As a convert this was my first serious question. I just convinced myself that Islam is closer to the straight path than Christianity which meant that a lot of people have added to the religion. After telling family I was Muslim I considered myself a Muslim (by definition), but I don't remember calling myself a "Muslim" (by name) at the time. Then to hear later that I must make some statement in Arabic that I don't understand before I become a Muslim seemed to me to be an innovation. The same with prayer in Arabic. Even an Islamic name :) which I never took. I don't think many people who grew up Muslim can appreciate this contrast very much, and most don't understand how important this is. Even many converts.

What logic can allow a convert to faithfully with peace of mind practice a religion in a foreign language that he does not understand?

Doing Salat in Arabic when I didn't understand the words felt more like I was worshiping other people by obeying them instead of worshiping God. Please understand this before answering or commenting or voting. I am not the first nor the last person to ask this, but there is no good answers for this on this site or other sites.

  • Brother May Allah Swt make things easy for you ,Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is a revert and he is an American scholar read here about him en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamza_Yusuf and also check how fluent he is in Arabic now MashAllah youtube.com/watch?v=5tVDLN-Bnjk so dont be disappointed you could really learn the salat meaning in just few hours In Sha Allah as brother has answered
    – Syedah
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 16:34

2 Answers 2


What logic can allow a convert to faithfully with peace of mind practice a religion in a foreign language that he does not understand?

The Quran is in Arabic because it was revealed to 7th century Arabic speakers.

Yet, the fundamental message of the Quran has always been universal: Oneness of God, doing good, and being held accountable for what we do.

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians; whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good, they have their reward with their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve. (Quran 2:62)

In all different scriptures and their languages, this is the same message.

God is the creator of languages and is not contained in one speech. In all tongues a person can contemplate, understand, and pray to God.

"The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare His glory: there is not a thing but celebrates His praise; And yet ye understand not how they declare His glory! Indeed He is Oft-Forbear, Most Forgiving!" (Quran 17:44)

What language did Abraham pray to God in? It wasn't Arabic and he was not Arab.

What language did Moses pray to God in? Not Arabic.

What language did Jesus pray in?

What about Adam, Enoch, Isaac, Ismail and the others? They were not Arabic speakers.

Prophet Solomon spoke the language of birds (Quran 27:16), the ants (27:19), and Jinns/Genies (27:39). Did they all speak Arabic?

Same with David.

"So We made Solomon to understand it; and to each one We gave wisdom and knowledge; and We made the mountains, and the birds to celebrate Our praise with David; and We were the doers" (Quran 21:79)

Arabic is not the basis for prayer; remembrance of God is the basis:

Indeed, I am Allah. There is no deity except Me, so serve Me and establish prayer for My remembrance. (Quran 20:14)

And the purpose for this remembrance is righteousness/piety/preservation:

"O mankind! Serve your Lord, who created you and those who were before you, so that you may be righteous." (2:21)

We will only be held accountable for what was in our capacity.

Allah says, as it comes in translation:

Allah does not charge a soul except its capacity. It will have what it has gained, and it will bear what it has earned. "Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people." (Quran 2:286)

I should add, even early non-Sunni scholars like Abu Hanifah permitted praying in Persian and his later followers in different languages (Nasafi, Kanz al-Daqaiq).

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    The reference to Abu Hanifah and others are pretty nice. Thanks :) If you can sometime a reference for these three would be great, or maybe I can add it sometime cause I am getting the urge again to try and study the history surrounding Islam.
    – user13203
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 12:24
  • Reference for what three? Btw, the existence of God and oneness are not strictly religious beliefs. Many irreligious people have concluded this by their reason. Just look at the Deist movement and how they came to their conclusions about God. It's quite similar to Quranic teachings.
    – Sayyid
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 0:04
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    References for Abu Hanifah saying this, and the same for Nasafi and Kanz al-Daqaiq. If you find some time, and just a generic thing like the title of some book would be helpful. Regardless, I need to make some time to study this history.
    – user13203
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 0:25
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    Oh sorry, 'Kanz al-Daqaiq' is the name of the book. Al-Nasafi was the author who rreported Abu Hanifahs opinion and other Hanafis who permitted praying in different languages.
    – Sayyid
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 7:03

Firstly, it won't be much hard to study regarding a general meaning of Salat as a Wajib (mandatory) act that you have to do... and you can peruse concerning its general meaning that what you are saying (generally); since the Salat is very significant (worth of it) to expense some of your time to learn its meaning too. Meanwhile, I assume all of the words of the salah (non-repeated) are not more than a paper. So, isn't that worthy to read and memorize solely one paper for all of your life? (As the order of Allah?) (As we memorize many non-significant things in our life ...)

Secondly let's answer you by a relevant example:

When Allah ordered us to do it (even if we are not aware of its meaning), but we trust Him and do it. Actually this is like: When you go to Doctor (as trusted doctor), then he gives you a pill which you don't know about its content, but you take (eat) it, since you trust the doctor ... thus it has its positive effect on your body even though you are not aware of this pill (as what its contents are ...)

Well, do we trust Allah less than Doctor? Definitely the answer is No.

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