Author Archives: Abdul-Hafeez Adedimeji

About Abdul-Hafeez Adedimeji

I am an academic, Islamic cleric and a translator (from English to Arabic and vice versa). I presently work as a lecturer, Coordinator of General Studies Unit and Chief Imam of Fountain University, Osogbo, Nigeria.

BIO DATA OF DR. ABDUL-HAFEEZ ADENIYI AHMAD ADEDIMEJI

BIO DATA OF DR. ABDUL-HAFEEZ ADENIYI AHMAD ADEDIMEJI

Dr.  Abdul-Hafeez A.A. Adedimeji  was born in Iwo, Osun State of Nigeria. He obtained his Diploma, B.A. & M.A. certificates in Arabic Studies and Arabic Rhetoric at the famous Islamic University, Medinah, Saudi Arabia. He bagged his Ph.D. in Arabic (with special interest in English-Arabic Translation) from the Dept. of Arabic, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria.

PROFILE: Abdul-Hafeez Adeniyi Ahmad ADEDIMEJI (Ph.D.)

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ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS

Qualifications: PhD (Arabic) University of Ilorin ; M.A. (Arabic Rhetoric) Madinah, KSA; B.A. (Arabic Studies), Medinah, KSA; Diploma (Arabic Fluency), Medinah, KSA.

Department/Unit: General Studies.

Institutional Affiliation: Fountain University, Osogbo, Nigeria.

Administrative/Religious Position(s): Ag. Head, General Studies Unit and University Grand Imaam.

Dr. Abdul-Hafeez Adeniyi Ahmad ADEDIMEJI, was admitted to Department of English Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, in 1994. In November the same year, he won a Saudi Arabian scholarship which he utilised in  obtaining  his Diploma, B.A. & M.A. Certificates in diverse areas of Arabic Studies at Islamic University of Madinah, Madinah, Saudi Arabia. He has a  Ph.D. in Arabic at the Department of Arabic, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria.  He is the Secretary General of Nigerian Centre for Arabic Research (NCAR) and an active member of National Association of Teachers of  Arabic and Islamic Studies (NATAIS), the professional umbrella body of lecturers of the twin-sister disciplines of Arabic and Islamic Studies. Also, he is registered member of Bamako-based Union of African Muslim Scholars (U.A.M.S). He is a also a formidable member of Jordan-based International Forum for Moderation (I.F.M.), a global Islamic non-governmental religious body that aims to preach religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence among all religious adherents and presents Islam as a moderate religion. His research interests cover translation from Arabic to English and vice versa, Arabic Literature, Critical Issues, Nigerian and global personalities who have contributed to the spread and development of Arabic, History and Dialects of Arabic, Arabic Rhetoric with particular interest in Prophet Muhammad’s styles and diction and Nigerian Muslims’ affairs. Dr. Adedimeji is a bilingual researcher who has published numerous national and international  academic research works in the afore-mentioned areas including three internationally-published books out of which one of them was a selection to mark Sharjah, United Arabs Emirates, as the Islamic Cultural Capital for 2014. He has presented academic papers and attended seminars in Arab and African countries that include Saudi-Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, among others. He is the Grand Imaam of Fountain University, Osogbo, Nigeria, and he currently heads the General Studies Department of the University.

Selected research publications:

* Adedimeji A.A.A. (2015), Theoretical and Historical Perspectives of Language: Arabic as a Case Study, in “Ilorin as a Beacon of Learning and Culture in West Africa”, Z.I. Oseni, AGAS Oladosu, B.O. Yusuf, & M.A. Adedimeji (Editors), a Publication of Centre for Ilorin Studies, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Chapter 21, pp. 308-328.

*Adedimeji A.A.A. (2015), Arabic and Islamic Education as Agents of National Cohesion and Development, Fountain Journal of College of Management and Social Sciences (FUJMAS), Volume 4, No 1, Special Edition, pp 11-23.

*Adedimeji A.A.A. (translator from Arabic to English) 2014: Ahkaam Intiqaalil-Hadaanah Fil-Fiqhil-Islaamiy (Transfer of Parental Upbringing in Islamic Jurisprudence) by Sirajudeen Al-asra’ (Bin Bilal), Riyadh: Matbac tul-Humaedhiy.

*Adedimeji A.A.A. (2014): The Nigerian National Language Question: Arabic as a Viable Option in Anyigba Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, a publication of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 38-46.

*A.A.A. Adedimeji Sirajudeen Al-asra’ (Bin Bilal) 2013: Regulations Guiding Imamship  in Shari’ah, Cairo: Daarul-Fikril-‘Arabiy.

*Adedimeji A.A.A. (2013): cAamilut-Tashweeq Fil-‘Uluumil-Insaaniyatil-Mucaasirah (Creative Captivity Factor in Modern Disciplines of the Humanities) in Addad (Journal of Arabic Language, Literature and Culture), an academic journal being published by the Department of Languages and Linguistics, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 28-40.

*Adedimeji  A.A.A. (2012): Prospects of Arabic Language As A Unifying Force for Nigerian Muslims in Challenges of Moon-sighting and Preservation of Arabic manuscripts in Nigeria, Musa A. Abdu-Raheem (Ph.D.) edited, an annual publication of National Conference of National Association of Teachers of Arabic and Islamic Studies (NATAIS), January, 2012/Safar 1433 A.H., pp. 121-140.

RESEARCH OUTPUT RANKING

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Abdul_Hafeez_Adeimeji?ev=prf_followers_xbrs

https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=I0p9jaIAAAAJ&hl=en

Contacts: abdulhafeez.adedimeji@fountainuniversity.edu.ng,

abdulhafeezadedimeji@gmail.com & abdulhafeezmeji@yahoo.com

Phone Numbers: 08121521380, 08059310129

حضرات السادات والسيدات والإخوة والزملاء والأحبّة الكرام،

هذه صورتي حين كنت ألقي محاضرةً عنوانها “أهميّة الدراسات الإسلاميّة في المجتمع” في الشارع العام الفاصل بين القصر الملكيّ لمدينة إيوو إحدى كبرى المدن في بلاد يوربا والمسجد الجامع للمدينة يوم الأحد التاسع من شهر رجب عام 1437ه الموافق 17 من شهر أبريل عام 2016م. وقد نظّم المحاضرةَ منظّمةٌ إسلاميّة بلديَّة اسمها وحدة مسلمي إيوو للتّقدّم وحضرها ملك المدينة عبد الرشيد أَدَيْوَالَيْ أَكَنْبِي وكوكبة من عليّة الأكاديميّين والدعاة والسّاسة في المدينة وخارجها، وعلى رأسهم البروفيسور علّام اليقين أُوْيَيْتُوْرُوْ أُوْلاسُوبُوْ أُولادِيبُوْ.

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ذهب الشبابُ فما له مِن عودةٍ    وأتى المشيب فأين مِنه المَهْرَبُ؟

At the 2nd Qur’anic Competition and Presentation of Awards to eminent politicians, erudite scholars and renowned philanthropists of Iwo extraction that was held at Ojude-Oba, Iwo, on Sunday, 17th April, 2016 C.E. which was graced by the Paramount Ruler of the city, Oba Abdur-Rasheed Adewale Akanbi Telu l and other notable personalities, I delivered a lecture entitled “The Role of Islamic Studies in the Society”.

سيرة موجزة للدكتور عبد الحفيظ أحمد أديدميج Abridged Arabic Resume of Dr. (Imaam) Abdul-Hafeez Adeniyi Ahmad Adedimeji

الدكتور عبد الحفيظ أدَينْنِييِي أحمد أَدَيْدِمَيْجِ من مواليد مدينة إيوو، ولاية أوشن، نيجيريا عام 1972م الموافق 1392هـ.

  • باحثٌ وأديبٌ ومترجم بين اللغتين العربيّة والإنجليزيّة وداعيةٌ نيجيريّ، تثقَّف بالثقافتين العربيّة والإنجليزيّة في المدارس الأهليّة العربيّة الإسلاميّة والحكوميّة الرّسميّة النيجيريّة العديدة حتى التحق بجامعة أُوبَافَيْمِي أَوُوْلُوْوُوْ بمدينة أيلي إفي، ولاية أوشن، نيجيريا سنة 1993م. وحصَل على دبلوم إجادة اللغة العربيّة ودرجة الليسانس ودرجة العالمية (الماجستير) بقسم الأدب والبلاغة من كلية اللغة العربية بالجامعة الإسلامية بالمدينة المنورة بتقدير “ممتاز-مع مرتبة الشرف”، وحصل مرحلة الدكتوراه من قسم اللغة العربيّة من جامعة إلورن إحدى الجامعات النيجيريّة الذائعة الصّيت.
  • استفاد استفادة جمّة من رحلته العلميّة التي دامت عشر سنوات -وحصل خلالها على ثلاث شهادات علميّة- من كبار علماء الأزهر الشريف الذين كانت تتعاقد معهم الجامعة الإسلاميّة بالمدينة المنوّرة والأدباء السعوديّين. وكان يلازم الحضور في لقاءات نادي المدينة المنوّرة الأدبي لتصقيل ثقافته وإرواء نهمه العلميّ. وتتلمذ كذلك على أيدي العلماء السعوديّين الكبار في المسجد النبويّ الشريف أمثال فضيلة الشيخ أبي بكر بن جابر الجزائري، وفضيلة الشيخ عبد المحسن العبّاد، وفضيلة الشيخ المرحوم عطيّة بن محمّد سالم، وفضيلة الشيخ المرحوم عمر فلاته، وفضيلة الشيخ محمّد المختار الشنقيطيّ.
  • يعمل حاليا محاضرا في جامعة فونتيئن (Fountain ومعناه “الينبوع”) بمدينة أوسوبو في نيجيريا، وهو الإمام الأكبر لجامع الجامعة، كما تمّ تعيينه رئيسا لقسم الدراسات العامّة (General Studies Unit) في الجامعة كذلك في عام 2012م، وهو الخطيب الكبير لجامع الجامعة، ولا يزال يشغل المنصبين حتّى الآن.

 

  • ساهم- ولا يزال يساهم- في الميادين الدعوية والأنشطة الأدبية الثقافيّة والبحوث العلميّة والمجالات النقابية. ومن أهمّ المناصب الثقافيّة التي يشغلها الأمين العام للمركز النيجيريّ للبحوث العربيّة،  وهو عضو اتحاد علماء أفريقيا الذي يتخذ من باماكو عاصمة جمهورية مالي مقرا له. قد نشرت له دائرة الإعلام والشارقة التابعة لإمارة الشارقة في الإمارات العربيّة المتّحدة كتابا بعنوان “أساليب التشويق البلاغية في الأحاديث النبوية من خلال الصحيحين” في مناسبة اختيار الشارقة عاصمةً للثقافة العربيّة لعام 2014م. وله العديد من البحوث العلميّة المنشورة في المجّلات العلميّة المحكَّمة، وكذلك قد قام بترجمة بعض المؤلّفات العلميّة العصرية من اللغة الإنجليزيّة إلى العربيّة. وزار عددا من الدول العربيّة والأفريقية مثل المملكة العربيّة السعودية والمغرب والسودان وتونس مشاركا في مؤتمرات دوليّة فيها.

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PROSPECTS OF ARABIC LANGUAGE AS A UNIFYING FORCE FOR NIGERIAN MUSLIMS

  1. DR. ABDUL –HAFEEZ ADENIYI AHMAD ADEDIMEJI

UNIVERSITY GRAND IMAAM & COORDINATOR OF DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL STUDIES,

FOUNTAIN UNIVERSITY, OSOGBO

abdulhafeezadedimeji@gmail.com & abdulhafeezmeji@yahoo.com

 


ABSTRACT

The assertion that Arabic language enjoys a wide patronage among Nigerian Muslims, like their fellow brothers and sisters throughout the globe, amounts to stating the obvious. However, the antagonist posture of colonial governments that held the sway before the country’s independence, the lackadaisical approach of Muslim elites who have been privileged to rule the country in its post-independence history and the ignorance of today’s Muslim youth of potentials of Arabic as an international, historical, political and religious significant language are some of the obstacles confronting its acquisition and spread vis-à-vis its two major rivals, English and French. This paper appraises the importance of Arabic as a widely-spoken and one of the earliest languages in the history of humanity. It x-rays the problems confronting it in Nigeria since its advent to the country, and consequently makes case for the government to accord it more priority and funding and serves as a wake-up call to the Muslim elites and intelligentsia of their vital role in patronizing this great language. The findings and suggestions provided in this work, if properly studied and adequately incorporated into the country’s educational and political plans, will not only ensure the much-desired Muslims’ unity in Nigeria but better the lot of the country in the comity of nations.

