Does Learning Arabic Prevent Moral Decay?
by Daniel Pipes
So claims Akhtar H. Emon, president of an outfit called the Arabic Language Institute Foundation (or ALIF, which is the name of the first letter of the Arabic alphabet), based in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. His interesting argument can be found on a webpage from September 2002, "Bringing Arabic to U.S. / Canadian High Schools," that begins by making the case for Arabic instruction for purely materialistic reasons:
This is a bit over the top, especially when one recalls that the entire GDP of the Arabic-speaking countries is less than that of Spain, but at least it's an argument that an American or Canadian can relate to.
The final paragraph then presents a quite different – and arguably more sincere – reason for wanting Arabic taught in North American high schools:
So there you have it – "Knowledge of Arabic can then help the Western countries recover from the present moral decay."
And what makes this statement even odder is that Emon himself admits to not knowing Arabic.
Comments: (1) Even innocuous-looking groups like ALIF (a project partially sponsored, wouldn't you know it, by the Council on American-Islamic Relations) has an intent to transform the United States into a majority Muslim country. (2) It appears that Arabic has a ways to go. One listing of most commonly studied foreign languages in the U.S. in institutions of higher education finds Arabic not among the top eleven languages in 2002. (November 26, 2004)
Nov. 28, 2004 update: Iftikhar Ahmad of the London School of Islamics goes much further (as one would expect, he working in a British environment) in an e-mail message he sent out today:
As this passage suggests ("have been denying") and the rest of his screed confirms, Iftikhar Ahmad himself could use some remedial English-language instruction. But never mind, the subject here is the benefits of learning Arabic and other Muslim-majority languages.
Ahmad catalogues the woes of British Muslims, concludes that the solution is "state-funded Muslim schools," and finally returns to the subject of languages, rising to a crescendo:
Comment: One of the benefits of keeping tabs of the UK scene is to hear out loud what the American groups dare not express. Here we see it in the raw: English suffices for utilitarian purposes, but being the language of alcoholism and promiscuity, it must not be the mother tongue of British Muslims. The long term implication of Iftikhar Ahmad's views is to change the language of the British Isles from English to a medley of Urdu, Arabic, and (thirdly) English.
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