Following are excerpts from an interview with Lebanese cleric Abd Al-Karim Fadhlallah, aired on Al-Manar TV on November 20, 2005.
Fadhlallah: The Arabic language, 200 years ago, was a universal language. It's interesting to note that when Christopher Columbus went to America, in what language did he speak with the Indians? It is said that the language they spoke with the Indians – and I have indisputable documentation of this at home... The intellectuals among the Indians spoke Arabic. He took two Arabs with him, to serve as interpreters between the Spaniards and the Indians. He took two of them as translators. So you can imagine the historic and cultural value of Arabic. It's undoubtedly very important.