Abyssinia-(Al Habasha) Origins and Language

*Introduction: Conducting a discourse on language in Eritrean context in dispassionate manner had proven next to impossible – if past experiences are any guide. But hope is not lost, as sheer coincidence would have it, recently, EMDHR sponsored seminar via PalTalk that took place earlier this month, and it was refreshing to hear Dr. Chefena’s approach on language in Eritrea’s context. Alas, his “historic cache of goods” confined itself to the contemporary sensibility, one that looks back in time only to the fifties; perhaps, considering EMDHR being the sponsor, both the presenter and the host could’ve had their young audiences with contemporary sensibilities in mind. Thusly, they chose to resort to the contemporary narrative than delving deep to the beginning of how and whence the Arabic and Tigrinya languages found home in our region. Of course, this is not to gloss over that Eritrea is endowed with myriad of languages that deserve their own specific historical narrative, albeit that will be left for our learned men and women to grapple and educate us similar to what’s being done here with the two languages at hand.

Well, at Global Eritrean Advocacy Network (GEAN), we are determined to push the envelope of history vis-a-vis language, because it is one of the most contentious issues facing Eritreans in diaspora, among several others, such as ethnicity, land, and refugees, which we firmly believe should be discussed with all the intensity and honesty it deserves. Of course, it goes without saying that we earnestly welcome any healthy debate that attempts to address these issues from their multifactorial angles.

Therefore, here is for the young and old – to all Eritreans, come one and come all – a historical narrative that traces the evolutionary process of Tigrinya & Arabic languages dispensation and disposition in our region. Savor it. Wallow in it. Absorb it. Above all, read it as archeological work of history, if you will. Layer by layer, pebble by pebble, dust by dust, dig deeper into the history with respect to the two specific languages, what you will find is a body of language being constructed one alphabet at a time. Ostensibly, the body of language will begin to emerge in its metaphorical and literal sense within you as you begin to imagine the inherent power of that richly woven field of vision that affirms our Eritreanity

History bereft of political posturing might for once allow us to see ourselves not in that politicized body politicking but as one people who have inhabited a body of history interwoven by countless narratives of coexistence. As you know historians are at their best when they unfurl for us the unblemished facts, and then it is up to us to make do with it what we will. Bury that political animal in you under your feet, and you will find yourself seeing in your mind’s eye our forefathers and foremothers living and coexisting under the same hamlets and villages – If you would only allow yourself to go there. The treatment given herewith is all about the history of the two languages. The next installment will be about the chauvinist sociopolitical culture that came to occupy Eritrean landscape. Suffice it to wrap this introductory note by quoting directly from the piece that you are about to indulge upon: 

“… those who stand negatively from the Arabic language in Eritrea from the Tigrinya speakers in particular, contradict the roots of their religious, cultural, and ethnic history that they neglect despite the fact that they cannot turn away from it. This is because the Arabic language is not strange to them, to their area, to their religious creed, to their origin and to their ethnicity. As much as it was the medium of transmitting the civilization of Hummerite Agazian to Axum with its first Sabayan Alphabet, it was also the medium of transmitting the Jacobite religious heritage that the Abyssinian church believes in from the books of the Alexandrian church in Egypt translated into Geez-the language of worship of the Abyssinian church. These books have become referential to the Christian creed in the churches and monasteries, and foundational to the priests and monks. There is no Abyssinian monk today…” 

*Introductory note above was penned by Beyan Negash and Dr. Jelal’s work below was translated by Saad Musa.

Abyssinia (Al Habasha): Origins and Language
By: Professor JalaLuddin M.Saleh, Ph.D.

