ARABIC. Lisanu -‘l -‘l’Arab; Lughatu ‘1-‘Arab. The classical language of Arabia is held to be the language of the Qur’an, and of the Traditions of Muhammad and by reason of its incomparable excellence is called اللغة al lughah, or “the language.” See Qur’an; Surah xvi. 105, “They say, Surely a person teacheth him [i.e. Muhammad]. But the tongue of him at whom they hint is foreign, while this [i.e. the Qur’an] is plain Arabic.”)
This classical language is often termed, by the Arabians themselves, the language of Ma’add, and the language, of Munzar, and is a compound of many sister dialects, very often differing among themselves, which were spoken throughout the whole of the Peninsula before the religion of Muhammad incited the nation to spread its conquering armies over foreign Countries. Before that period, feuds among the tribes, throughout the whole extent of their territory, had prevented the blending of their dialects into one uniform language; but this effect of disunion was counteracted in a great measure by the institution of the sacred months, in which all acts of hostility were most strictly interdicted, and by the annual pilgrimage, and the yearly fair held at ‘Ukaz, at which the poets of the rations tribes contended for the meed of general admiration.
Qatadah says that the Quraish tribe used to cull what was most excellent in the dialects of Arabia, so that their dialect became the best of all. This assertion, however, is not altogether correct, for many of the children of the tribe of Quraish, in the time of Muhammad, were sent into the desert to be there nursed, in order to acquire the utmost chasteness of speech. Muhammad himself was went to be brought up among the tribe of Sa’d ibn Bakr ibn Hawazin, descendants of Muzar, bat not in the line of Quraish; and he is said to hare urged the facts of his being a Quraish, and having also grown up among the tribe of Sa’d, as the grounds of his claim to be the most chaste in speech of the Arabs. Certain it is that the language of Mwadd was characterised by the highest degree of perfection, copiousness, and uniformity, in the time of Muhammad, although it afterwards declined.
The language of the Qur’an is universally acknowledged to be the most perfect form of Arabic speech. At the same time we must not forget that the acknowledged claims of the Qur’an to be the direct utterance of the Divinity have made it impossible for any Muslim to criticise the work, and it has become the standard, by which other literary competitions have to be judged. (See Lane’s Introduction to his Arabic Dictionary, and Palmer’s Qur’an.)
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam