It is better to speak the same language of the heart than speaking the same tongue.
– Rumi


According to Ethnologue, an online resource on world languages, there are more than 7,000 living languages. Some are spoken by hundreds of millions of people, some by much smaller communities. Twenty-three languages account for more than half of the world’s population. All of them have the same goal and function: To communicate thoughts, meanings and feelings between humans. In the extremely diverse world of languages, we express our ideas and feelings and say something to ourselves and other human beings. We state the meaning of our actions through words and sentences. Ideally, we resolve our differences through rational communication. But can speaking the same language always allow us to express our ideas properly?

There are instances where speaking the same language does not help overcome clashes and conflicts. This is where we need more than linguistic capability to reach the minds and hearts of our fellow human beings. This is where Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi enters in when he says, “It is better to speak the same language of the heart than speaking the same tongue.” Meaningful thoughts, expressed through language, make sense when they reach not just the minds but also the hearts of our interlocutors. They have an effect on our souls and minds when communicated through the language of the heart.

Words spoken through the language of the heart can be heard only when they come from another heart. This means that we have to train our hearts to speak to other hearts. Rumi believes that all human beings are endowed with the capacity to speak this language. As a matter of fact, the Islamic intellectual tradition holds that the heart is an epistemic organ as important as the mind and the intellect. The heart is not just the abode of feelings and emotions. It is also a depository of thoughts, ideas and meanings. One of the costly mistakes of modern philosophy was to turn the human heart, the seat of blissful and realized knowledge, into a purely sentimental and psychological faculty. cont’d