Arabic is the language of a rich culture and civilization datingback many centuries; it was the language of Muhammad, the Muslims'Messenger of God, Islam and the Quran. This culture has produced suchfigures as Averroes, the medieval Aristotelian philosopher, IbnKhaldun, the first social historian and the poet Khalil Gibran. Betweenthe 8th and the 15th centuries the volume of literary, scholarly, andscientific book production in Arabic and the level of urban literacyamong readers of Arabic were greater than any the world had ever knownuntil that time.
Islamic artists have used Arabic script as their principal art formfor centuries; the beauty of their work will be revealed to you throughthe study of Arabic.Arabic is spoken by over 200 million people, in an area extending fromthe Arabian Gulf in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west. It isthe language of Islam, and many millions of people use it as a vitalspiritual component of their daily lives. Arabic is spoken by many ofthe more than four million people of Arab origin living in the UnitedStates and Canada.
The United Nations adopted Arabic as one of its six officiallanguages in 1974. In addition to the Palestinians, the governments ofeighteen countries list Arabic as their dominant mode of expression:Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco,Oman, Qatar, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, the UnitedArab Emirates, and Yemen. Arabic is also an important language in manyother countries of the world.
Our lives are vitally connected to the societies of the Middle East.The study of Arabic gives profound insights into the cultural,religious, and political forces which motivate the inhabitants of thatdynamic region--insights that our monolingual media seldom provide.The Middle East is the birthplace of three monotheistic religions(Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in chronological order) and containssome of the world's greatest archaeological and religious sites. It isalso the locus of two-thirds of the world's known oil reserves. A goodknowledge of Arabic will greatly enhance the enjoyment of your travelsthere as well as your ability to work and interact effectively withArabic-speaking people.