The Constitution of the Caliphate State / General Rules
- Category: General Rules §1-15
Article 8: The Arabic language is exclusively the language of Islam and it is the only language used by the State.
The evidence of this article is derived from the fact that although all people are addressed by the Quran as Allah (swt) says
(( وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا لِلنَّاسِ فِي هَذَا الْقُرْآَنِ))
“And We have certainly diversified for the people in this Qur'an from every [kind] of example.” (TMQ 17:89),
((وَلَقَدْ ضَرَبْنَا لِلنَّاسِ فِي هَذَا الْقُرْآَنِ))
“And We have certainly presented to the people in this Qur'an from every [kind of] example.” (TMQ 30:58), Allah (swt) has however revealed it in Arabic and made it an Arabic Quran. Allah (swt) says:
"An Arabic Quran" (TMQ 12:2) and Allah (swt) also says:
"In a clear Arabic language" (TMQ 26:195).
Therefore, the Arabic language is the sole language of Islam because it is the sole language of the Quran and because the Quran is the miracle (Al-Mu’jizah) of the Messenger of Allah . The miracle of the Quran lies in the Quran’s expression with this Arabic wording; in other words, with the Arabic wording and style. Although the miracle is found in both the wording and the meaning inseparably, what is meant by its miracle in meaning is not the miracle of what the Quran has brought in terms of meanings and topics for the Sunnah has expressed these meanings and topics and yet it is not considered a miracle. The miracle in meaning is established through the fact that the meaning is itself expressed by this wording and this style. Hence, expressing such a meaning in such a wording and in such a style is miraculous. Therefore, the miracle lies in the Arabic wording that expresses the meaning with the Arabic style. In other words, Allah’s (swt) saying:
((وَإِمَّا تَخَافَنَّ مِنْ قَوْمٍ خِيَانَةً فَانْبِذْ إِلَيْهِمْ عَلَى سَوَاءٍ))4
“If you [have reason to] fear from a people betrayal, throw [their treaty] back to them, [putting you] on equal terms.” (TMQ 8:58) is in itself incapacitating to all people to produce something similar. Its miracle comes from the splendour in expressing these meanings with this formulation and with such a style. Thus, the miracle was the Arabic wording and the Arabic style that expressed this meaning. Therefore, the miracle in the Quran is confined in its Arabic for it is the origin of the miracle and the subject of the challenge to produce something equal to it. Hence, the Arabic language is an integral part of the Quran that cannot be separated from it. The Quran itself could not be considered Quran without it. It is ,therefore, forbidden to translate the Quran for if it were altered it would lose its order and it would no longer be the Quran or be like the Quran; it would rather be a commentary of it, and if its commentary were anything like it then people would not have failed to produce something equal to it when they were challenged to do so. Besides, Allah’s (swt) saying
(( قُرْآَنًا عَرَبِيًّا))
“An Arabic Quran” means that if it were not Arabic it could not be called Quran. Furthermore, we worship Allah (swt) with its wording; therefore, the prayer would not be correct without it since Allah (swt) says:
((فَاقْرَءُوا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنَ الْقُرْآَنِ))
“So read (recite) what is easy [for you] of the Qur'an.” (TMQ 73:20) and the Messenger of Allah said:
«لاَ صَلاَةَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَقْرَأْ بِفَاتِحَةِ الْكِتَابِ»
“There is no Salah for one who does not recite Fatihatil-Kitab.” (agreed upon through ‘Ubadah). Therefore, the Arabic language is an integral part of Islam.
As for Allah’s (swt) saying:
((وَأُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ هَذَا الْقُرْآَنُ لِأُنْذِرَكُمْ بِهِ وَمَنْ بَلَغَ))
“And this Qur'an was revealed to me that I may warn you thereby and whomever it reaches.” (TMQ 6:19), this means: so that I warn you with what is in the Quran, and this applies to warning people with its wording and with its commentary for all of this is considered as warning. By contrast, Allah’s (swt) saying:
“Read” does not refer to the reading of its commentary and nor does it refer to the reading of its translation, because reading a book means reading its text, and not its translation or commentary. This is ,therefore, not akin to warning with the Book, which means warning with its text and its contents. Besides, Allah (swt) had decreed that the warning of the Messenger of Allah is made in Arabic as Allah (swt) says:
(( نَزَلَ بِهِ الرُّوحُ الْأَمِينُ (193) عَلَى قَلْبِكَ لِتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُنْذِرِينَ (194) بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُبِينٍ (195)))
“The Trustworthy Spirit has brought it down;Upon your heart, [O Muhammad] - that you may be of the warners -In a clear Arabic language.” (TMQ 26:193-5). This serves as a conclusive evidence that it is forbidden to read the Fatiha in prayer in other than the Arabic language, and this nullifies and refutes the argument of those who claimed that the verse in which Allah (swt) says:
((وَأُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ هَذَا الْقُرْآَنُ))
"And this Qur'an was revealed to me." (TMQ 6:19) refers to the permissibility of reading the Fatiha in other than the Arabic language for those who do not master Arabic.
