To this question, I think that most people would answer that stating the fact that it is because Arabic was the language that prophet Muhammad spoke and understood. Although I do not challenge that answer, in my opinion we can go a bit further. Being a revelation destined for the whole mankind, I think that it is legitimate to think that there’s probably something special about Arabic language that has allowed it to be the one God chose. And to try to prove that I would like to invite you to come with me. If you accept, we’ll both be following the second ayat of chapter 12 – Indeed, We have revealed it as an Arabic Qur’an that you might understand.
For those not familiar with Arabic language, it helps to know that the word Qur’an is one of several words derived from the root قرا (qr’). The first of the root’s meanings to which we’ll be looking at is to collect together, part by part, that shows us the Qur’an as a collection of parts, of distinct elements that were drawn together thus giving origin to a book. But imagine we would like to add some details to this rather simplistic assumption…
We’ll pour in more detail by calling to our presence Latin word colligo (with which English collect and collection are kindred), that means to gather or collect together into a whole, to assemble; being used, for example, in military language, to describe the assemble of an army. But the most interesting of its meanings comes through one of its metaphorical uses, where we find colligo meaning to put together in the mind, to think upon. Don’t you agree that this adds to a better understanding of what it means to consider the Qur’an as a collection of parts? It allows you to still see the Holy Book Qur’an as a surface upon which are gathered the ayat and the chapters, but it also impels you to consider the need to have those parts collected in your mind through reasoning.
We’ll now turn to the other root meaning that we have to ponder on to read.
What does reading has to do with collecting together separated parts? The answer seems easy… When one reads he brings together not only the letters, but also the words as well as the sentences into a whole. But again, let us try to have more details… Take Latin verb lego: bringing, gathering, collecting together, in general used as referring, for instance, to the gathering of fruits or flowers, which added colligo the notion of taking, picking out. In other words, this collecting together by picking out leads to the idea of extraction, removing.
Let me assume that you have already picked up fruits from a tree… If you have, you know that you don’t pick indiscriminately as you would if your eyes were closed or blindfolded, and all you had to do was to grasp your hands at the fruits. When you collect a fruit from its tree, you do choose what you pick it out, that is, you select the one that’s most appealing to you. In other words, when you remove a fruit from a tree, you are taking the one you’ve chosen from amongst all the other hanging on the tree.
Now, besides this, lego means to read, which is quite curious, as it gives us permission not only to look at the act of reading as the collecting of letters and words together, but also to see in that act a means of having selected parts to compose a whole.
Let us now bring the Qur’an… When you read the Qur’an beginning in one chapter till its end, you are making use of a collection that has been organized, collected, after its revelation. But, why not trying to select parts, separated ayat, and then try to bring them together with the help of your faculties? You just have to grasp what you’ve selected and have them collected in your intellect through reasoning. Who knows… maybe you’ll see each separated ayat as a pierced pearl through which it is possible to pass a thread thus making a necklace… the thread being your understanding of the selection you’ve made…
In the second part of this article we’ll be analyzing the root of the Arabic language itself, عرب (‘rb).
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