"A Rich Concept of Arabic / al-cArabiyya:
al-Jahiz's Original View of 'Arabic' in relation
to the Holy Qur'an"*
(PhD, University of Edinburgh)
(PS: best viewed in MSIExplorer 5.5, with Arabic
In this paper the following features of Arabic shall be discussed,
according to the cAbbasid figure al-Jahiz (776-869 CE /160–255
AH). These features are:
A divine gift or a human product?
Superiority of Arabic (The Fortune of Arabic)
Notion of 'Nazm' (Qur'anic literary configuration)
Notion of 'Sarfa' and the literary capacity of
Features of Arabic
what may be described as one of the earliest comparative linguistic
attempts, al-Jahiz concludes that whereas the languages and ideas
of non-Arabs had followed a process of immense meditation and long exercise
of the mind, and rested heavily on studying books, Arabic language and thought, he says – while attempting
to historize for the pre-Qur'anic period – were uniquely spontaneous and were almost inspired. Words were at the Arabs' disposal
once they wanted them, and were uttered in abundance without exerting
any extraordinary effort. The Arabs were not like those who needed to
memorize the knowledge of others deliberately, nor had they to artificially
model their speech in the form of those who preceded them. They could
not but transmit what hey naturally found palatable and close to
their hearts and minds.
Furthermore, Arabic has a charming simplicity and smoothness to learners,
provided, that there exists a genuine need to know it. Those who question al-Jahiz's opinion are advised by
him to visit Arabia and meet its most eloquent poets and orators in
order to have a direct taste of Arabic.
no equal, and Arabic language has no parallel in its richness and
wealth." This richness is attributed by al-Jahiz to an incomparable
synonymic and derivative nature of Arabic. Al-Jahiz says,
"The Arabs have been 'more' eloquent in their expression
and they enjoyed a language which was 'richer' in vocabulary, 'terser'
and (uniquely) precise in word, the composition of its speech was 'more varied'
and the application of proverbs which were in use therein were outstanding
and more current".
3 A Divine gift or a human product?
One may ask how was it that the literary
excellence of the Arabs preceded their cultural excellence? i.e., how did
it happen that Arabic reached a certain level of maturity (before Islam)
prior to the actual appearance of their civilization? Was there an Arabic
civilization before the Arabic language matured to its pre-Qur'anic stage?
Was it an outcome of a gradual agreement among Arabs? Or was it installed
in form and content all of a sudden?
These questions bring us closer to al-Jahiz's
view of the relation between Arabic and the Qur'an.
Not only the Qur'an was divinely revealed,
Arabic itself (amongst other languages) was also inspired. Adam (PBUH) is
said to have been the first speaker of Arabic, the language that was exclusively endowed with a unique
capacity to grow and increase in perfection and was enriched with
unique incomparable features in order to allow it to demonstrate
the miraculous difference between human and divine eloquences. According
to a Hashimite report, al-Jahiz says that an outstanding Arabic was later initiated
in the person of the Prophet Ismacil (PBUH) who is said to have become an outstanding speaker of Arabic, not after
proper instruction but because of a divine miracle that shifted
his tongue and character to Arabic. That shift was a proof to the truth
of his prophethood. So Ismacil (PBUH) stood in relation to his
people in the same relation Muhammad (PBUH) was to stand before Quraysh. In both instances the miracle was in the sudden way
each excelled the native speakers of Arabic before him.
happened between Prophet Ismacil's time (PBUH) and
the pre-Qur'anic stage of Arabic maturity? al-Jahiz's answer is
interesting, as it reflects a developmental outlook within the overall
inspirational outlook to Arabic. In other words, al-Jahiz gives room for
a human role in the journey undertaken by Arabic. According to al-Jahiz,
Arabic was a bounty-lent by God to the Arabs. It was God who provided the Arabs
with the chance of exercising and experimenting with that bounty,
thanks to the superior synonymic and derivative capacities endowed
in it, before the time came to reveal the difference between human
and Divine eloquences of Arabic.
Until Arabic reached its pre-Qur'anic stage, al-Jahiz's account of the journey
made by Arabic may hypothetically be sketched as follows:
So what al-Jahiz believes to have occurred to Arabic
in the meantime, is eventually evident in the superior literary
status of its most notable clan, Quraysh. Quraysh is said to have
been subjected to the strictest divine supervision that "eliminated
genetic impurities (and raised it in its literary and socio-moral
excellences over all other Arabian tribes) in preparation for
all that is magnificent and most significant", al-Jahiz says:
1- Prophet Adam (PBUH): first Divine inspiration of Arabic with
potentialities of excellence which were not given to other languages
inspired to Adam (PBUH).