 

 

ARABIC LANGUAGE AS A UNIFYING FORCE FOR NIGERIAN MUSLIMS:

PROSPECTS,PROBLEMS AND SUGGESTIONS

By

ABDUL –HAFEEZ A. A. ADEDIMEJI

1:0     INTRODUCTION

1:1      LANGUAGE AS A SOCIAL ACTIVITY AND ITS ESSENCE TO MAN

Language is the medium of communication between human beings. It is a social activity that human life cannot be complete without. Every human being by nature has a language which he/she is affiliated with. Each community or group of people that speaks the same language is referred to as language group. Altogether, there are more than one thousand language groups worldwide.

There are languages whose speakers cannot exceed few hundreds of people while there are others whose speakers can be counted in millions. However, according to Al-Kiyaali (1990), there are twelve languages whose speakers exceed fifty millions per each of them. These are: English, German, Russian, Japanese, Arabic, Bengali, Claytonia, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Urdu and French.(1)

A language may have different forms or modes of speaking. These forms are normally referred as dialects. Arabic, for example, has different dialects that hold sway in different countries of the Gulf region, North Africa and far West Africa. The Egyptian dialect is quite different from the Saudi dialect. These two dialects differ from the version being spoken by the Arabs of Algeria. At the local level, Yoruba language which is one of the widely spoken Nigerian languages has dialects that include: Oyo, Egba, Ijesha, Ijebu, Ekiti and Ondo dialects.

However, with the advent of writing as a way of preservation and language communication, there is always a standard form or dialect which native speakers of a particular language normally succumbed to and gives preference above others. The factors and yardsticks used in determining this standard dialect range from simplicity, originality, religious significance and general widespread. For example, the Quraesh dialect in which the Glorious Qur’an is written is the standard dialect for Arabic speakers while Oyo dialect has been unanimously accepted as the written and standard form of the language of the Yorubas.

Variety of languages is one of the signs of Almighty Allaah and one of the barometers used in identifying human beings and consolidating their relationships. Allaah, The Most Exalted, said: {And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and colours. Indeed, in that are signs for people of sound knowledge} (Quraan: ArRuum 30:22). He also said in another chapter: {O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female and made you nations and tribes you may know one another} (Quraan: AlHujuraat 49:13).

In fact, Allaah buttressed the fact that His message, like other human transactions, can not be efficiently carried out without correlation between the language of the Messenger and that of his audience where He stated inter alia: {And We did not sent any Messenger except with the language of his people in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them} (Quraan: Ibraaheem 14 4).

It is perhaps in the quest for making the world a global village and enhancing better understanding between different nations of the world that humanity has lately developed interest in invention of a universal language that will not know national and continental barriers. This led to the efforts of L.L Zamouhurf(1859- 1917 A.D.) who invented a language named Esperanto that is formed from modern European Languages and tailored in line with Latin language rules and grammar as the global language. (2) However, the body language of America, the dominant contemporary Super power, is suggesting that powers that be are trying to make English the global language.

 

2:0     BETWEEN ARABIC AND ISLAAM

2:1     ARABIC AND ITS CUSTODIANS

Simply put, Arabic is the mother tongue of the Arabs and the official language of Islaam. The double-edged way in which this definition comes will make it absolutely imperative to dwell on Arabs and later about Islaam and the interplay between the religion and its language.

The Arabs are group of people that speak Arabic as their native language. Their language, along with Hebrew, forms the large chunk of the Semitic languages.(3) Majority of Arabs originate from the Arabian Peninsula. Some scholars assert that the name Arab was derived from cArabah which is another name for Tuhaamah, a settlement in the Peninsula that the early Arabs were confined to and the social, cultural, religious and linguistic nerve of all the present-day Arabs.

Researchers agreed that there were some Arabs who have perished. This group is normally referred as Al- cArabul –Baaidah meaning: the perished (or no-more–living) Arabs. cAad, Thamuud (these two groups are mentioned in the Glorious Qur’aan), Tasam and Jadees.

{Has not the story of reached them of those before them? –the people of Nuuh (Noah) and (tribes of) cAad and Thamuud, the people of Ibraaheem (Abraham), the dwellers of Madyan and the cities overturned? (Qur’aan: At–Taubah 9:70) and :{And if they deny you, (O Muhammad) –so, before them, did the people of Nuuh (Noah) and (tribes of) cAad and Thamuud deny (their prophets)} (Qur’aan: AlHajj 22:42)

 

Another category of Arabs is the “Al– cArabul-cAaribah” which roughly means: “the real Arabs”. They are the Qataanis that live in the Republic of Yemen and Southern part of Saudi Arabia.

The third category are called “Al– cArabulMustacrabah” which can be translated to: Arabized Arabs, Arabs by adoption, or naturalized Arabs. These are the cAdnaanis that are off –springs and results of the inter-marriage that happened between Prophet Ismcāīl Bin Ibrāhīm (P.B.U.H.) who was an immigrant to the peninsula and married to an Arab woman.(4)

Arabic is one of the earliest languages in the history of mankind. In fact, there are relevant traditions quoted by scholars that suggest that the name of progenitor of all human beings, Aadam, was coined from an Arabic word. (5) It is however, sure that the language was existing in 2500 B.C. based on acceptable findings of archaeologists(6) This is in spite of what AzZayyaat asserted that it is an impossible task for a researcher to lay claim to the knowledge of the origin, development and stages of Arabic as a language.(7)

It is, however, noteworthy that Arabism or affiliation with Arabic is no more confined to the three afore –mentioned categories. This is because of the fact that various tribes who were not formerly Arabs have been fully integrated into Arabism, courtesy of Islaam. Arabism can only be determined nowadays through acquisition of a combination of habits, customs, ethics and language of Arabs. In fact, the Noblest Prophet (P.B.U.H.) was reported to have said: “O you people! Arabic is neither a father nor a mother of any of you. It is, on the contrary, a language. Whoever acquires it has become an Arab”.

 

2:2     ISLAM: THE IMAGE –MAKER OF ARABIC

Islam is a globally accepted celestial religion that has its adherents in the nooks and carnies of the world. It was revealed to Prophet Muhammad Bin Abdullah (P.B.U.H.), a Qurashite Arab man. Its holy book is Qur’aan and its official language is Arabic. It has successfully participated in building the civilization of man, charting a nobler cause for him and improving his living standard either through preservations of cultures that predated it or its valuable voyage of discoveries in the fields of Medicine, Chemistry, Physics, Philosophy, Geography, Sociology, Literature and Astrology to mention but a few.

Islaam aims at unification of the human race and elimination of all forms of discrimination by establishing a religious brotherhood that reigns supreme over colour, race, language, class and blood affiliations. It is the only global religion that accommodates all the divinely sent prophets. Abdulkadir A. Sambo (2004) was right when he emphasized the uniqueness of Islaam in this area thus:

“A Jew only believes in the Prophet of Israel, a Christian believes in Jesus Christ and, in a lesser degree, in the Prophets of Israel; Buddhist in Buddha; a Zoroastrian in Zoroastrian (sic); Hindu in the prophets who appeared in India, a Confucian in Confucians; but a Muslim believes in all those prophets sent by Allah and also in Muhammad, the last of the prophets. Islam is, therefore, an all-comprehensive religion within which unifying force the world has ever known. It converted together the warring tribes of one country and established a brotherhood of all nations of the world, even welding together those who had nothing in common except their common humanity. Islam obliterated difference of colour, race, language and geographical boundaries”(8)

In spite of all these feats, the western powers, through their Imperialist-Zionist Alliance agenda, has waged and continue to wage different ideological and military wars against Islaam in other to weaker, its adherents to a state of disarray and followership to the West.

 

2:3     ARABIC AND ISLAM: TWO SIDES OF A COIN

As said earlier, Arabic language predated historical Islaam. However, the significance of Arabic as a language derived from the fact that the Qur’aan was espoused it in and in a grandeur that surpassed colloquial Arabic. Arabic is universally known as the language of Qur’aan and Islamic liturgy.

For example, as the language of Qur’aan, it is the final authority on Islamic matters. On pilgrimage, all Muslims are required to worship in Arabic. All Muslims, during their mandatory prayers, must recite portions of Qur’aan in its original Arabic, no matter their native tongue.(9) Outside the mandatory prayer’s however, Islaam has accorded a great award to whoever recite the Glorious Qur’aan in its original Arabic form, whether he/she understands its meaning or not.(10)

Translation, although vital in foreign language teaching and learning, can not be of much use in a first–hand study of Islamic faith. In fact, a prominent modern–day Saudi Scholar, Ahmad Abdul–GafuurcAttaar, (1982/1402A.H) bitterly criticized his government for its generous funding of publications of translated versions of the Glorious Qur’aan thus: “It is better for those who spending hundreds of millions (of Saudi Riyals) on translating the meanings of Qur’aan to utilize that money in teaching Arabic to the generality of Muslims so that they can become familiar with it. This will undoubtedly consolidate their unity and enable them to regain their lost glory; because of the fact that Qur’aan will definitely unity them on the truth and prosperity. (11)

The above assertion collaborate the position of numerous scholars that Qur’aan is untranslatable and inimitable. According to R.D. Abubakre (2002), the dynasties of Umayyad and Abbasid Empires contributed immensely to the rise of Arabic as the official language of the Islamic religion, business and administration. This way, Arabic was able to gain linguistic pre –eminence over the territories of converts. (12)

 

3:1     ARABIC AND LANGUAGE QUESTION IN NIGERIA

3:2     ARABIC AS AN INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE

Although it is right to refer to Arabic as the liturgical language of Islam, as asserted above, it does not derive its significance from the noble religion alone. Rather, it is an international language which enjoys a very wide acceptance. It is has played a vital role in the socio –political life of the early West African Empires.

For example, the famous Mansa Kankan Musa who ruled the Old Mali Empire between 1307A.D. and 1332A.D. utilized his connections with the Arabs to better the lots of his subjects and consolidate his government. His historical pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324A.D. was a landmark event in the history of the Empire and a turning point in the prosperity of its economy. Find it difficult to forget the laudable role Mansa Musa’s connection with the Arabs played in the life and educational development of his people. As AdekunleOjelabi noted:

“On his return, Musa came back with Arab scholars to Mali who helped in raising the standard of learning and the form of architecture. Among others, Es-Saheli, a Spanish Arab who was also a poet accompanied Musa home. Saheli helped to build the magnificent brick mosques of Gao and Timbucktu. He also built a stone palace for Musa in Timbucktu. The Sankore mosque in Timbucktu also served as important centre of learning. The standard of learning was as high as in a modern university. This was evidenced by the fact that a teacher brought from Mecca by Musa had to be sent to Morocco for a three year further training before he could teach at Sankore” (13)

In fact, Mansa Musa’s real claim to a place of distinction came in consequence of the foreign recognition he gained for Mali. As a result of his pilgrimage, Mali was recognized as world power. Under Musa, Mali established diplomatic missions in Egypt, Arabia and Morocco. He cultivated a somewhat intra –personal friendship with the sultan of Fez. In 1339, Mali was represented on a world map with the inscription “Rex Malley” while other maps in 1375 bore witness to the existence and greatness of Mansa Musa’s Mali Empire. (14)

This situation of acceptability of Arabic in Africa is not limited to Old Mali Empire alone, it is a fact that Arabic has harmoniously related, and still relating, with the continent. It ranks as the language that has the most influence on African languages, especially, Swahili, Hausa, Wolof, Fulfulde and Yoruba. In addition to the major African languages, there are in Nigeria, such other languages such as Nupe, Ebira and Igala that have a large chunk of Arabic lexical items. In fact, Swahili which is one of the major African languages and, perhaps, the most widely spoken of all them derived its name, as attested to by reader, from Arabic. According to Reader (1997): “The name itself comes from Arabic Sahil, meaning shore or coast, and could be translated to as “coast dialect”(15)

At the contemporary level, Arabic is socio-politically on the sprawl across international borders. The spate of spread and importance of Arabic, for example, is evident in the very frequent use of Arabic on the electronic media by the B.B.C., the V.O.N. and the Voice of Nigeria. The Dutch, French, German and Russian national radio stations continually air Arabic versions of their programmes regularly over their network. Besides, Aljazeerah (High Arabic Version of CNN’s programme), beamed to the Arabic –speaking world. The numerous all –Arabic –satellite transmitting stations beaming programmes to the world give credence to the continuous rise of Arabic internationally. Currently, Arabic is being used as one the languages at the United Nations (U.N.) and at such regional groupings as the African Union (A.U.) and the Economic Community of West African States (E.C.O.W.A.S.) (16)

 

3:3     THE NIGERIAN LANGUAGE SITUATION

Nigeria, being the most populous African country, is being looked upon to take its rightful position in leadership position of the continent. Apart from the numerical strength that naturally gives the country an edge above other countries, to say the country is naturally endowed amount to stating the obvious. J. Reader observed thus: “The surge of optimism which has accompanied the transfer of power in Africa has been especially evident in the case of Nigeria. With the continent’s largest population, experienced politicians, an efficient civil service and the benefit of a strong, diversified economy, Nigeria was expected to be at the fore-front of economic and political progress in Africa leading the continent’s transition from an under –developed to a developed region”. (17)

However, the materialization of the above hope remains a mirage due to a large number of factors too numerous to mention here. What this writer is pre-occupied with is how multiplicity of languages has contributed to the backwardness or retardation of the country’s socio-political and economic spheres. In other to establish the enormity of the problem, let us first take a brief look at the country’s linguistic setting.

