4 Reasons You Should Consider Learning Arabic

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Duolingo has finally come out with Arabic. For Americans, this is probably one of the hardest languages to ever learn. The alphabet looks like random markings and it’s read from right to left. So why on Earth would you want to learn this language? I could have picked a language just as difficult, like Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, or Hebrew. Why Arabic?

Here are 4 reasons:

1. Arabic is the Language of Islam

I don’t know if you know this, but Arabic is the language of Islam. Yes, someone can be a Muslim without knowing Arabic. However, Muslims are very reluctant to translate the Qur’an into any language outside of Arabic. The thought is that the Qu’ran contains the literal words of Allah. Translating the Qur’an would change Allah’s words into human words. Therefore it would lose some of the meaning and the power the words have. So Muslims will still read the Qur’an in Arabic even if they don’t know Arabic because they are reading the literal words of Allah.

Side note: Nabeel Qureshi, the late Christian apologist, grew up in America as a Muslim. Do you know how he learned Arabic? He read the Qur’an. His book about his journey to Christ is a fantastic read: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.* 

When we witness to our Muslim friends and they reference the Qur’an, we ought to know what the Qu’ran actually says instead of merely trusting them to interpret it for us. Moreover, they ought to know what the Qur’an actually says instead of quoting off whatever it is their imam said. Since it’s unlikely that we will have an English translation of the Qur’an with us (they may not accept the translation anyway), it would be best if we could read their Arabic Qur’an.

2. Islam is the Fastest Growing Religion in the World

According to the Pew Research Center, Islam is spreading faster than any other religion in the world. Militant persecution in the Middle East isn’t the only reason for its growth either, though that does contribute (although we don’t really know how much it contributes). Even in the post-9/11 era, and even amid the news reports of radical terrorism attacks, Islam still grows in America. 

Why? Because it’s appealing.

We are sinful human beings who, by nature, yearn for our Creator. So we naturally seek out God. However, Christianity is unnatural to us because it says, “You don’t have to do anything to earn heaven.” Instead, we want to put in the blood, sweat, and tears so that when we reach heaven we can say, “Look what I did!”

Islam meshes God (Allah) with works. It teaches that if you pray a certain number of times a day, pay a portion of your wages to the mosque, among a few other things, then you will please Allah enough to earn heaven.

To be clear, Allah is not the same as the God of the Bible. So don’t blend the two. The Bible teaches that God + works = no god at all. 

3. Arabic is One of the Fastest Growing Languages in the World

One list has Arabic as the third fastest-growing language in the world, only behind Mandarin Chinese and English. The spread of Chinese and English can be attributed to the economic and trade strengths of China and America.

But Arabic is mainly due to religion.

With the spread of Islam comes the spread of Arabic. 

More and more people are coming to America every day. People from around the world are traveling here to work, visit or hope to become a permanent member of this nation. Many of them speak little to no English, so they are bringing their languages with them. 

I once saw a bumper sticker that said: “If you can’t read this, get out!” I shook my head. Why would you ever permanently glue something that stupid to your car? If you couldn’t read that, how could you possibly know to get out?

That bumper sticker did have a point, though: as America becomes more multicultural, it loses the English-speaking dominance that it once had. But as this world grows smaller, should we really expect people everyone to learn English so we don’t have to learn another language?

4. We Are Commanded to Make Disciples

Jesus didn’t have that expectation. In Matthew, Jesus commands us to go out to every nation to make disciples. 

In The Great Commission Jesus says:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

He doesn’t say, “Make disciples only if it’s easy.” 

He doesn’t even say “If you feel called to do so…”

No, it’s a command. What he is saying is, “[You, who call yourself a Christian] go and make disciples….”

Most of Jesus’ disciples were bilingual (or trilingual). They could speak Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. It was natural for them to speak more than one language. Should we make an excuse just because we’re lazy Americans who would rather watch TV? 

Moreover, how can we call ourselves “Jesus’ disciples” when we stubbornly refuse to fit into the mold of the original disciples? What do you think Jesus would say if we whined and said, “But Jesus, learning a language is hard!”

Maybe: “No, being hung on a cross is hard.”

Ouch. My pride.

Is Arabic For Every Christian?

NO! Learning Arabic is not for every Christian! That’s not what I’m saying at all! (Hence the title of this post: 4 Reasons You Should Consider Learning Arabic.)

Evangelizing and making disciples is for every Christian. Doing something is for every Christian. Learning, growing, studying, and sharing is for every Christian. 

Being lazy in our walk with Jesus is for those who truly have no interest in him.

The point is that Duolingo has created a tremendous opportunity for Christians to reach out to this particular group. It’s a growing group that few people reach out to, and they’re sitting at our door. Moreover, Duolingo is free to use, so cost isn’t an obstacle.

I’ve never been good with language. In high school, I struggled with 3 years of Spanish and have a hard enough time with English (I still don’t know what an indirect object is). But I do see a need, and I’m going to try it out. Pray for me as I move forward with it and pray that I have the opportunity to advance the Lord’s kingdom.

Want to join me?




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