This month I attended a lunch with guest speaker Dr. Muhammad S. Eissa on Language and Religion. Surprisingly, I had never given much thought to the intersections of the two. Dr. Eissa talked about how the Arabic language is so frequently associated with Islam and how that affects non-Muslim Arabic speakers and Muslims who don’t speak Arabic. It was extremely fascinating to analyze. I did not know a lot of the history of the Arabic language or how it has changed and evolved geographically. Dr. Eissa emphasized how the Arabic language helped people connect to Islamic scripture, traditions, and cultures.
My roommate, who is Jewish, also related to that and she is currently studying Hebrew. These were the languages that the scriptures were written (or heard) in and so learning the language helps people connect.
I started thinking about Christianity and the lack of any identifying language. I’m Catholic so Latin is very important historically as masses used to be entirely in Latin. I think Latin is very beautiful, but it wasn’t the original language of Jesus or the disciples; it was adopted because of the influence of the Roman empire on the church. In fact, as time progressed, Latin almost became a barrier between the people and the church teachings. People couldn’t understand what was being said at masses because most people were uneducated. It was finally changes in the 20th century because the Pope wanted people to be able to develop personal relationships with God. I think this is pretty cool though I still love hearing Latin songs or chants at masses.