To try to determine the exact number of languages indigenous to Nigeria is a daunting task. Estimates have ranged from 200 to 400. The fundamental problem is a linguistic one: the problem of differentiating language from dialect, of deciding how to classify a particular speech system that serves for communication within a social group. In a situation of such multiplicity, it is not surprising (though not inevitable) that some languages have greater prominence is determined by number of speakers. Again, for lack of reliable statistics, it is impossible to be precise, but there can be no doubt that the number of native speakers of three of Nigeria’s languages, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo, runs to several millions. (18) Apart from the three languages, languages like Kanuri, Fulfulde, Tiv, Efik, Ibibio, Edo, Nupe, Gwari, Igala and Idoma have millions of people that are speaking each of them as their mother tongue.

It is this multi –ethnic situation that threw up the country’s immediate post –independent rulers and the first generation of politicians who have been accepted as national heroes. While the duo of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello represented the interest of the Hausa – Fulani tribes of the North, Chiefs Obafemi Awolowo and, to a lesser degree, Samuel Ladoke Akintola were regarded as leaders of Yorubas while Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who was then assisted by Sir Michael Okpara held the sway the Igbo –speaking Eastern Nigeria. Each of these tried their best to protect and project the interests of their tribes and left no stone unturned to make their people the dominant tribe in the affairs of the country.

This scenario led to a lot of unhealthy rivalry, accusations and counter –accusations that heated up the polity and threatened to tear the nation to shreds. The events that led to the nation’s protracted civil war were too glaring to expatiate on at this junction.    That happened between 1967-1970.

One measure that the successive military governments that ruled the country thought will break the backbone of predominance of three major tribes on the national scene, the unnecessary rivalry between them and what resulted from their over bearing posture at the regional level was states’ creation. The then powerful three regions were continually broken into smaller and weaker states that stand now at 36 and the Federal Capital Territory (F.C.T.)

However, states, creation and breaking of the country into smaller units had, rather solve the pathetic situation, aggravated Nigeria’s ethnic and social problems. The hitherto smaller tribes who counted very little or nothing in the scene during the era of regions have become –supers and formidable challengers in the present day states. With each of them insisting to be officially recognized, virtually every tribe in each of the states want its language recognized and given its due by airing news and events in its mother tongue. Jowitt asserted that in old Plateau State which consists of the present Plateau and Nasarawa States, news was usually given in no fewer than eleven languages while in the old Bendel State, which has been broken to Edo and Delta States, the situation was not far from being similar as news was being aired in seven different languages.

In a nutshell, the multiplicity of Nigerian indigenous languages has been a curse to the country more than a blessing. It has led to shedding of blood, intra-friction, inter-friction and bitterness between contending tribal leaders who are always at each other’s throat. In addition to this, it has battered the country’s image abroad and contributed in no small measure to the economic retardation and retrogression of the country. Not few people in and outside the country believed that the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late business mogul, Chief MoshoodAbiola and the political impasse that followed the sinful action was due to the reluctance of the then military government headed by a Northerner to hand over power to a freely and democratically elected Yoruba man from the south. Or else, how can one justify annulment of election won by a fellow Muslim brother who happened to be a friend of the head of the then military junta? This ugly situation has led to the efforts to search for a common or national language that will unify all Nigerian regardless of their affiliations and the geographical locations where they hail from.

 

3:4     ARABIC: THE MOST VIABLE OPTION AS A NATIONAL LANGUAGE

The advent of Arabic to Nigeria, as said earlier and as common to all places whose people embraced Islam, is closely linked to the advent of the religion to the country. This has been as far back as eleventh country. This means that the advent of the language to Nigeria has clocked 1,000 years or very close to that. This is because of the fact that “Mai UmmeJilimni (better known as Ibn Abdul Jelil) was the first Bornu-ruler to accept Islam in 1085. DunamaDabeleni was the next ruler to accept and this was in the 13th century”. (20)­

With the above fact, Arabic is the first foreign language that made successful incursion into the Nigerian soil. In fact, referring to Arabic as a foreign language is not accurate as it is known that the Shuwa Arabs of the present – day BornuState, although relatively small in number, speak Arabic as their mother tongue. So, this writer is very comfortable to say categorically that Arabic is the only indigenous Nigerian language that enjoys global widespread and international acceptance.

Also, Nigeria stands to benefit economically and socially if Arabic is given its rightful place both at the official and unofficial quarters. There is virtually no country in the world today, except the Vatican, perhaps, that has no teaming Muslim population that stands at, at least, tens of thousands. As at 1978, the Muslim world population was estimated to be 700 million people. This figure must have doubled by now. The most populous Muslim nation is Indonesia which had 135 million Muslims as at then. It is followed by Bangladesh which had 75 millions. Standing in the third position is Pakistan with the 73 million Muslim populations. Other populous Muslim nations are: India, Turkey, Nigeria, Egypt and Iran which had 65 millions, 40 millions, 35 millions, 34 millions and 33 millions Muslims respectively (21). The figures quoted above must have doubled by now since more than thirty years have passed after the quoted estimation.

We can notice the vintage position Nigeria occupies among the highly populous Muslim nations. Most of the above-named countries are more developed than Nigeria economically, technologically and militarily. This is apart from Saudi-Arabia and the Gulf nations which, although smaller in Muslim population than Nigeria, have Arabic as their mother-tongue and official language and have an almost 100% percentage Muslim population. The economic and strategic importance of these Gulf States in the contemporary world, especially Saudi-Arabia and United Arabs’ Emirates, can not be over-emphasized. The summary of this proposition is that adoption of Arabic as the national language is not a self-serving agenda of the Muslims alone but a holistic approach of making the country more integrated into the world and benefit from the enormous resources of the Arabic-speaking countries through bilateral trade that can be facilitated by sharing their language.

Another factor that makes Arabic the most viable alternative to English is the fact that it is the only language that Nigerians, indeed the world at large, acquire willingly without thinking of any material gain. It predated English by centuries and has, therefore, become part and parcel of millions of Nigerians and their means of communication that does not know state and regional barriers. This fact has been buttressed by a Christian researcher who asserted thus:

“English is not the only non-indigenous language learned by Nigerians. Long before the first Englishmen visited the coast of Nigeria, Arab missionaries, explorers and traders had brought their language to what is now the Northern part of Nigeria. The more intensive Islamization of North in the nineteenth century resulting from the Jihad of UsmandanFodio meant a great increase the number of Nigerians learning Arabic for religious purposes, chiefly in Koranic (sic) schools, and this increase has undoubtedly continued to the present day, especially as many facilities have been created for the study of Arabic at Secondary and tertiary levels. From Arabic, numerous words have entered into the vocabulary of certain Nigeria languages, notably Hausa was written in Arabic script. For some Nigerian Islamic teachers or students, Arabic potentially serves not only as a language of study and religious observance but also for inter-personal communication; and many of them know Arabic better than English. One small group in BornoState has Arabic as its mother-tongue”. (22)

From the above, we can deduce that the decision to adopt English as the Nigeria’s official language was not well thought by the first generation of our indigenous rulers. I heap the blame on the first set of our indigenous rulers because they had the ample opportunity of changing the status quo immediately the colonialists granted independence to this country. This writer is surprised to discover that the colonialists, despite their wickedness and selfishness, never declared English as the official language. This fact was exposed by another Christian researcher, Ayo Banjo (1996) said inter alia:

“The colonial government never expressly declared English as the official language of Nigeria. The tradition going back to the Roman Empire was simply assumed that the colonized adopt the language of the colonizer since the colonizer can not be expected to operate in anything except in his own mother tongue”.(23)

 

4:1     ARABIC BETWEEN ITS PROTAGONISTS AND ANTAGONISTS

4:2     EFFORTS OF THE PROTAGONISTS TO AID THE SPREAD OF ARABIC

Whether officially recognized or not, it is a fact that Arabic has come to stay in Nigeria. This judgment is not only based on the assertions confessions and confirmations of those who will be categorically classified as enemies of Arabic, by the virtue of their religion and areas of specialization, but also on the manifestations of this fact that can be enumerated thus:

  • Enrolment of wards in Arabic schools and making it mandatory for then to learn Quranic recitation before embarking on any course or training that they may wish to make their livelihood from. This is added to the vintage position that a Muslim scholar enjoys among the general populace.
  • Priority that Nigerians accord to inclusion of Islamic teaching and dacwah programmes in any event they organize. For example, occasions like marriage and naming ceremonies always feature dacwah and Islamic awareness activities in their programmes. The apt attention people give to such sermons and lectures make them to develop interest in the acquisition of Islamic education, and, by extension, Arabic language.
  • The spread of Islamic and Arabic schools in the nooks and crannies of the country despite the fact that they do not enjoy patronage from government and the meager source of revenue of their sponsors.
  • The spread of Quranic schools in the length and breadth of the country. It is very rear to find a town or village in Nigeria, no matter how big or small, which does not have his kind of schools. The learning period in these schools is either in the early morning (after the dawn prayer), after the mid-day (cAsr) prayer or in the night (after cIshaaiprayer).
  • Establishment of Departments of Arabic and Islamic Studies in the indigenous Universities. The products of these Universities constitute a greater percentage of teachers of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Nigerian public schools.(24)

 

4:3     CONSCIOUS AND UNCONSIOUS ENEMIES OF ARABIC

I deliberately classify the enemies or antagonists of Arabic into conscious and unconscious because, ordinarily, no Muslim should be regarded as enemy of the liturgical language of Islaam. The reality, however, point to the fact that some Muslims are either waging war against Arabic or getting involved in efforts aimed at relegating it to the background or retarding its progress. This category of people are either being used or ignorant of the fact that their status if being a Muslim is not complete until they know certain basic elements of  Arabic, in the least, and actively being pro-active in the battle to make it triumph over other languages, either foreign or local. This category of people, consequently, can also be regarded as enemies of Arabic, whether they acknowledge it or not.

On the other hand, ideologies that are openly engaging Arabic language and its twin-brother, Islaam, in bitter war. This category is not pretending under any guise to be associated with Islamic and can, therefore, be regarded as conscious enemies of Arabic. Most of the elements in this category are foreign-based, externally influenced and deliberately aiming to hurt the feelings of Muslims.

Because of the fact that the anti-Arabic activities of this second group are more pronounced than the latter’s efforts and my discovery that very little people give attention to their attempt at staging a deadly blow to Arabic, I will start with it before I discuss the other category.

 

  • IMPERIALIST-ZIONIST ALLIANCE

This is a combination of accords, relationships, goals and plans jointly hatched and being executed by western imperialist powers and interests on one hand and the international Zionism on the other hand. Those who are at the receiving and of this unholy alliance are the Muslim nations in particular and the third world in general. The Muslims has been the ultimate target of the west, which is playing god-father role for the Zionism, since the past two centuries ago. This age-long antagonism has, however, metamorphosed to enmity and open confrontation since 1948 in the so-called Middle East and became more pronounced in 2001, immediately after September 11 world trade centre and the pentagon events.

This antagonistic posture of the Zionism in particular and the western imperialism in general was borne out of the face the west has always suspect, rightly or wrongly, that Islaam and its civilization, which has Arabic as a major component, is the only viable alternative to the dwindling western civilization. This has led to the suspicious look of the west, with America as its arrow-head, to Islaam and its adherents.

In other to nip the successive vialibility of Arabic and Islaam in the bud, various ideological terms have been coined to label those who really ally with Islaam and its civilization. These include: fundamentalism, fanaticism, extremism, terrorism and Islamism. On the other hand, some other terms have been coined to describe those who denounce Islam and or those who merely ally with it by name alone. Some of these are: liberalism, moderation and civilization. Also, globalization is another theory the West is currently propounding to achieve their Unipolar word agenda


  • CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS FANATICISM

By religion fanaticism, I mean a form of over-zealousness in admiring a particular religion or belief that makes it adherents to under-estimate and under rate the opinions, rights and civilization of other religions to the point of waging unjustified propaganda against who differ with this set of people in religion and civilization and, thereby, crating unnecessary rivalry that is aimed at cultural annihilation of others and or continuous confrontation with them.

