The Qatari Forum for Authors hosted a lecture entitled Arabic and the Spread of Islam by Dr. Sultan bin Awad Duraie at the Doha International Book Fair. In his lecture, Dr. Duraie explored the strong connection between Arabic and Islam.

Dr. Duraie proposed that Arabic is the source of all the languages of the world. According to him, scholars have long disagreed on the identity of the first person to speak Arabic. For example, in his exegesis of the Qur’an, Imam Al-Qurtubi refers to the verse “He (God) taught Adam the names of all things, then He presented them to the angels (Qur’an, 2:31) when claiming that Adam was the first person to speak Arabic and that God taught him the names of all things and creatures in Arabic. Dr. Duraie explained that other scholars who concluded that it was Ismael, the son of Abraham, who was the first to speak Arabic, relied on a weak hadith. He referenced the story of Abraham as narrated in Imam Bukhari’s Sahih. In this narrative, when the tribe of Jurhum saw a water spring flowing near Hajar and her son Ismael, they called upon each other and resettled in that area. Ismael grew up among them and acquired Arabic from them.

Dr. Duraie also commented that Arabic is a rich language, and it is the only language that can stand the test of time, for God has protected the Qur’an by protecting Arabic. He made the assertion that English has become the lingua franca of the world because of its simplicity, not because of its robustness as some may assume. He gave the example of the numeral system currently used in English, which is the original Arabic numeral system. As for the numerals used in Arabic now, he explained, they are originally Hindi, as one can see that easily when setting the number system on a computer.

Dr. Duraie expounded on some of the features that make Arabic unique, such as the vowel diacritics that mark case, thus changing a subject into a direct object, and the possibility of using a single letter for form a word, as the imperative verbs fi (fulfill a promise) and qi (protect or take heed). In his conclusion, he asserted that Arabic is so rich that a single word can have multiple meanings, a feature found only in Arabic, according to Dr. Duraie.