Question concerning Arabic (Classical and Modern) and the potential for new revelations

The skeptic says that aren’t we Muslims extremely naive and overconfident in thinking that the medium of the classical Arabic language is the best that could have ever come about in the world in terms of information exchange – this being an important argument for why the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic?  The skeptic says that it is very much possible for higher modes of communication and information exchange (that is, more expansive, open to more miracles) may appear or may have already appeared in speech, and also in dance, music, pictures, paintings, videos, technology, or a combination of all these in one way or the other? 

And also related to the above, the skeptic may say that today’s Arabs, for the most part, are unable to understand the classical Arabic of the Qur’an, meaning that the message of the Qur’an has been phased out in terms of its relevance to the language of the people. What do we respond in this case?

Answered by Sharif Randhawa (Researcher at Bayyinah Institute, owner of Qur’anic Musings blog), with slight modifications and an additional note

I will group these two issues together because although they raise distinct points that I could address more thoroughly, I feel that they make a common assumption underlies them that is incorrect, which is that God must keep revealing new scriptures in order to keep up with our demands.

The language of the Qur’an may no longer be a living language, but that does not mean it cannot still be learned, understood, studied (especially by Arabs), benefited from, and appreciated.  God’s revelation in Classical Arabic instead of other languages allowed the revelation to express its miracle to an extent that other languages may not allow.  And we can move a step further and say that for the sake of argument, perhaps other languages might have allowed this miracle to be expressed as well, yet the setting of Arabia was chosen because of additional factors that made it conducive for God’s final revelation.

Thus, as long as the revelation is still capable of functioning, I don’t see any reason why God should be obliged to reveal a new one.  Of course God could provide a new revelation that would be more fitted to our time and place, but unless we have given the old revelation a good chance and found it wholly inadequate, I don’t see why God must do so.

[Note: Concerning this last point, the charge that Islam does not belong in the modern world or that it cannot adapt itself to the modern world, and that thus the Qur’an and Islam in general are outdated can be answered in two ways:

First, Islam provides the tools for its serious thinkers to chart out a way for Muslims living in any time or place to carry on with their lives, so Islam cannot be “phased out” in this sense if the proper methodology of applying the overarching rules of jurisprudence to specific conditions is followed.

But secondly, if we look at this matter from a larger perspective, the above charge boils down to saying that a certain world set-up currently exists, and Islam’s ideological divergence from this setup proves that it is wrong – in essence, that the existence of a system proves its absolute correctness, in an almost mathematical sense. However, the Muslim does not accept this premise; this is a very long topic in itself, requiring the answers to many questions on Islamic theology and the Islamic theory of knowledge.]



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