This is from the fact that the Arabic language being a fundamental part of Islam. As for the evidence pertaining to the fact that the Arabic language should be exclusively the official language of the State, the evidence for it is that when the Messenger of Allah sent letters to Caesar, Kisra and Muqawqas in which he invited them to Islam, those letters were written in Arabic though they could have been translated into their own languages. Although Caesar, Kisra and Muqawqas were not Arabs and although the Messenger of Allah wrote the letters to convey Islam to them, the Messenger of Allah didn’t write his letters in their languages. Hence, this serves as evidence that the Arabic language is exclusively the official language of the State because the Messenger of Allah did this.Besides, the fact that the need to translate in order to convey Islam was pressing but the Messenger of Allah did not translate serves as an indication for the obligation of restricting the State’s address of people to the Arabic language whether the addressees were Arabs or non-Arabs. Therefore, all non-Arab people should learn the Arabic language and it is forbidden for the State’s official language to be other than the Arabic language.
Imam Al-Shafi’i outlined in his celebrated book of Usul (foundations of jurisprudence) entitled Al-Risalah the following: “Allah (swt) has made it an obligation upon all nations to learn the Arabic tongue following their address with the Quran and their worshipping by it”.
Therefore, all this makes it obligatory for the State to adopt the Arabic language as the exclusive official language.
However, it must be made clear that adopting the Arabic language exclusively as the State’s language does not necessarily mean that the State could not use other than the Arabic language since it is permitted for the State to use other than the Arabic language in an official correspondence either for fear of distortion, to acquire vital information, to convey the call to Islam abroad or for any similar reason. This is the case because the Messenger of Allah used Hebrew and Syriac. Hence, the ruling stipulates the sole use of the Arabic language when adopting the State’s official language rather than preventing the State from using other than the Arabic language.
The question that comes to mind now is: Would it be permitted to have a written and spoken language other than Arabic in the lands ruled by the Islamic State?
The answer to this is that the speaking and the writing of other languages could either be related to the State itself, to the subjects’ relationship with the State, to the subjects themselves or to individuals with one another.
If it were related to the State itself or to the State’s relations, then in this case it would not be permitted for the language to be other than the language of the state (the Arabic language). This is because the Messenger of Allah did not translate his letters to the non-Arabs despite the pressing need to translate in order to convey Islam and this serves as evidence stipulating the obligation of the sole use of the Arabic language in the State’s administration and relations or in anything related to it. Based upon this, the State would not have any place in its educational curricula to teach any other language apart from Arabic whether these were the languages of the non-Arab peoples living under the authority of the Islamic State or the peoples living outside the authority of the Islamic State. In the same manner, public schools are prevented from adopting anything other than the Arabic language as an academic language and from introducing other than the Arabic language as a subject because they are obliged to adhere to the State’s curricula. Accordingly, every matter related to the State, to its relations, the relations of its subjects with it or any other matter related to it must be conducted solely in the Arabic language, spoken and written.
However, if speaking and writing in other than the Arabic language were related exclusively to the subjects or related to people’s relationships amongst themselves, this would be permitted because the Messenger of Allah permitted the translation of other languages into Arabic and permitted the learning of other languages. This indicates that it is permitted to speak and to write in other than Arabic. In a narration from Zayd Ibn Thabit:
«أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ أَمَرَهُ أَنْ يَتَعَلَّمَ كِتَابَ الْيَهُودِ حَتَّى كَتَبْتُ لِلنَّبِيِّ كُتُبَهُ وَأَقْرَأْتُهُ كُتُبَهُمْ إِذَا كَتَبُوا إِلَيْهِ»
“The Prophet commanded him to learn the writing of the Jews. I even wrote letters for the Prophet (to the Jews) and also read their letters when they wrote to him.” transmitted by Al-Bukhari. So, this is an evidence for the permissibility of speaking and writing in other than the Arabic language. In the times of the Companions, there were people who used to speak and to write in other than Arabic and they were not forced to learn it, and someone used to interpret for the ruler.
Al-Bukhari reported in the section “History of the Rulers”: “Kharija Bin Zaid Bin Thabit from Zaid Ibn Thabit said:
«أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَمَرَهُ أَنْ يَتَعَلَّمَ كِتَابَ الْيَهُودِ حَتَّى كَتَبْتُ لِلنَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كُتُبَهُ وَأَقْرَأْتُهُ كُتُبَهُمْ إِذَا كَتَبُوا إِلَيْهِ»
“The Prophet commanded him to learn the writing of the Jews. I even wrote letters for the Prophet (to the Jews) and also read their letters when they wrote to him.”. Omar (ra) said in the presence of ‘Ali, ‘Abd Al-Rahman and Uthman: “What is this woman saying?” Abdul-Rahman Ibnu Hatib said: “She is informing you about the man who did so and so to her.” Abu Hamzah also said: “I used to translate between Ibn Abbas and other people”.
Two evidences that indicate the permission of translation are: the narration in which the Messenger ordered Zaid Bin Thabit to learn the Book of the Jews and when Umar (ra) asked what that woman was saying - he meant the woman who was found pregnant - ‘Abd Al-Rahman was translating for him. The fact that Abu Hamza used to translate what people would say for Ibn ‘Abbas means that there were people who spoke other than Arabic. Therefore, speaking and writing in other than Arabic is permitted according to the Sunnah and to the actions of the Companions. Accordingly, the State would allow the publication of books, newspapers and magazines in other than Arabic, and their publication would not require a permit because it is part of the Mubah (permitted) actions. It is also allowed to televise programmes in other than Arabic if these stations belonged to an individual or to a group of people. However, this will be prohibited in the State’s own radio and television stations because everything related to the State must be exclusively in Arabic. As for what is related to people among themselves, it will be permitted for them to use other than Arabic in everything except for any specific issue which was in origin permitted that may lead to harm; in such case, that matter will be prohibited.