The Arabic Story: Mirror of a Culture a Curriculum for the West

By Mallakh, Olfat El- | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

The Arabic Story: Mirror of a Culture a Curriculum for the West


Mallakh, Olfat El-, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Abstract

For so long the Americans did not see the need to learn a foreign language. They did not perceive this dire need.

Speaking a language is not about making a noise of different sounds. It is about culture, mannerism, history, literature, customs, religion (s), mentality, and wisdom that translate into a language.

Today, the West is forced to learn Arabic and understand the complexities of the Middle East, as a matter of survival. Arabic is one of the most difficult languages. Because when a person says something, it is not necessarily exactly what they mean. In other words Arabic is a very rich language and hence is fu from literal. In the West our speech is more direct and our language is more specific.

The following manuscript is the foundation for a pre-Arabic language course to facilitate lemming of the Arabic language.

Introduction

Hurry! The bells are tolling. It is time for class.

"On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage." (1)

The above quotation from the book of Isaiah in the Bible's Old Testament is fascinating. It cites the spread of the geographic Middle East. The area is small. And yet it boasts a wide history of empires and vaunts a fantastic selection of cultures and religions. It is an invitation to delve into the worldview of inclusive monotheism; the ideal view of inclusive monotheism as it should be in the Middle East in particular. This is the drama of our time. We are not dealing with past history or a prophecy for a distant future. We are caught in the unfolding of a new present.

We are at that crossroads. We need to choose understanding and knowledge of this viable area, while acquiring the Arabic language, for our survival in the West. The Arabic language is the major language of this region. It is sister to Hebrew, both pointing to Aramaic as their mother language. However, the Arabic language is the younger of the two.

For this course study, the beginning of the quest of learning the Arabic tongue, the undertaking of the language will remain abecedarian. The recommendation, based on a broad experience of teaching and research, indicates that comprehension of the complexities of the cultures and the intertwining of the religions in the area at hand is essential in facilitating the actual grasp of the Arabic language.

Thesis

Arabic is considered a sanctified language. It is the language of the Qur'an, the sacred Scriptures of Islam, and is believed to be the speech of Allah. "Allah" is the word for "God" in Aramaic and Arabic. Allah is not a proper name. It is a contraction of the word 'al- ilah', meaning simply god. Allah was originally a deity for rain and sky, who eventually became a supreme god in pre-Islamic Arabia. The pagan Arabs praised him as they approached the "Ka'bah" in Mecca, a sacred place before the advent of Islam, from the time of Abraham:

"Here I am, O Allah, here I am.

You have no partner,

Except such a partner as you have.

You possess him and all that is his." (2)

This song parallels sump 112: "He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him." (3)

However, in the time before Islam referred to as "Jahiliyah", Arabic ignorance, Allah had three daughters: Allat, the goddess; al-Uzza, the mighty, who the Egyptians knew as Isis, and Manat, from the Hebrew 'manna,' the goddess of fate. (4) "Have you considered Lat and 'Uzza, Manat, the other third (of the deities)? …

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