As salaam walaikum, I am a revert to Deen e Islam. There is a Christian I know who said to me that Islam, unlike Christianity, is not an universal religion. I argued with him how. He said our Quran e Pak was revealed and is preserved only in Arabic, we offer salah only in Arabic, we recite duas only in Arabic, we greet in Arabic, we pray facing towards Arabia, and hence our religion only 'Arabizes' us. Is it true that Islam is an 'Arab religion'?
Islam was revealed for everyone:
ياأيها الناس إني رسول الله إليكم جميعا
Say, [O Muhammad], "O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all
تبارك الذي نزّل الفرقان على عبده ليكون للعالمين نذيرا
Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion upon His Servant that he may be to the worlds a warner
I may as well object to your friend's claims that Christanity is meant to be universal by citing Matthew 15:24 and Matthew 10:5-6 etc. or the preference for Israel in the Old Testament e.g. Ezekiel 37:28. If he offers any defense ask him to apply the same to his claims against Islam.
He said our Quran e Pak was revealed and is preserved only in Arabic
I'm not sure how this is different from Christianity or any other religion for that matter. The Gospels were originally written in Aramaic or Greek; the Old Testament was revealed in Hebrew and Aramaic. Anything other than the originals are translations done by men and translations exist for the Quran as well.
we offer salah only in Arabic, we recite duas only in Arabic, we greet in Arabic
We do offer Salah in Arabic because Salah is a ritual. Dua can be done in any language.
we pray facing towards Arabia
We pray facing towards the Bait Ullah: it is in Arabia, though it precedes the Arabs. It was built by the angels or Adam:
إن أول بيت وضع للناس للذي ببكة مباركا وهدى للعالمين
Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Makkah - blessed and a guidance for the worlds
Walaikum salaam. I had the same question few years ago but my teacher clarified as follows.
- To maintain originality and avoid known/unknown error/modifications due to translation/understanding error/non availability of certain equivalent expression or words in a language.
- It is very difficult to translate the exact meaning of Arabic words into some other language. Ex: we prefer to say Allah instead of God, even though Allah means God. What is unique about that word in Arabic is that it has no gender, no plural etc, it is unique. Where as you can change God to Goddess, Gods, Godfather, Godmother etc which all means different and associates with God.
I hope more knowledgeable ones can clarify better. Insha Allah.