Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Ten Misconceptions About Islam: Misconception 4

Islam is well-suited only to the Arabs because:

    • most Muslims are Arabs
    • the Qur'an is in Arabic

The first reason for this misconception is far from the truth. Of the more than one billion Muslims around the world, only 18% are Arab. The most populous Muslim country in the world is Indonesia. The second most populous Muslim country is Bangladesh. Neither of these countries is Arab.

Islam is the fastest growing major religion in the world (Encyclopedia Britannica). It has adherents on all the populated continents, and is accessible to Arabs and non-Arabs alike. In the United States, Muslims are expected to become the largest religious minority around the turn of the century, outstripping the Jews.

The universal appeal of Islam to Arabs and non-Arabs comes in spite of the Qur'an being in Arabic. Allah states in the Qur'an that this way of life called Islam is for all people (translation follows),

[21:107] And We (Allah) have not sent you (Muhammad) but as a mercy to the worlds.

[34:28] We have not sent you but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not.

Moreover, the Creator does not use the color or mother tongue of people to judge them, be they Arab or not. Instead, it is the level of their awareness of Allah which is the criterion,

[49:13] O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)."

The choice of Arabic as the language of the Qur'an is explained very simply and clearly (translation follows),

[41:44] And if We (Allah) had made it a Qur'an in a foreign tongue, they would certainly have said: "Why have not its communications been made clear? What! a foreign (tongue) and an Arab!" Say: It is, to those who believe, a guidance and a healing; and (as for) those who do not believe, there is a heaviness in their ears and it is obscure to them; these shall be called to from a far-off place.

However, it is also important to emphasize that the Qur'an in its revealed form in Arabic is the literal Word of the Creator - but any translation is not. Each translation is more accurately called a translation of an interpretation, for every translator includes his or her own bias.

1 comment:

Yasmeen said...

May Allah guide everyone.