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The Arabic Language Using Islamic, Muslim in English Arabic Names by Seth WARD I. The Arabic language.

Students involved in the study of Islam quickly encounter words transliterated from the Arabic language. Students may find it worthwhile to study websites or books that introduce concepts of Arabic at least insofar as such study helps them handle Arabic terms in transliteration. Briefly: Arabic is a Semitic language, which means that it is close to Hebrew, Aramaic, ancient Babylonian and modern Amharic. Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic, and a few related languages, form a subgroup of this language group called Northwest Semitic. Actually, Arabic has some Southern Semitic features lacking in the other NW Semitic languages. The ancient Arabs talked about two broad divisions within the pre-Islamic world, northern and southern Arabs, and the Arabic language as has come to exist and it may have had a North-Semitic base heavily affected by Southern Arabian. There are 28 letters in Arabic. These letters can all function as consonants, and three of them also serve to indicate long vowels or dipthongs. Short vowels were not written in the classic language. (Although long vowels are marked by a letter in Arabic writing, long vowel marks are usually used in scientific transliteration). In the usual order used in Arabic dictionaries, (although written left to right, in transliteration) the letters are: b t th kh d dh r s sh gh f q k l m n h w y

Note that represents a different letter from , and that some letters have underdots. These transliterations are fairly standard in contexts where scientific transliteration is critical, although almost every author uses variations. In more general contextssuch as this course less attention is paid to an exact transcription which allows readers to reconstruct the Arabic spelling. So I will generally prefer to write Qurn in highly academic writing, but Koran or Koran or Quran are also OK. I have found that in some contexts, copies of texts I have prepared with long letters do not work correctly, and usually the underdotted letters do not display correctly at all. Still, we should know what the different transcriptions mean. Most letters will give students no problem.

The stopping of sound between two vowels, for example, co-operate (with a short stop between the two osas opposed to pronouncing it co-woperate.) In Arabic this letter indicates a short stop between a consonant and a vowel as well: Qurn as properly pronounced, has a very brief pause between the r and a. Th: as in breath Dh: th as in breathe J This letter is pronounced as G by Egyptians (Gamal Abd al-Nasir), and either J as in James, or J as in French bon our (English: like the sound of the ss in issue) by most other Arabic speakers. is a lighter sound, but still some aspirationmore than h (without underdot). Note the sound of h without underdot, below. kh: KH is like the ch of German Bach. Sh as in show Emphatic letters, which often darken the color of the vowels around them. For those whose interest is not in learning the language but in using Arabic terms encountered in the study of Islam, one of the most important points is that some of these letters sometimes become other letters in Turkish or Persian. So, for example, instead of n you might encounter Ramazan. Otherwise, you can pronounce them like the undotted letters. Most people who have not studied Arabic pronounce this letter the same way as the Aleph, although it is really quite easily distinguishable with practice. Gh Like the r in many French words. Imagine Maurice Chevalier rolling the r in his first name with the back of his tongue up, and the front down along the bottom teeth. kq Another example of two letters pronounced about the same by most non-Arabs. The Q comes from the very back of the throat. Think of a G and then keep the front of the tongue down along the lower teeth, and move the source of sound back and more k-like. Even Arabic speakers have difficulty with these letters: in some areas, the colloquial pronunciation of these letters differs more dramatically than their classic pronunciation. The Q does not need a U in Arabic. The choice of Q to represent this sound does not really relate to the q sound in English so much as to the fact that the ancestor of our Q letter is the same symbol that was the ancestor of the corresponding letter in Arabic. H almost always pronounced in Arabic when it is written, even at the end of a syllable. Exception: sometime people will transliterate the last sound of a word as ah in which case the H is silent, e.g. Madinah. Vowels: Three short vowels, a i u and three long vowels . Two dipthongs: aw, ay. Short vowels: A as in father, I as in big, u as in but, sometimes as in moo. In Arabic, the dipthongs and long vowels are marked by letters for example, we should really transliterate as iy and as uw.

Long vowels: as in father or mad, as the ea in bead, as oo in moon. The dipthongs are sometimes pronounced to rhyme with o as in boat or ou as in ouch; a in bagel or y in why. Thus bayt house can be pronounced like English bait (what you use for fish) or bite. Sawm fast rhymes with comb or nearly rhymes with town. Rather than thinking of vowel length, it may help to think of the affect on syllable stress: Stress follows vowel lengthgenerally the last syllable is stressed if it has a long vowel. The rules for stress, though are fairly complex, and most of the sources you read will not mark vowel length anyway. What should students in this class do about Arabic? Do the best you can. More info: Lots of sites. One interesting, simple site: http://www.ancientscripts.com/arabic.html ============================================================= II. Using Islam, Muslim in English: Nouns: Use Islam as the name of the religion, Muslim to mean an adherent of the religion. Islam is the religion of over 1 billion Muslims. Adjectives: Most persons writing in English use Islamic interchangeably with Muslim for the adjective: Islamic belief Muslim festivals Sometimes this is not the case, and Muslim practices and Islamic practices may in fact mean different things to a very small number of writers. But authors generally use different and much clearer formulations when trying to distinguish between (in this case) the practices of Muslims and the practices actually demanded by Islam, so treat these adjectives as synonyms. Occasionally in English one may encounter Muslima for a female Muslim. ============================================================== III. Arabic Names Seth Ward Arabic names are often a source of confusion. In addition to the fact that the names are in an unfamiliar language, there are three main reasons for confusion: 1. References to a persons ancestors or sons 2. Different forms of names or honorific elements used in addressing someone or referring to him or her. 3. In Islamic times, Muslims came to favor a small group of names, so the same nameelements are repeated over and over. The different forms of a name are found in contemporary American English as well, of course. For example, we well understand the differences between the following terms, all of which can refer, in 2003, to the same person: Mr. President, President Bush, George, W., Bush Junior, as well as several less-complementary sobriquets.

