I was talking about the socio-economic and religious matters of Ohio, USA, with Mrs. Curtie Furman, Director of the Cleveland International Council for Cultural Relations. Mrs. Curtie is a Catholic Christian middle-aged smart lady. I saw her huge knowledge about Arab culture and literature. I asked her about the reason of interest for the Arabs culture and she replied that, “Arabic language is an added attraction of job market in the United States. Either in Government`s or corporation’s Arabic expertise is an extra quality for job placement. After Graduation my eldest son spent six months in Doha of Qatar for learning Arabic language. Don`t you see scarf on my head? I wear it regularly as my son likes it. Arabic is not only a language of Muslims but also a way of solvent and successful life for Americans who are employed in specific fields”.
The importance of the Arabic language is universally recognized. UNESCO announced 18 December of every year as International Arabic Language Day since 2010 although Arabic language is one of the United Nations’ languages among the six from 1973. UNESCO has declared United Nations’ another five International languages’ celebration dates and International Mother Language Day as International Day. Bangladesh can boast that the International Mother Language Day is born in Bangladesh. In 1952 we received Bangla as mother language contrary of many Bengali martyred and the world received International `Mother Language Day’ which empowers and encourages mother languages everywhere of the world.
Arabic is the 5th strongest language in the world. Language importance is not defined only on the speaking population, but the strong or important language index of the world is determined by the KPI (The Power Language Index) set of 20 indexes. Major aspects of the index are: language-speaking population, GDP of the country, international communication, diplomacy, tourism, education, culture, literature and heritage. Basically, Arabic language is one of the strongest languages ??in the world above all aspects.
Ultra-Modern Arabic is out of the taboos of the traditional Arabic. Arabic language, now a day`s, to the way of acquiring power to shake any literature or culture of the world. Nobel laureate Nagib Mahfuz, poet of freedom Khaleel Jibran or the rebellious spirit of Adonis touched the hearts of literary people of the world. Arabic Rock and Pop Music, Rokche Arabian or Arab Folk Dances are now one of the world’s tourist attractions. Pyramid or the places of the all Prophets, Love to the Prophet Mohammed (sm), status of the Makkah and Madinah sharif has created another feeling of the Muslims to Arabic language.
Arabic is the official language of the twenty independent countries in Afro-Asia. Arab also considered as one of the major economic zones of the world. According to the survey of foreign students in the United States in 2013, Arabic-speaking students are third majority after Japanese and Chinese students. It will not be exaggerated, if you say the Middle East as the center of world politics. The current world economy is mainly oil centric and the sole authority of the oil market is the Arab world. The high elevated plants of Dubai are their vision partners. It is known as the entire world’s largest labor market in the Middle East. The Arab economy (2.5 billion) is one of the most attractive economic hubs of the world economy.
Originally, the Arabic as the language of the noble Qur’an and the Prophet (S) is now the language of the Muslims of the world. The religious sentiments of the Muslims assorted with Arabic language. It is said in the diplomatic language that the Middle East runs the world’s motors again and again. That is, today’s superpower America or the power of Russia’s energy is to return to the kingdom of power or arms is in the forefront of the Arab world. We can say that Arabic language is playing a very significant role in the world economy, socio-culture or world politics.
Bangladesh’s relationship with the Arabs is not very intimidating. After independence in 1971, our relationship with the Arab world started intensifying in a very short time. Some Arab countries, including Iraq, recognized independence of Bangladesh early on. Slowly, since the 1980, the Middle East is one of the biggest labor markets of the country. According to a source from the Labor Welfare Ministry, only 1.9 million Bangladeshi workers are working in Saudi Arabia but as private source, it is about 2.5 million. Bangladeshi workers are meeting 27% labor demands of Saudi Arab, 1.1 million in the United Arab Emirates and .1 million in the Qatar. Likewise, Bangladeshi workers are working with goodwill in other Arab countries including Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait. About 63% of foreign remittances in Bangladesh are being added to our economy from Arabic-speaking Middle East countries. With so much labor market remittance we are getting more money than India and Pakistan, by sending our skilled manpower. Now Nepal is also becoming our competitor. India and China are very serious in today’s possession of the Arab market. There is no sector in the Middle East where Indians do not have presence. India’s monopoly dominance is increasing from labor-dependent sectors to technology-based sectors. India’s special monitoring in protecting the Indian market, protection of workers is the reasons for their success and of course the efficiency of the Arabic language of Indian diplomats also works in this field.
I had friendship with an Indian retired diplomat at London. I asked him why Pakistani diplomacy was defeated by the India on Kashmir issue. He said, out of many reasons one of the issue is the language. The Pakistani diplomats could not show their rationality in Arabic speaking countries due to their shortage Arabic efficiency, on the other hand Indian diplomats knew Arabic. I saw the truth of his words in Delhi’s Jamia Millia central university. There is a well equipped modern Arabic language institute in the University. Arabic language is taught to the diplomats who are appointed for the Arab countries as planned by the government of India. These schemes of the government always bring benefits to the socio-economy and political sector of India. But is there any special preparation or plan of our policy makers for holding or expanding such a large financial market? How many diplomats to the Arab states of our country know Arabic? Is there any plan to the government’s high level? Few days ago, the Ministry of Education launched a project on language education to make language education very high including Arabic. These courses have been started at such places or in such colleges where the general public movement is very low. It is ridiculous that some selected Arab words are taught in various technical institutes to the female workers who are interested to the Middle East family jobs. The instructors who teach the female workers in technical schools, they do not even know (themselves) Arabic and pronounce Arabic language properly. I asked one of the Principals that why not he could take any Arabic known graduate from madrasha. He avoided me and replied there were legal limitations. So, that is the government sector.
On the other hand in our country we have got thousands of Alia and Qawmi Madrasahs and Arabic Language department in the universities. They do not just teach Arabic for the religious duty or teaching only noble Quran and Hadith, the whole nation wants to (teach) learn this language as the language of rich literature and for economic growth of Bangladesh. The question has come forward. Although the Arabic education sector is messy, but public private investment is not very low. There are Arabic departments in all the major Universities of Bangladesh. There is no debate about the expertise of the teachers of the Arabic departments, but I think they always prefer to work in Islamic studies field rather than establishing Arabic language in the country. They have largely failed to highlight the global status of Arabic literature. There are a lot of articles in the daily newspapers about Arabic literature in Bangladesh, translated in English. But in our country we have got thousands of Alia and Qawmi Madrasahs and Arabic Language Department!
However, the hope is that some Arabic young researchers have been working on translating original Arabic literature in Bangla. Talking to many Arabic language and literature-related people, they are also thinking of opening a course called ‘Business Arabic’ in their respective fields. These are the hopes. But remember, all the countries of the world are trying their level best to take economic advantage of Arabic language. In this case, we are far behind. The Arab market will no longer be dependent service only. They are moving faster from labor service to creative labor market or techno labor market. In order to take care of this market, the collective efforts of religious and socio- economies have to be taken, and hope the government will also have to make extensive plans to expand market in the field of education, medical, techno and religion to the Arab countries, not just only in labor market. The importance of education on communicative Arabic language in Madrasha must be given. Middle East Institute will be opened for Arabic language and Arab world research at the university level. This is what our expectations in International Arabic Language Day. n
Author: Professor, Islamic University, Kushtia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org