This has been clearly demonstrated by the action of unmediated past administration of Chief OlusegunObasanjowho, in collaboration with Prof. ChukwumaSoludo, the ex-governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (C.B.N) single-handedly removed Arabic inscriptions from all Nigeria currencies. Do  they know better than our foremost nationalists who put it there to represent the interest of the teeming Nigerian Muslim population and millions of the admirers of Arabic as their language of civilization?!  English, as affirmed earlier, only represents our colonial past and, at best, symbolized the Christian world which the west symbolized and is not, and should not be regarded as, the Nigerian national language.

It is undoubtful that this unguided decision has given the Nigerian Christians are edge over their Muslim counterparts which is clearly unfair. It is also certain that this action has gladdened the hearts of Christian fanatics who see nothing wrong in offending the feelings of Muslims. I will buttress this point by a rejoinder written by one Adesoji Moses in Friday, July 31, 2009 edition of Nigerian compass which is entitled: WHY ARABIC ON THE NAIRA? The man wrote thus:

“It is disheartening that our Muslim brother, IshaqLakinAkintola could raise the issue of removal of Arabic from the naira note as a coup against Arabic. Using English to represent Christian population is erroneous. If English is for Christian, he was supposed to have written his write-up in Arabic. Obasanjo -Soludo decision is commendable for including the three major Nigerian languages with English which is general (sic) language. What should be our objective now is unity not a religion overriding the other. I advise President Musa  Yaradua not to put Arabic on the naira note as he has been accused of bias and northernalisation of Nigeria in his political appointments”.

The write-up quoted above is full religious bias, sentimental argument and lop-sided assessment of issues. While it is not my concern to reply this Lilliputian writer who may not, after all, be privileged to read this work, I want to assert that allying Arabic and\or Islaam with the North alone as some of my fellow Muslim brothers erroneously do, is not only far from truth but equally annoying and offensive to the feelings of the southern Muslims. While this paper is not aimed at fledging muscles, I want to humbly submit that I am a Muslim whose ancestors up to the fifth generation were practicing Muslims. Without being immodest, I want to add that I have been associating with Arabic for more than thirty years, whether by learning or teaching, and I have not met any northern Muslim who speaks Arabic better than I do, even during my ten-year sojourn in Saudi Arabia.

On my own part, it is not disheartening that Obasanjo and Soludo did what they did to the Islamic interest and that another fanatic Christian is drumming support for them, what is disheartening, however, is that the present Muslim-led administration who has spent more than two years in government is ready to redress this injustice. It is also worrisome that our brothers, who constitute the majority in both the pastand present administrations, did not live up to the past of their electorates on this vital issue.

As if this insult was not enough for Nigerian Muslims, the Obasanjo government also went ahead to declare French the second Nigerian official language. He based this notorious decision on the argument that apart from   English, French is the official language of the majority of the fellow West African countries. Former President OlusegunObasanjo, while taking this faulty and stinking decision, forgot or pretended to forget that no responsible government sacrifices the interest of its citizenry to satisfy its neighours. He also ignored the fact that while Nigeria stands to gain a lot from moving closer to Arabic –speaking countries and the Islamic world with its vast economics and human resources, the reverse is the case with consolidating relationship with West African Countries who are not only densely populated, but devoid of any technological or economic advantage that Nigeria can tap from. After all, what has father –Christmas role Nigeria has been playing for these countries offer us in terms of international recognition or regional appreciation from the benefiting countries? There is no doubt that the decision was ill –conceived and aimed at hurting the feeling of the Muslims and feed them with another bitter pill of relegation. May I ask how many Nigerians speak French compared with Arabic whose admirers, speakers and advocates can be counted in millions among Nigerians?

I am sure that if our brothers in politics have given the then government a spirited fight on the matter, as they did with it on third-term agenda, the story will have been different today. Let us, at this junction, remind, evaluate and assess ourselves on the basis of remarks of Almighty Allaah which goes thus –:{Nay, you prefer the worldly life, while the Here after is better and more enduring}.(Qur’aan: AlAclaa 87-17)


  • RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

Racial discrimination is a facet of racism that relies on the theory of racial superiority. It is an ideology that classifies human beings on the basis of racial identity which renders some of them superior and the others inferior. This theory, based on this biased classification, segregates human beings and grants preferential treatment to the superior (or higher) class in terms of recognition, social service being rendered to the citizenry and access to the juicy positions in government. This will be in contrast with the dealings with the inferior (or lower class) who will suffer degradation, humiliation and constraints to menial jobs and access to limited basic amenities that will be grossly inadequate for an enviable living that an average human being desires to lead.

  • RACIAL SUPERIORITY

It is a twin-brother of racial discrimination. It can even be argued to be its mother because it is a theory, belief and conviction that give birth to racial discrimination. It assumes that human beings are genetically and racially distinct in such a way that they are not equally created intellectually. It was formulated as a result of the dire need of the West to justify the atrocities committed by them against their fellow human beings in the ages of history in general and last two centuries in particular. This theory has metamorphosed to different terminologies and surfaced in different forms. It has given birth to the theory of White Man’s burden among the English, surfaced as Nazism in Adolf Hitler’s Germany, led to the Apartheid system in Pre-Mandela’s era in South Africa and graduated to Zionism that humanity has been plagued with and is still battling with in Israel. (26)

It is noteworthy to mention here that although Islaam and Arabic are greatly suffering from this sinful theory, they are not the only casualties as the West itself has suffered from one form of facets of this theory or the other in its not –too distant history. In fact, it amounts to saying the obvious if we assert that the global community is suffering from this theory as the case of flagrant disobedience of Israel to United Nations’ Security and General Assembly resolutions easily come to mind. In the past century, the West has swallowed the bitter pill of Nazism that it finds and will continue to find difficult to forget.

  • IMPERIALISTIC EXPANSION

Imperialism in international politics means the activities and movements of the European countries to establish colonies in other countries of the world, especially in African and Asian countries that are regarded to be backward, that will serve as fertile lands for getting raw materials needed for their industries and double as markets for their finished products. This theory has its roots in the second part of the nineteenth century when Industrial Revolution was the order of the day.

The monster was nearly curtailed by the end of 1960 when virtually all the colonized countries attained independence from their different colonial masters. There was, however, a major set–back to this independence drive in 1948 when the Jews, with Britain and U.S.A as their major backers, established the state of Israel on the Palestinian soil.(26)

It is, however, worrisome that this theory, although denounced globally, generally condemned and regarded as an aberration in the history humanity, is rearing its ugly head in another forms exemplified in the building of military bases by the United States of America (U.S.A.) during the inglorious reign of George W. Bush (Jnr), imbalanced trade accords and relationships between the so –called developed countries and their developing counterparts, meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign nations and lately, the much –trumpeted global economy that the whole have been, willy–nilly, formed to share.

The above factors, as can be observed, are inflicted by people who are not Muslims and, generally, emanate from outside the boarders of Nigeria. There are, however, other factors that originate from the Nigerians themselves. In fact, the majority of these obstacles to the growth, flourish and consequently, adoption of Arabic as the national language are handiwork of Muslims themselves. This is why I tag these people, agents and factors unconscious enemies of Arabic.

 

  • BLEAK PROSPECT OF FURTHERING ARABIC AQUISITION TO THE UNIVERSITY LEVEL

In Nigeria today, tens of thousands of pupils and students graduate annually from the popular Arabic schools available throughout country. These holders of Mutawassitah (Junior Secondary) and Thanawiyyah (Senior Secondary) certificates are generally regarded to be unqualified for admission into the indigenous universities and other tertiary institutions because of lack of necessary pre–requisites for admission. This is what lead many of them to engage in menial jobs that are not only unsuitable for custodians of the sacred knowledge they possess but make them to forget this hard earned language easily.

 

  • NON-RECOGNITION OF ARABIC/ISLAMIC EDUCATION IN THE OFFICIAL QUARTERS AND AMONG THE WESTERN –ORIENTED MUSLIM SCHOLARS

The fact that the Nigerian protagonists of Western Education and the government accord little or no recognition to scholars of Arabic/Islamic education is too obvious to expatiate on. It is not uncommon for parochial Nigerian elites who are trained in the Western way, Muslims inclusive, to under–rate Arabic/Islamic education and allege that it is archaic and can not cater for the contemporary needs of modern–day man.

It is very saddening that some Islamic and Arabic scholars, who are expected to be at the vanguard of agitation for recognition of Arabic language and its civilization, have betrayed the trust of knowledge and joined forces with the enemies in this regard. This writer personally know some university dons who are products of Arabic schools but have opportunity of acquiring western education, whether by learning or by the virtue of the environment they are privileged to be, who will shamelessly declare that scholars in either Arabic or Islamic Studies disciplines who are devoid of western education are not fit to be scholars.

 

  • WEAK SYLLABUSES

The laid –down syllabuses of majority of Arabic schools are very weak and uncoordinated. Also, they lack revisions and frequent upgradings that are basic elements of a standard syllabus. This is the reason why some Arabic schools’ proprietors still stick to textbooks authored in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt which the producing countries have abandoned a couple of decades ago! The situation in universities and other institutions of higher learning is even more pathetic. Some Arabic language courses in most of these institutions are taught through English language as medium. This is the reason why majority of products of such institutions can hardly construct good simple sentences in Arabic. (28)

5:1     ARABIC: ITS UNIQUENESS AND WHY NIGERIANS MUST GIVE IT THE DUE RECOGNITION AND ACCEPTANCE

5:2     THE UNIQUENESS OF ARABIC

Apart from being the universally accepted language which acceptance is devoid of any material gain, Arabic possesses some distinct attributes which make it unique. Some of these attributes include:

  • The fact that Almighty Allaah uses it as the medium through which He spoke to the mankind. As said earlier, the missionaries of all the Messengers that preceded the advent of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) were restricted to their different peoples and generations. This is contrary to Islaam that is the only universal religion by design. {Indeed, we have made it a Qur’aan in Arabic so that you may understand} (Qur’aan: AzZukhruf 43:3).
  • Almighty Allaah qualified Arabic with the best attributes that a language can be qualified with. The Most Exalted used it to qualify His Book where He says: {A Book whose verses have been detailed, an Arabic Qur’aan for people who know} (Qur’aan: Fussilat 41:3). In the same vein, He also described it as a plain and clear language thus: {And truly, this Qur’aan is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. Which the trustworthy Ruuh (Jibreel) has brought down. Upon your heart (O Muhammad) so that you may be one of the warners. In the plain (clear) Arabic language} (Qur’aan: Ash –Shuacraa 26:192-195)
  • It is the only language that has stood the test of time without any transformation and alteration. It is a well –known fact that most modern European languages originated from Greek and Latin. In fact, the English in which Shakespeare wrote his plays in the sixteenth century can only be understood by the present generation of Britons and other English –Speakers through explanations and illustrations. This is unlike Arabic which has remained protected and preserved in the same for more than sixteen centuries, courtesy of the Glorious Qur’aan. A speaker or learner of Arabic will encounter no difficulty in reading the works of the first generation of Arabic poets like Imru’ul–Qaes, Zuhaer and Labeed. He will understand their poems just as he will understand the works of Jareer, Al –Farazdaq and Al –Mutanabbiy that lived centuries after the first generation. The works of these two groups are not linguistically disconnected from the contributions of modern poets like: Al –Baaruudi, Shaoqey and Haafiz.
  • Another uniqueness of Arabic emanates from the fact that it is the only international language spoken by a segment of Nigerians as a mother tongue. This is true in the case of Shuwa Arabs of Borno State who speak Arabic as their indigenous language.

 

5:3     ARABIC:  THE ANSWER TO THE QUEST FOR A NATIONAL LANGUAGE

Based on the qualities enumerated above, we can glaringly see that Arabic provides the best answer for Nigeria’s quest for a national language. However, Muslims should be at the vanguard of this noble cause because Islaam is, as explained and analyzed in the previous chapters, inseparable from Arabic.

