Published On: Wed, Dec 5th, 2018

Where is Arabic spoken and its importance

Arabic is the language of the Arab people. Its name ‘Arabic’ was taken from the word Arab which means ‘nomad’ and it started as the language of the nomadic people. Today it is the fifth most spoken language in the world with as many as 422 million (native and non-native) speakers. It is not only spoken by the Arabs but is also the liturgical language of 1.8 billion Muslims.

Arabic has 28 letters and is written from right to left in Abjad script. The Arabic that is read by Muslims all over the world is called Classical Arabic. From seventh century A.D. to ninth century A.D., Classical Arabic was used in all the literary texts. But today the form of Arabic that is used by the Arab people is called Modern Standard Language. It is used throughout the Arab world for communicating.

Image/W123 at Wikimedia Commons

Where is Arabic Spoken?

We all know it is the fifth most spoken language in the world, but where is Arabic spoken? Fifteen countries have Arabic as their official language. But apart from them, a few other countries also have sizable communities of Arabic speaking people. Following is a list of countries where Arabic is the official or co-official language:

  • Egypt
  • Saudia Arabia
  • Algeria
  • Palestine
  • Oman
  • Bahrain
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen
  • Lebanon
  • Qatar
  • Sudan
  • Tunisia
  • Syria
  • Mauritania
  • Jordan
  • Somalia
  • Tanzania
  • Chad
  • Eritrea
  • Comoros
  • Djibouti

The following countries consider Arabic as a national language because it is spoken by a minority group:

  • Cyprus
  • Turkey
  • Iran
  • Senegal
  • Mali
  • Niger

The following four countries have given Arabic a special status in their constitution:

  • Pakistan
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Philippines

It is notable that Iran has not only recognized Arabic as a minority language but has also awarded it special status in the constitution due to its being the language of Islam.

The Importance of Arabic:

Arabic is a very important language because of the enormous number of people who speak it. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, the others being Chinese, French, English, Russian, and Spanish.

Religious Importance:

Arabic is considered a sacred language by the 1.8 billion Muslims of this world. They offer their prayers in Arabic and their Holy Book, the Quran, is also in Arabic. Islamic is the largest religion in the Middle East and the second largest religion in the world, behind Christianity. Non-Arabic speaking Muslims learn the language to understand their religion better. There are also a large number of non-Muslims who learn Arabic to read and understand Islamic literature.

Arabic’s Influence on Other Languages:

Since Arabic is an old language, it has influenced a lot of languages. Today, a vast majority of languages have Arabic words. Over 40 languages have been influenced by Arabic, but its significant influence can be seen clearly in Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Hindi, Punjabi, Pashto, Kashmiri, Spanish, Sindhi, Malay, Kurdish, Hausa, and Bosnian. A lot of Arabic words have made their way in these languages. Modern Arabic has also picked up words from contemporary languages like French and English.

Arabic’s influence on other languages has increased its importance. Today, a lot of countries teach Arabic in schools. In some countries, it is compulsory to study Arabic while in other countries, it is an optional subject. European countries have also started to recognize the importance of Arabic. France is one of such countries as it is emphasizing on the idea of including Arabic in the school curriculum.

Arabic’s Contribution to Literature and Sciences:

Arabic writers have been mesmerizing the world with their command of words for centuries. The most remarkable thing about Arabic poetry is that it was written in a way to be pleasing to the ears. Arabic poets have covered all sorts of topics ranging from religion and personal fights to women and nature’s beauty, but they have always maintained the song-like quality of their poetry.

Thinkers of the Arab world influenced modern sciences and arts. The world today would have been very different and much less progressed without the ideas of Arab thinkers and scientists like Al-Zahrawi, Al-Kindi, Rumi, Hassan Ibn Al-Haitham, Omar Khayyam, Jabir Ibn Hayyan, and Muhammad Ibn Zakariya Al-Razi.

The way Arabic has influenced other languages and helped in the progress of modern sciences make it a very important language. Its position as the sacred language of Muslim people has also made Arabic a popular and significant language in today’s world.

Author: Cristian Romaniuc

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