2- The Arabs: were offered God's bounty to experiment and enrich
it in Arabia.
3- Prophet Ismacil's (PBUH) outstanding Arabic in
relation to the Arabic of the people around him.
4- Pre-Islamic Arabs continued exercising with God's lent
bounty until they produced an unprecedented literary output.
al-Jahiz's rough estimation of the oldest poetry before Islam does not
precede it by more than two hundred years. His other estimate of an (indefinite) but longer period does not go as far as the period that witnessed
Greek wisdom. In both cases it is implied in al-Jahiz's attitude
that Arabic had been undergoing a growing line of excellence which
was proportional to its proximity to Islam. This observation
applied to all Arabs, initially the Northerners then followed by the
Southerners who could not avoid joining the circle of Arabic due to the
common geographic setting, and frequent inter-marriages with the
5- Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) outstanding Arabic in relation
to the Arabic of his people; Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) sudden excellence
in Arabic, ranks after the Qur'an in the hierarchy of excellence.
6- The unsurpassable Qur'anic Arabic.
7- Post-Islamic Arabic.
"وقريش قوم لم يزل الله تعالى يقلبهم في الأرحام البريئة من الآفات
وينقّلهم من الأصلاب السليمة من العاهات ويعبّيهم لكل جسيم ويربيهم لكل
[Wa Quraysh qawmun lam yazal Allahu ta‘ala
yuqallibuhum fi al-arham al-bari’a min al-aafat, wa yunaqqiluhum
min al-aslab al-salima min al-‘Aahat, wa yu‘abbihum likul
jasim wa yurabbihum likul ‘azeem]
al-Jahiz's own description of the literary
status of Quraysh and the Pre-Islamic Arabs sums up his view of Arabic mentioned above; i.e., of an
inspired supervised Arabic. According to al-Jahiz, Arabic had
been miraculously enriched, initiated and divinely nurtured until it
reached its pre-Qur'anic destined stage of maturity whereby Arabic
and the Arabs were both to experience and witness an unusual charming
Arabic, the Qur'an, that had an unprecedented arrangement (Nazm
), a new literary configuration that assembled their very own alphabets
and words yet which lies beyond their literary level of superiority,
and stays unsurpassable!
4 Divine ' Qisma'
Al-Jahiz substantiates his original thesis
of the divine origin of Arabic by making another comparative study, this
time among the Arabian tribes themselves; he says:
"While some Arabian tribes had shared the same fertile
geographical setting, they however exhibited different poetical output.
Thus, there was no relation between the geographical setting and poetical
output. Poetry and power of expression, are due to "ما قسم الله",
i.e., what Allah has allocated (Qasama)"
According to al-Jahiz the invisible caring
hand of God was not confined to the Arabs alone, but was also responsible
for the virtues of all other nations. For example, the Greeks were also
gifted with wisdom, the Persians with political management, the Turks
with military strength, etc.
The Arabs were endowed with the Arabic language and its corresponding socio-moral code, which al-Jahiz calls:
of Arabic" (Hazz al-cArabiyya).
Again he says:
"God's Justice ordained that His bounties be evenly divided
among His creations, by giving each generation and every nation
its right share, that is conducive to the correct understanding
of religion and leading to the perfection of the world's welfare".
And his notion of Divine "qisma"
does not mean that such virtues bestowed by God on nations should
be apparent in every member of these nations. They have been available
on a general basis, and are likely to be almost uniquely present
in one but not in the other nation, says al-Jahiz:
"It was not that every Arab was a poet
and expert in tracking foot-steps or in the science of physiognomy,
but these virtues and the like were more abundant, widespread, exclusively
perfected and more apparent amongst them" .
5 Superiority of Arabic:
("Fortune of Arabic")
Owing to the superior feature of Arabic,
the Arabs were elevated to a distinguished literary and socio-moral status
"Because of the eloquence of Arabic and the beauty of
its expression, God sent His best Prophet amongst the Arabs, made his
language Arabic and even revealed to him an Arabic Qur'an".