By adoption of Arabic as the national language, Nigerian Muslims, nay Nigerians at large, will be become more united since language barrier breeds suspicion and suspicion leads to, in most cases, confrontation. This is the reason why Allaah unites the whole mankind in the earliest and biggest gathering ever known by humanity, Hajj, in one singular language which is Arabic. Sambo (2004) confirms this reality thus:

“The language of worship for Muslim denounces unwarranted suspect (sic) that adherents of Islaam are into different denominations like Christians. Arabic language is spoken during all spiritual devotions there by facilitating participation by every Muslim wherever he finds himself. Hence, this important aspect of globalization and a proof that Islaam is a global religion “(30)

To make this dream of Arabizing Nigeria or making Arabic the Nigerian national language a reality, I hereby recommend the following actions and steps:

  • Nigerian Muslims need a coordinated social mobilization of the entire citizenry to acknowledge the importance of Arabic language.
  • Muslim politicians should rise to their religious responsibility of fighting for the cause of Arabic through relevant legislations, financial support and needed acquisition.
  • Any attack or relegation aimed at Arabic should be seen an attack and relegation of Islaam.
  • Muslim scholars in the academics should organize different fora, symposia and seminars to sensitize the Nigerian elites about the role Arabic has played and is still playing in the civilization and development of man.
  • Establishment of a national board that will be responsible for the establishment, funding and co-ordination of Arabic schools available through-out the length and breadth of the country. This educational supervisory body should be well funded in other to be able to perform its administrative and over-sight functions effectively.
  • Arabic scholars in the academia should rub minds on how to improve the standard of Arabic being taught at various institutions. A national policy that will see that Arabic is taught and researched through the medium of the language alone should be formulated. On no conditions should Arabic scholars who speak good English should allow the language of Islam be subjugated to an imperial, colonial and foreign language. “So long as the Muslims continue looking toward the western civilization as the only force that could regenerate the stagnant civilization of Islam, they weaken their self-confidence and, indirectly, support the western assertion that Islam is a ” spent force”. (31)
  • An erroneous reference to Arabic as a foreign language should be corrected. Rather, the language should be tagged “the Nigerian indigenous language with international appeal”.

6:0     CONCLUSION

In this paper, an attempt has been made to trace the history of Arabic as an international language, analyze its relevance in the contemporary world, explain its link and relationship with Islaam and, above all, advocate for its adoption as the Nigerian national language. Also, the prospects of the language and the bitter ideological and political wars being waged against it were equally analyzed. Although, this paper does not shy away from the fact that the battle to make Arabic our national language should be spearheaded by Muslims who, by the virtue of their religion, hold it or should hold it in high esteem, it appeals to all and sundry as it makes case for the language for the numerous social, economic and political advantages that are attached to its adoption. Thus, a sincere and honest implementation of the recommendations enumerated above will go in long way in solving the country’s social and economic problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTES AND REFERENCES

  • Al-Kiyaali, Abdul-Wahhaabet al (1990).Maosuuactus-Siyaasah:Beirut; Al-Muassasatul-‘Arobiyyah Lid-Diraasaat Wan-Nashr, vol.5,p.473
  • vol. 1,p,166
  • See: ”Semitic” in: Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary
  • Al-Kiyaali, Abdul-Wahhaabcit, vol. 4, p.70 and Ahmad HasanAz-Zayyaat.Taareekhul-Adabil-Jaahiliy:Beirut, Daaruth- Thaqaafah,pp.19-21.
  • See: At-Tabari,Muhammad Bin Jareer (1997a.d-1418a.h).Jaami’ul-Bayaan fee Ta’weelil-Qur’aan: Beirut, Daarul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyya, vol.1pp.251-252.
  • cAsaakir, Abdul-Fattaah (1979 A.D 1400A.H).Macal-Qur’aanil-Kareem: Cairo, Al-Markazuth-Thaqaafiy vol. 5, p. 257.
  • Az-Zayyaat. cit, pp.19-21.
  • Sambo, AbdulKadir (2004A.H).”Islam as a global religion”, Al-Wa’yu: An annual magazine of Arabic students in College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies (C A I L S), Ilorin, Kwara State, p. 67-68.
  • Aje, S.A. (2004 A.D).”A survey of the Sociolinguistic setting of Arabic in Nigeria” in JARS Journal of Arabic and Religious Studies, a publication of Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, p.13.
  • Al–Ilory, Adam Abdullah (1967). Taareekhud -Dacwatil –IslaamiyyahMinal –AmsiIlal –Yaom: Beirut, DaarMaktabatil –Hayaah, p. 126.
  • cAt –Taar, Ahmad Abdul –Gafuur. (1982 A.D. – 1402 A.H) QadaayaaWamushkilaatunLugawiyyah: Riyadh, Tuhaamah, first edition, p 127.
  • D. Abubakre (2002): The Survival of Arabic in Difficult Terrains. 55thUniversity of Ilorin Inaugural Lecture, University of Ilorin Publication Committee: Ilorin.
  • Ojelabi, Adekunle. A textbook of West African History (1000 to the present day): Ibadan, Educational Research Institute, p. 13
  • Ibid.
  • Reader, J. (1997). Africa:A Biography of the Continent:London, Pengium Books, p175-176.
  • Aje, S.A.cit. p.12.
  • Reader J. cit. p. 660.
  • Jowitt, D. (1991). Nigerian English Usage: An Introduction:Ikeja, Longman PLC, p.9.
  • Ibid. p. 11
  • Ojelabi, cit. p.140.
  • Al-Kiyaali,. cit. vol 1, p.189
  • Jowitt, cit. p.21
  • Banjo, Ayo (1996). Making A virtue of Necessity: An Overview of The English Language in Nigeria:Ibadan, Ibadan University Press, p. 66.
  • Bilal, Sirajudeen, (2009). The reality of the Islamic education in present – day Nigeria, text of a paper delivered at the first Islamic Summit held in Kano, July, 2009. p 8-9.
  • Al-Kiyaali,. cit. vol 1, p.788
  • Ibid, vol 1, p.771
  • Ibid, vol 1, p.804
  • Bilal Sirajudeen,, cit, p.10 -12.
  • cAssaakir, Abdul Fattah, cit, vol 5, p.295
  • Sambo, AbduKadir, cit., p.69
  • Asad, Muhammad. (2001) Islam at the Crossroads:New Delhi, Goodword Books, p75
  • Nigeria Compass Newspaper, July 31, 2009 edition.

 

 

THE NIGERIAN NATIONAL LANGUAGE QUESTION: ARABIC AS A VIABLE OPTION

Dr. Abdul-Hafeez Adeniyi Ahmad Adedimeji,

 University Grand Imaam & Coordinator of Department of General Studies,

FountainUniversity, Osogbo.

E-mail: abdulhafeezmeji@hotmail.com& abdulhafeezmeji@yahoo.com

Tel: +2348059310129& +2348121521380

 

1.0 Introduction 

The need for every country to have a national language that will serve as a unifying factor for its entire citizenry is crucial for its identity and germane to its harmonious relationship, mutual coexistence and development. Many countries in the world are lucky to have a common mother tongue while most other countries resort to adopting one of their numerous indigenous languages as the national language. This national language may be the official language that the country uses for documenting its formal engagements and\or establishing its diplomatic relationships with other countries and may be different from it. Every citizen of a country understands and\or speaks the national language although there may be other languages that are sectional or regional. It is the absence of this national or common language in Nigeria that makes this paper proposes the suitability, viability and sustainability of Arabic for this purpose. While the paper does not shy away that this language may be linked to Islam in one way or the other, it relies on the fact that it is the only Nigerian indigenous language, being the native language of Shuwa Arabs of the present-day Bornu State, with international appeal to argue for its adoption. The juxtapositions and illuminations of roles and contributions of Arabic to the nation’s history and West African architecture are some of weapons this research relies on to advocate that Arabic should be embraced by all Nigerians regardless of their socio-religious affiliations and the geographical locations.

 

 

 

2.0 The appalling Nigerian language situation

Language is the most noticeable feature of social entity and the most enduring aspect of any culture. Culture, as opined by E.B. Tylor (Anne Cooper and Elsie A. Maxwell 2003: 148)  is “that complex whole which included knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of a society”. Language is very critical to the preservation of cultural heritage of any given society and very vital to  its harmonious coexistence. Nothing can be more truthful and realistic in this regard than the Arabic saying which goes thus: “He who learns the language of a people becomes immune to their ploy”. It is also the most major distinguishing factor between human beings and other living creatures and the most highly developed form of communication that man is endowed with. Its essence, significance and status as a social activity is evident in Augusta Phil Omamar’s (2003: 27) conceptualization thus:

 

Language, whatever else it may or may not be, is the most important, most often used and most highly developed form of human communication. It is, in a sense, what sets humans apart from other animals which also happen to communicate in the sense of transmitting information of one kind or the other from a sender/source to a receiver. The big difference in the case of humans is not just that both sender and receiver are human as would naturally be expected, but also that the message is either sent vocally through the air and the vocal organs, orthographically by making particular kind of marks on paper.

 

Nigeria, being the most populous African country, is being looked upon to take its rightful position in leadership position of the continent. Apart from the numerical strength that naturally gives the country an edge above other countries, the assertion that  the country is naturally endowed amounts to stating the obvious.  Reader (Reader, J. 1997: 660) observed thus: “The surge of optimism which has accompanied the transfer of power in Africa has been especially evident in the case of Nigeria. With the continent’s largest population, experienced politicians, an efficient civil service and the benefit of a strong, diversified economy, Nigeria was expected to be at the fore-front of economic and political progress in Africa leading the continent’s transition from an under –developed to a developed region”.

However, the materialization of the above hope remains a mirage due to a large number of factors too numerous to mention here. What this writer is pre-occupied with at this juncture is how multiplicity of languages has contributed to the backwardness or retardation of the country’s socio-political and economic spheres. In other to establish the enormity of the problem, let us first take a brief look at the country’s linguistic setting.

To try to determine the exact number of languages indigenous to Nigeria is a daunting task. Estimates have ranged from 200 to 400. The fundamental problem is a linguistic one: the problem of differentiating language from dialect, of deciding how to classify a particular speech system that serves for communication within a social group. In a situation of such multiplicity, it is not surprising (though not inevitable) that greater prominence that some languages enjoy over others is determined by number of speakers. Again, for lack of reliable statistics, it is impossible to be precise, but there can be no doubt that the number of native speakers of three of Nigeria’s languages, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo, runs to several millions(Jowitt, D. 1991: 9). Apart from the three languages, languages like Kanuri, Fulfulde, Tiv, Efik, Ibibio, Edo, Nupe, Gwari, Igala and Idoma have millions of people that are speaking each of them as their mother tongue.

It is this multi –ethnic situation that threw up the country’s immediate post –independent rulers and the first generation of politicians who have been accepted as national heroes. While the duo of AlhajiAbubakarTafawaBalewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello represented the interest of the Hausa – Fulani tribes of the North, Chiefs ObafemiAwolowo and, to a lesser degree, Samuel LadokeAkintola were regarded as leaders of Yorubas while Dr. NnamdiAzikiwe who was then assisted by Sir Michael Okpara held the sway the Igbo –speaking Eastern Nigeria. Each of these tried their best to protect and project the interests of their tribes and  ethnic entities. In other to actualize this and towards leaving their indelible marks in the annals of history, each of the above-mentioned national heroes left no stone unturned to make their people the dominant tribe in the affairs of the country (Adedimeji, A.A.A. 2012: 125).

This scenario led to a lot of unhealthy rivalry, accusations and counter –accusations that heated up the polity and threatened to tear the nation to shreds. The events that led to the nation’s protracted civil war that occurred between 1967-1970are too glaring to expatiate on at this juncture. This situation has made Adedimeji (Adedimeji M.A. 2012: 166) to conclude that, naturally, “ the language question assumes a critical and controversial dimension in a multi-lingual country, a typical example of which is Nigeria, with several languages competing for roles when the question is unduly politicized and sentimentalized”.

One measure that the successive military governments that ruled the country thought will break the backbone of predominance of three major tribes on the national scene, the unnecessary rivalry between them and what resulted from their overbearing posture at the regional level was states’ creation. The then powerful three regions were continually broken into smaller and weaker states that stand now at 36 and the Federal Capital Territory (F.C.T.)

However, states’ creation and breaking of the country into smaller units had, rather solve the pathetic situation, aggravated Nigeria’s ethnic and social problems. The hitherto smaller tribes who counted very little or nothing in the scene during the era of regions have become supers and formidable challengers in the present-day states. With each of them insisting to be officially recognized, virtually every tribe in each of the states want its language recognized and given its due by airing news and events in its mother tongue.

It is in response to these divergent agitations that Jowitt (Jowitt, D. 1991:9) asserted that in old Plateau State which consists of the present Plateau and Nasarawa States, news was usually given in no fewer than eleven languages while in the old Bendel State, which has been broken to Edo and Delta States, the situation was not far from being similar as news is being aired in seven different languages. In Kwara state which is one of the smallest states in Nigeria, the present writer who has worked in the state for some years can attest to the fact that news broadcasts and some other vital programmes are duplicated in most public Radio and Television stations in not less than five different languages.

In a nutshell, the multiplicity of Nigerian indigenous languages has been a curse to the country more than a blessing. It has led to shedding of blood, intra-friction, inter-friction and bitterness between contending tribal leaders who are always at each other’s throat. In addition to this, it has battered the country’s image abroad and contributed in no small measure to the economic retardation and retrogression of the country. Not few people in and outside the country believed that the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late business mogul, Chief MoshoodAbiola and the political impasse that followed the silly and sinful action was due to the reluctance of the then military government headed by a Northerner to hand over power to a freely and democratically elected Yoruba man from the South. (Adedimeji, A.A.A. 2012: 126). Or else, how can one justify the then military junta’s  annulment of election won by a candidate adjudged to be one of the best brains and most detribalized Nigerians?

