The we, the Malay, the Negro and the Semites.
Continued from previous post. Please refer to it for context.
The we in Arabic, not me.
The above exists, and probably as a concept originated from the Qur’an. Where God at times refers to Himself as We, as a way to elevate meaning. The word noun [ism, from samawa] itself, is defined as to bring higher meaning, elevate.
*This is perhaps one reason why the ism apply in ‘bISMillah’ of ‘bismIllahi rahmani rahīm’ (in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful). Too much to write about this. This requires a post on its own. Perhaps later.
Likewise when you address yourself, it should be ‘I/me’ [anā], but at times learners get confused when someone they’re talking to, uses ‘we’ [nahnu/nā]. This is the application of humility, to address your own self as a plural.
We in Malay.
This exists in the Malay language as well. At times some people say ‘we’ [kita/kami] instead of ‘I’ [saya], as an application of humility. Other times, a person refers to himself by his or her own name, like third party reference. I once foolishly thought this was stupid.
This is not just an indicator of humility and good manners, but considering how some elders forbid their young to speak any differently (when referring to themselves), shows how important manners is to their Malay culture – because it means something greater than what’s merely seen, and they see it.
For those who know Malay, Swahili and some other languages, you’ll see the immense connection with Arabic, especially in the context of Islam – something that encompasses a person’s pre-life, life and afterlife.
I understand it more so now why some people don’t (immediately) accept the absolute dichotomy of Malay and Islam or race and religion, because that significant element in the language of a people, is a also a reflection of how they understand and believe fundamental concepts in life, which formed and shaped them as a people. Unfortunately even for some who agree with this, they insist it is a bad thing all around – for they see the negative, and remain unaware of the benefits experienced.
The Negro and the Semites.
Malcolm X in an interview explains the language of the House Negro, a slave that works in the comfortable home of his master as oppose to the farm (Field Negro). When the master got ill, he says, ‘we sick.’ If the Field Negro invites him to runaway and leave, he’ll say no. ‘What’s better than we got here?’
That example is about different terms used within a language, reflecting the understanding and worldview of a people. In the next example, it’s about different language used that reflects similar things. It’s about why people of Semitic language – Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic, find it difficult or impossible to accept Atheism, even as a concept.
To be continued.
*Pic source unknown. Guy in pic with Habib Omar, unknown.