Only Arabs Can Truly Be Muslims

reading the Qur'an
Flickr-User: mehmedakif

In my article You Cannot Criticize Nazis If you Do not Speak German, we concluded that one does not need to speak German to understand the evil of Nazism. Likewise no one has to be fluent in Russian to understand the evil of Communism in Russia.

Invariably, whenever we criticize the Qur'an some Muslim visitor to our website invokes the double-excuse: "You cannot criticize the Qur'an if you do not understand the Qur'an and you cannot understand the Qur'an unless you speak Arabic."

Reader sima, a 15 year old Muslim girl from the UK, left this bit of nonsense in response to my article Muslim Humor - Muslim Jokes:

bernie, if you can't read arabic how the hell could you read the Qur'an? and understand it? it takes years and years to be able to, so stfu.

Of course, I never wrote that I cannot read Arabic, but let's humor sima for a moment. Let us suppose that this is utterly true - that one cannot understand the Qur'an unless one can understand Arabic.

This would mean that the majority of Muslims in the world don't really understand the Qur'an since there are less than 305 million speakers of Arabic in the world and there are 1.5 billion Muslims. Of those 305 million who do speak Arabic, 10% are not even Muslims but are Arab Christians, Mizrahi Jews, Iraqi Mandaeans, and so on.

More than 80% of Muslims Cannot Read the Quran

If you're handy with a calculator you can quickly determine that 275 million divided by 1.5 billion is less than 19% and so more than four-fifths of the world's Muslims, according to sima, cannot even understand the Qur'an. Sima is also one of many of my Muslim readers who suggests that Islam is the only true religion because there are so many Muslims in the world and so many people are converting to it.

Well, sima, according to you, more than 80% of the Muslim world cannot understand the Qur'an. Why the hell are they Muslims?

Linguistics was my minor when I studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In addition to Arabic studies, I also learned to read ancient Greek so that I could better understand the Septuagint. Since then I have studied languages of the world for more than 40 years. Sima may not know this, but many speakers of Arabic from one country may be barely able to understand the speakers of another. There is no such thing as one Arabic language that is intelligible among all Arabic speakers.

If sima is correct, that only those who speak Arabic can understand the Qur'an, then only Arabs can truly be Muslims, all the rest are merely poseurs. I'd like to add: but not all Arabs, only those who can read the prophetic Arabic written in the Qur'an. In such a world, there should only be a handful of Muslims.


For those who do not know, there is no such thing as an Arab ethnicity outside of those who can directly trace their lineage to the peninsula of the Arabs. Sure we speak of the Arab world and include Morocco, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and others in that grouping, but anyone who has traveled to these countries knows that Moroccans are ethnically different than Egyptians who are not even close to the Lebanese who do not consider themselves Arab and are ethnically different than Iraqis and so on. They are Arab because they speak various versions of Arabic or live in an Arab nation. Merely being a speaker of Arabic or being a citizen of an "Arab" country does not make one an ethnic Arab.

### End of my article ###

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