Today, Sunday the 24th of May, many Christian Churches around the world celebrate what is known as ‘Pentecost’.
This is a commemoration of an event that is recorded in the New Testament book known as The Acts of the Apostles: “And when the day of Pentecost had come, (the first followers of Jesus) were all together in one place. All of a sudden, a sound came from heaven, like a strong wind, filling the house where the people had gathered. Something like tongues of fire rested on their heads. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak”.
At that time in Jerusalem there were thousands of Jewish pilgrims who had come to celebrate Shavuot. (Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah, the Jewish written Law, to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai).
Many of those who heard these messages in their own languages were amazed, though others thought the Followers of Jesus were just drunk. At some point, Peter, one of the leading followers of Jesus, stood up and preached his first sermon. He interpreted the events of that morning in light of a prophecy of the Hebrew prophet Joel (about an estimated 835 years before Jesus was born). His prophecy reads: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I (God) will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh”. In that text, God promised to pour out his Spirit on all flesh, empowering diverse people to have the ability to spread God’s message of Love, Hope and Compassion to all the people of the world, in their own native language.
Now, unfortunately, this clashes quite roughly against the teaching of Mohammed’s Islam, which insists that the only way Muslims ought to pray and worship Allah is exclusively in Arabic. So, why pray in Arabic? Well, according to one Muslim website there are at least five valid ‘logical’ reasons why Muslims should only pray and read the Qur’an in Arabic:
1. Arabic is a deep and vast language:
Their reasoning is that it is a fact recognized by the linguists that the Arabic language has the best ability to express wide and deep thoughts and to explain important subjects in short and precise words.
2. A common language for the Islamic prayer:
All Muslims perform their religious rites and worship of Allah, including the daily five time prayers, in Arabic. This is done in the same wordings by all Muslims, Arabs and non-Arabs alike, even by those who do not understand Arabic. (no problem here with not knowing exactly what you are saying!)
3. Cementing the Islamic brotherhood:
To them there could be no doubt the stranger would not understand that it is a call for Muslim prayer and would miss the opportunity of praying in congregation with the people of that locality.
4. The Qur’an is the work of Allah:
Arabic, in which the Holy Qur’an and traditions of the Prophet have been revealed has a special status and honour, and praying in Arabic gives you extra rewards. Muslims believe that the Holy Qur’an is the Word of Allah. As such, it is only befitting that the recitation of the word of Allah is done in the same form and language in which it was originally pronounced.
5. Translation of the word of Allah is almost impossible:
Any translation of the original will not be the word of Allah but the work of human beings. Therefore, you will have to admit that no translation of the Qur’an would be perfect enough to carry the true meanings and to fulfill the spiritual purposes. (no such thing here that good remains good and bad remains bad, regardless of whichever translation is applied!) That is why, millions upon millions around the world, are in fact Muslims in blind faith – no understanding is required and no questions are permitted, just believe!
In light of this, I am thankful to say that:-
My God is a Compassionate God! Anyone can come to Him as they presently are, in whichever way they know and understand best.
My God is an Understanding God! Anyone can Speak to Him from the secret of their hearts, in whatever language and dialect they know best.
My God is a Universal God! Jesus said: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”