Abyssinian history goes back to two Arabian tribes: Hibsht and Ag’az. Both are Hummerite tribes; their origin goes back to Hummeir, and Hummeir as is mentioned in Lisan Al Arab, Arabic Language Dictionary, by Ibn Manzur, is a patriarch of the tribe from Yemen. He is Hummeri Ibn Saba Ibn Yashjin, Ibn Yanibbn Khtan, and from them came all the kings the first epoch. (1)

Regarding the historical period in which these two tribes immigrated to Abyssinia, the Italian orientalist, Goydi, says: “we do not know for certain when the Semitic migration to Abyssinia started. But, for certain it was not prior to the 5th century B.C. Perhaps, it was concurrent with their migration to the North of the Arabian Peninsula. (2)

A.G. Drewes, The French orientalist, who made an analytical study of the Abyssinian inscriptions that he has found holds the opinion that (Hibsht) is an Arabian tribe that migrated long before the 5th century B.C. and first settled in the Eritrean coast of the Samhar plains. Gradually they went up inland to the highlands up to the region of Yeha and Axum where they blended with the native Kushites and were Africanized. And out of this blend came the civilization that preceded the civilization of the Kingdom of Axum.

The inscriptions that were discovered in Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia) revealed the worshiping of South Arabian gods, especially, Al Magah, the moon god who is symbolized by a crescent, a disc, or a horn. The historian Jawad Ali, for instance, mentions that among the valuable archeological findings in Axum–a stone with Sabayan (4) inscriptions in a wall of an old church. Also, a remnant of pillars was found in the site of yeha, which is located North East of Adoa that indicate the existence of a Sabayan Temple. In addition, a Sabayan Altar dedicated to the god Sen or Sein is found, not to mention many other inscriptions that clearly indicate the existence of the Sabayans in Abyssinia.(5)

“The Designation of Habesh in Arab Genealogy”

There is an authenticity in Arab genealogy for the name Al Hebsh, regardless of however varied it is to pinpoint. We find it, for example, in the genealogical chain of the leader of the khuza’a tribe. As mentioned by the historian Ibn Katheer, he is Hulai bin Hubshia bin Salu bin Kaab bin Umaru bin Rabee Al Khuza’ee. (6)

Ibn Khaldoon, says, “To khuza’a belonged the custodianship of the house (ka’bah) before Quraish of beni Kaab bin Umaru bin Lahy, and it ended up to Halil bin Hibshea bin SaluL. (7)

Al Hamadany, an ancient Yemeni Historian of Hummeirorgin says, in his discussion of the tribal subdivisions of children of Rabeea bin Abd bin Alyan bin Arhab, who begets Al Hassan bin Tarig Aba Hebsh. (8)

From among the Hadramout tribes mentioned by the scholar Salim AL Kendy in his book. ‘History of Hadramout, the tribe of Al Ahmed bin Zain AL Habsh.’ (9) He also cites many names that belong to the tribe which I mentioned; Ahmed bin Jaafer Al Habashi, Abdullah bin Salim Al Habashi, Issa bin Muhammad Al Habashi. (10)

“The meaning of the word Hebsh”

Researchers say that the word Al Habasha came from Tahabush meaning congregation. And as of what this word entails in its Arabic conception, Abdeen, the Abyssinian language teacher at Faculty of Literature in the University of Fouad the 2nd, formerly, and the University of Cairo currently, says: “The term (Habsh) in the Arabic indicates to a congregation and alliance. The Arabs have widespread utterances out and this term; so we find Habashah a marketplace among the pre-Islamic marketplaces of the Arabs. When the tribe of Hebsht resided in Northern Abyssinia, the Northern region was attributed to them and was called by their name. Later on, the Arabs called the whole area Al Habasha and from that the Europeans coined “Abyssinia”. (11)

Al Hamadany says:” Al tahabsh means to come together as a negation to division (12) and to this meaning also, points out Glaser, the German researcher, who inquired into the archeological texts that contained the term hebsht in 1895. It was published by the Austrian scholar Muller in 1893.

