَرِيقٌ۬ فِى ٱلۡجَنَّةِ وَفَرِيقٌ۬ فِى ٱلسَّعِيرِ
And thus We have revealed unto you (O Muhammad SAW) a Qur’an in Arabic that you may warn the Mother of the Towns (Makkah) and all around it. and warn (them) of the Day of Assembling, of which there is no doubt, when a party will be in Paradise (those who believed in Allah and followed what Allah’s Messenger SAW brought them) and a party in the blazing Fire (Hell) [42:7]
The Qur’an contains revelation from Allah and the true nature of revelation is to guide mankind from darkness to light:
الٓرۚ ڪِتَـٰبٌ أَنزَلۡنَـٰهُ إِلَيۡكَ لِتُخۡرِجَ ٱلنَّاسَ مِنَ ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتِ إِلَى ٱلنُّورِ بِإِذۡنِ رَبِّهِمۡ إِلَىٰ صِرَٲطِ ٱلۡعَزِيزِ ٱلۡحَمِيدِ (This is) a Book which We have revealed unto you (O Muhammad SAW) in order that you might lead mankind out of darkness (of disbelief and polytheism) into light (of belief in the Oneness of Allâh and Islâmic Monotheism) by their Lord’s Leave to the Path of the All-Mighty, the Owner of all Praise. [14:1]
The revelation came in the language of the Messenger and his people in order that it might be understood:
إِنَّا جَعَلۡنَـٰهُ قُرۡءَٲنًا عَرَبِيًّ۬ا لَّعَلَّڪُمۡ تَعۡقِلُونَ
Verily, we have made it a Qur’an in Arabic, that you may be able to understand (its meanings and its admonitions).
In the process of understanding a message two steps are essential:
- To receive the message correctly and completely, in this case, to receive its words correctly and completely.
- To ‘decode’ it, to grasp the meanings of the message received.
Only the combination of the two elements, i.e. reception and decoding leads to a proper understanding of the message.
It is not correct to assume that understanding the Qur’an in order to take guidance from it depends upon direct knowledge of the Arabic language since there are numerous Arabic speaking people who do not understand the message of the Qur’an. Rather the Qur’an tells us that right guidance comes only from Allah:
‘This is the Guidance of Allah with which He guides whomsoever He will of His slaves….’ [6:88]
However, to understand the language of the Qur’an is a pre-requisite to fully grasp its meanings.
Only Allah Knows Best
Written by Maulana Yusuf Zaman
Checked and Approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham.