Shedding light on the claim of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas with regard to his knowledge of the Arabic language, this series of articles seeks to answer major allegations raised against the Promised Messiah’sas use of Arabic phrases, his God-given eloquence and his command over the language and the usage of sentences taken from past literature.
Muhammad Tahir Nadeem, Central Arabic Desk
Decisive statement of the Promised Messiahas about the eloquence of the Arabic language
A question is raised on the eloquence of the Arabic language as to what is meant by it. The Promised Messiahas has presented a very comprehensive explanation in this regard.
An opponent objected that there were non-Arabic words in the Holy Quran. Responding to this, the Promised Messiahas stated a key point about the eloquence of the Arabic language which even the present scholars are compelled to accept. This very point is extremely important for understanding the reality of Arabic eloquence. The Promised Messiahas said:
وَأَمَّا مَا ظَنَنْتَ أَنَّ فِي القُرْآنِ بَعْضَ أَلْفاظ غَيْر لِسانِ قُرَيْشٍ، فَقَدْ قُلتَ هَذَا اللَّفْظَ مِنْ جَهِلٍ وَطَيْشٍ، وَمَا كُنْتَ مِنْ المُتَبَصِّرينَ. أَيُّهَا الغَبيُّ وَاَلْجَهولُ الدَّنيُّ، إِنَّ مَدارَ الفَصاحَةِ عَلَى أَلْفاظٍ مَقْبولَةٍ سَواءً كَانَتْ مِنْ لِسانِ القَوْمِ أَوْ مِنْ كَلِمٍ مَنْقولَةٍ مُسْتَعْمَلَةٍ فِي بُلَغاءِ القَوْمِ غَيْرِ مَجْهولَةٍ، وَسَوَاءً كَانَتْ مِنْ لُغَةِ قَوْمٍ واحِدٍ وَمِن مُحاوَراتِهِمْ عَلَى الدَّوَامِ، أَوْ خَالَطَهَا أَلْفاظٌ اسْتِحْلَاهَا بُلَغاءُ القَوْمِ، وَاسْتَعْمَلُوهَا فِي النَّظمِ والنَّثْرِ مِنْ غَيْرِ مَخافَةِ اللَّوْمِ، مُخْتَارِينَ غَيْر مُضْطَرِّينَ. فَلَمَّا كَانَ مَدارُ البَلاغَةِ عَلَى هَذِهِ القاعِدَةِ فَهَذَا هوَ مِعْيارُ الكَلِماتِ الصّاعِدَةِ فِي سَماءِ البَلاغَةِ الراعِدَةِ، فَلَا حَرَجَ أَنْ يَكونَ لَفْظٌ مِنْ غَيْرِ اللِّسانِ مَقْبُولًا فِي أَهْلِ البَيانِ، بَلْ رُبَّمَا يَزيدُ البَلاغَةَ مِنْ هَذَا النَّهْجِ فِي بَعْضِ الأَوْقَاتِ، بَلْ يَسْتَمْلِحُونَهُ فِي بَعْضِ المقاماتِ، وَيَتَلَذَّذونَ بِهِ أَهْلُ الأَفانينِ. وَلَكِنَّكَ رَجُلٌ غَمْرٌ جَهولٌ، وَمَعَ ذَلِكَ مُعَانِدٌ وَعُجولٌ، فَلِأَجْلِ ذَلِكَ مَا تَعْلَمُ شَيْئًا غَيْرَ حِقْدِكَ وَجَهْلِكَ، وَمَا تَضَعُ قَدَمًا إِلَّا فِي دَحْلِكَ، وَلَا تَدْرِي مَا لِسانُ العَرَبِ وَمَا الفَصاحَةُ، وَلَا تَصْدُرُ مِنْكَ إِلَّا الوَقاحَةُ، وَمَا لُقّنتَ إِلَّا سَبَّ المُطَهَّرَيْنَ۔
“As for your assertion that certain words in the Holy Quran are not from the spoken language of the Quraish, you have said this out of pure ignorance and thoughtlessness – and you are indeed not among those granted [spiritual] insight. O foolish and lowly ignoramus! Know that eloquence depends upon [the use of] words that are accepted – whether they originate from the language of those people or are words that have been adopted and used knowingly by the most eloquent orators of those people; whether they come from the language and common expressions of a single people, or are words that have been embraced and used by the most eloquent native speakers of the language, which they have used in poetry and prose with no fear of reproach, and chosen willfully and without compulsion. So when the basis of eloquence rests upon this rule, then the same measure applies to those ascendant, thundering words [of the Quran] that are in the highest heavens of eloquence. Accordingly, it is not at all objectionable that a foreign word should be accepted by the eloquent speakers; rather, this practice can enhance eloquence on occasion. Indeed, in certain places, the most skillful orators find it to be beautiful, and the most expressive rhetoricians take pleasure in it. You, on the other hand, are a hateful and ignorant person; despite that, you are hasty in forming judgements and stubborn. And so, you know nothing besides your own hatred and ignorance, and the steps you take are only into your own abyss. You know neither what the Arabic language is, nor what eloquence is. Only shamelessness issues forth from you, and you have been taught nothing besides insulting the pious and holy people.” (Nur-ul-Haq, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 8, pp. 149-150)
The above statement is of paramount importance in many ways. The two undeniable points mentioned in this passage regarding eloquence and rhetoric are:
If a word of any language is considered acceptable in another language and has been used by the previous rhetoricians of a nation in poetry and prose, then this word will be considered eloquent
No matter how rare and uncommon such words may be, if they are used with the personal intention of the writer and he did not do so due to lack of knowledge or because of not finding a suitable word, then such a word will come under the category of eloquence and rhetoric
In short, if such words are found in the Arabic works of the Promised Messiahas, one can easily understand from the words and phrases used before and after them as to how beautiful spontaneous flow of eloquence, rhetoric, rhyme and rhythm is found in his Arabic writings. In such a case, if a word or a structure is used which is apparently from the language of another nation, then because of the impromptu use, the writer has made it a part of his work’s language, and the person who objects to this usage will be considered oblivious and ignorant of such methods and techniques.
Evidence in support of the Promised Messiah’sas viewpoint
Abbas Hassan (d. 1979) is a well-known scholar of modern Arabic language and its grammar. He is considered an authority in this field. He authored a four-part book, Al-Nahw al-Wafi, which is one of the best books of the modern time on the subject of grammar. He also wrote a number of papers under the title, Sareeh Ar-Ra‘y fi Al-Nahw […] Da‘uh wa Dawa‘uh, which were first published in an Egyptian journal, Risalah Al-Islam, in the 1950s. In these articles, he has also discussed the subject of Arabic lughaat in detail. He has written several pages rejecting this notion that Arabic grammar is based on the eloquent language of only six Arabic tribes. Below is a summary of some of the matters Abbas Hassan has mentioned in his papers:
“The other [Arab] tribes were equally eloquent as were these six tribes. Moreover, other tribes possessed far more lughaat than these six tribes. In this regard, criticism of such tribes does not hold true on the basis that they lived in urban areas or rural areas, or whether they resided in the border areas of the county or that they were residents of regions close to non-Arabs and Christians. As they were the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula and the native Arab tribes there, they had the full authority and right to form words and coin new words. In fact, they also had the right to include in their language whichever word or structure they liked from the language of the non-Arabs. The non-Arabic words used by the ancient Arabs in this way are called ma‘arrab [words of foreign origin]. The presence of such Arabic words in the Arabic language makes it clear that the Arabs lived with the non-Arabs and interacted with them, on the basis of which they took whatever they liked from the non-Arabic language and integrated it into their language. Consequently, such words also became part of their everyday speech and they are mentioned in the Holy Quran as well.“
Hence, we cannot reject the language of any tribe on the grounds that as it was associated with such and such non-Arabs, their language did not remain eloquent and the non-Arabic language got mixed in it.
If the logic behind adopting only six lughaat is accepted, then the language of these six tribes would come under fire and may well be rejected, because the Quraish used to carry out “rihlat-ash-shita‘i was-saif”, the winter and summer trade journeys, in which they would travel to Yemen in winter and to Syria in summer. They used to live there and interact with the tribes over there. Likewise, some of the said six Arab tribes were in contact with the Roman, Syriac and Hebrew tribes present in the North of the Arabian Peninsula and with the Persians, Indians and Greeks in the South.
Thus, it is unreasonable to single out some Arab tribes on the basis of their lughaat and unjust to give precedence to some over others. Hence, even if a particular Arab tribe adopts a different style in its use of a word or a phrase, unlike all other tribes, we will have no other choice but to accept it. This viewpoint is also supported by Ibn Jinni, Abu Hayyan, Abu Amr, Ibn Faris and Imam Shafi‘irh.
(Research conducted by Muhammad Tahir Nadeem Sahib, Arabic Desk UK. Translated by Al Hakam, with special thanks to Ibrahim Ikhlaf Sahib, Arabic Desk UK)