In other words, Arabic was God's chosen language for His chosen
message: i.e., Arabic could not have carried God's message to humanity
had He chosen English or Latin for that purpose. Since Arabic was destined
to play a specific function in the future, i.e., to witness the
revelation of the Qur'an, we can now understand why al-Jahiz was inclined to expect a distinguished birth of the Arabic language,
first in the person of Prophet Adam (PBUH), then in Prophet Ismacil (PBUH) accompanied in the latter case by
God's supervision of his Qurayshite descendents, lest they,
the Qurayshites, – as an expected Islamic nation –
will not certainly benefit from the beautiful Arabic, its charming
logic and its binding moral code that it had been intended to
What is significant in al-Jahiz's view
of Arabic is not just the linguistic aspects of Arabic but also
the inseparable socio-moral dimensions
"وليس في الأرض قوم أعنى
بذم جليل القبيح ودقيقه وبمدح دقيق الحسن وجليله من العرب،
حتى لو جهد أفطن البرية وأعقل الخليقة أن يذكر معنى لم يذكروه، لما أصابه.
ولهم حظّ العربية مع الحفظ لأنسابهم ومحاسن أسلافهم ومساوئ أكفائهم للتعاير بالقبيح والتفاخر بالحسن ليجعلوا ذلك عونا لهم على اكتساب الجميل واصطناع
المعروف، ومزجرة لهم عن إتيان
القبيح وفعل العار وليؤدبوا أولادهم ب ما أدبهم به آباؤهم".
[Wa laysa fi al-ard qawmun a‘ana bi zamm
jalil al-qabih wa daqiqihi wa bi madh daqiq al-hasan wa jalilihi min
al-‘Arab, hatta law jahida aftan al-bariyya wa a‘aqal al-khaliqa
an yazkura ma‘nan lam yazkuruh, lama asabah. Wa lahum hazz al-‘Arabiyya
ma‘a al-hifz li ansabihim wa mahasin aslafihim wa masawi’
akfa’ihim li al-ta‘ayur bi al-qabih wa al-tafakhur bi al-hasan
li yaj‘alu zalika ‘awnan lahum ‘ala iktisab al-jamil
wa istina‘a al-ma‘arouf, wa majzaratan lahum ‘an ityan
al-qabih wa fi‘il al-‘Aar wa li yuaddibu awladahum bi ma addabahum
If the Arabs were to excel the nations of the world, Arabic
has been the mark and the cause of their excellence.
The fortune of Arabic,
"حظّ العربية", that was exclusively for the Arabs had given them a three-fold superiority
and a distinction over the nations:
The Arabs have proved to be perfect candidates
for the first Islamic society proposed in the Qur'an owing to the binding
moral code that remained amongst their notables as was evident in the
mastery of Arabs in cheering of virtues and condemning of vices, says
"إحكام العرب شأن المناقب والمثالب ... في بقايا ما ثبتوا عليه
من دين إبراهيم."
[Ihkam al-‘Arab sha’n al-manaqib
wa al-mathalib…fi baqaya ma thabatu ‘alayh min din Ibrahim…]
The Arabs have been credited with the honour of transmitting
to the human race God's first Universal Speech that was conveyed through
their language. It was through the Arabs that God addressed humanity,
and it is therefore incumbent on the Arabs to translate the meaning of
the Qur'an to all the world.
The Arabic language is superior to the languages of the world in the same way that the Qur'an
is superior to the language of
the Arabs. The Arabs who failed to display something
similar to the Qur'an, while they being God's direct addressees has
been meant to be God's permanent sign and proof of His miracle
to humanity at large,[al-‘Arab hum al-hujja ‘ala
الحجة (حجة الله) على جميع أهل اللغات",
as they, themselves, have failed to match its excellences.
6 The notion of Nazm (Qur'anic literary configuration)
al-Jahiz found the Qur'an to be magnificent
in its amazing literary configuration, he says:
"The Qur'an differs from all the known rhymes
of poetry and prose. It is a prose whose rhythm is not modelled on that
of poetry or rhymed prose (sajc,
and whose configuration
stands as a magnificent evidence and as a great Divine proof".
The underlying secret of the Qur'an, says al-Jahiz, lies
in the very special and unprecedented composition of the very Arabic letters and words used by the Arabs. As in any masterpiece of
art, the attention follows the way things are composed and assembled
from the same raw material known to all .
It is remarkable that this notion of
Nazm was later developed by cAbd al-Qahir al-Jurjani (d. 471 AH) who adopted al-Jahiz's position
regarding the miraculousness or the inimitability of the Qur'an.
7 The notion of Sarfa and the literary capacity of the
In spite of al-Jahiz's Muctazilite position regarding man's great capacity
of free will, it is only in this place that we find his view
of human ability in relation to (i) literary output and (ii) the inability
to surpass the Qur'an to reflect his belief in the "Jabrite" doctrine
of Predestination (i.e., human free will is restricted in this respect).
