Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Quran on linguistic diversity

In these times of widespread language extinction and of "religious" tensions, I thought some readers might be interested to hear what the Quran has to say about linguistic diversity. The most important text is, of course, 30:22:
And one of His [God's] signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for the learned.

As the context makes clear, this is part of a more general Qur'anic pattern in which this universe itself - the normal, everyday events that we look at as just the way things are - is identified as a sign from God; the Creator's nature is reflected in His creation. So the thrust of the verse is that linguistic diversity is a part of nature, and as such a part of God's plan for the world.

Another relevant verse, which, in light of 10:47 ("for every nation there is a messenger"), puts the idea that the Quran being written in Arabic makes Arabic the best of all languages into perspective, is 14:4:
And We [God] did not send any messenger but with the language of his people, so that he might explain to them clearly; then God makes whom He pleases err and He guides whom He pleases and He is the Mighty, the Wise.

3 comments:

emily0 said...

Hey, speaking of which, what would you (and me) give for a copy of صالح بن طريف Salih ibn-Tarif's Berber Qur'ân from 744 CE?

Mm, Berber.

Lameen Souag said...

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Lameen Souag said...

But yes, a copy of it (assuming it was ever even written down) would be incredibly valuable from a historical and linguistic perspective.