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.


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.