Contributions of the Arabic Language

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Culture + Religion /09 Jan 2016

Contributions of the Arabic Language

While sane and insane voices exist in every society Islamophobes are prevalent in the West, especially now in the United States with the rise of Donald Trump. Of course, Islamophobia is not dominant in US, as can be seen in the efforts of numerous good-willed Americans.

However, what happens when one’s bigotry makes one afraid of a language?

Apparently, some Islamophobes in the United States fear the Arabic language.

Islamophobes Dislike Arabic?

Recently, a teacher at a school in Augusta County, Virginia handed out a homework assignment. The homework, part of the geography curriculum, dealt with world religions. Among other exercises, it included a question asking students to copy Arabic calligraphy (in order to help them understand the complexity of calligraphy in the Arabic language).

The result?

It led to an angry backlash by several parents as they felt it was an attempt to convert their children to Islam. The school received multiple calls from angry parents, and some even demanded that the teacher should be fired from her job (note that the teacher did not frame the questions herself, but took them from a standard workbook on world religions).

Things kept getting ugly, with more hate-filled calls and messages coming in, and more parents reacting to the incident with threats. All the schools in the county had to be shut down, and then reopened amidst high security. Eventually, the question was eliminated from the workbook.

There were voices of sanity as well and some former students created a Facebook group to defend their geography teacher.

This is not the first time that Islamophobia in the United States has manifested itself as a bias against the Arabic language. Back in March 2015, a school near New York City had to apologize for including Arabic as one of the languages during its Foreign Languages Week celebration.

What follows is a list of Arabic language contributions.

  • Renowned Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas was influenced by several philosophers — those philosophers wrote in Arabic.
  • During Christopher Columbus’s voyage to America, Columbus depended heavily on the calculations of al-Farghani. In fact, al-Farghani was one of the first to prove that the earth was spherical, and he wrote all of that in Arabic.
  • It is argued that zero first originated in India. However, the circular zero that is in use today comes from the works of Arabic scholars. Don’t like the zero? Good luck dividing XLIV by CLXIV.

Yes, there is a lot more.

If Islamophobes want to turn their children away from the Arabic language because they feel it relates to Muslims, will they be turning their kids away from trigonometry, algebra, chemistry, pharmacy and medicine? Because all of these were, in some way or other, invented and developed by Muslims.

Quite obviously, paranoia and religious bigotry knows no reason, and is purely illogical. The Arabic language has proven to be beneficial for the development of civilization.

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