Friday, 20 February 2015


Arabic languages are Central Semitic languages, most closely related to Aramaic, Hebrew, Ugaritic and Phoenician. Semitic languages are the historical socio-linguistics medium of expression of earlier human creatures of the Supreme Being, Almighty Allah (SW). For instance, Prophet Moses spoke Hebrew, Prophet Jesus spoke Aramaic and Prophet Muhammed spoke Arabic (peace and blessing of Allah be upon them all). This explains why the word “Peace” in English Language translated to “Shalom” in Hebrew, “Salem” in Aramaic and “Salam” in Arabic. With the subsequent adoption of colonialists’ Latin language which later metamorphosed to English, French among others by Christianity, Aramaic and Hebrew become less common in patronage while Aramaic, the original language of Jesus Christ (peace of Allah be upon him), is near extinction now.

On the other hand, Arabic enjoys official patronage of more than 300 million speakers and over 1.5 billion unofficial speakers both among Muslims, Jews and Christians etc. It is noteworthy to state authoritatively that Arabic is the second official language in Israel today apart from Hebrew and it is widely and officially spoken by both Christians and Muslims in Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem for religious and other mundane activities. No wonder, Coptic Christians’ (including Christians in Nazareth, Syria, Jordan) Bibles are written in Arabic language.

Today, Arabic language is one of the official languages of United Nation (UN) as well as UNESCO. On 18 December 1973, General Assembly UN resolution 3190 (XXVIII) decided to include Arabic as an official language and a working language of the General Assembly and its Main Committees. Other official languages of UN are Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Again, in 1948, the 3rd General Conference of UNESCO held in Beirut (Lebanon), declared that Arabic, in addition to English and French, will become the third working language of the governing bodies meeting in an Arabic-speaking country. From that moment, the desire to provide visibility for the other four languages ​​is expressed by assuring the translation, as well as printing and distribution of documents, books and other UNESCO publications deemed particularly important for this purpose. At the 7th session of the Executive Council, the participants concede that Arabic could be used to provide interpretation at meetings and translation of periodicals and major working documents, since the Arabic language is shared by a large number of Member States.

What is remarkable, for instance, is that for over 700 years the international language of science, technology and civilization was Arabic. More surprising, maybe, is the fact that one of the most fertile periods of scholarship and scientific progress in history would not have taken place without the spread of Islam (and subsequently Arabic Language) across the Middle East, Persia, North Africa and Spain. Many of the achievements of Arabic science often come as a surprise. For instance, while no one can doubt the genius of Copernicus and his heliocentric model of the solar system in heralding the age of modern astronomy, it is not commonly known that he relied on work carried out by Arab astronomers many centuries earlier. Many of his diagrams and calculations were taken from manuscripts of the 14th-century Syrian astronomer Ibn al-Shatir. Why is he never mentioned in our textbooks? Likewise, we are taught that English physician William Harvey was the first to correctly describe blood circulation in 1616. He was not. The first to give the correct description was the 13th-century Andalucian physician Ibn al-Nafees (Source:).

More equally important and historically unique is the fact that Arabic was the official language in Yorubaland, Hausaland, Western and Northern Africa before the advent of colonial imperialism and missionary. Detail evidence shall, Insha Allah, be provided in the next article…….(to be continued)

[1] History of the Arabic language at UNESCO. Available online at

[2] Wikipedia on Arabic language

[3] Official Languages of the United Nations. Available online at

[4] Arab News – 31.01.2008; Author: Al Khalili was a professor of Physics at University of Surrey, UK and recipient of Royal Society’s Michael Faraday Prize in 2007

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