These texts are seven inscriptions written in a propped Yemeni calligraphy discovered in Yeha–50kms east of Axum on the road that leads to the port of Adul (Adulis). Glassier came to conclude from his inquiry that Habsht is a common name for those who work in planting and harvesting gum not only in the Arabian peninsula but also in Somali peninsula and Abyssinia. (13)

Agazian are from Yahsib

It appears that the tribe of Ag’eez, Geez or Ag’azian, has a connection with Ga’ezan, an area located south of the Arabian Peninsula which currently know Jeezan or Jaizan. Recent archeological discoveries in Yemen has confirmed and particularly the inscriptions of Al Wa’qir that the name Ga’azan is the correct pronunciation, not Jeezan as it is pronounced today.

If we recall the utterance of some Hummerite tribes, such as, the Mahra, the Ain as hamza (soft a), then we know that Jaizan is from Ga’azan; so many towns took the names of the tribes or dignitaries that dwelled in them.

Al Hamadani clarifies the connection of the tribe of Ag’eez with Hummeri saying: I saw no one from the tribal subdivisions of Hummeir who composes their genealogy like Al Ag’az; from among them Hamad Al Ag’azi, the poet known for the Za’eya word. He also mentioned Yahya Ibn Kuleib, the judge of San’a whowas an expert in the subdivisions of Hummeir. He says Al Ag’eez are from Yahsib, but he does not mention to which of its subdivisions they belong. (15)

He says in another place: Al Ag’eez is a subdivision of Yahsib, form among them is Hamad Al Ag’azy known for the (za’eya) word. (16)

In Southern Yemen there’s a valley called the valley of Gez’a. This valley was the home of the Al Aga’eez tribe and is named after it. It is still known by this name to this date in the region of AlMihry or Mahra province. There are a group of Households in Jordan who trace back their ancestry to the tribe of gaz’a taga’zee. (17)

Some researchers say: the native home of the emigrating tribe of Hebsht is mount Habisha located in North East Hadramout. (18)

The Indigenous inhabitants of Abyssinia

Regarding the native people of Abyssinia before the Hummerites immigration to it, the Italian orientalist Goedy is of the opinion that they are the remote grandparents of the Kunama and Barya. Goedy continues to say;” there is no doubt that the rise of these state, i.e. the Axumite Kingdom, goes back to the southern Arabs gradual spread. As Rayan says: they immigrated to Abyssinia whose natives were of a different ethnicity than them. I am not going to extrapolate about those inhabitants whom we may call locals or Abyssinian nationals, who are the remote grandparents of the Kunama or Baria. It seems those people lived specifically in the area located in the Abyssinian plateau.(19)

The relations of Tigrait, Tigrinya and Amharic With Ge’ez Language

As it is traditionally known and incontestable among all experts of the Semitic languages, both Arabs and non-Arabs, the Bejian language (Tigrait) with the two Abyssinia languages (Tigrinya and Amharic), originate from Geez, which is the language of the Ag’azian tribe. From among the specialists, the German orientalist Karl Brokman says, “The closest language to the southern Arabic language is the language of the Semitic folks who migrated from southern Arabia to lands opposite to them which is the lands of Abyssinia. They colonized it and strongly blended with its native people. We do not know when these folks immigrated to it, but we know their language which is called Geez (Al gee’zia) is an eponym of the people of Geez. (20)

Broklman determines Tigrait to be the language that kept most of the Geez characteristics from among the other two languages, (Tigrinya and Amharic). He says, that dialect that has kept the old characteristics is spoken in the North, in the Italian colony of Eritrea, as well as in the Dahlak archipelago and is called locally Tigre. (21)

The same statement is also made by the known American anthropologist, Carlton S. Koan, in his comparison of Tigrinya and Amharic proximity to Geez. He says, “As for Tigrinya, it’s the language of the Axum region, and it is much closer to Geez than Amharic, but we shouldn’t confuse with the language of Tigre (Tigrait) which is derived from another south Arabian language and is spoken in Eritrea.

