Imam al-Suyuti on the Importance of Arabic

 “Imam al-Suyuti on the Importance of Arabic”


Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti comments regarding Arabic:

“ولا شكَّ أنَّ علم اللغة من الدين؛ لأنه من الفروضِ الكفايات، وبه تُعرفُ معاني ألفاظ القرآن والسنة”

“There is no doubt that knowledge of the Arabic language is part of the religion. This is because it is one of the obligations of sufficiency (furud al-kifaya). Through it, the words of the Qur’an and Sunna are understood.”[1]


  • Without knowledge of Arabic we cannot comprehend the legal injunctions (which would mean we could not know what Allah commanded of us).
  • The Arabic language is the expressed human medium of Islamic thoughts and concepts to guide and navigate human beings through life.
  • Although not necessary for theological investigations, Arabic is necessary for Law. In other words, without Arabic, correct deductions of legal rulings from the primary legal sources would not be possible and so the practical objectives for which the rulings came would be obviated.
  • One of the factors for internal Muslim decline historically was the gradual neglect and disregard or even distance from Arabic as the medium of law and its interpretation. Neglecting Arabic meant failing to extract the solutions from Islam’s primary sources in order to apply practically to real problems and issues.
  • Neglect of Arabic also meant the erosion of ijtihad as the means by which Islam and its solutions can be relevant and extend to any age.[2] This resulted in loss of confidence in Islam for providing solutions to life issues. Hence alternative thoughts, rulings and solutions were sought. Therefore a strong and sustained reconnection with Arabic is essential for resuming an Islamic way of life because Arabic is medium by which we deduce rulings that are necessary to lead that Islamic way of life.


[1] See al-Suyuti, al-Mizhar, 2:302.


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