Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
Polyglottery is the use and study of multiple languages. This often involves in-depth immersion overseas; by being surrounded by native speakers. This environment, however, can today be replicated using online means. What are some guidelines for believers who tend towards polyglottery?
Should certain forms of online immersion be avoided altogether (such as iTalki, Tandem, for reasons of seclusion)? If so, what are the permissible forms of immersion that one can use to acquire foreign languages?
Lastly, how ought believers make their intention to facilitate becoming a polyglot?
Thank you for your question. Ma sha Allah, I always find it inspiring when Muslims find their passion and act upon it, there is much goodness and blessings in working hard and putting your results toward good use with the right intention.
Language Apps and Immersion
I personally don’t have any experience with language apps, but from my limited research, I see that one gets online to practice a language with another in a friendly way and not as a formal teacher-student relationship. Many users claim to have made new friends through them. As such, I would recommend that one use these apps with the same gender to easily stay within gender interaction rules. These apps don’t seem to offer a teacher-student scenario, and they certainly don’t replicate immersion, but they may be useful. It seems that these language learning apps call for some prudence and scrupulousness.
Please see these links:
Stations of the Wayfarers (Section 2: The Gateways) – 6: Renunciation & Scrupulousness- Shaykh Walead Mosaad
Renunciation and Scrupulousness
Be scrupulous and you’ll be the most worshipful of people
The Intention Behind Becoming a Polyglot
One should assess one’s intentions and priorities when becoming a polyglot. Muslims color all of their actions with the hope of reward in the hereafter, and I question the benefit of learning numerous languages at once. Certainly if one learned languages that are rich with Islamic knowledge and literature, like Urdu, Arabic, Farsi, and so on, there would be a tremendous benefit in studying and translating that content for knowledge to spread.
But what might be the benefit of learning many European languages, or African languages? Does one plan to live there? What benefit can be derived? Some might prefer to perfect their few languages of immediate need and interaction, and call it a day.
First, and foremost, I must advise you to learn Arabic. Each and every Muslim that learns Arabic benefits this nation, and increases in faith from this study. As a language lover, and language major, I advise you to learn Arabic first, and master it, then master translation, and then move on to learn other languages. You will find immense blessings in it and just learning the language of the Quran will transform your relationship with Allah. Please consider starting with our SeekersArabic program which is set to launch this year, by the grace of Allah.
Be Avid for What Benefits You
Make this hadith of the Prophet, (Allah bless him and give him peace), your default state, and do what you choose to do with excellence, “Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, ‘if only I had done such and such‘ rather say ‘Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’al (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does)‘. For (saying) ‘If‘ opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan.’” [Ibn Maja]
Please see this link as well:
What Is the Meaning of Khalwa (Seclusion) with the opposite Gender?
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.
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