Ignoring the Messenger, Ignoring the Message... A Plea to the Ummah to Learn Arabic
It is not a sin to not know Arabic. Generations of righteous and pious slaves of Allah and his Rasul, sallallau`alayhi wa sallam, came and left from this world, century after century, and they didn't speak a lick of Arabic. Heck, many of them didn't even know how to read.
However, if they learned anything, they learned Arabic, because the book of Allah was the most important thing to them in existence, and the Arab prophet was the most the most dear person to them in creation. Until the twentieth century, no Muslim, righteous or unrighteous, undertook a course of education that wasn't based on the Kitab and Sunnah, nor was any institute of education built that wasn't based on the Kitab and Sunnah.
Today, we take fourteen years of compulsory government-mandated education followed by four, six, eight and ten years of additional professional education, on our own dime; none of these nearly two decades of "education" will ever see mention of Allah or His Messenger, sallallahu`alayhi wa sallam, and when they rarely do, they will see them mentioned in the context of disbelief.
Can we not see the difference between those simple farmers, housewives, slaves, and peasants, and us? They learned nothing, and had very simple lives in which they lived humbly, simply, and honestly. We are sophisticated and know everything under the sun about all things material. We learn Spanish, French, Latin, Java, C++, and literally tomes of jargon.
... but we never could be bothered to read the message sent to us by the Creator of the worlds, and we couldn't be bothered to understand His messenger, sallallahu`alayhiwasallam.
The basic understanding of Arabic, meaning enough to understand basic sentences, vocabulary, syntax, morphology, etc., and how to look up words that one doesn't know in the dictionary takes between 1-2 years of study depending on time given, rigor of study, and diligence of the student. This is enough to change salat al-Tarawih from a test of patience to a journey in wisdom divine. You won't understand all of it, but it is a beginning.
We spend twenty-some odd years learning that which will perish, and turn our back to that which will last forever...
Do we not have a need to understand the message in this era? Are we so well off that we can take it easy with Allah and focus on other things? Is our position among the nations so strong and respected that we no longer need to learn wisdom? Is our relationship with Allah so strong that we are unassailable by those who wish to harm us? These are all concerns for this world.
In the hereafter, what excuse will we have when we meet Allah?