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Islam and Pluralism (09 Feb 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Arabic Imperialism Vs. Islamic Pluralism: Has The Time Come For Islam To Go Local?

By Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam

9 Feb 2019

A Turkish lawmaker, Öztürk Yılmaz, has proposed that the Muslims in Turkey be called to prayer in Turkish, and not Arabic. His Republican People’s Party threw him out for the demand, though when the party, which now leads the Opposition, was in power, the azaan was in Turkish.

Not just azaan, even namaz was offered in Turkish during 1932-1950. But the Arab colonisation of Muslim minds was so comprehensive that it was a very unpopular decision, and was rolled back when the party lost the election in 1950.

The first time prayers were said in Turkish in an Istanbul mosque was on 19 March, 1926 — the first Friday of Ramzan that year. Cemaleddin Efendi, who was leading the prayer, noticed that most of the people left without completing their prayers.

The issue of prayers in local languages came up the moment Islam crossed the Arabian Peninsula into the Sasanian Empire. In the second half of the seventh century CE, Islam was spreading in what is today Iran and the proud Persians asked for prayers in their language.

Language Barrier

This was fair and in consonance with instructions in the Quran that prayers be said in the language people understood. The Quran says god’s messengers went to different parts of the world, conveying His message in local languages. God showed no preference for Arab hegemony. Jurists, too, weighed in. Imam Mālik ibn Anas, Imam Muhammad al-Shāfi’ī, and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, all Arab jurists, opposed the idea.

A senior jurist of Persian origin, Imam Abu Hanifa, the founder of Hanafi jurisprudence, favoured the change but several of his followers didn’t agree with him.

Officially adopted by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century, the Hanafi School is followed by many in West Asia, South Asia and the Far East. And yet, the idea of prayers in local languages has not taken off.

The push for languages arose from two sources: a pride in local culture and a desire to have a closer connection to god.

Not only god in the Quran, even Prophet Mohammad in his final sermon made clear that the Arabs don’t have superiority over others.

But the Arabs, who used Arabic to further imperialistic ambitions, have not only sought to impose the language but also their dress code, architecture and other cultural identity-markers. The result is that some of the respected clerics in India feel honoured to call themselves slaves (Ghulam) and even dogs (Kalb) of Arab spiritual masters.

Talk To Me

Does this mean that Islam does not have a regional colour? No. Indian Islam has features that the Arabs would not be able to identify with. For instance, our caste-system, the practice of dowry and married women wearing sindoor and bindi. But clerics have made every effort to obscure the syncretism of Indian Islam.

The word used for worship in the translation of the Quran by Shah Rafiuddin is pūjnā, associated with the Hindu ritual. In the 18th century, both the indigenous pūjā and the Arabic ibādā were permissible substitutes. It was only a century later, when the boundaries of Muslim identity began to tighten, that the Arabic word became mandatory.

The world’s largest movement for preaching Islamic uniformity and exclusivism, Tablighi Jamaat, was started by Deobandi scholar Maulana Ilyas Kandhlawi in 1927 after he noticed that Muslims in Mewat continued to be well integrated with their original Hindu culture.

Tablighi efforts have been aided by an injection of Saudi petrodollars. The familiar Muslim greeting of Khuda Hafiz is now Allah Hafiz. It is no longer unusual to see a Muslim woman in a hijab or a man dressed in an abaya or sporting a keffiyeh. It’s all right in West Asia, where these clothes protect from sun, dust and sandstorms, but in Kolkata, Jakarta, London, Paris or Boston? It is nothing but a sign of a colonised Muslim mind.

Transition to local languages has not been easy for other religions too. A certain holiness does attach itself to some languages. Vedic Sanskrit, for instance, is sacred for Hindus, Hebrew for Jews. Christianity’s struggle to retain the Bible in Latin and Greek was intense and bloody, with a powerful Church putting up a stiff resistance. Eventually, the Bible did speak to the people in their language.

The Ulema in India refuse to accept as Quran an Urdu or English translation of the holy book. Mosques, too, do not display translated copies of the Quran, but in Europe and the US they do. In fact, much of Islamic literature is now easily available in translation on the Net.

In South Asia, there has never been a call for azaan or namaz in local languages. How can Muslims come close to Allah if they don’t understand the language they are praying in? Maybe the debate in Turkey will open our hearts and minds.

Sultan Shahin is the founder-editor of a Delhi-based progressive Islamic website, NewAgeIslam.com

Note: This article first appeared in the Print edition of the weekly Firstpost, New Delhi on February 9, 2019.

