We learn Arabic because it is an identity [the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.] that carry on specific characteristics and culture more than a means of communication.
As a person born in Egypt, I speak colloquial Arabic (Egyptian-Cairo); this identity indicates my place and upbringing. I was brought up in a Muslim home, whose origins are a mixture of Turks, Arabs, or Egyptians (who entered Islam in the past with the “Futuhat Islamiah” at the hands of “Amr Ibn Al-Aas” | ِAfter the year: 20 Hijri, 641 Gregorian).
With the entry of different peoples into Islam, it has become difficult to define your identity to a great extent. Still, no doubt, belonging to the Islamic religion constitutes the identity of belief (Creed-عقيدة). The fact that we were born and raised in a country like Egypt, whose people speak Arabic, means the texture of my religion (Muslim), culture (Egyptian) and tongue (Arab). That shaped my identity as a Muslim by religion, Egyptian by upbringing and habits, and Arab by language and broader culture.
The three factors that make up my identity are my mother tongue is Arabic, and if I were born to the same parents but in Australia, my mother tongue would be Arabic. If the house is bilingual, then my mother tongue will likely be the closest to the language of the place (culture) where I grew up, and therefore my culture will be part of the language I speak daily.
“اللغة هي الثقافة، والثقافة هي اللغة”
“Language is culture, and culture is language”
[A summarised meaning by Prof. Mahmoud Shaker “Abu Fahr” | A message on the way to our culture]. In other words, the mother tongue of a society shapes human awareness and way of thinking.
For example, when I say: “Peace be upon you, how are you?-السلام عليكم. كيف حالك؟” this includes achieving security and peace first and then asking about the situation. When the foreigner says: “Welcome. How are you doing” it means welcome first, hosting or reception, and then the question about the case. In both cases, it is a way of welcoming that includes achieving comfort and peace among people. However, according to this, we can measure how the language affects its meanings and structures -according to each culture- in different situations when there is disagreement, agreement, anger, and sadness.
It is known about Arab characteristics, whether a man or even a horse, that they are courage, daring, and generosity. They are the best and faster horses in the world. While in the foreigner, you may find every person overthinking about the consequences of all things, and he may be stingy to help when he passes beside bicker on the way.
Otherwise, the Arab mindset sees it necessary to stop bicker as possible. It is a part of the culture born from the society’s language and literature. Islamic religion invested in Arab unity as tribes and made their primary belonging to Islam, and kept their belonging to their language, tribes and almost habits.
It is like architecture. Every building style reflects and expresses not only a job but also the heritage of a kind of people, country or a specific old or modern age. Language shapes the mindset and identity of the person.
(وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالِمِينَ)
(And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.)
[Surah: Al-Room – Verse: 22 | Sahih International Qur’an Translation]
There is a difference between languages carrying good qualities up their sleeve but not necessarily promoting them. In the sense that daring, courage, and generosity are qualities enjoyed by Arab culture and the Arab or Eastern man. As for Western society, its culture wants the realisation of freedom and equality.
Although their languages have meanings of generosity, altruism, and so on, they do not indicate or encourage them as a part of the culture of this cold society. They raise freedom with no limits, even if it contradicts Allah’s laws.
Learning Arabic built up the Arabian characteristics, ethics and good manners that Islam came to build the regulations-التشريعات based on it, as the prophet Mohammed may Allah bless him and grant him peace said:
“عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: إِنَّمَا بُعِثْتُ لِأُتَمِّمَ صَالِحَ الأَخْلاقِ.”
Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, said, “I was sent to perfect good character.” [Sahih (Al-Albani): Book 14, Hadith 273 – Arabic reference: Book 1, Hadith 273]
We hope that teaching Arabic to our sons, even if they are Arab or non-Arab, makes them gain good personalities and carry on responsibility, be honest, have dignity, protection and the ability to control their anger.