Interrelationship of Psycholinguistic and Quranic Sciences

The word ‘psycholinguistics’ is first used in the year of 1936 - Interrelationship of Psycholinguistic and Quranic Sciences introduction. As Steinberg and Sciarini (2006) mentioned in their book An Introduction to Psycholinguistics regarding the definition of psycholinguistics, it is the psychology of language as it relates to learning, mind and brain as well as various aspects of society and culture. Field (2003) established a definition that psycholinguistics draws on ideas and knowledge from a number of associated areas, such as phonetics, semantics and pure linguistics.

Meanwhile according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, psycholinguistics is the study of the mental faculties which involved in the perception, production, and acquisition of language. There are variations of definition regarding the term which simply associated with psychology and language. In fact, variety of fields namely psychology, linguistics, philosophy, second-language teaching, speech pathology can all benefit from the wide range of important theory and concept that are considered in the area of psycholinguistics.

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After all, there are selected matters in psycholinguistics that are interesting to discuss with specifically regarding knowledge and thought. Since human being is the most unique creation that Allah ever created as He created them in good shape, excellent condition and the most crucial part is the brilliant human’s mind. He created human on purpose and the purpose of human’s creation is to serve Allah and to appreciate Allah such as appreciate the knowledge that He gives to human being and to follow His order.

The word ‘knowledge’ is first known in the 14th century (Middle English) with different spelling, knowledge, which can be defined as learning or acquiring some information regardless good or bad information. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, knowledge is the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association. Another meaning related to knowledge is the fact or condition of having information or of being learned. Meanwhile, Kamus Rujukan 2006 stated that knowledge is general facts or information that people know.

Thus, knowledge as associated to psycholinguistics is of how people obtained knowledge or do they even realize the knowledge that they had? It is interesting to distinguish how they use or interpret the knowledge that they acquired in the brain. In addition, Steinberg and Sciarini (2006) identified thought as a kind of behavior that originates from speech production. This theory typically is held by Behaviorists who wish to get rid of mind and Mentalism in psychology, linguistics and philosophy and to replace the notion of thought or cognition with something that is physically observable or potentially observable.

The psychologists Watson, Skinner and Staats, the linguists Bloomfield and Liberman and the philosophers Ryle and Quine are a few of the many who advocated such a conception. They define thought as subvocal speech or behavior and not something mental, as in the traditional view of psychology. However, different does not always better or correct. Thus, thought can best be described as a behavior of mental which is abstract and intangible but could be channeled through behavior. Hence, is the matter of thought and knowledge in psycholinguistics be related to the Holy Qur’an?

Is it possible? I am pretty sure that we can find the significance of these matters in the Qur’an since the Qur’an itself is the literal word of Allah SWT. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the Qur’an is the book composed of sacred writings accepted by Muslims as revelations made to Muhammad by Allah through the angel Gabriel. Every single word in the Qur’an is sacred as it is strongly prohibited to recite the Qur’an unethical and incorrect. Even for the translation also should be the same.

Nevertheless, the Qur’an is the most comprehensive book that it covers all aspects of every single thing on this earth, including the concepts of knowledge and thought. In fact, we are going to further explain these matters of psycholinguistics that relates to the Qur’an namely in three areas: 1) Knowledge overrides literal word meanings 2) Innate knowledge of human and 3) Thought is independent of language. Literature Review Since Psycholinguistic studies based on acquiring knowledge, perception and thought, we would like to see on how these scientific terms can be associated to the Holy Qur’an.

Would it be impossible to find such relations? I would say no since the Qur’an is the most reliable source of anything on this earth. By conducting this research indeed, we can find the relations and significance between these matters. Psycholinguistic basically is deal with subject matter between psychology and language itself. It is how language is perceived in a brain and so on. In fact, many researchers had debated regarding the validity of this issue, for instance, how do we acquire knowledge? And is knowledge related to thought and intelligence? Is the knowledge itself is innate in human minds?

Or how do we have thoughts? Numerous mixtures of opinions and arguments by the researchers themselves, however, this view from Descartes (1641) mentioned that, ‘it was God who placed ideas in the minds of human beings’ seems interesting to discuss with. If he was a Muslim, he must for sure believe in the Revelation of Allah SWT because He is who give ‘aql to human beings. Unfortunately he was not. But anyway, how could he come out with such view, like minds is somewhat God’s gift to human being. We cannot think further. Yes, human beings cannot think far, I mean beyond one’s ability.

So, this is when it shows the Greatness and Almighty of Allah SWT towards His mankind. He revealed the Holy Qur’an as human beings who are intellect and grateful to ponder this wonders created by Him. He sent down this miracle book so that human beings might use their knowledge and thought to understand every single word He revealed in the Qur’an. For instance, there was an article written by Harun Yahya entitled ‘The Mosquito and Its Extraordinary Adventure’, he mentioned about the significant and metamorphosis of mosquito from its newborn that also known as larva until it becomes matured mosquito.

