Memorizing supplications in Arabic without knowing their meaning
Fatwa No: 243556

  • Fatwa Date:12-4-2014 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 12, 1435
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Question

Dear Scholar, Assalam-o-Aliekom! May Allah have mercy on you. I have memorized most of the Dua's mentioned in the Quran and some of the Dua's reported from the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). My question is if I invocate with these Dua's, without knowing their translation, will I be getting the benefit sought in it. Moreover, there might be some supplications where a person knows what the subject matter is, but doesn't know word for word translation while supplicating. Are they still getting the benefits and rewards. Arabic is not our language; do you think we are in a great loss by losing great deal of good by not understanding this blessed language. You might have sensed my frustration, considering that the religious guidance was revealed through this language. Even though we have great body of translations, yet memorizing each and everything won't be easy for everyone. In my experience, it has been easy for me to memorize Arabic text, but have had problems retaining their translations/meanings in my memory. Please enlighten me on this subject matter. Thank you!

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Undoubtedly, there is much good and blessing in the confirmed supplications from the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and whoever supplicates with them will achieve that good and be rewarded for it – even if he does not understand all or part of the meaning – because he would be supplicating with the comprehensive supplications recommended by the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ).

The mother of believers, ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her said: “The Messenger of Allaah preferred concise words (jawaami') of supplication and did not do anything otherwise.” [Ahmad and Abu Dawood - Al-Albaani graded it Saheeh (sound)]

As regards non-Arabs losing out on much good because of their lack of understanding the Arabic language, then this is apparent, because Arabic is the language of the Quran and the Sunnah, and it is with the Arabic language that we understand the Quran and the Sunnah. Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him is even of the view that getting accustomed to the language affects someone's mind, manners, and religiosity, as he said in Iqtidhaa' As-Siraat Al-Mustaqeem: “You should know that being accustomed to the language affects very strongly someone's mind, manners, and religiosity, and it also has an effect on someone's resemblance to the Muslim  predecessors  (Salaf), namely the Companions and the Taabi’is [the successors of the Companions]; and resemblance to them increases the mind, religion and manners.

Therefore, we advise you to make every effort to learn this blessed language. Imaam Ash-Shaafi'i  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “Every Muslim should endeavor to learn the Arabic language to the best of his ability, in order to testify with it that there is no true god but Allaah (Laa Ilaaha Illa Allaah) and that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger, and recite with it the Book of Allaah, and utter the mention of Allaah that he is obliged to utter, like saying Allaahu Akbar, Subhaan Allaah, and Ash-hadu An-Laa Ilaaha Illa Allaah, and so forth. And whoever increases his knowledge of the language which Allaah made the language of His last Prophet and revealed with it His last Book, then this is good for him.

Moreover, Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “The Arabic language itself is part of the religion, and knowing it is an obligation; understanding the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah is an obligation, and they cannot be understood except by understanding the Arabic language; and an obligation that cannot be achieved except by means of something else, then that thing is an obligation as well.

Nonetheless, some of the Arabic language is an individual obligation (Fardh 'Ayn) and some of it is a communal obligation (Fardh Kifaayah). To this effect, Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah related that 'Eesa ibn Yunus was Heard as relating from Thawr from ‘Umar ibn Zayd who said: ‘Umar  (Ibn Al-Khattaab) wrote to Abu Moosa Al-Ash'ari  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him as follows: “To proceed: Seek the knowledge of the Sunnah, and seek the knowledge of the Arabic language and know the language of the Quran (i.e. its proper grammar) for the Quran is Arabic.

In another Hadeeth, ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said: “Learn the Arabic language as it is from your religion, and know the (religious) obligations as they are from your religion.

What ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him commanded about the knowledge of Arabic language and the Sharee’ah combines what a person needs because in the religion there are words and deeds. Knowing the Arabic language is the way to knowing its words, and knowing the Sunnah is the way to knowing its deeds.”

For more benefit, please refer to Fataawa 83636, 81468 and 86262.

Allaah Knows best.

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