This ugly situation and the need to have a national language that will unify all Nigerians regardless of their affiliations and the geographical locations where they hail from make the consideration of Arabic for this purpose at this juncture desirable and imperative. I need to assert here that English which is the country’s official language is incapable of playing this role as experience has shown that a larger percentage of Nigerians do not speak it due to its elitist nature on one part and the fact some groups or individuals still regard it, rightly or wrongly, as a colonial imposition that is better discarded.

 

3.0     Arabic presence in Africa and its acceptability in the world

Although it is right to refer to Arabic as the liturgical language of Islam, it does not derive its significance from the noble religion alone. Rather, it is an international language which enjoys a very wide acceptance. It is has played a vital role in the socio –political life of the early West African Empires.

For example, the famous Mansa Kankan Musa who ruled the Old Mali Empire between 1307A.D. and 1332A.D. utilized his connections with the Arabs to better the lots of his subjects and consolidate his hos on government. His historical pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324A.D. was a landmark event in the history of the Empire and a turning point in the prosperity of its economy. It is difficult to forget the laudable role Mansa Musa’s connection with the Arabs played in the life and educational development of his people. AsOjelabi (Ojelabi, A. :19) noted:

“On his return, Musa came back with Arab scholars to Mali who helped in raising the standard of learning and the form of architecture. Among others, Es-Saheli, a Spanish Arab who was also a poet accompanied Musa home. Saheli helped to build the magnificent brick mosques of Gao and Timbuktu. He also built a stone palace for Musa in Timbuktu. The Sankore mosque in Timbuktu also served as important centre of learning. The standard of learning was as high as in a modern university. This was evidenced by the fact that a teacher brought from Mecca by Musa had to be sent to Morocco for a three year further training before he could teach at Sankore”.

In fact, Mansa Musa’s real claim to a place of distinction came in consequence of the foreign recognition he gained for Mali. As a result of his pilgrimage, Mali was recognized as world power. Under Musa, Mali established diplomatic missions in Egypt, Arabia and Morocco. He cultivated a somewhat intra –personal friendship with the Sultan of Fez. In 1339, Mali was represented on a world map with the inscription “Rex Malley” while other maps in 1375 bore witness to the existence and greatness of Mansa Musa’s Mali Empire (Ojelabi, A: 13).

This situation of acceptability of Arabic in Africa is not limited to Old Mali Empire alone, it is a fact that Arabic has harmoniously related, and still relating, with the continent. It ranks as the language that has the most influence on African languages, especially Swahili, Hausa, Wolof, Fulfulde and Yoruba. In addition to the major African languages, there are in Nigeria, such other languages such as Nupe, Ebira and Igala that have a large chunk of Arabic lexical items. In fact, Swahili which is one of the major African languages and, perhaps, the most widely spoken of all them derived its name, as attested to by reader, from Arabic. According to Reader (Reader, J.1997 :175-176): “The name itself comes from Arabic Sahil, meaning shore or coast, and could be translated to as “coast dialect”.

 

At the contemporary level, Arabic is socio-politically on the sprawl across international borders. The spate of spread and importance of Arabic, for example, is evident in the very frequent use of Arabic on the electronic media by the B.B.C., the V.O.N. and the Voice of Nigeria. The Dutch, French, German and Russian national radio stations continually air Arabic versions of their programmes regularly over their network. Besides, Aljazeera (High Arabic Version of CNN’s programme), beams news and programmes to the Arabic –speaking world with this all-important language. The numerous Arabic –satellite transmitting stations beaming programmes to the world give credence to the continuous rise of Arabic internationally. Currently, Arabic is being used as one the languages at the United Nations (U.N.) and at such regional groupings such as the African Union (A.U.) and the Economic Community of West African States (E.C.O.W.A.S.) (Aje, S.A. 2004: 12).

 

4.0 Prospects and benefits of Arabic as Nigerian national language

The advent of Arabic to Nigeria, as common to all African and world countries whose people embraced Islam, is closely linked to the advent of the religion to the country. This has been as far back as eleventh country. This means that the advent of the language to Nigeria has already clocked 1,000 years. This is because of the fact that “Mai UmmeJilmi (better known as Ibn Abdul Jelil) was the first Bornu-ruler to accept Islam in 1085. DunamaDabeleni was the next ruler to accept and this was in the 13th century”(Ojelabi, A: 13).­

With the above fact, Arabic is the first foreign language that made successful incursion into the Nigerian soil. In fact, referring to Arabic as a foreign language is not accurate as it is known that the Shuwa Arabs of the present – day Bornu State, although relatively small in number, speak Arabic as their mother tongue. So, this writer is very comfortable to say categorically that Arabic is the only indigenous Nigerian language that enjoys global widespread and international acceptance.

Also, Nigeria stands to benefit economically and socially if Arabic is given its rightful place both at the official and unofficial quarters. There is virtually no country in the world today, except the Vatican, perhaps, that has no teaming Muslim population that stands at, at least, tens of thousands. As  at 1978, the Muslim world population was estimated to be 700 million people. This figure must have doubled by now. The most populous Muslim nation is Indonesia which had 135 million Muslims as at then. It is followed by Bangladesh which had 75 million. Standing in the third position is Pakistan with the 73 million Muslim populations. Other populous Muslim nations are: India, Turkey, Nigeria, Egypt and Iran which had 65 million, 40 million, 35 million, 34 million and 33 million Muslims respectively(Al-Kiyaali, A. 1990: 1\189) . The figures quoted above must have doubled by now since more than thirty five years have passed after the quoted estimation. In short, apart from 35 countries that are officially recognized as Muslim\Islamic countries, about 17 countries which include Nigeria have large Muslim population that ranges between 38.7% and 98% (Anne Cooper and Elsie A. Maxwell 2003: 261-262. All thesecountries where teeming number of Muslims reside have large numbers of patrons and admirers of Arabic.

The fact that Arabic is a widely-accepted medium of communication and a very important language to numerous people at the global level is emphasized by Encyclopedia Britannica when it describes it as “of over-whelming importance as the language of the revelation of Islam and of the Qur’an, which Muslims regard as the epitome of literary excellence”.

Although, in the light of the afore-stated reality, it is right to refer to Arabic as the liturgical language of Islam, it does not derive its significance from the divine religion alone. Rather, it is an international language which enjoys a very wide acceptance. It has also contributed in no small measure to human civilization. The wide acceptance, universality and vintage status of Arabic vis-à-vis other international languages is chronicled by Oladosu(Oladosu, A.G.A.S. 2012: 10-11), relying heavily on a research published by the duo of Chejne and B. Whitaker in 1969 and 2009 respectively, in these glittering words:

 

Arabic is a universally recognized language, occupying a position which is not less in status and rank than that occupied by other international languages like English, French or German. It has long been adopted by the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as a tool for political and diplomatic exchange. Arabic has native speakers in Africa and Asia, emigrants in North and South America and many non-native speakers scattered around the world. In Africa, it is the native tongue of countries like Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, the Western Sahara and the Sudan. In Asia, it is the medium of expression for countries like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar, Yemen and Palestine. By 1969, it was estimated that, altogether, Arabic was being used as liturgical language by more than four hundred million (400,000,000) people. Currently, Arabic ranks sixth in the world’s league table of languages. It is spoken as a mother tongue by an estimated 186 native speakers. The five languages ahead of Arabic are Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, English and Bengali.

 

From the picture painted above, we can notice the vintage position  Arabicoccupies in the contemporary worldand the rank of Nigeria in the comity of highly populous Muslim nations. Most of the above-named countries are more developed than Nigeria economically, technologically and militarily. Also, the numerical strength of these countries cannot be overlooked. Saudi-Arabia and the Gulf nations which, although smaller in Muslim population than Nigeria, have Arabic as their mother-tongue and official language. The economic and strategic importance of these Gulf States in the contemporary world, especially Saudi-Arabia and United Arabs’ Emirates, cannot be over-emphasized. The assertion that these highly-endowed nations influence the contemporary global politics amounts to stating the obvious.

At the continental level, majority of North African countries that include: Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia and Algeria are Arab countries. In the sub-region of  West Africa, Morocco and Mauritania are Arab countries while a large population of  Senegalese and Gambians patronize and speak  Arabic. The summary of this proposition is that adoption of Arabic as the national language is not, and should not be seen as, a self-serving agenda of the Muslims alone but a holistic approach of making the country more relevant to many African countries, better integrated into the world and benefit from the enormous resources of the Arabic-speaking countries through bilateral trade that can be facilitated by sharing their language.

Another factor that makes Arabic the most viable alternative to English is the fact that it is the only language that Nigerians, indeed the world at large, acquire willingly without thinking of any material gain. It predated English by centuries and has, therefore, become part and parcel of millions of Nigerians and their means of communication that does not know state and regional barriers. This fact has been buttressed by Jowitt(Jowitt, D. 1991: 21) who asserted thus:

“English is not the only non-indigenous language learned by Nigerians. Long before the first Englishmen visited the coast of Nigeria, Arab missionaries, explorers and traders had brought their language to what is now the Northern part of Nigeria. The more intensive Islamization of North in the nineteenth century resulting from the Jihad of UsmandanFodio meant a great increase the number of Nigerians learning Arabic for religious purposes, chiefly in Koranic (sic) schools, and this increase has undoubtedly continued to the present day, especially as many facilities have been created for the study of Arabic at Secondary and tertiary levels. From Arabic, numerous words have entered into the vocabulary of certain Nigeria languages, notably Hausa was written in Arabic script. For some Nigerian Islamic teachers or students, Arabic potentially serves not only as a language of study and religious observance but also for inter-personal communication; and many of them know Arabic better than English. One small group in Borno State has Arabic as its mother-tongue”.

From the above, we can deduce that the decision to adopt English as the Nigeria’s official language was not well thought by the first generation of our indigenous rulers. I heap the blame on the first set of our indigenous rulers because they had the ample opportunity of changing the status quo immediately the colonialists granted independence to this country. This writer is surprised to discover that the colonialists, despite their selfishness and well-known cultural imperialism agenda, never openly declared English as the official language. This fact was exposed by another Christian researcher who  said inter alia:

“The colonial government never expressly declared English as the official language of Nigeria. The tradition going back to the Roman Empire was simply assumed that the colonized adopt the language of the colonizer since the colonizer cannot be expected to operate in anything except in his own mother tongue” (Banjo, Ayo 1996: 66).

Talking about preservation of Nigerian history and its heritage, Arabic has paid its dues.Arabic language can serve as a veritable tool for the attainment of mutual cohesion and national harmony in Nigeria if it is viewed from the fact that it is the oldest language of civilization in the entire West African sub-region. “Before a single West African son knew a word in English or French, some of his people must have learnt Arabic and in many cases started to write various African Languages in Arabic characters, just as English and French are written in Roman characters” (Abubakre, 2004: 5).

Besides,Oloyede (2012: 29) has chronicled that “ no one can deny the intellectual and administrative roles of Islamic scholarship in pre-Independence and administrative Northern and South-Western Nigeria as Arabic Language was a saving grace for Africa’s original contribution to knowledge”.

To buttress the noble role that Arabic language has played in the history of modern-day Nigeria and the fact that it has served as a carrier of civilization and torch – bearer of progress in the nation’s immediate and remote past history, a vivid testimony of  reputable Christian historian and renowned  academic, Kenneth O. Dike, is relevant here:

As an historian myself, I have taken the keenest in this development, for it is through the aid of these Arabic documents and these written in African language in the Arabic script that the scholar will be aided in his task of unlocking the secrets of the African past. It has been a revelation to the whole world of scholarship to realize for the first time that Africa before the European penetration, so far from being a dark continent where the light of scholarship shone brightly, as the Arabic works now being discovered bear testimony… The Arabic scholars of the present, drawing upon the writings of the Arabic scholars of the past, will be able to bring before us the events and happenings of the past ages of Nigeria and so help us to write a history we may rightly call our own” (Oloyede, 2012: 2/48).

The vital roles the contemporary Arabic scholars can play in unlocking the nation’s history as well as the pivotal position of Arabic in beaming the light of knowledge on the African continent are not farfetched, as can be seen from the above-quoted testimony. This reality portrays the language as part and parcel of Nigeria and demonstrates that it is a viable and suitable answer to our national language question as its adoption will surely engender scholarship, facilitate harmony and limit or eradicate the frequent tribal confrontations  and ethnic violence that are unfortunately rampant in our polity.

