The Quran was handed down by Allah in Arabic. However, is there any vocabulary of foreign languages or languages other than Arabic contained in the Quran?
The affirmation of the Quran derived in Arabic is found in several verses, including Quran Suraa Yusuf verse 2 and Ibrahim verse 4.
إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
“Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran so that you may understand.”
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ رَسُولٍ إِلَّا بِلِسَانِ قَوْمِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُمْ ۖ فَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
“We have not sent a messenger except in the language of his people to clarify ˹the message˺ for them. Then Allah leaves whoever He wills to stray and guides whoever He wills. And He is the Almighty, All-Wise.”
Regarding the existence of vocabulary of foreign languages other than Arabic, it was explained that the former chairman of the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, Sheikh Atiyyah Saqr. As reported from the About Islam page, he said that the early Arabs used words that did not come from Arabic because of the influence other cultures had on them.
Arabs, like everyone else, use names that are unfamiliar to their culture but the words are easily absorbed with the passage of time. They become part of the Arabic words that can easily fit on the famous rules of Arabic grammar.
It is clear that the Quran is passed down in Arabic because Arabic is the native language of the Arabs. Uncovering the Quran in Arabic is necessary for the Arabs to understand the message of the Quran and understand it easily.
However, there are foreign words that become an absorption of different languages, due to the close contact between individuals and groups. Such interactions are familiar in social life.
So, such an interpolation of words may be a product of a move from one language to another, or due to the fact that two languages have a common origin. Therefore, as long as foreign vocabulary is easily absorbed into Arabic, they are considered Arabic words.
The same rules applied in Arabic also apply to the Quran. According to some muslim scholars, there are non Arabic words in the Quran such as Alqistas, but those words have become Arabic because the Arabs use them gently and they have entered on the rules of Arabic grammar.
In his Tafsir, Imam Al-Qurtubi states, “There is no difference between the four Imams of Jurisprudence that there are non-Arabic words and names of themselves in the Quran such as Noah, Lut, Imran, Gabriel.”
However, this does not mean that there is agreement of the scholars on this issue. On the contrary, it is very controversial, as clarified as follows:
There is some disagreement among scholars as to whether the language of the Quran belongs to foreign words. Some scholars, including Al-Tabari and Al-Baqillani, are of the view that all words in the Quran are Arabic and that the foreign words found in the Quran are part of the Arabic language.
This makes it clear that some words of non Arabic origin have become Arabic words due to daily customs. However, it is recognized that there are names of non-Arabs in the Quran, such as Imran, Noah, and so on.
Other scholars have argued that the Quran does contain words that are not used in Arabic or contain vocabulary of foreign languages. Here are some vocabulary of foreign languages (non-Arabic languages) found in the Quran:
- Al-Qistas (Al Isra verse 35), comes from the Greek.
- Al-Sijjil (Al Hijr verse 74 ), comes from Persian.
- Al-Ghasaq ( An naba verse 25 ), comes from Turkish.
- At-Tur (Al Baqarag verse 63), derived from Syriac; and
- Al-Kifl ( Al Hadid ayay 28 ), comes from the Abyssinian language.
Some scholars have written books on the topic of ‘foreign vocabulary in the Quran’, for example Al-Suyuti who compiled a small book with a list of 118 expressions in different languages.