On the other hand, the Italian orientalist Goedy says, “The Geez language became extinct but the modern dialects that are spoken in the nNorthern region of Abyssinia, Tigrait and Tigrinya, [Amharic] replaced it at least in parts of the country. And these dialects come forth from the Geez language. (24)

The gist of the matter is that Tigrait, Tigrinya, and Amharic are Arabian languages in their origins and roots by virtue of their descendence from the mother Arabic language- the Geez language. Some may say, even if these languages were Arabic in their origin, they are not being used currently among the Arabs and they are not known to them. And for this reason, they lose their Arabic character. This is incorrect scientifically. It had nothing to do with scientific logic to deprive a language of its origin, characteristics, and identity simply because it’s spoken by a minority, and the majority to whom it belongs do not use it nor understand it. If we follow this logic then it would be incumbent upon is to say regarding the Mihreyeen’s language that it is not Arabic because contemporary Arabs do not understand nor use it. The same thing to the language of the Fifi’yeen, anArab tribe in the southern part of the Saudi Arabia.

These are Hummerite tongues however they seemed non-Arabic and complicated. They are of Arabic origins and roots, however they seemed strange, for instance, the Abyssinian folks turn the A’in into Hamza (Glottal stop) and they pronounce Ge’ez as Geez… Also, the Tuhama folks of Yemen do the same when they pronounce A’bd as Abd and just like them the Mahra who say ain not a’in. Ibn Manzoor, one of the earlier times outstanding scholars of the Arabic language, says in his well-known book, Lisan al Arab (Arabic language)” Hummeir is a noun and he is putatively the father of Yemeni kings and the tribe derive its origin from him. Hammara is said when one speaks in the language of Hummeir. They have phonations and languages that contrast all the languages of the Arabs. (25) When one of the earlier scholars of the Arabic language was asked about Hammeir’s language he said, “The tongue of Hammeir and some remote parts of Yemen is not ours nor their Arabic like ours. The king of Zufar have said,“our Arabic is not like yours; whoever enters Zufar has to speak the language of Hummeir. (27)The least we can understand from this statement is that these are two Arabic, the Arabic of Hummeir and that of the remote parts of Yemen and non-Hummerite Arabic which is the Arabic of the North. There is a difference and divergence between the two Arabic languages that almost makes them two different languages, not simply two dialects out of one language. For this reason, the Andullisian scholar Ibn Hazin said, “what we found and understood for certain is that the Assyrian, Hebrew, and the Arabic of Rabee’a and Madr, not the language of Hummeir, is one language spoken in different domiciles. (28)

Here we notice that Ibn Hazim, the Andullisian, distinguishes between the language Rabee’a and Madr on one hand and the language of Hummeir. He confirms for the former the common origin With Assyrian and Hebrew and negates it from the other without denying that it’s Arabic. He is explicit in his statement, ” the Arabic language of Rabee’a and madr, not that of Hummeir.”This means, the Arabic that has a common origin with Assyrian and Hebrew is the Arabic of Rabee’a and Madr not of Hummeir, for Hummeir’s Arabic is other than that of Rabee’a and Madr. Not only this, but also the Arabs had more than one language and each language differed from the other. Despite the fact that the word Arab is the name that brings them together, but their languages were far apart that one group doesn’t understand the language of the other.

The historian known by Al Tabari says,” the Arabs, though they all come under the name that they are Arabs were of different tongues in their diction and varied in their logic and speech. Their languages were too many to count. (29)

Ibn Jeni, an Arabic language scholar, says,” we’ve no doubt in the remoteness of the language of Hummeir and its like from the language of Nizar”.(30) And Abu Omer ibn A’la said, “Hummeir’s tongue is not our tongue nor their language is ours “(31)The known American anthropologist Carlton S. Kon says, ” extant are the Zafarian (Al Zafariah) tribes that speak old Arabic dialects that were spoken in the south (Southern Arabia) and are replaced by Arabic ( he means the Northern Arabic) in the Southern regions of Arabia.

