Special: Your #1 Arabic Translator.

The Arabic Language

While the first documented record of written Arabic dates from the early 4th century AD, its use in the early 7th century as the language of the Qur'an led Arabic to become the major world language that it is today. As Islam spread throughout the world, its chosen language did as well. Coupled with the rise of Islam, Arabic became the language of government as well as religion. Within 100 years after the introduction of the Qur'an, Arabic became the official language of a world empire whose boundaries stretched from the Oxus River in Central Asia to the Atlantic Ocean, and even northward into the Iberian Peninsula of Europe. As Islam continued to spread through the world, Arabic inherently followed.

"Unto Allah belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. Allah is Able to do all things." (Holy Qur'an, 2: 189)Holy Language

Arabic is the language of the Qur'an. Traditionally, Muslims deem it impossible to translate the Qur'an in a way that would reflect its exact meaning in a different language. Some schools of thought even maintain that it should not be translated at all.

Influence of Arabic on other languages

The influence of Arabic has been most profound in those countries dominated by Islam or Islamic power. Arabic is a major source of vocabulary for languages as diverse as Berber, Kurdish, Persian, Swahili, Urdu, Hindi (especially the spoken variety), Bengali, Turkish, Malay and Indonesian, as well as other languages in countries where these languages are spoken. For example the Arabic word for book /kita:b/ is used in all the languages listed, apart from Malay and Indonesian (where it specifically means "religious book"). In addition, Spanish and Portuguese both have large numbers of Arabic loan words. Other languages such as Maltese and Kinubi derive from Arabic, rather than merely borrowing vocabulary or grammar rules.

The terms borrowed range from religious terminology, academic terms (like Uyghur mentiq "logic"), economic items (like English "sugar") to placeholders (like Spanish fulano "so-and-so") and everyday conjunctions (like Urdu lekin "but".) Most Berber varieties (such as Kabyle), along with Swahili, borrow some numbers from Arabic. Most religious terms used by Muslims around the world are direct borrowings from Arabic, such as salat 'prayer' and imam 'prayer leader'. In languages not directly in contact with the Arab world, Arabic loanwords are often mediated by other languages rather than being transferred directly from Arabic; for example, most Arabic loanwords in Urdu entered through Persian, and many older Arabic loanwords in Hausa were borrowed from Kanuri.

In common with other European languages, many English words are derived from Arabic, often through other European languages, especially Spanish and Italian. Among them are commonly-used words like "sugar" (sukkar), "cotton" (qutn) and "magazine" (makhāzin). English words more recognizably of Arabic origin include "algebra", "alcohol", "alchemy", "alkali" and "zenith." Some words in common use, such as "intention" and "information", were originally calques of Arabic philosophical terms.