Throughout history, the fate of pioneering thought and pioneering books has always been hard and the fate of pioneering writers is, most of the time, tough and merciless. Such writers gain during their lifetime more enemies and fame than readers and money. But these in particular are the minds that trigger big leaps in the progress of science and society; even though they are systemically victims of sever repression. History is full with examples of writers tortured and books burned.
One of the most interesting pioneering arabic books is Lous Awad’s “Introduction to the Jurisprudence of the Arabic Language”, the controversial book that questioned the origin and history of Arabs and arabic language. This book may be the only one (other than Taha Hussein’s “On Jahili Poetry”) to doubt and debate the conventional history of a language considered sacred by millions of Muslims around the world. Awad’s “Introduction” was censored and banned (and still is in Egypt and some Arab countries) soon after it was issued in 1981. Researchers and critics had no reach to the contents of the book and views it contained other than the articles and books written against it. Ironically one of the main sources to access Awad’s prohibited theories was the book of his enemy Badrawi Zahran “Refuting the Slanders Against Quraan and it’s Language and other Absurdities Fabricated by the Arabized Crusade Louis Awad” (all this a title!!). But did Awad really fabricate slanders and does his book contain absurdities, and which beliefs did Awad question and doubt to deserve such hostility and condemnation?
The Origin of Arabs.
Doctor Awad opens his book searching for mentions of Arabs in ancient history and documents of neighboring nations as Egyptians, Babylonians, Hebrews, Persians and Greeks. He also refers to archeological findings and ruins in the Arabian peninsula. The result of the research shows that the Arab nation is relatively newborn in comparison with other nations of ancient east.
The earliest arabic scripts discovered go back to the 2nd century BC. These scripts are written in either Aramaic or musnad (the script of ancient Yemen). The first Arabic memorial curvature is the epithaph of Imru’ al-Qais (328 AD) who was the representative of Byzantine Tsar in Arabia (the epitaph is written in Nabatian script).
The ancient civilizations of Yemen were local. The middle and northern parts of Arabia were late to evolve as a civilization. Ancient scriptures do not mention any name of the inhabitants of Hejaz other than Amalekites mentioned in torah. Dr. Awad assumes that Amalekites are the ancestors of Jurhum tribe that lived in Mecca before Quraish. Babylonians mention Arabs first in the 8th century BC in a text found in Ashurbanipal’s library in which the southern neighbors of Mesopotamia are called “arabian queens” (hence, “queens”). This name may imply that Arabs had a matriarchal society at that period of history. Queens were on the head tribes which may explain the origin of feminine names of Arabic tribes. In Greece, Homer doesn’t mention Arabs despite mentioning most of the nations known to Greeks by that time. Aeschylus talks about Arabic horses, and Herodotus talks about Arabs already as an established nation after which geographic sites are named: Arabian Sea for example.
Dr. Awad tries to investigate the origin of Amalekites and finds out they may be the Hyksos tribes that left Egypt in the 16th century BC and mixed afterwards with people migrating from Caucasus region.
Awad studies the Arabic language methodically and denies its divine origin. He lists the opinions of classic Arab writers, Asharites and Mutazila (8th-10th centuries AD) to prove that language is a living organism that influences and gets influenced, evolves and integrates new words and expression depending on its geo-social needs. Thus he applies the rules of etymology, phonetics (phonological change) and comparative linguistics to find similarities between Arabic and Indo-European languages. Awad’s long research and chapters of examples conclude that Arabic and Indo-European Languages evolved from the same origin, that Arabic is not at all a non-changing, non-evolving language and it could not be a divine creation and ‘the language Adam in heaven’ as islamists claim.
Awad admits that his pioneering work is just the beginning of a bigger study of jurisprudence of arabic language. Thus he calls his book an introduction. Unfortunately banning the book and the overwhelming wave of Islamism makes it impossible for any researcher to continue what Awad started. It is more likely that even less bold books will be banned in the coming future and any attempt to question the arabo-islamic heritage or to study it scientifically will be out of consideration…