Comparisons between Tigrait and Arabic, and Tigrigna and Arabic

First-Tigrait and Arabic:

In Tigrait, as well as, in Hummerite or Hummeriah comes the measure Af’ool to form the plural. In the ancient writings of Hummeir we find (Abklen) or (Abkool) which is bekil, and Ahmas meaning Ahmoos and Al Ahboosh the residents of Mt. Habshi (Mt. Zakhr) from Al Hujria and A’mal Ta’ez..Al Ahboosh is for the folks of Al Habasha. Also in the same manner, Axum, the old capital of Aabyssinia, is in the measure of (Af’ool) and it’s the plural form Kasmah, a city in the region of Reimah Yemen. It’s also a proper name for individuals, like Axum Ibn Suweid Ibn Hassan Al Manakhi. They say in Tigrait (Afroos) the plural of feres, (Agmool) the plural of Gamel, (Abqool) the plural of Baqal, (Ab’ur) the plural of Bee’raey, (Aw’oot) the plural of Wa’at, (As’hoon) the plural and Sahan, (Amoot) the plural Ama, (Abhoor) the plural of Bahr. From the Beejah tribes whose names come in the measure of (Afool): Agdoob, and Amoor. Both are subdivisions of the Almada and Bahdoor divisions; for family names in the same measure (AdIndool).

Al Ak’wa says this measure is present in Abyssinia and most likely, I think, it has transferred to Abyssinia among the cultural influences that was transferred from Yemen.

Second – Tigrigna and Arabic:

Here are some linguistic comparisons between Tigrinya and Arabic. Food in Tigrinia is (ekhli) which is al ma’kul. As for (A t’al) they use it for a wet thing. (telilu) ( Mai at Li lu wo) meaning wet with water. And (T’al) is water spray or fine rain as it has come in the Arabic language dictionary, Lisan Al Arab.

Friday is called (ar’bi) in Tigrinya, and this name is taken from its name in Jahillia before Islam when it was called (uru’ba) It’s an old Semetic name.

Tongue in Tigrinya is called (Melhas) and it’s from the verb (lahs) to lick and (Melhas) comes in the same Arabic measure as (maf’al) as a name of a device like (Mangab) drill or whatever device used to explore and (Mellhas) tongue is what the human uses to lick. They say; (MelhaskaHaz) meaning hold your tongue. .From among the meanings of (haz) in Arabic, is to cut. From haz–to cut off, yehiz–he cuts off as is in the Arabic dictionary. But it is used here tantamount to hold. They call illness Himam. In Tigrait they say Hamma and Tigrigna Hamimuw (loaded) or Hamimu( without loading) for one who’s infected by fever and is sick. In the Arabic language (Ardmuhammah) is fever land or land that has much fever.

The black color is called in Tigrignia and Tigrait “Himamat”. We find in the Arabic saying “al hammumesder al a’ham, (lava is the source of the hottest) and the plural is Al hammu and it means anything black and alhamamu is ash and charcoal and anything burned by fire. And Jariahumama is a slave girl who’s black.