In his article, he stress on the term that usually use in Al-Quran to interpret the life of mosquito, which is “female mosquito”. We can see that, in Al-Quran which is in surah Al-Baqarah (verse 26), only female mosquito has the superior capabilities that had been detailed here. It is because as we known, female mosquitoes absorb and feed on blood. They did that because for the sake of their growing eggs which need to grown-up with the proteins that contained in the blood. In the other word, the female mosquitoes suck up the blood just to ensure the survival of their new generation.

Besides, the process of life for this tiny animal showed that Allah is Great and Powerful toward His mankind. Another story revealed by Allah SWT is regarding camel. Camel is created by God with its own unique capabilities to be able to endure many impossible tasks for human. Human may not be fully aware of these qualities as we always tend to be ignorant in matters not related to our personal lives. We accept them as something useful but we never concern on how the camel are created and why they are created with these abilities. If we ever question this, we will find that camel is one of the miracles created by God.

As stated in sura al-Ghashiya: 17, Do they not look at the Camels, how they are made? (88:17) According to Harun Yahya again in his article, The Camel: a Special Animal in the Service of Mankind states that camel possesses great abilities to maintain tough and strong in the very worse condition that human are not capable of. Camel can endure days without water and food because its body is able to store the supplies for nearly two weeks while bearing bulks of goods of hundred kilos on his back. In this situation, human would die in just a day without water.

Thus, it shows that Allah SWT has created an animal that is superior to His mankind so that human beings might think and gained knowledge from it along with the benefits as well. Thus, there are many stories in the Qur’an that we can quote from and see the miracle behind it. Those stories in all suras are nothing except that Allah SWT wants His mankind use their knowledge and thought to ponder and think regarding these miracles and significance. After all, the Qur’an is very comprehensive that it covers all aspects in neither one’s life nor that knowledge of every single thing on this earth.

And that is why we would like to find the correlations between matters in psycholinguistics namely knowledge and thought that relates to the Qur’an. We believe that The Qur’an has the best explanation regarding these matters. Methodology This research was done through qualitative research method by collecting exiting data. The data was collected through the means of internet and library. The data were in the form of written documents such as articles, books and Quran, which are reliable resources. All the data collected will be insured to ascertain its relativity to the research and whether it is in agreement with the topic.

Data extracted from Quran will be analyzed to find the evidences in relation to the subject. The sources will be determined in their stance of either supporting or against the research topic. The data collection result will be in the qualitative form. Findings and Discussion 1. Knowledge overrides literal word meaning We can believe something quite different from what the language literally specifies and that the continual use of a language form may not change an underlying thought. Consider such items as: ‘the sun rises’, ‘sunset’, ‘red hair’, ‘time flies’ and ‘white wine’.

The theories under consideration imply that, as the result of our hearing and using such items, we would come to believe that the sun actually rises or sets on its own, that a person’s hair is actually red, and that white is the color of white wine. The fact of the matter is we know that the sun does not rise or set no matter how many times we hear people say it or we say it ourselves. English speakers have simply stuck with the original coining even though it came to be known that it was the earth and not the sun that was doing the moving.

Such a fact, where one thing is said but another is understood runs counter to the implications of the theory being assessed here. Thus, it means that one might be able to grasp the meaning technically or literally is depends on one’s knowledge comprehension. Isn’t it amazing of how our thought can override or dominate our knowledge in order to entertain from one meaning to numerous other meaning that we ourselves sometimes cannot think of it? Or even understand about it. This is goes the same with the explanation of the Qur’an that one might not be able to understand with a glimpse.

Even the Qur’an itself is said as the literal word of Allah SWT to His mankind. It is neither a book of history nor of science, neither of philosophy nor of logic, though it uses all of them, but only to guide man. Hence we cannot make the Qur’an confirm any contemporary knowledge, nor is that knowledge essential to understand it. Though one can always derive help from it to increase comprehension. So, it is our duty and responsible to use our thought and knowledge in order to understand and interpret the literal meaning of every single words in the Qur’an correctly.

Thus, when one read the Qur’an, he should always raise as many questions as possible. For example: What does this word or verse literally mean? What other meanings can be construed? What is the context of each word, phrase, and sentence? What is said? Why is it said? What is the message for me, us, now? Do not be frightened of raising questions. By asking these questions one is capable to comprehend the meaning of the word or sura literally or technically better. There was one story at the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), one man came to learn the Qur’an from the Prophet, who taught him Surah Al-Zalzalah (99).