 

Conclusion

The fact that Arabic has served as a means of historical preservation and an  indigenous language in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general is evident from the above study. Also, the fact that that it is one of the most powerfuland widely-accepted languages cannot be over-emphasised. This paper has used this historical and linguistic facts to buttress that the glorious past of Arabic can be rekindled if official recognition is accorded to this benevolent language by our governments in the various levels and fair-minded scholars begin to see reason  why it deserves to be recognized as our national language so that the country will not only continue to unlock its past through it but mutual and harmonious co-existence between its various nationalities could be achieved on one side and Nigeria will attain accelerated development through bilateral and regional co-operation with the relatively rich and more developed Arab and Islamic countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

  • Abubakre, R.D. (2004) The Interplay of Arabic and Yoruba Cultures in South-Western Nigeria,Iwo: Darul-‘Ilm Publishers.
  • Adedimeji, A.A.A. (2012) “The Prospects of Arabic Language as a Unifying Force for Nigerian Muslims” In Abdul-Raheem, M.A. (Ed.),Challenges of Moon Sighting and Preservation of Arabic Manuscriptsin Nigeria, Ijebu-Ode: Sebiotimo Publications, Ijebu-Ode, National Association of Teachers of Arabic and Islamic Studies (NATAIS), pp. 121-140.
  • Adedimeji M.A. (2012), “Islamic Education in Nigeria and Al-Ilori: The Language Question and the Challenges Ahead” In R.D. Abubakre, (Ed.), Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory in the Tableau of Immortality,(Riyadh: Nigerian Centre for Arabic Research, 2012,) 2, 159-181.
  • Aje, S.A. (2004) “A Survey of the Sociolinguistic setting of Arabic in Nigeria” in JARS (Journal of Arabic and Religious Studies), a Publication of Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, Ilorin.
  • Cooper A. & Maxwell E.A. (2003) Ishmael My Brother: A Christian Introduction to Islam, Kaduna: Evangel Publishers Ltd.

Al-Kiyaali, A. et al (1990), Maosuuatus-Siyaasah, Beirut: Al-Muassasatul-Arobiyyah Lid-Diraasat Wan-Nashr.

  • Dike, K.O. (as quoted by Oloyede, I.O. in “Trends, Development and Challenges of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Nigerian Universities: The Contributions of Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilori” in Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory in the Tableau of Immortality, Riyadh: Nigerian Centre for Arabic Research, 2/45-67.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica(2007), Chicago: William Benton Publishers, vols. 6 and 18.
  • Jowitt, D. (1991) Nigerian English Usage: An Introduction, Ikeja, Longman Plc.
  • Ojelabi, A. , A Textbook of West African History, Ibadan, Educational Research Institute.
  • Oladosu, A.G.A.S. (2012) Fluctuations in the Fortunes of Arabic Education in Nigeria, (Ilorin: University of Ilorin Library and Publication Committee.
  • Oloyede, I.O. (2012) Islamics:The Conflux of Disciplines, Ilorin: University of Ilorin Library and Publication Committee.
  • Omamar, A.P. (2003) “Of Linguistics, Knowledge and Service to the Nation”, In Saliu, N.B. (Ed.), Nigerian Universities’ Inaugural Lectures Series, Abuja: National Universities Commission, p. 23-42.
  • Reader, J. (1997) Africa: A Biography of the Continent, London, Pengium Books.

 

ARABIC LANGUAGE AND ISLAMIC EDUCATION AS AGENTS OF NATIONAL COHESION AND DEVELOPMENT

Dr. Abdul-Hafeez Adeniyi Ahmad Adedimeji,

 University Grand Imaam & Coordinator of Department of General Studies,

 Fountain University,

Osogbo.

 

E-mail: abdulhafeezadedimeji@gmail.com,abdulhafeezmeji@yahoo.com

 

Tel: +2348059310129& +2348121521380

 

Abstract

 

The fact that education, in its true sense, emancipates and liberates its possessor amounts to stating the obvious. In the same vein, it is an incontrovertible fact that education can take many forms and serve many needs. While it is widely acknowledged that one of the greatest threats facing humanity is the problem of insecurity that is not only slowing down the much-anticipated development but poses danger to human existence, the vital role that Arabic language and Islamic Education which calls for unity, preaches peace and exemplifies harmonious relationship between all races and nations cannot be over-emphasised. The main objective of this paper is to examine the positive roles that Muslims, the torch-bearers of Arabic language and Islamic evangelism, have played in human development. It also seeks to  x-ray. Generally, expository  methodology was used in the course of this study while historical approach was resorted to where necessary. The study discovered that Arabic has played important role in the preservation of Nigerian history and arrives at the fact that muslims have been actively partaking in human development since the advent of Islam up till the contemporary time . Based on the above, the paper recommends  that proper recognition of Arabic be accorded to Arabic as a vital language and advocates that its importance does not lie in being the liturgical  language of the Muslims alone. In short, this study serves as an eye-opener to what Nigerians as a people in particular,  and humanity in general,  stand to gain in terms of peace and development if Arabic language and Islamic Education are given due consideration and proper patronage.

 

Keywords: Arabic language, Islamic Education, Development Agents, Nigeria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Language is the medium of communication between human beings. It is a social activity that human cannot be complete without. Every human being, by nature, has a language which he/she is affiliated with. Each community or group of people that speaks the same language is referred to as language group. Altogether, there are more than one thousand language groups worldwide.(Adedimeji, A. A. A. 2012:121).

It is the most noticeable distinguishing factor between human beings and other living creatures of the animal kingdom and the most highly developed form of communication man is endowed with. Its essence, significance and status as a social activity is evident in the lens of Augusta Phil Omamar (2003) when he attempted defining it thus:

“Language, whatever else it may or may not be, is the most important,most often used and most highly developed form of human communicationIt is, in a sense, what sets humans apart from other animals which also happen to communicate in the sense of transmitting information of one kind or the otherfrom a sender/source to a receiver. The big difference in the case of human is notjust that both sender and receiver are human as would naturally be expected, but also that the message is either sent vocally through the air and the vocal organs, orgraphically by making particular kind of marks on paper.

There are languages whose speakers cannot exceed thousands of people while there are others whose speakers can be counted in millions or, in rare cases, in tens or hundreds of millions.(Adedimeji, A. A. A. 2012:121). While discussing the numerical strength of various languages, Al-Kiyaali (1990) positioned that there are twelve languages whose speakers exceed fifty millions per each of them. These are: English, German, Russian, Japanese, Arabic, Bengali, Claytonia, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Urdu and French.

From the above-mentioned position, it is crystally clear that Arabic is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world. Apart from this, the language is “of over-whelming importance as the language of the revelation of Islam and of the Qur’an, which muslims regard as the epitome of literary excellence”.(Encyclopedia Britannica, 6: 411).

Although, in the light of the afore-stated reality, it is right to refer to Arabic as the liturgical language of Islam, it does not derive its significance from the divine religion alone. Rather, it is an international language which enjoys a very wide acceptance. It has also contributed in no small measure to human civilization. The wide acceptance, universality and vintage status of Arabic vis-à-vis other international languages is chronicled by Oladosu (2012), relying heavily on a research published by the duo of Chejneand B. Whitaker in 1969 and 2009 respectively, in these glittering words:

 

“Arabic is a universally recognized language, occupying a position which is not less in status and rank than that occupied by other international languages like English, French or German. It has long been adopted by the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as a tool for political and diplomatic exchange. Arabic has native speakers in Africa and Asia, emigrants in North and South America and many non-native speakers scattered around the world. In Africa, it is the native tongue of countries like Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, the Western Sahara and the Sudan. In Asia, it is the medium of expression for countries like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar, Yemen and Palestine. By 1969, it was estimated that, altogether, Arabic was being used as liturgical language by more than four hundred million (400,000,000) people. Currently, Arabic ranks sixth in the world’s league table of languages. It is spoken as a mother tongue by an estimated 186 native speakers. The five languages ahead of Arabic are Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, English and Bengali. (Oladosu A.G.A.S. 2012: 10-11).

 

Arabic being a liturgical language of Islam

Islam is a globally-accepted celestial religion that has its adherents in the nooks and crannies of the world. It was revealed to Prophet Muhammad Bin Abdullah (Peace Be Upon Him), a Qurashite Arab man. Its holy book is the glorious Qur’an and its official language is Arabic. Thus, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary aptly defines it as “the Muslim religion, based on the belief in one God and revealed through Muhammad as the Prophet of Allah”(Hornby, A.S. 2000: 780).

Although Islam, alongside Christianity and Judaism , is one of the three greatest faiths in the world, its uniqueness emanates from the fact that it does not only connotes a religion but encapsulates the ideal way of life for all its adherents. This is the reason why “the most important and fundamental religious concept of Islam is that of the Sharicah, or the Law, which embraces the total way of life as explicitly and implicitly commanded by God.”(Encyclopedia Britannica, 5: 409)

For example, Islamic Sharicah covers a large range of all human endeavours such as business, education, science, social interactions like marriage, ceremonies, divorce, diet, wearing, mating, planting, agriculture, hunting, courtship, lending, and leisure activities in addition to acts of worship like mandatory prayers, alms-giving, fasting, supplicating, holy pilgrimage and missionary works in such a comprehensive and elaborate way that no religion can lay claims to such. No wonder, the most Exalted Allah stated inter alia in the Glorious Qur’an: {And there is no creature on/within the earth or bird that flies with its wings except that they are communities like you. We have not omitted anything in the Book (Qur’an). Then, unto their Lord they will be gathered}.(Qur’an: 6:38).

The Hadith (which is the sayings, actions and reactions of Prophet Muhammad in every situation as aptly related and accurately recorded by those who actually witnessed or heard them) is also available to shed more light on whatever is summarized in the Glorious Qur’an. This is in fulfillment of Allah’s commandment to his Prophet (Muhammad) –P.B.U.H- which is unequivocally stated thus: { And We revealed to you the message (i.e. the Qur’an) so that you will explain to the people what was sent down to them and that they may give thought (to it}.( Qur’an: 16:44).

Along with the large collections of Hadith, the biography of the Prophet Muhammad- popularly known as “Seerah” in Islamic circles-is well –known as part of recorded history and source of legislation in Islam. The Prophet’s biographers were historians who, within the first century after his death, began to gather all the facts they could from various sources available, most of them oral. These included descriptions of battles and other events, descriptions of the Prophet’s character, descriptions of people with whom he came in contact with and various other biographical information.

Added to the above-mentioned sources of inspiration, guidance and legislation is the explanations of the Qur’an and the expatiation on the Hadith by the renowned scholars of repute. The authoritative books bequeathed to the Muslim Ummah (global society) by these eminent scholars also complement other sources of Islamic adjudication and enrich in such a way that there is hardly any issue in human society that a historical precedent and religious pronouncement will not be readily available for a Muslim to measure against.

Its noteworthy that Islam is not distinct in the availability of these sources of legislation but in the fact that it is the only religion where these sources are distinctly in existence. The Holy Book of Islam which Allah’s words-known as Qur’an- is independently available and permanently protected in a way that gives no room for revisions, editions and/or variations.

In the same vein, the books of the Hadiths and its categorizations are also independently available. Likewise, there are books which focus on the Prophet’s biography while there are others which centre on ideas, views and explanations of scholars of proven integrity. This is in contrast with books of other religions where the history of people, biographies of Prophets and views of their associates, disciples and/or historians are lumped together and regarded as holy and divine!

On the universality of Islam and the spread of its adherents, muslim population constituted 12% of the world population, coming second after Christianity which had 27%, in the advent of the twentieth century. (Adedimeji M.A. 2012: 2\159). Despite the existential challenges that it has faced, especially since the World War I till the aftermath events of September 11, 2011, which make its adherents to face various forms of decapitation, annihilation,relegation,humiliation and intimidation,  M.A. Adedimeji (2012), relying on October 9th, 2009 edition of, noted that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world.

 

It is the second largest religion in USA (3.7% Muslim), United Kingdom (4% Muslim), Canada (2% Muslim), France (7% Muslim) and Germany (3.5%). Contrary to the impression held by many, the Arabs constitute a minority in the world population of Muslims, constituting just 18% while non-Arabs are 82%. Africans constitute 20% of the world Muslim population and “there are altogether 241 million Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa, making up about 15% of the world’s Muslim population”, according to the October 2009 report of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.(Adedimeji M.A. 2012: 2\159).

Coming to Nigeria, the most widely-read national newspaper has asserted that there are 78 million muslims in Nigeria, constituting 50% percent of the national population and 5% of the global muslim population; the remaining 50% of Nigerians are distributed between Christians and traditional religionists.( The Punch, 9th October, 2009: 53).