They say in Tigrinya and Tigrait to uninterrupted beating that leads to fragmentation (ket’kit) and we find in the Arabic (altek’tit) meaning to cut something. They say to a teacher, (Memhr) in Arabic (Muksib Al Mahara) meaning one who teaches skills.They call in Tigrinya a school (Bet Timhrti) in Arabic (Beit A Taleem), (Beit iktisab Al Mahara) place where skills are learned. And to a student, in Tigrinya: (Tamaharay), learner- one who gains skill. In regard to learning they say in Tigrigna (Temahar) meaning learn, gain skills. All goes back to (Al Mahara) in the Arabic Language. They name their children Afwergi and the “Af” is that with which you say or utter (ma taeef bihi), and wargi is alwarq in Arabic, as Abdu Ubaida says in the Arabic dictionary is silver. They say to a cold weather in Tigrignia ‘Qurri’. This word was mentioned in the sermon of Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, dispraising his companions from the Iraqis,” when I instructed you to go and face them in the winter time, you said this is (sabarrat ulqurri) severe cold, give us some time until the cold goes away; this is all fleeing from the heat and the (Qurri) the cold. If you are to flee from the heat and the qurri by Allah you’ll flee even more from the sword.’ In the demonstrative pronoun, they say, in Tigrgnia, to the near one is (ezzy) and (nizzy), and both words in the Arabic are (zee) – used to point to the near one and (za) to the one who’s far. In pointing out to the dual, in Tigrinya, they say (kilti’u)-(kilittesebeiti) meaning two women, (kilitteseb’ai) meaning two men, and this from (kelta) in the arabic for feminine dual ( keltalmar’atayn) and (kala) for the masculine dual (kala rajulain).

In the pronoun they say in Tigrinya (Ane) and in the Arabic (Anni). They say for the plural in tigrinia (Nihna) also for one when dignifying oneself, its (Nahnu) in the Arabic.

The Abyssinian Church Translates its Authorative Sources from moderen Arabic into ancient Arabic,

Gy’eez or Ge’ez

The author of “kebra Negest (judiciary code [Glory of the Kings]) who writes the history of the Solomonic dynasty, claiming its exclusive right to rule in Abyssinia by a Devine writ says, “he has translated (the book) from an Arabic copy found in Alexandria”. The transcriber of the book says at the conclusion of the book,” we copied it from a Coptic book written in Arabic from the throne of Morqs, the apostle the teacher, our father all. We published it in the year 409 A.d. in an Ethiopian city in the era of GebreMeskel, the king nicknamed Lali Bela, in the Era of father Gergis the good patriarch. (38) As such we come to understand that Arabic is the source of civilizational transfer into the Abyssinian culture, even the religious heritage of which an important part is translated from Arabic into Geez- which in origin is the mother of the modern Arabic language.

The Archbishop Salama the second, had contributed in transferring the religious revival in the Egyptian church to the Ethiopian church; he undertook the translation of many books from the Arabic into Ethiopian language that he was nicknamed by the Ethiopian Christians (terguami) meaning the translator for his contribution to Ethiopian literature. He undertook a vast movement in translating the religious books from the Arabic language into Ethiopian. He also revised what was copied in the eras before him and so verified the holy book to the Arabic text. He also translated ritual books (al mayamr), biographies of martyrs and saints and books of monasticism from Arabic into Ethiopic.

This movement of copying and translating continued after metropolitan Salama the second. The book of prayer known as (al Aj’beeya) which the Ethiopian Christians named (Sa’atat) was translated in the middle of the 4th century. Also, the books of funeral rituals, (metsihafeGinzet), Praise of the virgin and the life of the apostles was translated. But, translations was not limited to religious books. Other books of literature, such as, the ‘History of the Jews’, which the Ethiopian Christians consider as one of the three books attached to the Holy Bible, was translated. Also, the Coptic synaxorion, which contains the biographies of the saints, as well as, other collections of books on literature, theology etc. from the books written by Coptics in Egypt were translated.

By a writ from Zereyacob, the book of Apostles’ laws known in Egypt as (Adasqulia) and as (Disqlia) in Ethiopia, as well as, the collection known as (Al Sendos) were translated from Arabic.

An important book that was translated in the revival era is the book of Ibn As’sal titled Al Maj’mooAs’safwey.” This book deals in its second part on what grounds the relations among Christian individuals in their religious and secular affairs must be. The Ethiopian Christians became so fond of the book that they took it in later centuries not only as a foundation for religious and civil life, but also like a kind of conduct book or instructional work for their public and private life and renamed it ‘Fet’heNegest”.