When he reached the words, ‘And so, he who has done an atom’s weight of good, shall see it; and he who has done an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it’, (99: 7-8) the man said, ‘This is sufficient for me’, and left. The Prophet observed: ‘This man has returned back as a faqih (who has acquired understanding)’ (Abd Da’ud). It sounds pretty easy for that man to understand the sentence. I mean, when he reached the words and straightaway comprehend it. However, not all of us are so lucky with that kind of intelligence. Nor that we want to compare our level of understanding with those sahabah at the Prophet’s time.

They were way more knowledgeable and bright in understanding the Qur’an. Nevertheless, that does not mean that we could not. For instance, the phrase ‘atom’s weight’ in the sura Al-Zalzalah above might be difficult and confusing for those who do not familiar with it. At the beginning, one might say like ‘What, atom? ’ Or perhaps grasp it technically that atom basically is a bomb using nuclear energy. But what does Allah SWT means by atom’s weight? Why he is not using words like tiny or little to convey amount of good deeds and bad deeds in the sura?

Why He is using a scientific term in explaining the literal meaning of this phrase? In understand better regarding the nature of this phrase, one might want to consider the nature or attributes of atom itself in particular so that we could find the similarities between these two variations. Atoms are minuscule objects with proportionately tiny masses. It is composed of discrete units and cannot be divided into arbitrarily tiny quantities has been around for millennia. Atoms can only be observed individually using special instruments such as the scanning tunneling microscope.

Meaning, this object atom itself is extremely tiny that it can hardly be measured. Hence, the literal meaning behind the word atom in this sura most probably indicates that one should be aware of his deeds whether it is good or bad. Even this atom’s weight of deeds would be measured by Allah SWT on the Day of Judgment. The significance of using the word atom instead of other words for example tiny is because this atom is basically way more ‘tiny’ from the word tiny itself. Thus, Allah SWT for sure is very particular in choosing the best word in describing His message in the Qur’an so that His mankind might ponder and nderstand it well. Another example would be from sura al-Isra’, ayat 97: ‘Whenever it abates, We shall increase for them the fierceness of the Fire’. (17:97) What we would like to discuss about regarding this sura is the literal meaning behind the phrase ‘the fierceness of the fire’. It surely indicates that the fire itself is a fierce and ferocious. Or is it really does? Like does fire has some kind of feelings in order to be angry toward human beings or anything? Of course that is impossible. The fire itself although it is a physical matter but do remember that it is non alive, meaning, no feelings.

So why did Allah SWT give a human beings feelings to a thing like fire? This is basically shows the Greatness and the Powerful of Allah SWT in describing the literal meaning behind every single word that He chosen. Fire itself is identifying as something which is burning, something which heats. Not only that, it also extremely hot that no one can easily touch it with their bare hands. Similar to the word ‘fierce’ in this context that represents the feelings of burning, hot, heat and definitely is not easy to acknowledge to.

Hence, it does have similarities between these two words and no wonder that this word can be used interchangeably in any interpretations. In fact, by describing on how fierce the fire could be, Allah SWT is ordering to His mankind indirectly to following His amar makruf nahi munkar. If not, the only place for them would be Hell Fire which the fire is not only fierce as well as ferocious, violent and brutal. 2. Innate knowledge of human The one who has ultimate knowledge is Allah, and Islam a religion based on awareness for it is ultimately knowledge of the knowing God combined with faith and total loyalty to Him.

The text of the Quran is complete with verses inviting man to use his intellect, to ponder, to think and to know, for the goal of human life is to discover the Truth which is not other than worshipping Allah. Many Hadith of Prophet Muhammad focus more on the importance of knowledge for examples, “Seek knowledge even in China”, “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”, and “Verily the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets”, have repeated throughout the history of Islam and encouraged Muslims to seek knowledge wherever it might be found.

Since Islamic civilization, they have been witness to a celebration of knowledge, that is why every traditional Islamic city come out with public and private libraries and some cities like Cordoba and Baghdad provided the libraries with over 400,000 books. Many cities also had bookstores, some of which sold a large number of books plus magazines and so on. That is also why the scholar has always been held in the highest esteem in Islamic society. When human are born, he or she already have a store of ideas that their draw upon in order to help make sense of the world.

These ideas are called “innate”, meaning “in born”. Examples of such ideas are mathematical truths (2 + 1 = 3), truths about Allah (that His existence, His is powerful and many more), the concept of time, the idea of causality and other logically and metaphysically necessary principles. “He has taught you that which [heretofore] you knew not. ” (Al-Baqarah 2:239) Allah has already mentioned in Quran that He gives all human an innate knowledge, even animal has their own innate knowledge, for example, how to build a nest for birds and many more.

To be more specific, only Allah has the ultimate knowledge that no one can challenge, He created the most holy book in the earth, Quran and all other holy books but then the book that is protected until now is Quran. Allah promise that He will teach anything to human because human is the only special creature with a brain and aql. “Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen.

