“Critical discussion on ancient language evolution tool to discover world history” – Dr. Solehah

By Ola Bawazir and Heba Zakarya

GOMBAK, 8 November 2017 –  The critical discussion on ancient language evolution might be considered as a tool to expand the concept of language thinking ability, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Solehah Yaacob of the Department of Arabic Language and Literature, told listeners of IIUM.fm recently.

She said that it is safe to claim that it has become an independent field of inquiry which professionally explores the ability of human mind. And in analysing this concept, she added, “We have to refer to the Divine Revelation to comprehend the knowledge of God and scientific theory.”

“Having excellent knowledge in language critical thinking will help understand the happenings of the world history undoubtedly,” she said.

She quoted the words of prominent Islamic scholar Prof. Syed Naqib al-Attas, “The Islamisation of knowledge must be preceded by the Islamisation of thought, Islamisation of thought must be preceded by the Islamisation of language, because language is the container of culture.”

In rebranding the idea of Islamisation in ancient world history, she said, “we have to go back to the language evolution debate as an important device and instrument in any scientific research study”.

Dr. Solehah was a guest on the radio programme “Insights into Research and Publications” on Friday (3 November) where she shared the importance of her research on Arabic language, that is the Quranic language and the language of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Insight into Research and Publications is a newly introduced programme of the Research Committee of KIRKHS, aimed at promoting research and publications by the university’s academic community and students. The programme is intended to inspire the audience to conduct research and publications and to learn from others. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Solehah is the second person to be interviewed by IIUM.fm for the programme.

She spoke about how Arabic affects human civilisation, people’s thoughts and how it has improved with age and the societies’ evolution. Scholarly studies, she said, have focused on the evolution of Semitic languages and found the group of languages evolved from Akkadian, Aramaic, Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic, Yemen, Babylonian and Assyrian languages.

“There is substantial textual evidence on the existence of ancient Arabic tribes, and the evidence to this reaches far before Islamic times. The lineage of this Ad and Thamud ended with their extinction. The fact that the traces they have left behind are minimal, cannot be used as an indicator for their existence, only being part of local myth and lore.”

She added, quoting Surah Al-Najm: 50-51, “It is part of a divine plan, that the Ad and Thamud were to serve as a warning for generations, as stated in the verse, ‘And that He who destroyed the ancient (tribes of) Ad and Thamud, leaving no trace (of them).”

Asked about her academic and scientific journey, she responded, “It is challenging and exciting because I deal with difficult and conflicting issues associated with history, religion and society.” Nevertheless, she shared her research studies published in many Arabic and English journals and how she criticised some ideas mentioned by the Orientalists. She also found that the Arabic language is the root of Semitic languages and there are many evidences affirming this truth.

During the interview session, Dr. Solehah shared with the audience her educational background. She said, “I’m an IIUM daughter, I have studied my Bachelor’s, Master’s and my PhD in IIUM.”

She also mentioned her plan to write a new encyclopedia and produce a documentary programme on television that will be aired next Ramadan on the history of Arabic Language and how it is used in ancient Arab communities.

Asked about how she could balance well between her family life and academic work successfully, she said, “The three most important things to do so as to overcome all kinds of drawbacks are to have excellent time management, be able to make quick decisions and sharp thinking attitude.”

Her publications could be obtained from Dar As-Salam publisher Cairo (info@dar-alsalam.com), Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka, a National publisher (dbp.gov.my), and IIUM Press (iiumpress.iium.edu.my/bookshop).

Those who are interested to read her published articles and other publications, kindly visit https://iium.academia.edu/solehahyaacob. She could be emailed at niknajah@iium.edu.my. ***

Aznan Mat Piah

Senior Academic Fellow at IIUM. Has served the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Malaysia's diplomatic missions abroad in public diplomacy, and the Ministry of Information in public relations and information.

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