Common English words that actually come from Arabic

Coffee; sugar; cotton; alcohol; giraffe; lemon; orange; tariff; algebra; alcove and candy.

There are many more. These are clearly examples of creeping linguistic shariah!

Categories: Arabic

11 replies

  1. Are you still a muslim?

  2. A lot of confusion have been created due to mistranslation of the followings Arabic words into English or its sister languages.

    اَلْإِسْلَامُ‎ Islam and Muslim :
    Islam denotes a state of submission (to Allah).
    Muslim is derived from Islam, and denotes one who submits (to Allah). It has absolutely no relation to any race or ethnicity and is completely independent of it.

    دين‎ Deen (al-Islamاَلْإِسْلَامُ‎ ) :
    Deen al-Islam (ie, deen of Islam) is what Islam refers to itself. Many translators have made this huge mistake of translating the word deen to mean “religion”. The English word “religion” (and by extension, all concepts based on it) is an ill-defined and vague term. The Arabic word deen can been derived from the Arabic verbal forms dāna (be indebted) and dāna li- (submit to). Unfortunately, here is no precise English translation of deen. [It senses are related through notions of retribution, debt, obligation, custom, and direction. The term has been used in various forms and meanings, e.g., system, power, supremacy, ascendancy, sovereignty or lordship, dominion, law, constitution, mastery, government, realm, decision, definite outcome, reward and punishment. On the other hand, this word is also used in the sense of obedience, submission, allegiance and judgement.] There is no equivalent word for “religion” in classical Arabic, and Islam is never referred to as “religion”.

    عبادة‎ Ibadah :
    Commonly translated to mean “worship”. Since Ibadah (pl. ibadat) is derived from the root abd, it would mean servitude. In Arabic ibadah is connected with related words such as “Ubudiyyah” (“slavery”), and has connotations of obedience, submission, and humility. The word linguistically means “obedience with submission”. On the other hand, the English word “worship” is derived from the Old English “weorþscipe”, meaning to venerate, which has been etymologised as “worthiness or worth-ship”—to give worth to something. The words ibadah and “worship” have completely different meanings.

    إِيمَان Iman :
    Some have translated it as belief or faith in English, which signifies acceptance without proof or argument, without reference to reason or thought, knowledge or insight. In English, belief or faith can take on false or negative values. Iman is recognition and confidence in a truth which is real, not a supposed truth. Iman means to accept truthfully, to be convinced, and to verify something, to rely upon or have confidence in something.

    مذهب‎ Madhab/Mazhab :
    A school of thought within fiqh (jurisprudence).

    جهاد‎ Jihad :
    Many orientalists translate it as “Holy War” (a Biblical concept). In Arabic, the word jihad means to struggle or strive. The equivalent word of Holy War would be Harb al-Quds in Arabic, which nowhere appears in any Islamic literature.

    كافر‎ Kafir :
    Many translate it as infidels or disbelievers. The word kāfir is the active participle of the root K-F-R, which (since Jahiliya times) describes farmers burying seeds in the ground. (Eg. الكُفّارَ also means “the tillers/cultivators” in al-Qur’an 57:20.) The word kāfir implies a person who hides or covers the truth. Whereas, the word infidel dates back to the late 15th century, deriving from the French infidèle or Latin īnfidēlis, from in- “not” + fidēlis “faithful” (from fidēs “faith”, related to fīdere ‘to trust’).

    صَلَاة Salah :
    Translated as “prayer” in English. In Arabic, salah mean several things including to pray or bless, contact, communication or connection.

  3. Coffee > from Turkish word Qah(w/v)a > ultimately from the Arabic word Qahwah.
    The name (Qahwah) in Arabic is derived from the Arabic verb Qaha ( to not feel like eating/decreased appetite ), which is what coffee does once you drink it. 😊

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