Recently the NWFP Assembly replaced English with Urdu as the official language. The probable reason for this switch over is not as much the love of Urdu as is the inability of the MMA ministers to read and write English. Like English, Urdu also is an imported language with its origions in the land of the ‘infidels’ (India).Urdu also does not have any international significance and the only other country where it is somewhat spoken happens to be our arch enemy.
As our national language, Urdu does not have a very good history either. It is said that one of the reasons leading to separation of East Pakistan was the imposition of Urdu on them. If at the time of Partition, Arabic had been declared as the national language along with English as the official language, the Bengalis would not have objected and we would have been much better off than what we are today.
The NWFP Govt.wants to Islamise the Province and what could be a more appropriate step in this direction than to declare the language of Islam i.e. Arabic as the the provincial language while maintaining English as the working one.
Who can deny the fact that any Muslim on his birth hears the very first words of ‘Azan’ recited in his ears in Arabic and on his death bed, his last spoken words by default are that of the ‘Kalima’, also in Arabic. In between, he prays five times a day, not in any other language not even in his mother tongue, but essentially and compulsorily in the Arabic language. If Arabic is so unavoidable that we cannot offer our prayers or read the ‘ Quran’ without using it, then why should we not accept it and adopt it as “The Language” and get the best of both the worlds.
In Pakistan because most of the people (even the highly educated ones) are “Arabic illeterate”,therefore the monopoly of teaching and interpreting the Holy Quran is left to the traditional semi educated ‘Mulla’, who in many cases cannot comprehend the real spirit of Islamic teachings, leading to problems for the society and the world at large. An Arabic literate population would be more confident in understanding the meaning of the Quran.
On the international scene, the case for Arabic is strengthened by the current popular theory of promoting the concept of an Islamic ‘Umma’. In the present circumstances how can we think of a coherant Islamic ‘Umma’ when majority of the prayer goers do not understand the meaning of their prayers, because Arabic language remains alien to them throughout their lives.
It is therefore recommended that the name of the ‘Arabic’ language be changed to ‘Islamic’ Language and be adopted by all the Muslim countries as their National Language. The Arabs should show magnanimity in this regard and should be ready to rename ‘Arabic’ as ‘Islamic’- a first step towards formation of the ‘Umma’.