Could he not have served the notion of Icjaz
better without resorting to "sarfa", i.e., while still recognizing man's ability
as continuously perfect and not turned away? The point was that while some maintained the
notion of Icjaz, in their full recognition of man's undisrupted
free will yet of his inability to surpass the Qur'an, men
like al-Jahiz however, thought that it would show more respect
for man's free will if we assume his established weakness
vis-à-vis the Qur'an, was not a malfunction of our perfect faculties,
something not coming from within when left to their normal functioning,
but due to a Superior Will that turned them away from so doing.
If al-Jahiz's resort to sarfa may
appear to be an early compromise between caql (reason) and naql (revelation), it is in facta diplomatic call to continuously marvel man's caql
that could have produced something like the Qur'an, had
he been able to do so; i.e., if he could have escaped being eventually
turned away by God from doing so. Al-Jahiz's view of
sarfa is therefore twofolded in its implication. It is first implying a sarfa
of capacity (Divine intervention, man's ability being
divinely incapacitated), hence leading to sarfa
of attention, will and desire. In this respect he was following the
position of his teacher, al-Nazzam.
But does al-Jahiz see the Qur'an as an obstacle to
the future post-Qur'anic literary capacities of the Arabs?
No. If Arabic was destined to grow before the Qur'an, its
post-Qur'anic development cannot be denied. Arabic was not meant
to be frozen in the literary forms of pre-Islamic Arabs. Post-Qur'anic
eloquence of Arabic was still possible, and al-Jahiz himself notes that some Arabic
tribes reacted differently to the coming of Islam: a tribe
like Banu Badr remained poetless while Banu al-Harith b. Kacb produced famous Islamic poets, when they were not famous poetically before the advent of Islam. So while post-Qur'anic eloquence was recognized
by al-Jahiz (even if it was emitted by non-Arabs) – that
eloquence was recognized by al-Jahiz, displayed by their predecessors
and consequently below the perfect Arabic that had been cristallized
in the Qur'an, thanks now not to the factor of mixing with nations
that was gradually diluting their pure literary talents but also
due to the Divine intervention or mechanism of "sarfa" through which al-Jahiz implies – God was maintaining,
generation after generation, His version of the "Perfect Qur'anic
I think that the Qur'anic challenge loses its defying
intensity and cannot be held as really open and charismatically eternal
if man's literary abilities are unnecessarily and continuously checked,
incapacitated and diverted from meeting that challenge. al-Jahiz's
attempt to serve the concept of eternal challenge – eternal cajz (failure) therefore
need not be based on Divine "sarfa "
but rather on an undisrupted capacity and undeflected attention;
al-Qur'an's superiority is not because man's attention is
eventually being turned away, but it is because man's capacity is kept at its best. In short, endowed with a promising potential for a growing exellence, Arabic's journey rested - in perfecto -
in the Qur'an, leaving Arabs with the unsurpassable walls of the
excellences of the Qur'anic Suras, as if these written suras
(literally, walls or fences) were erected before all Arabs, speakers
of Arabic and the nations of the world, as an empirical sign
pointing to the undeniable difference between the literary
peak of human (i.e. Arabic) eloquence and that of the Divine Qur'anic eloquence.
al-Jahiz's above views on Arabic should
be fitted into their historical context as they initially reflect
an intellectually curious search for the wisdom underlying the conditions
that brought about the Qur'an in an Arabic dress. Hence, al-Jahiz
may be credited for initiating such an analytical search into
the distinctive features of pre-Islamic Arabic language and culture, and how they stand in comparison to the
Qur'an and to all other languages and cultures, in the belief that there
was no conflict between the "Universality" of the Qur'an and its "particular"
In his rational attempt to understand the harmonious
relation that existed between the Qur'an and the pre-Islamic
language and culture, al-Jahiz at one point did say that Arabic enjoys
a higher literary status than that of the other languages, simply because
of the undeniable charismatic fact that the Qur'an was revealed in Arabic.