 

The link between Arabic language and Islamic education as tools for National Cohesion, Stability and Development

Although Arabic is the native language of the Arabs while Islam is the global religion revealed for the mankind through Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.), as earlier asserted, the facts that the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic, muslims mostly worship their Creator using the Arabic medium and the reality that most non-Arab muslims learn Arabic for the sake of understanding Islam make both Arabic language and Islamic education to interweave to the extent of fusion. According to Abubakre (2002), “the dynasties of Ummayad and Abbasid Empires contributed immensely to the rise of Arabic as the official language of the Islamic religion, business and administration. This way, Arabic was able to gain linguistic pre-eminence over the territories of converts”.(Abubakre R. D. 2002: 25).  From this, we can see that the two disciplines are inter-related, hence the need to treat both as a set of twins.

Arabic education can serve as a veritable tool for the attainment of lasting peace and national development in Nigeria if it is viewed from the fact that it is the oldest language of civilization in the entire West African sub-region. “Before a single West African son knew a word in English or French, some of his people must have learnt Arabic and in many cases started to write various African Languages in Arabic characters, just as English and French are written in Roman characters” (Abubakre R. D. 2004: 5).

In fact, Oloyede (2012) has chronicled that “ no one can deny the intellectual and administrative roles of Islamic scholarship in pre-independence and administrative Northern and South-Western Nigeria as Arabic Language was a saving grace for Africa’s original contribution to knowledge”(Oloyede I. O. 2012: 29).

To buttress the noble role that Arabic language has played in the history of modern-day Nigeria and the fact that it has served as a carrier of civilization and torch – bearer of progress in the nation’s immediate and remote past history, a vivid testimony of an unbiased Christian historian, Dike (1965) is relevant here:

 

As an historian myself, I have taken the keenest in this development, for it is through the aid of these Arabic documents and those written in African languages in the Arabic script that the scholar will be aided in his task of unlocking the secrets of the African past. It has been a revelation to the whole world of scholarship to realize for the first time that Africa before the European penetration, so far from being a dark continent where the light of scholarship shone brightly, as the Arabic works now being discovered bear testimony… The Arabic scholars of the present, drawing upon the writings of the Arabic scholars of the past, will be able to bring before us the events and happenings of the past ages of Nigeria and so help us to write a history we may rightly call our own.(Dike K. O. 1965: 31-32).

 

The fact that Arabic has served as a means of historical preservation and an agent of development to Nigerians in particular and Africans in general, as evident from the quotation above, cannot be over-emphasised. What is pertinent to be buttressed here is that the glorious past of Arabic education can be rekindled if official recognition is accorded to this benevolent language by our governments in the various levels. It is high time for our fair-minded scholars to begin to see reason  why it deserves to be recognized as our national language so that the country will not only continue to unlock its past through it but mutual and harmonious co-existence between its various nationalities will be achieved on one side and Nigeria will attain accelerated development through bilateral and regional co-operation with the relatively rich developed Arab and Islamic countries on the other side.

Closely related to Arabic language education is the Islamic education. Education, which has been defined as “the transmission of the values and accumulated knowledge of a society”(Encyclopedia Britannica, 14\18) knows no barriers of languages and cultures. More than any civilization, Islam has contributed to the advancement of knowledge which is the driving force of development.

 

The translation into Latin of most Islamic works during the 12th and 13th centuries had a great impact upon the European Renaissance…… By 1300, when all that was worthwhile in Muslim scientific, philosophical and social learning had been transmitted to European schoolmen through Latin translations, European Scholars stood once again on the solid ground of Hellenistic thought, enriched or modified through Muslim and Byzantine effort.(Encyclopedia Britannica, 14\17).

 

The perspicacious assessment of role of Islam quoted above explains the position and goal of Islamic education. In Islam, education is about learning and trying to know the unknown. It is about the liberation of the mind and the development of the intellect. It is about trying to develop the intellect, mind, aspiration and assessment of the world and trying to use it to improve every individual’s personality, his environment and the entire community. In short, education is an essential part of Islam and the foundation on which is built. This explains why the word ever revealed by God to his Prophet, Muhammad (P.B.U.H.), in the Glorious Quran is “Read”. It is noteworthy that the word “Read” is broader than another closely word which is “Recite”. While the former deals with all aspects of knowledge, the latter focuses on religious verses alone. In fact, Allah delved on reproduction and embryonic developments of foetus which are scientific issues in the first verses. He communicated to His most beloved Prophet (P.B.U.H.) thus:

(Read in the name of your Lord Who created*He created man from a clinging substance (i.e. sperm) *Read, and your Lord is the most Generous*(it is He) Who taught through the pen* He taught man which he knew not*).(Qur’an: 96: 1-5).

In the light of the above, we can see that Islamic education covers all aspects of knowledge and it is not limited, contrary to the popular belief, to spiritual or religious education alone. This is why a popular versatile writer, Asad (1934), observed that:

Islam has never been a barrier to progress and science. It appreciates the intellectual activities of man to such a degree as to place him above the angels.21 No other religion went so far in asserting the predominance of reason and, consequently, of learning, above all other manifestations of life. If we conform ourselves  to the principles of this religion we cannot wish to eliminate modern learning out of our life. We wish to learn and to progress and to become scientifically and economically as efficient as the western nations are. (Asad M. 1934, 80).

While Islam enjoins its adherents to acquire and embrace all useful forms of knowledge, it is noteworthy that religious education occupies a vintage position in what a Muslim should familiarize himself/herself about. Islamically – speaking, the spiritual education is the bedrock of every knowledge. So, in Islam, to be truly religious, one has to possess some basic religious knowledge which will not be only useful to him/her in worshipping his/her Creator but also serves a guide to man in harmonious relationship with other creatures (man and other animals), an agent of positive change and  a torch to lighten the way for others who have went astray. So, the totality of knowledge and education postulates that without knowledge about God, about life, about creation, about the requirements of worship and about the fulfillment of man’s mission, one cannot worship God and, consequently, one cannot live happily and successfully within himself/herself and with his/her other country-men. Therefore, a devout Muslim is expected to regularly read the Glorious Qur’an so that he/she will know Allah’s injunctions of how to live the best way and relate with others.

For example, on the acquisition of knowledge and its essence, Almighty Allah buttressed that knowledge is life and the fact that an ignorant man is not living life to its fullest was stated in various forms and different verses of His Book. In verse 9 of chapter 39 (Suratuaz-Zumar) of the Qur’an, He asks rhetorically thus:{Are those who know equal to those who do not know?!’’ It is only men of understanding remember (and derive lessons from Allah’s signs}. In verse 28 of Chapter 35 (Suratu Faatir) however, he equates knowledge with piety thus: {It is only those who have knowledge among his slaves that fear Allah}. Likewise, He promised that He will exalt the pious and the knowledgeable people in degrees when he said in verse 11 of Chapter 58 (Suuratul – Mujaadilah) thus: {Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge}.

On peaceful co-existence and orderliness of the society, these are some Islamic teachings that promote tolerance, understanding and loyalty to the constituted authority. {Do not let the hatred of people who (once) stopped you from (entering) Al-Masjid Al-Haram) (at Makkah ) lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part). Cooperate in righteous and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression}. (Chapter 5, verse 2) {Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and to judge with justice when you judge between people. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Truly, Allah is ever All-Hearer, All-seer. O you who believe! Obey Allah and Obey the Messenger (Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him) and those in authority among you}. (Qur’an 4, 58-59).

Apart from the lessons and facts derivable from the afore-mentioned verses of the Glorious Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.), led an exemplary life of honesty, righteousness, tolerance and peace that is yet unrivalled in history. Suffice at this juncture is the leadership qualities he bequeathed to the entire mankind when he was saddled with the onerous responsibility of managing the affairs of the entire Ummah at its inception and heading the multi-religious Madeenah community after his and his followers’ emigration to the holy city. In fact, it is not an overstatement when one states that Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) has, through his actions, deeds and utterances, demonstrated statesmanship more than any mortal in the history of humanity. The ground-breaking Sulhul-Hudaibeyyah (i.e. the Peace Treaty of Al-Haudaibeyyah)23 serves as a glittering example of the high sense of diplomacy, sagacity and statemanship of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.). in the talks that were held between SuhailIbn Amir, who was delegated by the infidel Quraish people to act as their mouthpiece, and the Prophet (P.B.U.H.), the two opposing camps agreed as follows:

 

  1. The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) should return back that year and he should not be given access to Makkah. Whenever the Muslims come in the following year, they would be allowed to enter Makkah with the arms of riders only (i.e. their swords should be sheathed).
  2. Wars between the two parties should be suspended for ten years when people enjoy security and abstain from all acts of fighting against one another.
  3. He who wants to go into agreement with Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) can do so. Similarly, he who wants to make a treaty with Quraish can do so. The tribe that joins either of the two parties is regarded as part of it. So, any act of aggression made against any tribe can be deemed as an attack on the relevant party.
  4. He who defects to Muhammad (P.B.U.H.), among the Quraish people, without his guardian’s permission (i.e. as fugitives), should be sent back. Contrarily, he who seeks asylum to Quraish from among the followers of Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) should not be returned to him.(Al-Mubarakfuriy S. 1999, 347-348).

One who is not familiar with the absolute tolerance of the Prophet (S.A.W.S.) and his large-heartedness may perceive him as a weakling by his consent to the terms of agreement mentioned above, especially on article (4) of the treaty. However, the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) was merely being concessional; diplomatic and peace-seeking. On the contrary, he was a strong, determined and courageous leader with a followership that can best be described as iron-willed. As a tolerant and law abiding leader, he started implementing the terms of the treaty with immediate effect as it was recorded that he sent Abu Jandal son of SuhailIbn Amir down to Makkah and released him to his father, the chief negotiator of the Quraish, when the former surfaced just after the signing of the agreement and declared his profession of Islam. When the worthless polytheists of Quraish were recalcitrant to honour their words, persistent in their infidelity and persecution of the Muslims, he did not hesitate to wage war on them some few years later and he and his followers emerged victorious as evident from the landmark Fathu (conquest) of Makkah.(Al-Mubarakfuriy S. 1999, 348-349).

In the modern day however, Muslims and Islamic nations have proved themselves as forces to be reckoned with in the areas of granting reliefs to the needy individuals and countries, extension of hands of fellowship to nations of different ideologies and active participation in economic development of member states. For example, the pro-active stand of Muslim nations is evident in the establishment of a multi-national economic institutions that benefit its members.

 

ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT BANK (AL-BANK AL-ISLAMI LIL-ISTITHMAR), Muslim Bank directed toward financing the economic and social development of members in accordance with the principles of the Shari’ah (Islamic sacred laws). Conceived by the Organization of Islamic Conference in 1973, the bank was headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and formally opened on October 1975. Its member states are drawn from the ranks of those states belonging to the organization of the Islamic conference. The Islamic Development Bank seeks to spur economic and financial growth by participating in equity capital, by investing   in economic and infrastructure projects, and making loans to the public and private sectors”. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 6\441).

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

In the light of the above discussion, this research has been able to establish the followings:

i-  Arabic language has played the pivotal role in the development of the humanity in general and preservation of Nigerian history and political development in particular.

ii- Arabic is a global language that is widely accepted throughout the length and breadth of the universe. Its importance, therefore, transcends the narrow limits of being a mere liturgical language to a global medium of transaction useful for economic and political relationships between nations, communities and individuals.

iii- Islam recognizes the essence  and vital role in language as a unifying factor between races and different peoples of the world. Hence,its adoption of Arabic as its official language used in most of different forms of worship.

iv- Islam enjoins its adherents to acquire and embrace all useful forms of knowledge. Therefore, education in Islam should not be restricted, or understood to be restricted, to religious education alone.

v- Closely related to the above, Islam has never been a barrier to progress and science. It appreciates the intellectual activities of man to such a degree as to make the first verses ever revealed in its glorious Book to focus on essence of both religious and scientific education. An ideal Islamic scholar is, therefore, expected to be vast in religious and the so-called Western education.

vi- Since Islam derives its name from absolute and unconditional submission to the creator and peaceful co-existence with fellow creatures, it should be understood that acquisition of Islamic education will undoubtedly aid the much-sought national cohesion, accelerate growth and aid in the attainment of development. In other words, violence, coercion, compulsion and terror are totally alien to Islam, while conviction and tolerance are its attributes. Therefore, undesirable actions of some of its adherents should not be attributed to the sacred religion as there is no religion that does not has some misled and/or disgruntled elements within its fold.

vii- What is widely regarded as Islamic Studies in our formal education nowadays is, in actual fact, a conflux of disciplines that covers areas of specialization that include: Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), Tafseer (Qur’anic exegesis), Seerah (Prophetic history), Hadeeth ( Prophetic action and sayings), cAgeedah (the Creed) and, of course, the knowledge of Qur’anic recitation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

 

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