Guest Author - Linda Heywood
I pray to God in English. I have always prayed to God in English. English is the language God inspired me to speak. I prayed to God in English as a small child. I have implored God in English as an adult. Today I was told my prayers would not be accepted by God because I do not pray in Arabic.
I can say The Key, the first chapter of the Quran used in the prayers, in Arabic but after thirty years my brain still does not register what I am saying when I recite the verse in Arabic. I am useless at foreign languages even though I have tried. It is like a child reciting a nursery rhyme, I say the memorised words, but they mean nothing. Is that praying?
The Quran tells us that God gave Adam words to redeem himself of his sin. God does not say He gave Adam Arabic words, He says words.
The Quran tells us that Abraham was the original prophet of Islam and he was given the rites of the declaration to faith, the prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. Did Abraham pray to God in Arabic, did Jesus, and did Moses? How many other prophets or messengers were Arabs? None were, because the Arabs had not received a scripture before Mohamed was sent to them with the Quran.
God asks us, ‘who wishes to learn the Quran?' ~ God does not say, ‘learn Arabic’. God says, 'pray to Him alone' ~ God does not say, ‘pray in Arabic’. God tells us that nothing was left out of the Quran.
The prayers were already known at the time of Mohamed, but the Arabs were pagans, and the Quran was sent to enlighten them. They were told to follow the religion of Abraham. Was Abraham an Arab? No, because the Arabs had not received a prophet or a scripture prior to the Quran.
Chapter 16, verse 123
"Then we inspired you to follow the religion of Abraham, monotheism; never was he an idol-worshiper."
God tells us that the Quran came down in Arabic because those around Mohamed spoke Arabic, and if it had come down in any other language, they would have rejected it. God tells us that the Quran would be translated, for He says, ‘Be it an Arabic or Non Arabic scripture…’ and it has been translated into many languages for all mankind to read. God says, ‘learn the Quran’ but God does not say, ‘learn Arabic’. Following the Quran alone and learning its message is recommended by God, learning Arabic is not. Language is irrelevant in faith.
Chapter 19, verse 59
After them, He substituted generations who lost the prayers, and pursued their lusts. They will suffer the consequences."
As we can see from the verse above, God takes the prayer away from those who prefer this worldly life. And to not pray has consequences. So, do I pray in Arabic to satisfy those who tell me I should, or do I follow my instincts and pray in English as I have done for decades? I know the answer, but should I bother explaining myself to those who doubt my actions? No, I do not think so. It is not for some random human being on the internet to tell me my prayers are not accepted by God because I am praying in the wrong language. God is my judge and I pray to please God alone.
This is purely how I understand and practice my faith. I am not telling anyone to follow me in the way I pray, I just feel that prayers are a very personal connection to God and I should be aware of what I am saying. God tells us not to go to our prayers when intoxicated in case we do not know what we are saying, I feel the same about saying my prayers in a language I do not understand. If I am wrong I can only hope God forgives me.