This position needs not be necessarily implying a national prejudice
by al-Jahiz towards the Arabs. In my opinion, the notion of the superiority
of Arabic to the other languages, outlined above, does not reflect
the real and complete picture, because before Arabic happened to
enjoy that status, it had to demonstrate its inferiority to the
Qur'an. Similarly, had the Qur'an been revealed in Latin, all non-Latin
languages would have been inferior to it, as Latin would be less
superior to the revealed Latin. So before raising Arabic to an internationally
comparative linguistic analysis, we have to remember the historical
failure of the most eloquent Arabs to imitate the Qur'an, that was intended to stress the permanent
difference between human and Divine eloquences, between pre-Islamic
Arabic and Qur'anic Arabic, and left as a sign to attract the world
via the Arabs to its contents .
If the superiority of Arabic was not proposed by
al-Jahiz out of a "Shucubi"
national prejudice, it was nevertheless forwarded against those Shucubi's (anti-Arabs), who undermined
the language and culture of the Arabs after realizing their role in
the appearance of the Qur'an and the proposed Muslim Umma. al-Jahiz's
opinion on the special birth or distinctive initiation and Divine
supervision of Arabic could be seen from the same angle. In order
to face "Shucubi" attacks, al-Jahiz had to raise the superiority of Arabic from the pre-Qur'anic
era to the time of Prophet Ismacil (PBUH) or Adam (PBUH), thus enhancing its historical prestige
(and future one too) that could fit with his Muctazilite notion of Khalq al-Qur'an (createdness
of the Qur'an), but without taking it any further in time as his
contemporary Hanbalites were assumed by him to have raised
it above the limits of time (and therefore accused by him
of polytheism by assuming it had co-existed with God) by opposing to hold the Muctazili notion.
As far as al-Jahiz's inspirational attitude to the origin of
languages is concerned, one may raise the objection that if Prophet
Adam (PBUH) was equally the first speaker of languages, what was
the special thing about Arabic? Because Arabic had been special since its inception in Prophet Adam (PBUH), then
this raises its status vis-à-vis other languages
since its initiation. We may infer that out of all
languages that had been revealed to Prophet Adam (PBUH), Arabic was
the only language exclusively chosen by God to enjoy those innately incomparable
superior features in order to fulfill its destined Qur'anic role i.e., in order to demonstrate miraculously
the obvious difference between human and Divine eloquences.
Of course, languages other than Arabic were used by
God or His prophets before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but by
raising the charismatically inspired features of Arabic to Prophet
Adam's time (PBUH), we may also say that not even one of the languages
revealed to those Prophets was intended to demonstrate the
dimension Arabic had had to convey. Previous prophetic messages
were instead concerned with the content that could have been expressed
in any language. The content of previous languages of revelation was stressed by external miracles which were outside the realm
of human speech, but the content of the final revealed message was mainly stressed by its Divine and inimitable expression
In short, Arabic had a special start in preparation for a special
future function. That is why we have seen al-Jahiz's explanation
of the literary excellence of Arabs as being "almost inspirational", i.e., drawing from the Divine pool, implying
that it could not have been learnt or acquired. Similarly
was the case with Prophets Adam (PBUH), Ismacil (PBUH) and Muhammad,(PBUH), because perfection in Arabic eloquence
can only be sought from the reservoirs of God whereby no one can rival Him in this respect. This outlook reflects another Muctazilitic way for expressing their concern to apply monotheism
or Tawhid (here, uniqueness
of power of speech of God) in all aspects; a concern that sometimes had
grown out of its (Muctazilitic) proportions,
and unintentionally bridged the gap with the Hanbalite's or "Jabrite's"
concept of God, especially when one prominent member like al-Jahiz
held that although it appears that man had had a share in the linguistic
development undertaken by Arabic, it was in fact – al-Jahiz says –
God who was the Hidden and Real Architect of events, Sole
Supervisor and Unique Perfector of Arabic.
cAbbas, I., Tarikh al-Naqd al-Adabi cind-al-
cArab. Beirut: Mu'assasat al Risala, 1971.
cAbd al-Hamid, M., "Nazariyyat al-Jahiz fi-al-Tarjama",
in al-Mawrid, (Baghdad; 1978) Vol. 7, No. 4.
Abu Deeb, K., al-Jurjani's Theory of Poetic Imagery. Wilts: Aris
& Philips Ltd, 1979.
al-Jabiri, M.cA., Takwin al-cAql al-
cArabi, Beirut: Markaz Dirasat al-Wahda al-cArabiyya, 1988.
el-cAttar, J.F. "The Views of al-Jahiz Concerning
Nations as Reflected in his works: An Exposé and Critique",
M.A. Thesis, American University of Beirut, 1989.
al-Jahiz, K.al-Bayan wa-al-Tabyin, ed. A. Harun, 4 Volumes, Beirut:
Dar al Fikr, n.d.