He has taught man that which he knew not” (Al-Alaq 96:1-5) As we can see above, the first Surah that Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad is Surah Al-Alaq, the word Iqra is the first word in Holy Quran from Allah inspired it to our prophet and it is also the first word that Prophet Muhammad heard about al-wahi Iqra. It is the key to gain knowledge and it is the key to explore the world around us starting from atoms and reach to space. The relationship between knowledge and reading are correlation for example if a person increase his reading, it will lead to increase of common knowledge.

The intellectuals, scientists, scholars, researchers gain their knowledge through intensive reading. 3. Thought is independent of language The long raised debate on whether it is language that form thought or thought that precede language has never ceased. This topic is also closely relates to the matter on does language drives the mind into behaving in some sort of way, an issue raised where the American reject German language as in the case of a teacher sued for teaching Bible in German (Steinberg & Sciarini, 2006) out of fear that their culture is imbued within the language itself, an after effect of the World War 2.

It is the same prejudice the Malay in Malaysia shows towards the English language as they believe that it would leads to the corruption of culture. As a common snide comment often heard, “First is the language, the next thing you know they’ll be blond”. Researchers however have proven that such dependencies of thought towards language are actually flawed theory. In this effect, John Locke has the edge in this argument by his views of the relationship between language and thought: that the thought is independent of language.

Islam is the Religion and it strongly advocates knowledge and learning. The Quran itself is a tome of knowledge and the Book, again and again, said “think and reflect”. The word Tafakkur was repeated for 18 times where God tells us to think and not be blind and ignorant. The relation of those ayat with thought and language would fall in line with Locke’s: language is dependent on thought. We explain in detail Al-Ayaat for the people who THINK & REFLECT (Yunus 10:24)

It is clear from the above ayat that thought precedes language, as supported by Steinber and Sciarini (2006) “Part of the language system is actually part of the thought system, for the meaning and semantics of the language system are those ideas that are part of the content of thought… the thought and language systems are joined through meaning and ideas. ” Al-quran was revealed in God’s words for those who would reflect on it, which means that without understanding, the ideas and the meaning of the revealed words would be lost on those who read and there will be no comprehension.

How can man understand the words that they do not comprehend nor experience? It only further emphasise that thought is important before one can grasp the meaning of word and language much even less to produce speech. “Until thought is sufficiently developed (ideas of objects, relations of objects, states and actions of objects), words uttered in the presence of the child are not meaningfully processed. ”(Steinberg & Sciarini) The following ayat shows that thought does not require language or word in order to achieve understanding.

Verily, in the creation of the heaven and the earth, and in the alteration of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding-those who remember [the Guidance of] Allah standing, sitting and lying down on their sides, and THINK & REFLECT about the creation of the heavens and the earth… (Al-Imran 3:190-191) From the verse, it can clearly be observed that thought is independent of language. Understanding does not require words to be achieved but instead through ideas and concepts as well as stimuli from the world.

Therefore, it is thought that influenced and affects language. Conclusion In conclusion, this research has found many relations between Al-Quran and Psycholinguistics. It is not just the terms found in Quran but also the ideas and contents. The understanding of the content that Quran relays are crucial in order to understand the message emphasised. The Prophet has practised and explained the content for the benefit of mankind. There must be reason as to why God emphasise on the word “think and reflect” which had been denoted and connoted in many forms of Quranic terms.

Knowledge can be gained through words of books but God also said that one can also received knowledge through observation of the world and nature itself. This is the marvel of the gift from God to humanity, the Mind. It can no longer be denied that Psycholinguistic is interrelated with the divine knowledge of Quran. Limitation of the study In dealing with the holy book, Quran is the most difficult part in this research because we need to give a correct translation from Quran and we are afraid of giving the wrong information about certain Ayah or Verses.

Even though, there are many translated version of Quran but all of Ayah is not only give general meaning but there are hidden meaning to each and every word of Allah. To overcome this problem, we need to refer to the specialists from this particular field. Time constrain is the other problem to this research because most of the time we are dealing with Quran and need to translate it one Ayah to another. We do not have much time to give focus on other subtopic because we are more to research about knowledge. This entire problem does not obstruct us to complete our research on psycholinguistics and Quran.

References

‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali. (2005) The Holy Qur’an: Text and Translation. Islamic Book Trust: Kuala Lumpur.

Steinberg and Sciarini. (2006) An Introduction to Psycholinguistics. Pearson Education Limited: United Kingdom.

Weblinks

Retrieved February 25, 2011 from the World Wide Web, http://www.ahlalhdeeth.com/vbe/showthread.php?p=21343

Retrieved February 28, 2011 from the World Wide Web http://www.hadielislam.com/en/index.php?pg=article&id=1744

Retrieved March 1, 2011 from the World Wide Web http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom

Retrieved March 1, 2011 from the World Wide Web http://www.islam-qa.com/en/ref/8120/doc

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