Why Is the Quran in Arabic?

The Quran is in Arabic because the final messenger chosen to guide humanity spoke the language.  The language sounds beautiful so people are attracted to it.  Arabic’s development meant that when the Quran was revealed, the final message could be delivered properly. Its brevity, eloquence, depth of meaning and understanding are truly things to be marveled at.

What is the Quran?

The literal meaning of Quran is ‘the recitation’.  The Quran is only in Arabic, although it has been translated into almost every other language on earth.  But the translation is not the same as the original. 

Quran in Arabic text

Previous Holy books were also revealed in the language of their own peoples and because the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was chosen as the final Messenger for all peoples and who was an Arab, the final revelation was sent down in his spoken tongue.

‘Indeed, We have made it an Arabic Quran that you might understand.’ Quran 43:3

Previous scriptures have come in different languages.

The oneness of God has come in many languages before.  The Quran is the final message and so was revealed to a people who appreciated and excelled in the subtlety of language itself.  These people didn’t have much to be proud of except their language. 

Arabic society pre Islam held poets and orators in high esteem due to their sermons and eloquent speeches and poems.  Allah prepared these people to receive the fluency and eloquence of the Quran which would take them to far distant lands where in terms of grammar, excellence and succinctness, it would be unsurpassed.

The Arabic language is very rich in grammar and meanings more so than any other language.  Its precision and nuances are hard to find in almost any other language in the world.

It’s interesting to note that the majority of the famous classical Islamic works done in the Arabic language have been written by non Arabs, which shows the dramatic and wide ranging reach of the language itself, where it isn’t because of the Arabic people that the Quran was revealed, but the supremacy of the language itself that the Creator chose His Word to be revealed in.

Why wasn’t the Quran revealed in other languages?

No matter how many languages the Quran is revealed in, the peoples of other languages would be likely to complain as to why it wasn’t revealed in their own language.

It also makes sense to provide a clear message and instruction in one language as revealing it in many languages could lead to more division within the Ummah (nation) and there could be disagreements and conflicts arising from this alone – i.e. ‘our Quran is better than yours’.

The universality of the Quran and Islam means it has to be in one language, with one message.  If you were to travel to another country and stood up to join a congregational prayer led by a person praying the Quran in a completely different language, this would affect your understanding, concentration and devotion in your own prayer. 

And could you do this in so many different languages present in the world?  This would diminish the brotherhood and unifying aspect of the religion.  So when reading the Quran and Salah in Arabic, you only have to learn one language and not so many others.  Surely it is easier to learn and master just one language.

One of the greatest aspects of having the complete religion revealed in just one language is when travelling to a foreign country where you feel lonely and isolated, not knowing the local lingo, then you find a masjid and start praying familiar words in a familiar language, you feel part of a family, even though you possibly don’t know anyone else in that place of worship.  The Quran makes us feel at home when its recited, no matter where we are.

Does the Quran always have to be in Arabic?

According to Islamic theology, the Quran is a revelation very specifically in Arabic, and so it should only be recited in Quranic Arabic. Translations into other languages are necessarily the work of humans and so, according to Muslims, no longer possess the uniquely sacred character of the Arabic original.

Why were the Arabs chosen for the Quran? 

The Arabian Peninsula was surrounded by other civilisations who considered themselves great and advanced, having their own principles.  The principles of Islam were to outshine and overtake these principles and He, therefore, used an illiterate and nomadic people. 

A Bedouin nation that moved around not having one law to govern that land, this same nation of Arabs amazed the other empires with a set of established laws, having no such system that could be called developing, never mind advanced.  The Arabs were chosen so people would know it is a mission from the One true Lord.  

The Prophet (SAW) will invite his own people, the Arab nation, first to the Oneness of Allah, and so needs a miracle that proves he is truly conveying a message from Allah.  And this miracle has to challenge people in a field that they already excel in.  If they were challenged in a field that they have no experience in or any connection with, they would not have the value or awe of that subject and would not be impressed with that miracle. 

This was the same way for all the Messengers, they came with miracles in their peoples’ fields that they excelled at.  So Allah made it a Quran in Arabic to establish proof.

The beauty of Arabic and other Semitic languages

Arabic, like other Semitic languages, such as Hebrew and Aramaic uses the basic root to construct a word. So a pattern of three letters will form the basis of words.  The root of a word may therefore contain a meaning that could take a few sentences to translate but the benefit of this is that the language is then able to convey a depth of meaning and emotion many other languages aren’t capable of in such short succinct words.

The root letters of the word Quran in Arabic are Q R A which means to read or to recite. From this can be derived the words:

Quri’ a is recited
Yaqrauna (have been) reading
Qarata You recite
Iqra Read (command)
Naqra-uhu We could read it

And there are many more words that are derived from this root.

As can be seen from the above points, there are many reasons why Arabic was chosen as the language of the Quran.