|IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE MOST BENEFICENT, THE MOST MERCIFUL|
Learning a new language is no simple task and can only be justified when there is a need or necessity for such an action. Currently, there are millions (if not billions) of people in the world who do not need to learn a new language for it has no benefit to them. Why force a peasant or farmer working in a remote part of Africa or South America to learn a second language? Why force the ordinary people of any country who are living their lives peacefully and without any problem to learn a new language for no reason at all?
When the need is felt, people will themselves strive to learn a new language. For instance, students will probably feel the need to learn English as a scientific language. Merchants and businessmen might feel the need to learn the language of the countries they are trading with. Dignitaries and ambassadors will probably have this attitude too, but the majority of the people will have no need to learn a new language and it will be a complete waste of time.
Furthermore, the poor reception of auxiliary languages like Esperanto show that such languages are failure prone because many people - based on their social, national, and cultural beliefs - will under no circumstance accept a predefined language that they do not favor as a universal auxiliary language.
The greatest flaw in this principle, by far, is the farfetched argument Abdul Baha puts forward to justify it. He believes that the differences between nations and people are caused by differences in their languages and these will only be dispelled once a universal language is implemented:
What is the difference between Germany and France? It is only the difference of language.
Misunderstandings are the reason behind differences. When [people] understand each otherís tongues no misunderstanding will remain. Everyone will show affection and kindness to others and the East and the West will become united and in harmony.
Is there no difference between Germany and France, but the difference in their languages? Will the differences between these two countries disappear overnight if they speak the same language? Are misunderstandings only caused because of differences in languages? Are there no misunderstandings between people with the same language living in the same country? Are all differences rooted in misunderstandings and differences in languages?
The answer to all the above questions is clearly: No. This is how Abdul Baha justifies the aforementioned reasoning:
We can see how in the past ages, the unification of language became a cause of friendship and unity. Thirteen-hundred years ago, the Copts, Syriacs, and Assyrians were different nations and had great quarrels and wars with each other. When they were forced to speak Arabic, their language became unified and they are now all Arabs and a single nation. Even though Egyptians were Copts, Syrians were Syriacs, Baghdadis were Chaldean, and the people of Mosul were Assyrians, but the unification of language made them all a common nation related to each other in such a way that this relationship will never break apart. Also, in Syria, there are different religions like Catholic, Orthodox, Druze, Shia, Sunni, and Alawites, but because they have a single language they are like a single nation. If you ask any of them (about his race), he will reply I am an Arab even though some are Romans, some Hebrew, some Syriacs, and others Greek. It is the unification of language that has integrated all of them.
We will not delve into the incorrect historical and geographical facts in this speech. But how can we, in any sense of the word, claim that the mostly Arab Middle-East, with all the countries and tribes mentioned in this quote, is integrated in a way that it will never break apart? Has there ever, in the past century, been even a short period of peace between all these groups because they all became Arabs? Did the unity of language make all these different groups friends, and iron out their differences? This simply is unreasonable, for in contrast to what Abdul Baha claims, the unification of language is not a definite cause for affection, harmony, or peace.
It is up to you to draw your own conclusions!
The articles have been based on the book "Avaze Dohol" - the Beating of the Drum by Masoud Basiti, Zahra Moradi.
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