Here is the basic plan, illustrated with two well-known individuals from the early centuries of Islam: a historian and a philosopher. The name (Arabic: ism) of both was Mu ammad, easily the most frequent name for Muslim men. Ab al-Wald Mu ammad b. A mad b. Mu ammad Ibn Rushd Ab Jaafar Mu ammad b. Jarr al- abar The format is: Kunya (Father of), Ism (personal name), Ism al-Ab (fathers name), Ism al-Jd (grandfathers name), often carried back several generations, and finally other names by which an individual was known. b. is the abbreviation used in English for ibn or bin son of. It is sometimes used for bint daughter ofothers writing in English use d. Kunya: Abu means father of. Generally, the form of polite address is to refer not to the persons ism but to the kunya nicknamein pre-modern Arabic almost always a reference to a name of the form Abu so-and-so. Generally, the kunya is based on the name of the first son born. One important exception: Abu Bakr is used as an ism and does not usually indicate a person has a child named Bakr. (These kunyas are also often honorifics, or a nom de guerre. I do not know whether kunyas used by, e.g., Abu Ma en and Abu Ala of the Palestinian Authority are based on the names of their children; many such kunyas are completely honorific and were adopted prior to the time the men became fathers). Sometimes the kunya refers to something other than the child: Ab Hurayra, the prolific reciter of adth, means something like father of a cat. Polite address (for example, a child to an adult) is to address or refer to someone as Abu so-and-so rather than by personal name. Women would be Umm so-and-so. Many individuals were known by terms that referred to tribal origins, to cities, towns or regions from which they or their ancestors came, by the name of a particular ancestor, or by other terms. Most of the terms referring to towns, places or tribes end with . Ab Jaafar Mu ammad b. Jarr al- abar was a historian, who is usually known in Western languages as al- abari. abari means someone from abaristan. Sometimes a person is commonly known by the name of an ancestor. Ab al-Wald Mu ammad b. A mad b. Mu ammad Ibn Rushd was a philosopher from Cordoba, Spain, usually known as Ibn Rushd even though Rushd was apparently the philosophers great grandfather, not his father. In most writing in English, these terms will be treated like a surnamea writer will refer to the historian as. e.g., Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari the first time, and all following references will be to Al-Tabari. In Arabic writing this is not so simplesome authors will refer to the same individual at times as Abu Jaafar, al-Tabari, Muhammad b. Jarir, or Ibn Jarir. Its easy to get confused. I remember writing a paper in grad school in which I proved that al-Zuhr and Ibn Shihb must have traveled in similar circles, only to realize just after I submitted it that they were different names for the same person. Strictly speaking, the Arabic definite article "al-" should always be retained in such names, but

we often refer to al-Tabari or Tabari without making a distinction. The "al-" should be retained in other names as well such as "al-Hussein" but here, too, it is often dropped. In pre-Islamic times, many Arabs had highly unique names. In Islamic times, this is much less so: many Muslims are named for a dozen or so early Muslims. For the earliest generations, usually only one name is used. Later on, the persons name and fathers name. Still later, there were many various types of honorifics which became popularsuch as Salah al-Din or Sayf alDunya. In modern usage, the final element has sometimes become a family name in the Western sense, used in passports and official registries. In many areas, the tradition of using the ism al-ab and ism al-jad continues, often without using ibn. Thus, Saddam Hussein was really Saddam the son of Hussein. For Saudi and Persian Gulf names: http://www.arab.net/arabnames/ In many areas, the "bin" or "ibn" is dropped. Sometimes it is retained in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to refer specifically to ones father. But even here it can be confusing: Omar Usama bin Ladin is Usamas son; Usama bin Ladins father was Muhammad b. Awad bin Ladin. One of Muhammad bin Ladins sons is usually known as Omar Muhammad Awadwithout the Bin Ladin surname. Many students--and many journalists--think of Arabs as having "family names" or "last names." In some cases this is correct. But often this approach is very confusing. The late Saddam Hussain was "Saddam the son of Hussain" and his late son would have been known as "Uday Saddam" or "Uday Saddam Hussain" but not "Uday Hussain." In some areas in the Middle East, the "family name" is more widespread, and a wife is even sometimes referred to by her husband's family name, as is typical in the US and many but not all Western cultures. But her own family name might have been the same anyway, as marrying within a tribe or clan is common enough. (Note that it would not be polite in Arab culture to refer to the wife directly anyway, and she often would be called Umm Hasan rather than by her personal name in many contexts). Generally, the "family name" is a tribal or clan name, and there are communities in which nearly the entire population of the village has the same "family name" because members of an extended clan live together.