''Loss of the national language is the first step towards mankurtisation. We will lose Islam then''

Column of Tatarstan Mufti Kamil Samigullin for Realnoe Vremya over conservation of the Tatar language

''Loss of the national language is the first step towards mankurtisation. We will lose Islam then'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Chairman of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate of the Republic of Tatarstan Kamil Samigullin also joined the polemics on compulsory mother tongue learning at schools. In his column written for Realnoe Vremya, the mufti talks about the fate of the Tatar language by considering the issue from a religious point of view.

Mother tongue is trust

Today the Tatar language has a real threat to disappear and degrade to a 'kitchen language'. Such a scenario will be easily fulfilled if our mother tongue disappears from school programmes of the Republic of Tatarstan. Meanwhile, a mother tongue and national identity in Islam are trust – what is given us by Most High Allah for safe storage. If we lose the language, we won't obey the order of the Creator!

Without a doubt, a language forms a certain person and people's outlook, in general. It is impossible to completely understand the culture, mentality and traditions of another people without understanding its language. Another language is another vision of life, it is the enrichment of one's internal world! We not only explain our thoughts through a language but also express art, ethics and aesthetics of a people.

''Mother tongue and national identity in Islam are a bail – what is given us by Most High Allah for safe storage. If we lose the language, we won't obey the order of the Creator!'' Photo: inkazan.ru

Multilingualism is a world tendency. Today no one will surprise at schools of Europe and Asia that a kid knows three or four languages at once. Speaking many languages in the constantly globalising world is a factory of a person's success, it is an indicator of his erudition and education. For instance, my acquaintance who was born in Russia and now became a citizen of Holland told me that at the local school his son learnt Latin and Ancient Greek besides the Dutch, French, German and English. By the way, these two languages are extinct languages, nobody speaks them, but many ancient books are written in them.

Door to understanding of the spirituality

The Tatar language is a door to an understanding of the spirituality of the Tatar nation, it is a blessed key to the understanding of the multimillion and centuries-old Turkic culture. In addition, the Tatar language has a big number of words from the Arabic and Persian languages, which makes our language unique for an understanding of all major languages of Muslim nations of the world.

Unfortunately, many hundreds and maybe thousands of languages have already disappeared. It is a big loss for all human kind because a unique and unrepeatable culture, history, literature disappears with every language… How can we allow it happen to us? Meanwhile, Islam urges to save a unique culture. The following ayat is the proof: ''O mankind, indeed, We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another'' (Surah Al-Hujurat [49:13]). In other words, a mother tongue and national uniqueness is trust, that's to say, what's given to us by Most High Allah for careful storage. Allah intrusted, gave for a responsible storage, gave people such a great value as language, nationality, culture, race history, genealogical information, all in all… If we lose the language, we will disobey the Creator's order!

Our Prophet (peace be upon him) said about the trust that those who don't have a faith don't meet requirements of the trust (al-Jami' as-Saghir, 9704). Treason and betrayal is the opposition of the trust. And Most High Allah doesn't love those who don't follow the trust: ''O you who have believed, do not betray Allah and the Messenger or betray your trusts while you know [the consequence] (Quran, 8:27).

''Yes, the Tatar language was lost in families for the majority of obvious reasons. This is why our kids also need to study it.'' Photo: prav.tatarstan.ru

First step to mankurtisation

Spiritual trust usually passed in the family: from parents to kids, from generation to generation. But sometimes the transfer of national and cultural values also happens outside the family environment like it happened to the Tatar language. People learn languages in all civilised world to conserve or rehabilitate disappearing languages. Yes, the Tatar language was lost in families for the majority of obvious reasons. This is why our kids also need to study it.

Today the Tatar language has a real threat to disappear and degrade to the level of a 'kitchen language'. Such a scenario will be easily fulfilled if our mother tongue stops being studied at schools and universities of the Republic of Tatarstan. Loss of the national language is the first step towards mankurtisation, which happens when prisoners forget about their previous life, loss of the connection with their historical, national origins. And the holiest thing in our life – Islam – will be lost. This is why to conserve and develop Islam in Russia, today we need to conserve and develop the Tatar language. It is our responsibility, it is our trust for past and future generations…

By Kamil Samigullin