Inda Hanum Samsi, Summer 2009

Until Islam was established in the 7th century CE, Arabic was primarily an oral language. belongs to the Semitic language family constituting a subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic language family that includes Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, and Amharic. At the beginning of the Islamic period, only 2 sources available : the Quran & pre-Islamic poems.
◦ Both plays important roles in the standardization & development of the Arabic language.

written from right to left. Inflecting – ending of a noun changed depending on its case. It consists of 18 shapes, which—with the addition of dots above or below some of these shapes—results in 28 letters. Three letters are long vowels, and all the rest are consonants.

18 shapes, 28 letters.

Unlike most other languages, the core of the language, the grammar, they way it is written, most of the vocabulary, is the same as it was 1400 years ago. Arabic is unique in its efficiency and accuracy.
◦ For example, the word "they" in English does not tell you if "they" are males or females ◦ Light – 21 names. ◦ Year – 24 names. ◦ Rain – 64 names.

Many word for the same object.

Extraordinary precision.

◦ Different name for each hour of the day and night.

We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an in order that ye may learn wisdom (Al-Qur'an 12: 2).

The Qur’an is one of the oldest surviving documents written in Arabic. Arabs consider this form of Arabic—Classical Arabic—to be the purest and most beautiful form of the language. Inimitability
1. Inimitability of content 2. Inimitability of form – rhetoric and style

The messenger who was to announce this message was an Arab
◦ “And We did not send any Apostle but with the language of his people, so that he might explain to them clearly” (Qur’an 14:4) ◦ Had We sent this as a Qur'an (in a language) other than Arabic they could have said: Why are not its verses explained in etail? What! (a book) not in Arabic and (a messenger) an Arab? Say: It is a guide and a healing to those who believe ... (Al-Qur'an 41: 44).

The message had to be in a language understood by the audience to whom it was first addressed, i.e. the inhabitants of Makka and the surrounding areas.

Its efficiency and accuracy.

◦ And when he arrived at the watering (place) in Madyan, he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: "What is the matter with you?" They said: "We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take back (their flocks): And our father is a very old man." ◦ 28:23 - ‘qaalataa’ = the two women said.

Have they not travelled through the land, and have they hearts wherewith to understand and ears wherewith to hear? Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the chest that grow blind. (Quran 22:46) Qalb (plural = Quloob) Sadr (plural = sudoor)
◦ Qa-la-ba : to turn, turn side to side, upside down or around. ◦ Location of the qalb, the physical cavity or chest, the “holy seat.” ◦ At times translated as heart (center of feelings).

Say it is He Who has created you, and endowed you with hearing (ears), seeing (eyes), and hearts. Little thanks you give. (Al-Mulk: 23) Fuad (plural = af-idat)
◦ Most often used for feelings, emotions but also implies intellect.

The Cultural Atlas of Islam by Ismail Faruqi (Macmillan, 1986) The Magnificent Organ by Jeanette Abdullah (Olive Media Services, 2000) Various online articles and tafseer.