--, K. al-Hayawan, ed. A. Harun, 7 Volumes, Cairo: 1950 and Beirut:
Dar Ihya' al-Turath al-cArabi, 1958.
--, Kitab la-Akhbar wa Kayf Tasihh, ed. C. Pellat. Journale Asiatique,
--, Rasa'il al-Jahiz, ed. A. Harun, 4 Volumes. Cairo: Maktabat
al Khanji, 1964 and 1979.
al-Rajihi, Fiqh al-Lugha fi-al-Kutub al-cArabiyya,
Beirut: Dar al-Nahdaal- cArabiyya, 1972.
Khalidi, T. "A Mosquito's Wing: al-Jahiz on the Progress of Knowledge",
in Arabic and Islamic Garland, Edited by colleagues and students of
cAbd al-Latif Tibawi, London, 1977.
Mahmoud, Z.N. "Min Daftar al-Zikrayat", in Majallat al-
cArabi, Vol.362, Kuwait: Ministry of Information Press,
al-Najm, W.T. "al-Jahiz wa-al-Naqd al-Adabi", in Hawliyyat Kulliyat
al-Adab, Kuwait, 1989.
al-Tawhidi Abu Hayyan,K.al-Imtac wa-al-Mu'anasa, ed.
A. Aminand A. Zayn, 3 volumes, Beirut: Dar Maktabat al-Hayat. n.d.
 al-Jahiz, K. al-Bayan wa-al-Tabyin,ed.
A. Harun (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, n.d.) 3:28. See also 3:6.
 al-Jahiz's own words read (Ibid)
[Wa kullu shay’in lil-‘Arab fa innama huwa
badeehatun wa-irtijal waka'annahu laysat hunaka mu‘anatun wala
mukabada… wa kullu ma‘na li al-‘Ajam fa innama huwa
‘an tuli fikratin wa 'an ijtihadi ra'yin wa tuli khalwatin wa ‘an
mushawaratin wa mu‘awanatin wa ‘an tul al-tafakkur wa dirasat
al-kutub wa hikayat al-thani ‘ilm al-awwal wa ziyadat al-thalith
fi ‘ilm al-thani…]
[Wa kalamu al-nas fi tabaqat kama anna al-nas anfusahum
fi tabaqat… wa ana aqul: innahu laysa fi al-ard kalamun huwa amta‘u
wa la aanaq wa la alazz wa la ashadd ittisalan bi al-‘uqul al-salima
wa la aftaq li al-lisan wa la ajwada taqweeman li al-bayan min tuli
istima‘a hadith al-A‘Arab, al-‘uqala’, al-fusaha’,
[Wa kalamu Rasuli Allah -salla Allahu alayhi
wa sallama- mimma lam yasbuq ilayhi ‘Arabiyyun wa la sharakahu
fihi A‘ajamiyyun, wa lam yudda‘a li ahadun wa la idda‘ahu
ahad. Wa huwa al-kalam allazi qalla ‘adadu hurufihi,
wa kathura ‘adadu ma‘aneeh… lam yasma‘ al-nas
kalaman a‘amma naf‘an wa la aqsada lafzan wa la ahsana mawqi‘an
wa la afsaha ma‘nan min kalamih…]
[Wa Quraysh afsahu al-‘Arab lisanan wa
afdaluha bayanan wa ahdaruha jawaban wa ahsanuha badihatan wa ajma‘uha
‘inda al-kalam qalban…]
[Wa innamam zalika ‘an qadr ma
qasama Allah lahum min al-huzuz fi al-ghara’iz, wa al-bilad
wa al-A'araq makanuha...]
 See al-Jahiz, Risala fi al-Mucallimin, 3:46
and Risala fi Hujaj al-Nubuwwa, 3:244 and Risala fi-al-Awtan, 4:110-111.
This paper was given by invitation of BRISMES (British Society
For Middle Eastern Studies), during
the 1992 Annual Conference at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland,
9-10 July 1992. It was also published in the Proceedings of this Conference
which was entitled: Democracy in the Middle East,
pp. 20-33. Website:
papers by Dr. Jamal el-'Attar on this site:
Address: "Pearls of Civilizations" (attar1.htm)
"East-West Healthy Cultural Relations" (attar3.htm)
"Melodious Messages from Mountains of Light"
"Perpetuators of the Power of Peace: When Languages, Arts & Literature
Cross-Culturally Unite & Altruistically Please!" (attar5.htm)