Source: firstpost.com/india/time-may-have-come-for-islam-to-go-local-6048201.html

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-pluralism/sultan-shahin,-founder-editor,-new-age-islam/arabic-imperialism-vs-islamic-pluralism--has-the-time-come-for-islam-to-go-local?/d/117702

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  • Quran was revealed in Arabic language,so there it will stay till the end of the world.
    However,time and again holy Quran commands to understand and learn the holy book which is an indication that we should have it translated into our local languages for a better understanding and grasp of the subject.
    Moreover,we should understand that Prophet Mohammed (PBOH) was made a prophet for all and book revealed on him ,a guide for the entire humanity till the last day.How this obligation can take shape unless we have the holy book translated in all the local languages.
    By Akhtar HUssain - 3/8/2019 4:52:26 AM

  • This is what your problem. Some one is learning in its own. Why you want push Arabic. God is inside everyoneheart and created crores and crores of different forms of life.
    By Padmanaban Desikachari - 3/8/2019 4:51:48 AM

  • Laxmi Narayan Tiku Reading in mother language is must,otherwise how a person will what Allah and Prophet Muhammad pbuh told to us.I support and agree. Muslims sect.distributed due to this reason only.Dont understand what Quran is telling.
    By Abu Basim Khan - 3/8/2019 4:51:20 AM

  • Abu Basim Khan , reading or learning Arabic is no problem for anybody . But, if Hadith Quran nd prayer are read in native language it will be better as the native language as one is at home in his native language.
    By Laxmi Narayan Tiku - 3/8/2019 4:50:59 AM

  • When a person can learn English, Hindi,sanskrit, French and German then why not Arabic. Arabic is more easy compare to Sanskrit, French, English and German. Secondary Quran, Hadith and prayers (Namaz, Duayen) all are in several languages of the world. This post incite,and Provoke Muslims to leave and withdraw Arabic from Muslims life. Don't compare Quran with other religious books.New Age Islam articles and post always u will find anti Islam.He misguide to true Muslims.
    By Abu Basim Khan - 3/8/2019 4:50:14 AM

  • It is just like the Ariyan and Sanskrit imperialism in Hindu religion. In Tamil Nadu it has been fought from 1930s.
    By த.க. நிதி - 3/5/2019 8:35:24 AM

  • Everything you should carry for humanity and human basic rights by forgiveness and mercy to truly repent in Mankind. But it's should hijack oneself to madness or sickness Ideologies against humanity and human basic rights in any faith's or sect's or Institutions of life and living in Nation's societies or families to be broken or communal to spoil peace and harmony of any ?
    By Bahuleyan Kumar - 3/5/2019 8:34:21 AM

  • @Muhammed Kalam Khan आपने चौपाई दोहे में अनुवाद किया है?
    तुलसी दास के पहले इस रूप में जायसी ने अपने काव्य को रचा था।
    By Sachidanand Singh - 3/5/2019 8:33:25 AM

  • Let us talk about our country India .
    Hindi is our national & most popular language . Every body understands atleast this language. & Holy Ram charit manas ( Ramayana) is most popular epic among us . So we need to spread Holy Quran in lyrical "CHOUPAEE " form .
    I m sending a translated its form daily as " Allah ki kitab ".- Quran .
    It needs your mind . Sir .
    By Muhammed Kalam Khan - 3/5/2019 8:20:36 AM

  • @Laxmi Narayan Tiku But Pandits still chant marriage shlok as in sanskruti, though mostly wrongly as Pandits are half literates.
    By Kps Verma - 3/3/2019 6:29:28 AM

  • Yes , our granths were. Written in sanaskrit. But, we did not hesitate to adopt our bhagwat Geeta or Ramayna in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil etc.we fo our prayers in local languages in temples .
    By Laxmi Narayan Tiku - 3/3/2019 5:47:20 AM

  • Islamise or kill is noble work target of quran
    By Ramchandra Joshi - 3/3/2019 5:46:52 AM

  • Thousands of Muslim scholars spent whole life on Islamic theories and explanations , like Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Malik , Ibn e Rushd, Imam Ghazali, and this paid agent of Jews discussing it on face book.
    Lakhs of Books are available and this guy, selling pulp fiction
    By Manzar Khan - 3/3/2019 5:43:02 AM

  • @KN Narayanan no worry. I simply said it too serious to be discussed on fb. If you are too eager we can discuss it separately.
    By Jamil Ahmad - 3/3/2019 5:42:34 AM

  • @Jamil Ahmad Why ? Let ' m discuss .why worry
    By KN Narayanan - 3/3/2019 5:41:56 AM

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