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All thats Arabic is not Islamic (II)

Published by The Nation on Thu, 26 Nov 2020

Mohammed AdamuThe word POCCNR, (with the N in up-side-down and the R in right-side-left positions) is the transliteration of the Slavic word Rossiya or translated into English, POCCNR, for Russia or Russian. By the way, it is because of the inverse positions of the N and the R that the word is usually apprehended almost instantaneously as Russian especially in English-speaking and non-English-speaking European nations with a phobia for communism.Thus in the 60s McCarthy communist witch-hunt in the United States when every innocuous anti-democratic heresy was persecuted as the manifestation of communism, even a popcorn selling outfit wouldve had to act on the side of caution not to advertise POPCORN in capital letters, lest it risked exuding a provocative communist aura around itself. The American playwright Arthur Miller in his play The Crucible lampoons this communist hysteria by fictionalizing the true-life story of a small Massachusetts town torn by accusation and counter-accusation of witchcraft.Meaning that the transliterated Hausa phrase Naira Goma written in Arabic (ajami) alphabets will be no more ludicrously Islamic -as alleged by the lawyer who had sued CBN against its use on our currency- than the transliterated word '''''' will be justifiably communist only because its mal-positioned N and R reveal a uniquely odoriferous Russian fragrance.Christians will not be justified to be spiritually paranoid about a Hausa phrase written in Arabic alphabets any more than anti-communist Americans should be ideologically paranoid about '''''' merely because the inversed positions of two of its letters conjure the phobia of instant communist repugnance. Not any more than Christians should be paranoid about the Biblical Aramaic lament of Jesus on the Cross Elli Elli lama sabachthani only because it hardly departs from the Arabic Allah Allah lama tharacthani.Forty-three percent of the world population is said to be bilingual -with a first, and usually native, language followed by a second language which may either be indigenous or foreign, national or international. In fact, virtually every European language member of the Indo-European linguistic family has one other language member of the same linguistic family foreshadowing it either as a second language or as some form of dialectal alter-ego; or maybe even as both.English in the UK for example has French and German languages competing as alter ego and or second language. In the United States it (English) has Spanish both as an alter-ego and as a contender especially against French for a second American language. Canada by the way is a bi-lingual state -speaking both French and English- because the country was jointly founded by the French and the English. But guess what, English in Australia has Mandarin Chinese and Arabic competing as that countrys second language; just as Arabic already is, after Hebrew, in Israel -and is in fact inscripted on its Shekel currency.Many Hausa-speaking northerners by the way have Arabic, Fulfulde or English as second language. In fact, many others are privileged even to be tri-lingual. And just as a Kanuri-speaking northerner or a Yoruba-speaking southerner may speak one or two more local or national languages, so may they add to those repertoires foreign or international languages especially incidental either to their colonial or their religious history.Nigeria has had the experienced both of Western, Anglo-Christian and Middle-Eastern Arabo-Islamic missionary activities from two geo-culturally distinct antipodes of a North and a South. And this was in addition to the entire countrys colonial experience which itself was no less Anglo-Christian in its essence. The result was that whereas an Arabo-Islamic culture was rooted firmly in the North, an Anglo-Christian tradition borne especially by the unification objective of the colonial administration, was also imposed as well on the North, as on the South.And so if it makes no secular sense to demand that a largely Christian South or rather the whole country should jettison its Judeo-Christian history in deference to a more secular, more avant-garde Nigeria that wears no religious vestiges, it should equally make no secular sense to demand that the North or more specifically, the Muslim-North should take no pride in the preservation of its Arabo-Islamic history. And if that history includes the ajami Arabic inscription on our currency or even that on the militarys coat of arms, so be it -the same way that we cannot repudiate Judeo-Christian English as our official language merely so that we appease our mock-heroic romance with secularism.Arabic by the way is the language of the Muslims Quran just as English too is the language of the Christians Bible. If we are not culturally shy or secularly ashamed that the latter, in spite of its Judeo-Christian antecedent, has been elevated to official language of a multi-cultural and multi-religious Nigeria, why should we be for the trivial reason that Arabic enjoys an innocuous presence on our currency or on our militarys insignia'In truth Arabic should be more Judeo-Christian (having roots dating back to the very languages spoken by Jesus and the tribes, namely Aramaic and Hebrew) than English is merely for tracing its origin to Greek through Latin, -both of which although were the true Judeo-Christian vehicles by which the Bible was originally rendered, they were nonetheless not nearly as kinfolk with Aramaic and Hebrew as Arabic is. And so it is monumentally ironic that our Christian brothers should be more spiritually tolerant of an essentially Indo-European English with a blunted navel that has no link to Jesus, than they are of a Middle-Eastern Arabic with its umbilical cord straight to the patriarchs.This will be no less mock-heroic than the U.S. writer and Stockbroker Clarence Shepard Day Sr. in his play Life With The Father bragging: Aside from a few odd words in Hebrew, I took it completely for granted that God had never spoken anything but the most dignified English. And so if the language of the Bible is English, and if we suppose too that the language of God Himself is English (as Clarence argues), might we then have concluded -as we do always about whatever is Arabic being also Islamic- that whatever is English is therefore Christian also'EpilogueThose who used the Arabic script to put the Hausa ajami phrase Naira Goma, meaning Ten Naira, on our currency and on the Nigerian Army Crest, the statement Victory Is From God, must have had purely linguistic motives -to inform especially a preponderant number of the northern army rank-and-file and a majority of northern users of our currency who were proficient probably then only in ajami -the same way that those who accepted English as our official language would not have had any motive other than the linguistic. And so, if it is uncharitable -concerning the official use of English- to impute tribal, cultural or religious motive, it should even be more so uncharitable to impute similar motives concerning the use of Ajami.But the linguistic or the communicative motive may not similarly be imputed about those who inserted the Star of David on the Nigerian Army Crest. Those who did that obviously mustve thought that they were finding accommodation for something Christian on an Army Crest that they believed already had something Islamic -because it had the ajami Victory Is From God. Meaning that they mustve deemed the ajami to be Islamic first before they wouldve been burdened by the sense of equitable duty to balance the scale of faith by inserting the Star of David to appease Christian sentiment. An error yes, but quite obviously a sincere one, if you ask me.And so truth is, it is the introduction of the Star of David on the Nigerian Army Crest that has in it (even if innocently so) a religious motive -namely Christian; and not the inscription of the Hausa ajami, whether on the Army Crest or on our currency. That, definitely is not Islamic; nor even, technically Arabic. It is merely linguistic!
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