Despite the old age of the book, its subjects never changed due to the changes of time and place. The book remained the same as it was originally, to this date. As such the book is the oldest legal collection in practice up to know.

The book in its second part, as mentioned above, deals with interpersonal matters taken from the Shafe’e jurisprudence and to be specific from the book of admonishment for Abi Ishaq Al Sheerazi according to the envoy of the Ottoman Calif, Sultan Abdul Hamid, Mr. Sadiq Pasha and other researchers. Among the books that were translated from the modern Arabic to ancient Arabic- Geez the Ethiopian language, ‘The history of Abu ShakrBoutrous Ibn Rahib’ which was written in the end of the 13th century, in which he chronicles from the beginning of creation until 657H. It was translated by AnbaKom in the reign of (Sertse Dingel) and also, the book titled, ‘History of Muslims’ By MekinIbn’Amid whom The Habashas call (weld A’mid) and that was in the reign of king LibneDingel, as well as, the ‘History of Yohana’ bishop of (Nakia) in which he summarizes the history of the world from the beginning of creation until year 640. Professor White acknowledges that it was translated from the original Arabic in the era of king Yacob (king of Sajd) and its translator was one of the bishops of (kalyoob) and it’s said that Jebreel al Masri is the one who translated it by an order from the mother of KingSerjaDingel -1563-1597c.

Among the compositions, the Abyssinian copy is of great value since the original Arabic copy is not yet found up to now. Many books were also translated into Geez in this era in defense of the Jacobite doctrine. Among these books (the precious pearls in Elucidating Religion) for Sa’weers Ibn Mukafa which the Habashas call (fikreMelokot) meaning the explanation of the divine. There’s also the book of Pauls Ibn Raja, (confessions of the fathers). The Habashas translated it from the Arabic and named it HaymanotAbboy (the faith of my father). The Habashas also translated from the Arabic many books that deal with religious rituals from among them,’The Book of Repentance’ (metshafeNesha), and ‘prayers of the lamp’ (Mezhaf qendil) and other books of religion (41).

Some priests of the Abyssinian church were proficiently able to command the Arabic Language. They were reading, writing, and speaking it proficiently by studying under the Coptic priests who were appointed by the church of Alexandria. Here comes the Yemeni scholar who had visited Abyssinia in a diplomatic mission to meet with king FassilidasBijender in the 16th century to tell us about one of those priests saying, “he’s a man with countenance of reciters and piety of worship and speaks in the Arabic because he was student of the Abun [Coptic Abun] It was easy for him to understand our speech and easy for us to understand his without a mediation of an interpreter. We found him to be the best person in that land his name was Betrous. As such, the Arabic language was not only the device of transmitting the Islamic heritage to Abyssinia, but also the medium of transmitting the Abyssinian Christian heritage. Besides, the language of worship in the church which is still considered in the Abyssinian doctrine as the language of divine discourse is the old Arabic that is known as Geez which is originally by unanimous consent of wall researchers, the language of Hummeir and Kahtan from the south of the Arabian Peninsula.

Summary and Result

Hence, those who stand negatively from the Arabic language in Eritrea from Tigrinya speakers in particular, contradict the roots of their religious, cultural, and ethnic history that they neglect despite the fact that they cannot turn away from it. This is because the Arabic language is not strange to them, to their area, to their religious creed, to their origin and to their ethnicity.

As much as it was the medium of transmitting the civilization of HummeriteAgazian to Axum with its first Sabayan Alphabet, it was also the medium of transmitting the Jacobite religious heritage that the Abyssinian church believes in from the books of the Alexandrian church in Egypt translated into Geez-the language of worship of the Abyssinian church. These books have become referential to the Christian creed in the churches and monasteries, and foundational to the priests and monks. There is no Abyssinian monk today but connected to these references, translated from the modern Arabic into the ancient Arabic- Geez, for knowledge and culture because of his mastery of the ancient Arabic letter- the Geez Alphabet.


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