Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Arabic: Can You Read That?
As my Arabic studies progress, I catch myself trying more and more to pick out identifiable words from inscriptions around the city. While on the Temple Mount, I focused on the script that goes around the octagon building that supports the Dome of the Rock.
It is a particularly difficult script (for me), but I was able to identify a few things.
"Can you pretty easily read the script going around the Dome," I asked. "Yes, because I have it memorized. We start memorizing it in first grade" was the answer I received.
That struck me.
First, memorizing the script on the Dome gives local Muslims a heart connection to the Dome of the Rock; or more correctly, the whole of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. And that is particularly true when it is done at an early age. The social and political implications of such a connection are worth consideration as the issue of control of and entrance to the Temple Mount makes its way to the front page of the news cycle.
The second thing that struck me about children memorizing that particular script is that I know from talking to others that that script isn't a stand alone memory verse for Muslims. Many Muslims around the world strive to and succeed at memorizing the Qur'an, which is about the size of the New Testament.
I don't personally know any Christians who have memorized the New Testament. I've heard of not more than a handful who have done it, but I don't know them. I'm familiar with various children's ministries that "focus" on Bible memorization, but most of them focus on isolated verses. Which is to say, very few Christians memorize large sections of either the Old or New Testaments. Why is that?
I do have a few friends who have been an encouragement to me to do much better in Bible memory; they have endeavored to memorize whole chapters, even whole books. May their tribe increase, and may they continue to challenge me in Bible memory.